GYM members showed their disappointment today after a gymnasium announced it would close next month to be taken over by a university.
Members braved the rain this morning to discuss the impending closure of the Virgin Active Gym and Health Club
The gymnasium, based on the Falmer campus of the University of Brighton, announced in an email to members that it will close from November 21.
The sudden shutdown means 80 staff members have just three weeks to find new jobs and will be out of work a month before Christmas.
The University of Brighton has also announced plans to move its Eastbourne campus as part of a restructuring. The School of Sports and Health Sciences will be relocated to the University’s Falmer campus.
The email stated that the site would “come back” for the university’s “own use” and that it was therefore “no longer possible to keep the club open”.
Members have raised the question of why they can’t stay in the gym alongside the university’s School of Sports and Health Sciences.
Brian Dray, a member of the health club since 1997 and swim coach for Brighton Multisports, said the announcement was a “shock” and said “nowhere else” offers what Virgin Active does.
He said, “This is what the university does. The university wants to shut down this site so they can move everything from Eastbourne to here.
“From this point of view, the university only thinks of its own needs, it does not think of the needs of the local community.
“They are shutting him down at Eastbourne which will be a huge loss for Eastbourne as well.”
Brian said the health club plays an important role for the local community.
He said: “It’s a social club for a lot of people. There are a lot of people who come here for their mental health and physical well-being. What people take away from this place is huge.
Club member Sharon Spicer said her aunt was in “tears” after the announcement after being unable to find a place with facilities to meet her needs.
She said, “My aunt, she’s trying to find gyms with the same water aerobics stuff for her. She is in tears and is upset.
“She looked at other options and said there is nothing like it with the same community and feeling and all the extra facilities.”
Ian Fleet said the “social side” and home environment made the gym irreplaceable.
Ian said, “It’s a social thing. It’s so user-friendly that other gyms don’t want kids. But you come here, you can bring your children and your family.
“I come here every day and take the children with me. Pretty much they can do whatever they want here. I can go to the gym while they are swimming. The children are going to be the losers. Charlie learned to swim here.
University Vice Chancellor Professor Debra Humphris defended the decision and said: “The opportunity presented by the reacquisition of the Virgin Active site at the heart of our Falmer campus means that we can invest in the creation of ‘an exceptional home for our sports and health school. Sciences alongside Brighton and Sussex Medical School and our School of Education.
“In a post-pandemic world, the opportunities for collaboration and partnership in these areas have never been greater.”
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