Beloved Bognor Regis gym still closed following devastating floods
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VK Gym, on Durban Road, Bognor Regis, had to close its doors in November after several inches of flood water damaged the flooring, and forced tens of thousands of pounds worth of equipment into storage.
Owner Peter Cox said he’d hoped to be back in the fight within a few weeks but now, months later, their insurance claims are still pending, the floorboards have only just been torn up, and all that gear is gathering dust.
"In all honesty I wasn’t too stressed out at first because it didn’t seem too bad,” he told Sussex World. “But it’s just dragged on and on and on now. For four months. I thought we’d be up and running within five or six weeks, but we still don’t know when we’ll be open. The insurance companies are assessing the refurbishment of the whole place, but we just haven’t heard much.”
Before almost anything else, VK Gym, which is also home to an amateur boxing club and several martial arts groups, is a community gym, with a drum-tight group of regulars at its core. Mr Cox said all of them are keen to come back.
"All of our members I’ve been in touch with, all they want to know is ‘when will we be open again?’ And I just can’t give them an answer. We’d just started a new boxing club a few months before the floods. They needed somewhere to train, so we had to clear the space next door and let them train there.”
With over a decade’s worth of history in Bognor Regis, VK Gym had a well established niche in the fitness industry, and plenty of devoted members – but Peter’s grandson Charlie is worried about how he’s going to win them back when the gym eventually reopens.
"My grandad spotted it at first. We’d had heavy rain and he said the water was starting to come through the reception area next door. At first I thought he was joking, but I soon discovered he wasn’t. I never thought it would get as bad as it did, but it spread to the boxing area and gradually, hour by hour, it just got worse and worse. In the end there must have been about ten inches of water in there. We’ve had to have everything redone,” he said.
"All that went through my head was ‘my business is finished’, and ‘I don’t know how to come back from this.’ Especially in our industry, we rely on memberships and I knew our guys would have to go train somewhere else – and I don’t blame them – but then you have to ask ‘how are we going to get them back?’ By the time we’ve reopened they’re going to be settled in their new gyms, and we still don’t know where we’ll be in another six months.
"The worry is now that it might happen again. If it rains at night, I sit up awake wondering what the gym will be like in the morning.”