The future of a community fitness facility founded by friends from a Northumberland village is looking great thanks to a five-figure investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported By The European Regional Development Fund.
District V opened in April last year in 700 sq ft premises at the Whitehouse Farm Business Centre near Morpeth, primarily to provide somewhere for a small number of residents of the nearby St Mary’s Park in Stannington to exercise and keep fit.
But the facility’s ‘functional fitness’ training style quickly attracted dozens of members, with clients travelling from as far away as Ponteland and Throckley to attend classes – and now, to capitalise on the additional demand, District V has moved into neighbouring premises at Whitehouse Farm that are more than double the size.
The directors worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to secure a £15,000 investment to support the move.
This additional investment has also allowed them to bring a range of new equipment into the gym, including new rowing machines, free-weights, dumbbells and a custom-built exercise rig, and they are now aiming to grow the gym’s membership through the new year and beyond.
Functional Fitness is a form of training that builds strength, stability and mobility that is useful both in the gym and in everyday life, and combines bodyweight movements, barbell exercises and gymnastic skills to provide a well-rounded and effective workout.
The gym currently offers more than 20 classes a week that include no more than twelve people at a time and has four fully qualified coaches on hand to run and supervise them.
Bastian White, one of District V’s four directors, says: “We really only set up the gym for ourselves and a few friends and neighbours, and it’s been great to see the number of users growing over the last few months, essentially just through word of mouth.
“We try to provide a friendly, welcoming atmosphere that encourages people to keep coming back and this close-knit environment will remain central to what we do in the new premises.
“Functional fitness is all about helping people live healthy and active everyday lives. It’s an approach that’s scalable to every age and ability, and the feedback we’ve had from users about the impact it’s had on them has been terrific.
“Whitehouse Farm is an easily accessible location that gives us plenty of space for all sorts of different activities, inside and out. Moving into the bigger unit will allow us to welcome even more people along to try out what we have to offer.
“The NEL investment team were really friendly and helpful, the investment options they provided fit well with what we needed and we couldn’t recommend them enough.”
Part of the £120m North East Fund and aimed predominantly at smaller SMEs, the £9m North East Small Loan Fund typically offers loans of between £10,000 and £50,000 to businesses in Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland.
It is designed to assist with the creation of over 1,200 new regional jobs in more than 320 SMEs over the life of the fund.
Mike Guellard, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “The District V team has made amazing progress in such a short space of time.
“The new gym looks terrific, and with many of us making a New Year’s resolution to get fitter, it’s opening at an ideal time.”
The overarching North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.
NEL is also responsible for investing the £18m North East Growth Capital Fund, which offers unsecured investments of up to £500,000 to established businesses looking to realise their growth potential.