Campaign launched to save Kentish Town swimming pool from ‘closure’

The LA Fitness gym in Highgate Road, Kentish Town

The LA Fitness gym in Highgate Road, Kentish Town - Credit: Archant

A petition has been launched to save a Kentish Town swimming pool threatened with closure because a gym is changing hands.

LA Fitness operates the gym in Highgate Road, but it is set to be taken over by Pure Gym, a chain which offers cheaper, “no frills” style facilities.

Unlike LA Fitness, Pure Gym branches do not normally have pools, leaving members concerned the pool will be filled in and they will be left without a valuable facility.

LA Fitness is still open, charging a monthly fee between £40 and £60 depending on whether members are “off-peak” users.

The closest public indoor swimming facility to Highgate Road is in King’s Cross, which many current members of LA Fitness say is not convenient for regular use.

The petition on change.org already has more than 200 signatures, and the campaign is gathering momentum with a protest set to be held outside the gym at the weekend.

Ian Grant, who is co-ordinating the campaign, said: “LA Fitness has a mixed demographic, including lots of older people and children who learn to swim in the pool. It has a real community feel at the moment.

“Pure Gym has a much younger demographic than LA Fitness, and offers lots of high-intensity cardio classes which are not suitable for older people or those with certain health conditions. Swimming is a safe, non-weightbearing way for everyone to exercise.

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“There will also be redundancies made to the current staff, including to swimming instructors, if this conversion to Pure Gym goes ahead.

“We are hopeful that Pure Gym will listen to the concerns of the current gym users, and will keep the pool open, and maybe offer different priced memberships. Alternatively, we would like to see another provider take over. We just don’t want to lose the pool.”

Pure Gym has become a major player in the increasingly competitive fitness market over the past few years and currently operate more than 100 gyms in the UK.

The budget chain acquired the premises for all 43 LA Fitness gyms earlier this year.

A spokesperson for Pure Gym said that nothing has yet been confirmed for the Highgate Road gym, but said: “Pure Gym has begun the process of converting LA Fitness sites into Pure Gym gyms, and in doing so will invest over £20m across the LA Fitness sites.

“We focus our investment on creating a high quality fitness and activity environment that meets the needs of most people with cardio, weight training, resistance training, functional training and over 50 instructor lead classes per week.

“We do not find that it is economical to maintain wet facilities (swimming pools and saunas) in our gyms. We understand that this will be disappointing to some members but we believe that the greater good is served by offering facilities at lower cost, higher quality and with greater flexibility than before.

“The fact that newly converted sites have experienced a 70 per cent increase in membership gives us confidence that this model is working.”

Keir Starmer, MP for Holborn and St Pancras, gave his backing to those fighting to retain the pool.

He said: “Local people rely on the pool not just for fitness, but for mobility and recreation. I support the campaign to keep it open”

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