Win for gym users

Rhonda Dredge

There is no way of beating around the bush when it comes to keeping fit, particularly when you’re working from home.

The people of Kensington came out of lockdown, only to see their recreation centre being demolished as part of its redevelopment.

One father and son weight-lifting duo got into the habit of travelling to North Melbourne.

“We’re coming here four times a week,” said dad, Andrew Roberts. “Aidan is in Year 12 so he we’ll drop back to three until he finishes.”

Imagine their shock when a sign went up at the North Melbourne Recreation Centre about a month ago that the gym would be closed from June 30.

“There was no consultation,” he said. “We came in one day and the signs were up. One of the staff got an email the day before.”

Andrew sent an email to the council to complain. It got referred back to the recreation centre, which was strange, he said, because they hadn’t made the decision to close the gym in the first place.

Gym facilities have become a hot issue over the past few months as people try and regain some agency over their lives.

Physical fitness is vital to mental health and not all councils have been sensitive to the benefits of communal exercise, taking the easy option of subscribing to online classes.

Last month North West City News reported on the City of Melbourne’s Future Melbourne Committee meeting held at the Meat Market Stables in North Melbourne, where the issue of the gym was raised by a number of locals.

 

Several people spoke publicly against the closure of the gym in a moving display of democratic protest made possible by the council’s decision to take meetings to the people. .

 

They were critical of the alternative – a cramped gym at the North Melbourne Football Club (NMFC)

The council’s head of neighbourhood planning spoke for five minutes about the issue, but it was still not clear what the outcome would be. The logic behind the move involved moving NMFC’s The Huddle to the recreation centre to run community outreach and employment programs.

In closing the discussion on the issue, deputy major Nick Reece said, “the community consultation process is ongoing. The gym services will be available while consultation takes place.”

When North West City News visited on July 9, closure notices had been removed, the staff member given notice was still working and Andrew and Aidan were doing a work-out.

Andrew said he sent two emails to the officers and they just “passed the buck”.

The visibility of both councillors and staff away from the trappings of Town Hall is a big step in the right direction of open government.

Andrew is hoping the gym will stay open at the recreation centre until the new one in Kensington is completed.

“We did exercise at home,” he said. “We went slower but didn’t have the weights. There’s more community here and you talk to people instead of being locked up in the garage by yourself.” •

 

Caption: Andrew and Aidan doing a work-out.

Like us on Facebook