A COMMUNITY gym is to be built in a West Oxfordshire village.
The £16,000 project, open to all residents, will see the disused sports pavilion next to Leafield Village Hall converted.
It will enable villagers who are unable or unwilling to attend commercial gyms to use it on a membership basis.
Phil Hall, chairman of the community gym committee, said: “It’s like a micro-gym with a capacity of about half-a-dozen people.
“There are bigger gyms around, like at Windrush Leisure Centre in Witney, with 10 identical machines and hundreds of people using it each day, which we don’t pretend to be like.
“It’s designed to be very affordable for local people and convenient, while also bringing people together and helping them get fit.
“We’re a fairly remote village and can get cut off a bit, particularly in the winter.
“There are people who are frustrated, because it’s just a massive amount of effort and time to go elsewhere, so they don’t go.
“Perhaps it would be used by parents with children who could get there in the early morning or after finishing work but have to do a lot of other things like prepare meals and get children to school.”
Residents came up with the idea of converting the building and presented it to Leafield Parish Council last year.
The pavilion, formerly used as sports changing rooms, has been out of use for about seven years.
On Tuesday the committee was awarded a £10,000 grant by the Awards for All Lottery-funded programme for community projects.
This helped to boost the £5,400 already received in grants from Oxfordshire County Council, West Oxfordshire District Council, the parish council and Cottsway housing association.
Work began last month to demolish inside walls and the pavilion will now be refurbished before it is fitted with equipment.
It is expected to open next month and will include aerobic and resistance machines, free weights and stretching space. There will also be a storage room for village hall equipment.
The committee will run the gym and the village hall committee will run the building, which will be unstaffed but fitted with CCTV cameras.
People can sign up for memberships, with basic costing £25 per month without a contract or £180 per year, and will be able touse it between 6am and 10pm.
Secretary Rich Weinhold said he did not use commercial gyms, because it was a “major time commitment” and expensive to drive to Witney or Carterton.
He added: “The time and expense were always real disincentives to continue at commercial gyms.
“True, our facility is less comprehensive than the in-town locations, but my interest is in cardio, flexibility and strength training, which is exactly what the Leafield gym will offer and at a more economical price.”
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