Worthing rehabilitation gym could close - but members are fighting to save it

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
A gym in Worthing used by hundreds of people with medical conditions could close.

The gym in Steeple View, Worthing, shares the space with a day centre, which will be expanding to accommodate users from others nearby that are closing.

Its hundreds of members have underlying health conditions and use the gym’s specialist trainers to stay active.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Bob Smytherman, county councillor for Tarring, fought to keep it open three years ago and described its imminent closure in August as an ‘absolute tragedy’.

Bob Smytherman right, and members of Rowans gym keen to keep it openBob Smytherman right, and members of Rowans gym keen to keep it open
Bob Smytherman right, and members of Rowans gym keen to keep it open

He said he was ‘working very hard’ to find other premises the gym could move to.

He said: “At a time where people are encouraged to support health and wellbeing, what the council doesn’t seem to understand is that it is a rehabilitation gym.”

A letter was sent out to members of the Rowans Gym in Steeple View, Worthing, by Steve Roberts from West Sussex County Council to explain what was happening.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In the letter, he said: “With more people coming in we will not be able to offer so much space for the gym and fitness classes anymore.”

Building work to expand the day centre will begin in August and last six months.

Steve added that they hoped to ‘still offer some classes’ but admitted it would be ‘worrying’ for users.

It leaves an uncertain future for staff, trained to coach the members who are referred by their GP and whose health conditions range from Parkinson’s disease and high blood pressure to depression.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In November, supervisor Marie Pickering won coach of the year at the Sussex Sports Awards for her work, which included almost doubling the membership to around 550.

The decision has sparked anger among members, who have started a petition to save the gym.

Among those who signed was Mark Taylor, 77, from Lancing, who has type one diabetes and used the specialist trainers, equipment and classes to recover from heart surgery.

He feared ordinary gyms would not be able to cater to his needs. He said: “The Rowans keeps me going.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A West Sussex County Council spokesperson said: “We are currently implementing changes across our in-house social care services to help us meet customer needs now and in the future.

“This includes a planned increase in the number of people using the Rowans Day Centre.

“To accommodate this increase and to prioritise usage of the building by our new day opportunity users, the building will be subject to refurbishment. This will include reclaiming some of the space currently used by the gym.

“We have written to all gym members to inform them of this decision and have advised users who were referred by their doctor to discuss possible alternatives with their GP.”