Home Kent News Outdoor gym set up during pandemic ‘devastated’ by recent storms

Outdoor gym set up during pandemic ‘devastated’ by recent storms

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Original article from Kent Live

It's been a tough year or so for anyone who works in leisure and hospitality.

The pandemic has stopped many businesses from opening at all, instead forced to rely on Government grants to get by.

But the coronavirus has also unearthed incredible stories of adaption and innovation.

We've seen small businesses up and down the county go the extra mile to deliver a service for their customers and communities.

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Whether it's pub landlords revamping terraces, or shops and restaurants re-configuring floor space and other operations, the examples have seemed endless.

Another of these is HourGlass Fitness, which opened a special outdoor gym under a huge marquee at Hawkinge Cricket Club, near Folkestone.

It opened on March 29 when the first set of lockdown restrictions were lifted – and it's said to have quickly been booked up.

Inside the outdoor gym before the storm damage

Even as restrictions eased further and indoor gyms reopened, demand apparently remained from people who feel more comfortable about exercising outdoors in the current climate.

Which is why for some businesses right now, it must seem like it never rains but it pours.

Amid the coldest, wettest May for 25 years, storms on Friday (May 21) destroyed the structure of the new outdoor gym.

The marquee suffered irreparable damage, costing thousands of pounds

The marquee has suffered irreparable damage, costing several thousand pounds.

It's prompted the local community to start donating money on a fundraising page.


Yet like so many businesses in Kent these days, the people in charge are defiant about the challenges ahead.

Les Hewson and business partner Francesca O'Connor

"We went over in the evening on Friday and decided it was too dangerous to open," said Les Hewson.

"But it was only the next morning we saw the damage.

"It's all got to be taken down now unfortunately and we're going to have to order a new marquee.

"We were devastated to be honest.

"We have put so much time and money and effort into it and getting it up and running.

Les and Fran said they were devastated when they discovered the damage

"It's something Hawkinge definitely needs as well, because there's nothing in there in terms of health and fitness."

Les, who until recently worked as a fruit salesman, said that despite the setback he remains confident they will be up and running again within two weeks.

"The basic idea was that some people were nervous about training inside a gym," he added.

The outdoor gym in use before the storm

"It's been just as busy since the indoor gyms reopened – we've got 400-odd on our Facebook page and 50 or 60 members.

"It was going really well until the storm.

"It's expensive to set up on a budget, but it looked good until dear old mother nature had her say.

"All the equipment was fine though.

"It has put us back a bit but we will get it up and running again.

"We've got loads of community stuff planned.

"There's going to be more stuff for children – I'll be running a boxing club and Fran will be doing Totally Shredded classes.

"We want to do as much for the community as possible."

Original Article