An investigation into the feasibility of keeping a community gym open at Papamoa has been ordered by Tauranga City Council.

The council was responding to a petition from 200 people opposing the decision by Bay Venues to close Clubfit Papamoa on July 31.

The gym, run by council-controlled sport and leisure trading company Bay Venues Ltd (BVL), occupied a room in the Papamoa Sport and Recreation Centre and had 176 members.

Bay Venues said the sport and recreation centre did not have the capacity to grow to a level where it could offer a fully serviced and staffed gym.


There were health and safety issues with not having staff permanently in the gym, and with usage averaging 10 to 12 people a day, the space could be better utilised by other groups.

But gym member Rex O'Brien told councillors that all Bay Venues was interested in was its showcase gym at Bayfair and making money.

''People should not fit the model, the model should fit people,'' he said.

He described how opposition to members losing their little gym had overflowed at two meetings where Bay Venues had got hammered - particularly from older users.

''They did not expect this level of discontent.''

O'Brien said the announcement in May that the gym would close had created a tornado in the area.

He exercised three mornings a week and said members did not want all the bells and whistles of other gyms.

''It is pretty cheap, I will admit.''


A lot of older members were there to keep their bodies going. There were two major retirement villages in the area and the gym had become part of a social hub for a small number of people.

O'Brien was confident the gym could be successful if there was more advertising and more working with the community.

He agreed with councillor Larry Baldock that members could set up a committee to help attract more members. ''It needs someone to get the ball rolling.''

Councillor Steve Morris successfully called for Bay Venues to provide information about what would be required to keep the gym open.

Bay Venues will identify the shortfall between income and how much was needed to have a fully serviced and staffed gym. They would then know how much membership fees had to rise to cover the shortfall.

Morris said the council would then know whether keeping the gym open was within the realms of possibility and could include options like shortening the hours.

''The petitioners made an effort and it deserves a response,'' he said afterwards.

Councillor John Robson said older people may not feel comfortable in gyms with hipster millennials. ''I look forward to the discussions with BVL,'' he said.

The call for more information did not mean that the July 31 closure had been postponed.