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Exclusive: Sports Direct targets up to 30 health club openings in coming weeks

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Brio Leisure
£35,745pa + excellent benefits
location: Chester and Frodsham, United Kingdom
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Having launched the first Sports Direct Fitness.com gym earlier this week, the newest entrant to the health club industry is aiming to make an instant impact by opening up to 30 sites over the next couple of weeks.

Sports Direct International – the parent company founded by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley – officially launched its gym arm on 18 June when it took control of a former LA fitness site in Sale, Manchester.

The company remains in negotiations over further former LA fitness sites – 33 were put up for sale in March under company voluntary arrangements (CVA) as part of a restructuring plan to reduce debt – with an LA fitness spokesperson telling Health Club Management this week they “wouldn’t be surprised” to see more deals for former sites finalised by the end of the month.

Sports Direct head of leisure Winston Higham – recently from DW Sports and Fitness to head up the health club charge – has now indicated that further activity is imminent.

“(Sale is) the first site to come over, however we aim to take on six to 10 sites a week over the next two to three weeks,” he told Health Club Management.

“We took over the LA Sale on Tuesday – we are keeping all the existing staff, and actually increasing numbers to extend opening hours.”

Perhaps a sign of things to come at future sites, Higham indicated that extensive renovations are taking place at the former theatre in Manchester. Technogym is the main supplier for an equipment overhaul, which will also see a new functional training rig and group exercise area, as well as extensions to the free weights area and group cycling studio. FreeMotion – part of Fitness Systems – and True Fitness Technology are also supplying kit, while Lonsdale is responsible for a boxing area and USA Pro is sponsoring the studio refit and subsequent classes.

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Having launched the first Sports Direct Fitness.com gym earlier this week, the newest entrant to the health club industry is aiming to make an instant impact by opening up to 30 sites over the next couple of weeks.
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