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Core in Maidstone crowned gym of the year at Prestige Awards

Core in Maidstone has been named gym of the year.

The King Street training facility was given the accolade by Prestige Awards, beating all competition in its south of England category.

Core donates any profits from competitions to charity
Core donates any profits from competitions to charity

Managing director, Jay Atkins, opened the gym in 2016, after working in a multitude of jobs including banking and hospitality.

The 45-year-old wanted to spend more time with his family, who are based in Maidstone, and so, also driven by a love of fitness, decided to open his own gym.

Since then, it has grown from strength the strength, and now has around 3,000 members.

From a gold medal winner at the Commonwealth Games and a record-holding weight lifter, to complete beginners, Core caters to the needs of anyone with a passion for keeping in shape.

The gym also donates any profits from weightlifting or fitness events to organisations such as Children with Cancer UK and British Heart Foundation.

Jay Atkins, owner of Core
Jay Atkins, owner of Core

In addition, staff hold competitions for young people, to help focus and inspire them.

Mr Atkins was actually approached by Prestige about putting his business forward for 'gym of the year' after the awards body spotting a stream of positive reviews.

Besides holding popular events, Mr Atkins says the successful day-to-day running of Core is down to his staff.

He said: "You can put a treadmill anywhere you like but it's the people which make a difference.

"It's all based around the interaction from my team. They are all highly qualified personal trainers and have a great rapport with members. We also don't have any workers who are just in the back office."

Core has been redesigned to adhere to social distancing rules
Core has been redesigned to adhere to social distancing rules

Speaking about receiving the award, Mr Atkins added: "It couldn't have come at a better time - I've been feeling quite down about the whole coronavirus situation so it was good to hear something positive."

Prestige's judges said: "We were impressed with the team’s personal nature, consistency of reviews and community feel.

"They seem to really go over and above for customers and I hope this achievement brings them more success during these difficult times."

The awards ceremony has been postponed for now due to the Covid-19 crisis.

However, the managing director was given a low blow yesterday when it was announced gyms are not among the businesses allowed to reopen on Saturday, July 4.

The team are ready to get back to some kind of normality
The team are ready to get back to some kind of normality

During lockdown, Mr Atkins has been working hard rearranging his premises to adhere to social distancing measures and keep customers safe.

He said: "I've got no words, I'm absolutely baffled - I'm heartbroken.

"The lengths that we've gone to to reopen - we've literally re-structured that whole environment.

"And we aren't even being given guidelines, and we've got members' expectations to manage, they're looking to us for answers and we simply don't have them."

Mr Atkins believes gyms should be able to open along with other businesses like pubs and restaurants, and said remaining closed could have a knock-on effect on people's mental health.

"A lot of people manage their mental health through exercise, and we offer a fantastic venue for that," he added.

Read more: All the latest news from Maidstone

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