Kirklees Active Leisure (KAL) is a charitable trust operating 12 facilities, the majority including gyms, in partnership with the local council in the Kirklees area.
Market leader by membership and presence across the region, KAL enjoys high levels of cross-site usage. “With varying types and sizes of facility across the area, it’s usually only a few miles’ drive to the next site,” says health, safety & projects manager Adam McNeely.
In 2022, preparing for a refresh of a number of its facilities, KAL put its equipment provision out to tender and appointed Physical for all functional and studio equipment, as well as making Physical one of two approved rig providers.
The first two refurbishments with the new supplier line-up took place at Colne Valley Leisure Centre (November 2022) and the flagship John Smith Stadium (December 2022).
At Colne Valley, where a 220sq m gym floor meant space was a primary consideration, the key requirements were to expand the functional training space – without compromising other elements of the offering – and to create a storage solution that didn’t cause a bottleneck. “Previously, if members were exercising on the floor in front of the storage rack, others couldn’t reach past to get the kit they needed,” says McNeely.
Meanwhile, at John Smith Stadium, the challenge was a long, thin room where the functional zone was too small and cluttered with equipment and the free weights area was the first thing you saw. “Some members are still intimidated by free weights, so this wasn’t an ideal first impression,” says McNeely.
He explains: “Here, the goal was to re-zone and create more usable functional space. We also wanted to create a premium feel for this flagship site.”
McNeely continues: “We looked at current usage trends and realised we had too much cardio equipment at both sites. We felt we could steal back some of this space to expand our functional zones.
“Lead times meant we’d already ordered our main gym floor equipment, but Physical was able to design the new functional training zones in a way that really made the most of the available space.”
In both locations, Physical provided a wide range of functional equipment – slam balls, medicine balls, kettlebells, TRX, battle ropes, dumbbells, skipping ropes, power bags, foam rollers, plyo boxes and so on – stored in bespoke Exigo rigs.
It also provided a sled for the stadium, where customised turf carrying KAL’s logo and colour scheme provides a powerful new first impression; the expanded functional zone is now the first thing you see when you enter the gym.
McNeely continues: “We also asked Physical to provide the flooring for both projects, and the differentiated zoning we’ve been able to create at John Smith Stadium in particular is really powerful, with four different types of flooring for four distinct training experiences.
“At Colne Valley, we also needed to be clever with storage and Physical came up with an excellent solution. Rather than running the full length of the wall – members used to get in the way of each other all the way along – it’s a space-efficient corner rig. It also has two integrated lifting stations with the platform cut in and flush to the floor so the space is multi-purpose.”
And all of this was delivered in a tight timeframe, with a two-week window for each installation. “The Physical team were confident they could deliver on time and on budget, and they did exactly as they said they would,” says McNeely.
“There were challenges along the way, as there so often are with projects like this, but I can’t fault Physical’s speed and responsiveness in addressing and overcoming them. I believe you find out more about a company when challenges arise than if everything is plain sailing, and we very much appreciate Physical’s customer service and ability to find solutions.”
“Both gyms have been transformed, from the layout and look and feel to the lighting and equipment. The response from members has been very positive and converting a sales tour is easy these days!” says McNeely.
“It’s also been really pleasing to see all the new zones being well used: members have embraced the expanded functional training zones and there are no areas of the gym going untouched. But equally, we haven’t cut CV to the point where people are having to queue for machines. It feels like we’ve struck a good balance between clean functional floorspace and equipment.”