Health: Gyms should be fun rather than a chore

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Gyms can be lonely places. Rows of static bicycles, rowing machines and treadmills, their inhabitants plugged into music players or with their eyes fixed straight ahead on the flat screen televisions lining the walls.

There’s no interaction, no communication and certainly no fun to be had.

That’s determinedly not the case at Leeds’ newest gym, Primal on Leeds Dock. Although there are one or two machines dotted around the two-storey building, the emphasis is very much on using open space and natural movement to get fit; monkey bars, a boxing ring, three lane running track and an oversized tractor tyre are there to be used individually or as part of a class.

Managing director Phill Wright, an army veteran with tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan under his belt and a qualified personal trainer, has a passion for exercise but was disillusioned with traditional methods of keeping fit.

Since leaving the army in 2006 he carved out a successful career as a personal trainer and launched his own boot camp company.

Eighteen months ago he felt the time was right to take his ideas to the next level .

He says: “When I decided set up my own gym I approached it as a customer would and looked at all the things that frustrated me about the other gyms I’d joined.

“In the main I felt it was the supervisory side of things that were particularly lacking.

“In many cases clients are left to their own devices so they don’t get results or they get bored and stop going and, because they are tied into lengthy contracts, it’s a complete waste of money.

“There’s no encouragement to interact or to engage with one another and there’s so much conflicting information given out it can be very confusing.”

The 17-strong team of full-time personal trainers at Primal are employed by the company as opposed to being self-employed; classes are kept deliberately small - no more than 8-12 at any one time- and are outcome based.

Categorized as either conditioning, strength, core or power, members are recommended to take specific classes depending on the goals they wish to achieve.

Camaraderie and interaction are promoted with experienced members encouraged to keep an eye on new starters and help them out if possible. All members are allocated to one of a four-strong team of ‘houses’ which engenders healthy competition and motivation.

Members go all out to rack up points for their individual tally and also for their house in a bid nail their team colours to the coveted trophy in reception.