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Simon’s Story

- September 1st, 2016


I am often asked how VVV Health & Leisure Club first came about. Are we part of a chain? Are there other VVV Gyms anywhere else in the country? Well, I felt it was about time that I gave you the background behind the evolution of VVV since it’s inception in 1997.

In the summer of 1995, after spending 8 years in various managerial positions with Safeway supermarket chain, I had the opportunity of taking redundancy due to company restructuring. I had hated all but a few months of my time there, which had slowly eroded both my confidence and my self-esteem.

I decided to take some time to think about what path I was to take next, but I also wanted to spend some time doing the things that I enjoyed but had never had the time to do before, namely sport and exercise.

I was really keen to join a gym, but thought ‘I cannot go to a gym looking like this’, so instead bought myself some dumbbells from Argos and started working out at home. At that point I thought there was no way I was ever going to feel comfortable enough to walk into a gym!

However, after a few weeks of training I started to feel much more positively about myself and my self-confidence levels began to rise. It felt strange that after so many years of thinking “I can’t do this” I now began to feel a definite “can do” attitude about myself. I soon felt confident enough to start looking around for a suitable gym that I was happy to join. I started going to the local sports centre. It was extremely small and ill equipped but was fine for what I needed at that time.

It was at this point that I realised that exercise was actually playing a huge role in my ability to think more clearly and more positively. It was helping me to take a greater amount of control over my own life rather than feeling as though I was drifting from one bad day to another. I think it was those beliefs that started to give rise to VVV and how exercise was literally starting to ‘Change my life’. I also started to consider how amazing it would be to be able to do that on a larger scale helping many more people.

Within a few months I felt I needed to move to a bigger gym facility. The options were either a £50 a month lycra-clad health club or a “spit and sawdust” body builders gym. There was very little else around so it was at this point that I started to feel there was a gap in the market for good quality facilities aimed at those people who wouldn’t normally see themselves as gym goers but were still extremely conscious of the need to be healthy.

By May 1997 coupled with the considerable backing of my family, Teal Bay Leisure was purchased and we set about renovating the existing club. Finally, on 27th October 1997, VVV Health and Leisure Club opened its doors for the first time with a grand total of 250 members.

The Club has grown in size from 12,000sq ft to 20,000sq ft, our membership has grown to over 3,000 members and we have won numerous awards including the prestigious ‘Club of the Year Award’ in 2005. We have had over 850 patients referred to us by local Doctors and Physiotherapists and continue to provide quality exercise programmes for members referred to us following debilitating strokes, heart attacks and other conditions and illnesses. We have a good relationship with the local health services and strong ties with our local MS Society, Breathe Easy group (part of the British Lung Foundation) and we run chair-based exercise classes, which are also available to non-members to come along and join.

The tidal surge on 5th December 2013 battered VVV like no other storm in the past 20/30 years. You may have seen video footage of that day when the waves were literally crashing up against the building and both staff and members were stranded for hours. The damage done, especially to our car park was horrific. We then had to deal with further tidal problems at the beginning of January and February which tested both the resolve of ourselves and our members.

The thing I love about VVV is the people. I work with people who want to make a difference to people’s lives.

VVV’s focus is and has always been about the people rather than the facilities however we have a strong reputation for providing excellent facilities with highly qualified instructors in a relaxed, fun and non-intimidating environment.

Of course, my view of what VVV should offer has evolved over the years but I have always wanted VVV to be about offering as much choice as possible to ensure that our members gain the maximum value for money. Whether it’s the range of training methods and equipment, membership packages or the choice from over 120 group-training classes on offer every week. VVV is about always trying to provide you with the best value for your money.

I hope that in telling my story, there will be many people that read this that can also identify with at least some elements of it. We are not like other facilities nor do we wish to imitate them. VVV is unique and we do our best to meet our members’ aspirations. We are by far the best at what we do and that is also due to having the members that support us.

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