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A burning ambition

Lauren Applegarth pays a visit to Toxteth Fire Fit Hub, in Liverpool, to see how the new dual-use facility is getting firefighters fit for duty while encouraging young people in the area to get active

By Lauren Applegarth | Published in Health Club Management 2013 issue 6
The fire crew – as part of their involvement at the facility – will give young people the opportunity to train like firefighters

Mention the area of Toxteth and for some, what may spring to mind are the infamous riots of 1981. Fast-forward to 2013 and this inner city area of Liverpool,
like many other urban areas, is struggling against the economic downturn, with above average levels of unemployment and social unrest.

In the face of these challenges, in October 2011, permission was granted for what would become the Toxteth Fire Fit Hub – a multi-million pound sports facility, built with the interests of the local youth community at its heart.

Community focus
The Hub, which is also home to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service’s new Toxteth Community Fire Station, was launched in spring 2013. Built in the centre of the district and on the site of the original Toxteth Sports Centre, the £5.2m project was secured through £2.3m funding from the Department of Education’s myplace initiative, a further £2.8m from Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, and £500,000 from Liverpool City Council.

Liverpool-based architects Cass Associates were commissioned to design the building, working alongside the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority to deliver the facility to its dual-purpose requirements: central to the Hub and a condition of the fire service’s residence is the 340sq m gym, which offers premium quality exercise equipment for use both by the station’s firefighters and by members of the community.

In addition to the split-level gym, the Hub offers a 1,200sq m sports hall, group fitness studio, four outdoor five-a-side pitches and a community fire station – and it has grand aspirations for its role within the local community.

“The focus of the site is to make a real difference to the lives of young people in the immediate area and in Liverpool,” says Sara Lawton, project leader for the facility at Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service. “Our aim is to encourage healthier lifestyles by encouraging young people to engage in positive activities.”

Local young people have in fact been involved throughout: the Toxteth Fire Fit Hub Ambassadors, a group of local youngsters who helped shape the Hub, will continue their involvement in the governance of the site once it’s fully operational this month. In addition, Wates Construction – which was responsible for the build, and which employed 60 per cent of the labour required for the project from the Merseyside area – hired eight local apprentices who were jointly funded by Wates, its supply chain and the Merseyside Apprenticeship Programme.

Fit for the job
With the interests of the local community at its core, the Hub nevertheless still had to meet the critical requirements of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, a key stakeholder and investor in the facility that now has 20 firefighters based on-site.

The gym houses over 30 pieces of cardiovascular and strength equipment from Cybex International – treadmills, Arc Trainers and bikes, alongside the Bravo all-in-one functional training system, free weights and selectorised strength equipment from Cybex’s VR3 Total Access range. Through Cybex’s build-to-order policy, the treadmills, Arc Trainers and bikes were personalised with blue frames, while the selectorised equipment features customised upholstery.

A further 170sq m area on the first floor offers a dedicated functional training zone including kettlebells, medicine balls, dumbbells and Powerbags, as well as a boxing ring.

“From the moment we were invited to quote for Toxteth Fire Fit Hub, we were immediately excited by the project and its ambitions,” says Paul Steel, business development manager for Cybex UK.

As part of its agreement with the facility, Cybex has already been putting the firefighters through their paces using its Firefighter Performance Programme. Developed by the Cybex Research Institute and already widely used in the US, the training concept is designed to enhance the specific physical attributes required by the profession.

“The programme stood out as part of Cybex’s tender – we felt it was something our staff would really benefit from,” says Lawton. “Firefighters need to be ready to respond to any emergency they are called to, and they spend a lot of time during the week focusing on their fitness. Having a gym like this on-site is great for them.”

With three levels of difficulty, the Firefighter Performance Programme combines intervals and circuits using Cybex’s Arc Trainer and a range of functional resistance equipment, including medicine balls, dumbbells, ropes and training ladders.

Fire crew who have already taken part in the programme include several individuals who were recovering from injury and working towards returning to full duty. Chris Rock, master trainer for Cybex, explains: “It’s important that we teach the firefighters how best to use the equipment and the feedback was very positive, particularly from those who recognised the role that the programme could have in helping them regain full levels of fitness.”

Train like a firefighter
Rock adds: “The programme ensures much higher levels of understanding of the equipment than is the norm, and the fire crew – as part of their involvement at the facility – will be able to impart this information to other gym users, giving young people the opportunity to train like, and alongside, firefighters.”

Kieran Timmins, deputy chief executive of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority, adds: “Not only did Cybex offer a cost-effective solution to our unique requirements as a fire service, but we especially liked its concept of allowing the wider community user group to ‘train like a firefighter’ along with our fire crews.

“The crews will act as role models and community leaders at the station, while maintaining their operational fitness using the equipment in the gym.”

In line with its community and youth focus, the Hub’s business model is very much built around providing maximum accessibility, with the choice of pay-as-you-go or an annual membership fee, reduced for youth members. The football pitches will also be available for private hire seven days a week. Councillor Dave Hanratty, chair of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority, says: “The Hub aims to help and support young people to a fitter and brighter future. It will make a huge impact. Nothing compares to it – it’s truly unique.”

