Ipswich: Town gets muscle-charged boost as two major gyms prepare to open.

IPSWICH: Gym wars have broken out!

Ipswich received a muscle-busting boost today after it emerged that TWO major fitness centres are set to open in the town.

The famous St Matthew’s Baths Hall – which once played host to Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin – is being reborn as The Gym Ipswich, run by Suffolk-based Abbeycroft Leisure.

Meanwhile, Wigan Athletic FC supremo Dave Whelan is transforming a former DIY warehouse in Ranelagh Road into a state-of-the-art facility as part of a major expansion plan.

His chain of gyms – DW Fitness –has bought the freehold of the 30,000 sq ft former Glyn Webb store next to the River Gipping for an undisclosed sum. It plans to open its new centre later in the year.

The developments will provide a major lift to the local economy, with dozens of jobs set to be created once both centres are up and running.

Property agents Penn Commercial completed the deal on behalf of fast-expanding DW Fitness, which has more than 50 clubs across the UK.

Most Read

Vanessa Penn said: “Dave Whelan flew in by helicopter just a few weeks ago to complete the deal.

“He’s very keen to invest in Ipswich and feels that there is real potential for his business here.”

But DW Fitness will face competition with St Matthews Baths Hall being converted into a gym.

The baths hold a fond place in many people’s memories as the place they learned to swim or saw famous musical acts perform.

Now the building it is about to be opened as an “affordable gym”.

The original structure features a stunning vaulted Victorian roof and the new gym will be over two floors.

The Gym Ipswich will open at 6am on Monday after a major refurbishment of the building.

One hundred Matrix fitness stations will be installed including the brand new Virtual Active experience, a revolutionary workout experience which simulates climbing, running and hiking along some of the world’s most beautiful landmarks including Ayers Rock and the Grand Canyon.

Suffolk-based Abbeycroft Leisure, is behind the new gym, one of a small number of leisure trusts in the UK embarking on such a venture. Abbeycroft is a social enterprise, so all profits from the gym will go back into providing health and fitness.

The new gym will offer a high quality gym at an affordable price, starting at just �12.99 per month with no joining fee and will create seven new jobs.

Warren Smyth, chief executive of Abbeycroft Leisure said: “We are extremely excited about our new gym in Ipswich and have a chance to provide a quality gym at an affordable price for local people.”

n Will you be getting into shape at one of the gyms? Do you have memories of St Matthew’s Baths Hall? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk