A NEW £1million budget gym is promising to create 40 new jobs in Rochford–but the news has angered rival fitness centres in the area.

The Xercise4less chain has been given planning permission to turn the former Homebase DIY warehouse on the Purdeys Industrial Estate into one of the biggest gyms in the county.

The 39,000 sq ft gym is due to open on January 29, with the company claiming it will offer fitness fans in Rochford and Southend a cheaper option.

The Leeds-based Xercise4less chain runs more than 30 such gyms across the country, mainly on out of town industrial estates.

Chief operating officer Jon Wright said:“Thesouth provides us with great expansion opportunities, as the demand for affordable fitness continues to increase.

“We’re constantly striving to deliver the highest quality gyms at budget prices, making fitness accessible for all.

“With our continued expansion in the south, I haveno doubt this new gym will be successful in bringing an exceedingly good facility and a high level of customer service for as little as £9.99 amonth.”

The new gym, will offer boxing bags, a mixed martial arts cage, full-sized boxing ring, cardio and resistance machines, a womenonly area, spin and fitness studios and free weights, with parkingfor 150 cars.

However, Jean Harris, manager of family-owned Elite Fitness, on the same industrial estate, thinks Rochford Council was wrong to give planning permission for the gym.

She said: “Idon’t think it’sgood competition.They are going to be a stone’s throw away from us.

"We’ve only just taken this gym over in July and we’ve invested quiteabit in this.

“We’re trying to do the best we can to make it a gym everyone wants to come to.

“We just can’t understand why the council would then let a very, very large gym set up so close to us.

“We’re a family-run gym and we’ve put everything into it “All we can do is hope our members stay loyal to us.”


THE company planning to open a trampoline park opposite the new Xercise4less site is also angry the council allowed the chain to move in.

After getting planning permission from the council in July, Village Bounce is converting a warehouse to take its trampolines, though the opening date has yet to be announced.

The company was unhappy to learn the council had given permission for another leisure facility so close, especially since the Roller City roller rink is also nearby.

A spokesman for the company said: “It would not makes sense to saturate the area with similar larger businesses which rely on local customers and have the same customer base.

“Maybe now would be a prudent moment for the council’s planning committee to have a look at its policy on the industrial estate development before any huge decisions are taken to the detriment of other businesses.”

Jean Harris, manager of Elite Fitness, in Purdeys Way, also criticised the council over a perceived lack of notice about the gym plan.

She said: “We were quite upset because we were never told about it.

“We got in touch and the council said it had informed the whole of the industrial estate, yet 90 per cent knew nothing about it.”

The council told the Echo a site notice was put up at the former Homebase site, and neighbours were send notification letters.