Apprenticeships
There’s no doubt that, throughout its development and construction phases, Toxteth Fire Fit Hub has played its part in supporting the local community. However, the challenge remains for the site to continue to meet its objectives as a fully operational sports facility.

At the launch, the mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson announced that Liverpool City Council would be funding seven apprenticeships at The Hub, covering administrative, youth worker and reception staff roles. “I’m pleased to be able to help with tackling unemployment through the joint City Council and Fire Authority project at the Fire Fit Hub in Toxteth,” he said. “Apprenticeships can make a difference to young people’s lives and equip them with vital work skills for the future success of Liverpool.”

“The Toxteth Fire Fit Hub is a true example of how regeneration projects can not only make a physical difference to a community, but also bring with them lasting benefits for its people,” adds Tony Shenton, business unit director for Wates Construction, North West.

Hanratty concludes: “The site ticks all the boxes for the fire and rescue service, with a gym that combines an excellent design layout and mix of equipment to ensure the crews are supported in their training, while also meeting the interests of young people. The Hub will make a positive difference to all involved.”

The Hub has a 340sq m gym
The Hub has a 340sq m gym
170sq m functional training zone, for firefighters and the local community alike
170sq m functional training zone, for firefighters and the local community alike
The £5.2m facility brings new sport and fitness opportunities to an area of social deprivation
The £5.2m facility brings new sport and fitness opportunities to an area of social deprivation
The Hub is also home to a sports hall
The Hub is also home to a sports hall
The gym equipment was personalised with blue frames and customised upholstery
The gym equipment was personalised with blue frames and customised upholstery
The gym equipment was personalised with blue frames and customised upholstery
The gym equipment was personalised with blue frames and customised upholstery
http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/HCM2013_6burning.gif
Toxteth Fire Fit Hub in Liverpool is a new, £5.2m, dual-use community facility enabling firefighters to get fit for duty, while also helping to inspire youngsters in an area of social deprivation to be more active. Lauren Applegarth reports
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features

A burning ambition

Lauren Applegarth pays a visit to Toxteth Fire Fit Hub, in Liverpool, to see how the new dual-use facility is getting firefighters fit for duty while encouraging young people in the area to get active

By Lauren Applegarth | Published in Health Club Management 2013 issue 6
The fire crew – as part of their involvement at the facility – will give young people the opportunity to train like firefighters

Mention the area of Toxteth and for some, what may spring to mind are the infamous riots of 1981. Fast-forward to 2013 and this inner city area of Liverpool,
like many other urban areas, is struggling against the economic downturn, with above average levels of unemployment and social unrest.

In the face of these challenges, in October 2011, permission was granted for what would become the Toxteth Fire Fit Hub – a multi-million pound sports facility, built with the interests of the local youth community at its heart.

Community focus
The Hub, which is also home to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service’s new Toxteth Community Fire Station, was launched in spring 2013. Built in the centre of the district and on the site of the original Toxteth Sports Centre, the £5.2m project was secured through £2.3m funding from the Department of Education’s myplace initiative, a further £2.8m from Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, and £500,000 from Liverpool City Council.

Liverpool-based architects Cass Associates were commissioned to design the building, working alongside the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority to deliver the facility to its dual-purpose requirements: central to the Hub and a condition of the fire service’s residence is the 340sq m gym, which offers premium quality exercise equipment for use both by the station’s firefighters and by members of the community.

In addition to the split-level gym, the Hub offers a 1,200sq m sports hall, group fitness studio, four outdoor five-a-side pitches and a community fire station – and it has grand aspirations for its role within the local community.

“The focus of the site is to make a real difference to the lives of young people in the immediate area and in Liverpool,” says Sara Lawton, project leader for the facility at Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service. “Our aim is to encourage healthier lifestyles by encouraging young people to engage in positive activities.”

Local young people have in fact been involved throughout: the Toxteth Fire Fit Hub Ambassadors, a group of local youngsters who helped shape the Hub, will continue their involvement in the governance of the site once it’s fully operational this month. In addition, Wates Construction – which was responsible for the build, and which employed 60 per cent of the labour required for the project from the Merseyside area – hired eight local apprentices who were jointly funded by Wates, its supply chain and the Merseyside Apprenticeship Programme.

Fit for the job
With the interests of the local community at its core, the Hub nevertheless still had to meet the critical requirements of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, a key stakeholder and investor in the facility that now has 20 firefighters based on-site.

The gym houses over 30 pieces of cardiovascular and strength equipment from Cybex International – treadmills, Arc Trainers and bikes, alongside the Bravo all-in-one functional training system, free weights and selectorised strength equipment from Cybex’s VR3 Total Access range. Through Cybex’s build-to-order policy, the treadmills, Arc Trainers and bikes were personalised with blue frames, while the selectorised equipment features customised upholstery.

