Barry Leisure Centre is one of five Vale of Glamorgan Council-owned leisure centres operated by Legacy Leisure – a not-for-profit charitable organisation and subsidiary company of Parkwood Leisure.
It has, says Contract Manager Rob Oaten, always been a prominent local leisure centre spanning a cardiovascular and strength gym, sports hall, group exercise and cycling studios, squash courts, swimming pools and a GP referral studio – a broad offering that allows the centre to serve a good cross-section of the community, inspiring the highest participation numbers across all council-owned facilities.
In April 2020, an opportunity was identified to further diversify and differentiate the offering.
Located directly in front of the centre, in full view of an adjacent busy road, was a highly visible yet run-down area that was crying out for development.
“We saw an opportunity some time ago to potentially do something with the area,” says Oaten. “During the pandemic, we saw outdoor exercise returning quicker than indoor, so I started sketching ideas for an outdoor training space with functional flooring and a container gym to safely store equipment. It was an excitingly blank canvas.
“Once we had our formal designs – as well as funding to support the project from the Vale of Glamorgan Council and Sport Wales – we approached a number of suppliers to find someone who could help us bring it to life.
“We wanted a trusted supplier who could meet all our needs, providing the equipment as well as the container itself. We chose Physical due to its diversity and affordability.”
Positioned on the outer edge of the new flooring, the container’s branded external walls feature heavy-duty squat racks and dip stations. Inside, a wide array of Physical equipment can be moved outside for classes: kettlebells, bags, balls, plyo boxes, Olympic bars and plates, agility ladders, battle ropes and tyres to name a few.
“A long list of extra equipment will be ordered soon!” adds Sales & Fitness Manager Cara Short.
Oaten continues: “The container itself was surprisingly challenging, with most suppliers requiring us to organise this ourselves. Physical’s partnership with BeaverFit allowed it to seamlessly facilitate the container for us, as well as all the equipment, which brought the project together perfectly. Physical absolutely smashed it!”
The outdoor functional area officially opened on 21 July 2022 and immediately drew huge interest, starting with a sold-out week of kids’ Summer of Fun activities and, says Short, “a real buzz among members, all asking about the new timetable”.
She adds: “Our classes range from Prehab to Bootcamp, so there’s something for everyone. We’ll also look to rent the space to local sports clubs for their own training.”
“It allows for so much more variety in training, with scope to do exercises we simply wouldn’t have had the space to safely do indoors, adding great value to memberships,” confirms Oaten.
Fresh opportunities have also been presented by the outdoor area, with Legacy Leisure looking to employ an Active Communities Manager. The remit: to harness the space and encourage new audiences, including community groups, into the centre in support of wider health and wellbeing objectives.
“At a time when the cost of living crisis is impacting everyone, we’re also able to take advantage of the low operating costs of this new outdoor area to offer complimentary trials and subsidised use. It’s a great way of introducing people to the leisure centre,” Oaten concludes.
“The new area is therefore a great marketing tool, especially given its prominent location. It’s an eye-catching yet accessible, attractive first step into our facility – and Physical has played an important role in helping us turn our ideas into reality.”