Fitness heavyweights battled it out to be named The Star’s Gym of the Year 2016 – with Ponds Forge flexing its muscles to be crowned the winner.
Hundreds of readers cast their votes to help the Fitness Unlimited facility – which boasts more than 90 fitness classes and an Olympic-sized swimming pool – claim the sought-after title.
A new state-of-the-art gym area was installed at the city centre venue last year, complete with top-of-the-range training equipment and a tiered spin studio.
Peter Clark, corporate health and fitness manager said: “Our fitness suite has been developed over the last year.
“It is a creative and innovative space. Fitness is changing and people want a whole experience; we involved sound, textures and lighting.
“The gym is for everyone, from people with movement issues to elite athletes – and they train side-by-side here.
“It has a high-end feel but it is accessible to everyone.”
Peter said Ponds Forge had been inspired by the This Girl Can campaign, a celebration of women in sport.
He said: “We don’t have mirrors and the area is all open, it’s about feeling comfortable in the space and not feeling intimidated.”
The runner-up in our Gym of the Year contest is the Concord Sports Centre in Shiregreen, also run by Fitness Unlimited.
Fitness development manager Laura Jeffrey said it is the community feel of the gym that makes it unique and keeps people coming back.
She said: “The enthusiasm and support from our staff really comes across to members; we have a lot of regulars.
“It is a very friendly environment. We also keep everything up-to-date.
“The knowledge of our staff means that everyone can be supported, there’s a real community spirit and this is a brilliant achievement for us.”
Firehouse Fitness, run by Sheffield firefighters Dennis Roebuck and Rob McGuigan, came in third place.
The pair switched from treadmills to tyres and from dumbbells to fire hoses to improve their fitness – and soon realised their in-station training sessions had business potential.
Now the pals are training others in their technique, running high-impact fitness classes that burn up to 800 calories an hour as well as one-to-one sessions at their gym centre in Halfway.
Their Firehouse Fitness concept started with sessions on a rugby field and is thought to be the only one of its kind in the country. The gym now has more than 500 members.
Rob said: “We went up against big gyms so we’ve done well to come third. We built this from scratch and we will bend over backwards for our members because most of our membership has come from word of mouth.
“We started this from scratch, we each put in £60 for some kettlebells.
“We are a success story.”
Follow our winners on Twitter @PondsForge, @ConcordSC and @FireFitnessUk