WHEN, WHY, WHO AND HOW?
24HR GYM came about in 2001 when the current owners rescued it from impending disaster. With the auctioneers on the doorstep, a long legacy and gym history was saved from extinction.
The origins of this gym can be traced back to the 1960's when the fitness industry was in its embryonic form. In the 70'S when Arnold Schwarzenegger suddenly put gyms on the map as places to sculpt the physique it became the leading Gym in the country.
In 1980, the late Mike Mentzer confronted Arnold over the alleged 'fixing' of his comeback Mr. Olympia title (a competition only open to collective Mr. Universe winners). This rocked the bodybuilding world and in protest Mike vowed never to compete again, which he never did. Instead he came to Swindon to live with fitness guru Bob Hizycki, attracted by the quality of equipment unsurpassed anywhere in the UK, and the fantastic layout which Mr. Hizycki had put together. It became the best gym in England and amongst the best in Europe and was very advanced for its day.
In turn this attracted more of the big name American stars to the UK and it was a grand sight to see Larry Bernstein, Mike Quinn, Mike Sable and Jeff King - all international American stars - working out together.
Mr. Hizycki then drove on for the perfect equipment designed around the physiques of these awe inspiring athletes. He used their knowledge to help in the design of the equipment and had it hand made and crafted by expert local welder and bodybuilder Roy Bunce, using unbreakable chains, pulleys and ball bearings on all moving parts. The challenge was to perfect the design of equipment that both a 250lb bodybuilder and an average trainer could use.
The results were amazing as he produced winner after winner from Swindon, taking some of them to national and international status.
The 1990's - The Fitness Centre Explosion
The fitness industry we see now exploded in the 90's after watching the success of both Golds Gym and Worlds Gym (both founded by Joe Gold) and the ease and speed at which they could be repeated and franchised out. Of course they were rebranded as fitness centres and as the salesmen took over the very rock upon which they were founded, quality equipment was forgotten about and buried beneath the sales and marketing of mass membership.
It is now at saturation point. Too many gyms chasing customers who join by suggestion alone. Inevitably some will collapse. Golds and Worlds gyms were built on the consistent gym user which although the minority of the market they are CONSISTENT and would prove to be a sound investment.
These gyms have proved to be recession proof as members value good equipment and service. The year long contracts that 'caught' customers in the 90's were found to be illegal and these people are now vanishing along with the easy profits.
Vernon Montgomery was one of Bob Hizycki's former students who successfully repeated the original concept with gyms in Reading and Bournemouth which are both successful to this day. On a return visit to Swindon in 2001 its was obvious that one of the greatest gyms in the country was about to go under the auctioneer's hammer.
In 1998 Mr. Hizycki had tried to grow in size and structure to compete with the corporate gyms by moving into a 25,000 sq ft unit.
The equipment, all still there intact, all matching, all wonderfully hand crafted 'one of a kind', would be under-valued by unappreciative buyers. It would be like a butcher valuing an Arabian thoroughbred race horse by its body weight!
Mr. Montgomery acted fast. He teamed up with Mark Cater, a successful businessman in his own right, who invested his money, time and expertise to save the collapse of this great institution.
With a total review of the layout of the gym many simple improvements were made with major effect. Modern marketing, quality staff and a sound, tight financial strategy was put in place. A complete overhaul of the decoration and a new corporate image led to a renaissance of the original gym concept with customer service as a major priority. Real instructors with proper training were brought in, with professional diet and nutrition experts from America, something completely overlooked by corporate fitness centres.
Revolutionary ideas like music being played from a live DJ box in the middle of the gym were started with live DJ's playing four nights a week and in May 2002 we became the first Gym in the UK to open 24 Hours. The gym was changed from being tired and old fashioned to being at the cutting edge of modern ideas on training.
The club has gone from strength to strength and the results have been amazing.
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