Banff community sports centre fighting fit after Covid-19 closure
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THE team behind a Banff sports centre are aiming to be in better shape than ever following the enforced Covid-19 closure.
The Princess Royal Sports and Community Trust base, at the stadium building in Airlie Gardens, was given a new look ahead of welcoming back users on August 31, thanks to £9554 from the National Lottery Community Fund.
The cash injection saw the interior refreshed – and the trust hopes its expansion plans can build on these improvements to appeal to yet more sections of the community.
Bob McLardy, trust chairman, said: "The revamp was carried out in the hope that if it was all nice and fresh people would want to come back more quickly than they might have. It's looking very smart."
The health and wellbeing charity was set up in 1997. A wide range of groups use the centre's two large multi-purpose areas, astro-turf sports pitches and gym.
The building is leased from Aberdeenshire Council, and Deveronvale FC in turn lease the pitch for their home games.
Mr McLardy said the trust was looking to extend the building to widen community involvement.
He added: "Our lease is due to run out in two years. We're busy negotiating a new head lease with Aberdeenshire Council for Princess Royal Park, and once that's over the line we can then start seriously negotiating for an expansion programme.
"Then I think you'll see major activity down here."
He said: "What we're hoping is that we can get more clubs or people to come down and become involved here, and provide space for them for activities, whether it's tea dancing or whatever.
"A lot of the older generation come here for the social interaction as much as the physical exercise – it could be their only contact with other people all week."
The centre is picking up pace following the closure. Mr McLardy said: "Most activities are coming back but they're not at the same height as they were before Covid-19.
"The spin classes are well attended. People are coming back to the gym.
"Some of our older generation, who we thought might be wary of coming in, have actually contacted one of our instructors to ask when we would be open again. They are coming back – not in the same numbers as we had – but I think it will take a while for people to get confidence."
The centre caters for all ages and fitness levels, with stroke and cardiac rehab classes, falls reduction, armchair aerobics, pilates, and yoga for babies and pregnant women among its many offerings. It is also introducing a "living with cancer" class. Many users are referred by GPs and physiotherapists are on hand to run some sessions.
Unlimited-use gym memberships are on offer at £20 a month.
And its two fitness instructors, Stewart Davidson and Aidan Sopel, run coaching programmes to outlying schools including Macduff, King Edward, Rothiemay and Fintray. Programmes for children are held over school holidays.
Mr McLardy said: "We try to look at the national health plan and the local authority health plan and dovetail in where we can to complement these.
"Trying to meet the needs of the community is what we're all about."