A popular gym in Southend On Sea has sparked a furious row after it opened a spectator area where visitors pay £10 per hour to watch people stretch and exercise – the owner feels that the ‘groundbreaking’ new facility will help to boost profits and keep the gym running with low monthly subscription fees. However, a number of regular users of the gym have admitted that they have ‘serious concerns’ about being watched, and Southend News Network has received a number of emails from people who are considering terminating their membership.
Our Chief Reporter visited Gruntz Gym in London Road, Southend to find out more, and the owner Samuel Firmenrod is adamant that the new and unique feature is nothing for anyone to get worked up about. He said: ‘For as long as I can remember, our local swimming pool has included a spectator area where people can watch all of the action in the pool below, and this includes both women and young children who are there for swimming or diving – how is this any different? Statistics show that people who work out in a gym have some of the best bodies in the world, and while many individuals just pay for a membership so that they can have a good look at them, there is a growing market of spectators who would rather just pay £10 per hour to watch them in comfort. Hot and cold food is served directly to your table, and if viewers decide to sign up for a gym membership then we will deduct their admission fee from their first month’s subscription cost.’
Mr Firmenrod added: ‘Our market research also made us aware that a number of people simply don’t have the time to come down here and take a seat in the viewing area, and so for a 3-month trial period we will also allow Internet users to watch live video feeds of the gym at a reduced cost of £3.99 per hour. To be honest, I am not expecting any of our current members to leave the gym after these changes, and in any case they have all signed our standard terms and conditions document which clearly states that their workouts can be observed at any time for their own safety. A lot of gyms have CCTV these days in all areas to prevent crime, and from a business perspective we are using these cameras both ethically and effectively. How many people are obsessed with posting endless selfies while they are working out? How is this any different?’
Although Mr Firmenrod is adamant that his viewing gallery and online video feeds are not breaking any rules, it has emerged that a ‘Top Secret’ VIP area has also been built directly behind a mirrored wall in the ladies’ free weights area. According to a source who didn’t want to be named, access to this special room is available on an ‘Invite Only’ basis, with attendance fees running up to £500 per session depending upon the gym users who are in attendance.