The closure of the gym at Fort Regent has sparked a flood of complaints from unhappy users – with one going so far as to say he'd be cancelling his Active membership after more than three decades.
The Active gym at the Fort closed last weekend, with the newly-refurbished Springfield site opening on Monday, but the move has brought a number of negative comments.
Access to the site, especially during rush-hour periods or when Springfield Stadium is hosting matches, has been among the issues raised, along with car parking, the relative lack of size compared with Fort Regent and an insufficient number of showers.
Roy Travert of the Friends of Fort Regent group said that warnings about the shortcomings of the decision to move the gym out of the Fort had not been heeded.
He said: “From the reports I've had, everything we were worried about has happened and it's been absolute carnage – you can't move down Springfield Road at busy times, and whereas you'd get hundreds of people using the gym at the Fort during the evening, lots of them can't get to Springfield.
“We suggested during the last meeting with ministers that there should be a three-month delay so that users could transfer over gradually to see if there were any hitches, but they weren't willing to do that.”
Video: Assistant Minister with responsibility for sport, Deputy Lucy Stephenson, takes a look at the new Springfield gym.
Mr Travert said that he was disappointed that there had been no willingness to negotiate shown by the two politicians who had met the group in mid-April, Infrastructure Minister Tom Binet and Deputy Lucy Stephenson, the Assistant Minister with responsibility for sport.
“I said to Deputy Binet that he could stop this now, like he did with the hospital, but he wasn't willing and said it was too far gone.
“I think it's appalling that Fort Regent has been purposefully run down, even though many of the new facilities are not fit for purpose – it's scandalous.”
An online petition calling for the process of moving sports groups out of the Fort, set up by Mr Travert, has gathered more than 2,500 signatures in around six weeks.
But he said that it was now the intention to wind up the group having failed to persuade the Government to change course and explain what future plans existed for the Fort.
Pictured: Parking was among the issues raised by users.
Deputy Stephenson said she was hopeful that many of the issues reported by users would be temporary.
“With any move there's always likely to be some concern,” she said. “It's human nature not to be comfortable with change, so we anticipated there would be challenges.
“I hope people give the new gym a chance – it has only been open for three days.”
Car parking was always likely to be one of the challenges, Deputy Stephenson added, although officials were working hard to ensure that as many of the 123 parking spaces around Springfield as possible were available, and were also seeking to promote active travel instead of reliance on cars.
“Springfield is a facility in the heart of St Helier where one third of Jersey's population lives,” she said.
Deputy Stephenson said that there were “active conversations” taking place regarding the future of the Fort, and that she would like to see a “realistic and pragmatic” solution that would incorporate sport and community use.
However, some users appear to have already given up on the new Springfield facility already. In a post on a local Facebook group, avid gym-goer Rob Amy wrote an impassioned post starting that he was "absolutely gutted" but the "search for a new gym starts tomorrow" after 35 years as an Active member.
In a post that attracted over 200 comments, Mr Amy said: "With an open mind I just tried the new Active facilities at Springfield. I had even attended the meetings arranged by Active saying how great the new facilities would be, nothing to worry about in closing the Fort.
"Just before 5 this evening I walked into the new gym with my daughter looked around and we walked out again. I've trained at the Fort for years, totally understand change is to be embraced, but OMG!!! The staff couldn't apologise enough, equipment crammed in so tight that using it is dangerous, you can't lift without knocking into someone trying to squeeze past. It's so small that I was shocked on another level!!!
"So after almost 35 years using the Fort and Active, I will be cancelling my membership tomorrow. Active equals States of Jersey and I am not alone in my sense of disbelief at what they have done.
"The search for a new gym starts tomorrow, absolutely gutted!!!!"
Many of the hundreds of comments were from other Active members voicing their disappointment and confirming their plans to cancel their membership.
There were also a notable number of comments praising the fitness facilities at Les Quennevais and other gyms in the west of the island, but with the acknowledgement that these are inconvenient to access for the large majority of people that live in and around town.
Robert Czerny expressed his sadness at the loss of Fort Regent gym: "The Fort was not only a gym, that place was full of great people, great staff! A place where you can relax and focus on your passion, almost like an antidepressant. Especially in this crazy world, where people have lots of stress and the biggest killer is depression!"
Ryan Hodgson, co-owner of Hodgson Fitness, added: "Our society needs it to promote health and wellbeing in a bid to prevent/reduce many of the mostly avoidable health conditions which are rising due to inactivity and start viewing these things as essential in the prevention is better than cure."
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