A further 170sq m area on the first floor offers a dedicated functional training zone including kettlebells, medicine balls, dumbbells and Powerbags, as well as a boxing ring.

“From the moment we were invited to quote for Toxteth Fire Fit Hub, we were immediately excited by the project and its ambitions,” says Paul Steel, business development manager for Cybex UK.

As part of its agreement with the facility, Cybex has already been putting the firefighters through their paces using its Firefighter Performance Programme. Developed by the Cybex Research Institute and already widely used in the US, the training concept is designed to enhance the specific physical attributes required by the profession.

“The programme stood out as part of Cybex’s tender – we felt it was something our staff would really benefit from,” says Lawton. “Firefighters need to be ready to respond to any emergency they are called to, and they spend a lot of time during the week focusing on their fitness. Having a gym like this on-site is great for them.”

With three levels of difficulty, the Firefighter Performance Programme combines intervals and circuits using Cybex’s Arc Trainer and a range of functional resistance equipment, including medicine balls, dumbbells, ropes and training ladders.

Fire crew who have already taken part in the programme include several individuals who were recovering from injury and working towards returning to full duty. Chris Rock, master trainer for Cybex, explains: “It’s important that we teach the firefighters how best to use the equipment and the feedback was very positive, particularly from those who recognised the role that the programme could have in helping them regain full levels of fitness.”

Train like a firefighter
Rock adds: “The programme ensures much higher levels of understanding of the equipment than is the norm, and the fire crew – as part of their involvement at the facility – will be able to impart this information to other gym users, giving young people the opportunity to train like, and alongside, firefighters.”

Kieran Timmins, deputy chief executive of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority, adds: “Not only did Cybex offer a cost-effective solution to our unique requirements as a fire service, but we especially liked its concept of allowing the wider community user group to ‘train like a firefighter’ along with our fire crews.

“The crews will act as role models and community leaders at the station, while maintaining their operational fitness using the equipment in the gym.”

In line with its community and youth focus, the Hub’s business model is very much built around providing maximum accessibility, with the choice of pay-as-you-go or an annual membership fee, reduced for youth members. The football pitches will also be available for private hire seven days a week. Councillor Dave Hanratty, chair of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority, says: “The Hub aims to help and support young people to a fitter and brighter future. It will make a huge impact. Nothing compares to it – it’s truly unique.”

Apprenticeships
There’s no doubt that, throughout its development and construction phases, Toxteth Fire Fit Hub has played its part in supporting the local community. However, the challenge remains for the site to continue to meet its objectives as a fully operational sports facility.

At the launch, the mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson announced that Liverpool City Council would be funding seven apprenticeships at The Hub, covering administrative, youth worker and reception staff roles. “I’m pleased to be able to help with tackling unemployment through the joint City Council and Fire Authority project at the Fire Fit Hub in Toxteth,” he said. “Apprenticeships can make a difference to young people’s lives and equip them with vital work skills for the future success of Liverpool.”

“The Toxteth Fire Fit Hub is a true example of how regeneration projects can not only make a physical difference to a community, but also bring with them lasting benefits for its people,” adds Tony Shenton, business unit director for Wates Construction, North West.

Hanratty concludes: “The site ticks all the boxes for the fire and rescue service, with a gym that combines an excellent design layout and mix of equipment to ensure the crews are supported in their training, while also meeting the interests of young people. The Hub will make a positive difference to all involved.”

The Hub has a 340sq m gym
The Hub has a 340sq m gym
170sq m functional training zone, for firefighters and the local community alike
170sq m functional training zone, for firefighters and the local community alike
The £5.2m facility brings new sport and fitness opportunities to an area of social deprivation
The £5.2m facility brings new sport and fitness opportunities to an area of social deprivation
The Hub is also home to a sports hall
The Hub is also home to a sports hall
The gym equipment was personalised with blue frames and customised upholstery
The gym equipment was personalised with blue frames and customised upholstery
The gym equipment was personalised with blue frames and customised upholstery
The gym equipment was personalised with blue frames and customised upholstery
http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/HCM2013_6burning.gif
Toxteth Fire Fit Hub in Liverpool is a new, £5.2m, dual-use community facility enabling firefighters to get fit for duty, while also helping to inspire youngsters in an area of social deprivation to be more active. Lauren Applegarth reports
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Company profile: EZ-Runner Systems Ltd
With over 600 clients worldwide in Spa, Golf, Health Club, Hotel and Kids Play Leisure, ...
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Company profile: Myzone Group Ltd
At Myzone we reward Effort to solve the pervasive problem of ‘diminishing motivation within exercisers’ ...
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Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Management software
GymSales: Management software
Exercise equipment
Star Trac / Core Health & Fitness: Exercise equipment
Fitness software
Go Do.Fitness: Fitness software
Skincare
Comfort Zone - Davines S.p.A: Skincare
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: Trade associations
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Ojmar: Locking solutions
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MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
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Diary dates
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