In late 1999, I stumbled upon a cheap day-time fitness class at the Methodist Church with an attached crèche. My son was six months old and I was a stay-at-home mother with a very limited budget. The classes were run by an arm of Stockport Council called Community Leisure, and every session was well attended and the crèche was a lovely way for an only child to gain some social skills with other small people.
It was not long after this time that it became apparent that the Council was not investing in advertising the Community Leisure activities, and numbers in the classes started to dwindle. Sadly in early 2006, the Council decided it was no longer prepared to provide the classes, and it announced its intention to close them for good. A group of four of us, all with children who had been through the crèche, decided to take over the running of the club. We felt it was an important facility in Cheadle Hulme, and we all appreciated the good work that the classes and the crèche had done for us and our children, and we wanted to ensure this excellent facility was available for others. We formed a constituted club, Cheadle Hulme Fitness, and with the aid of a National Lottery Grant, and some other small grants from local funds we were able to purchase the equipment and pay the staff in order to keep the club running until it was back on its feet.
We were fortunate to have Lesley, our instructor, and the ladies who work in the crèche, people who were prepared to trust us to do a professional and thorough job, they all agreed to come and work for us, and I hope we have provided a happy, safe, well-run club for them to do their respective jobs.
Slowly we have rebuilt a loyal base of members by advertising campaigns and word-of-mouth. We have kept to the principle of providing low-cost fitness for all in a friendly environment, and our crèche, which is run in partnership with Stockport Sports Trust, continues to provide a safe and fun environment for young children to spend an hour while mum (or grandma!) has an hour of friendly, healthy exercise next door. Sadly, the crèche had to close permanently in July 2017 due to circumstances beyond our control.
As befits a club, we have activities above and beyond the fitness classes we were set up to provide. Our first Christmas meal in 2006 was in a Chinese restaurant, and we have continued the tradition of exploring both traditional and somewhat unusual venues ever since. Our AGM is invariably held in the pub, and we organise quiz nights, and summer barbeques to try to provide some social and mental stimulation as well as the physical activity we get in class.
Cheadle Hulme Fitness is a fantastic club for all ages, and it is something I am enormously proud to have been involved with from the start. Come along and see for yourself how rewarding it can be!
Penny Sparrow (Chairman, Cheadle Hulme Fitness)