Gyms in the UK re-opened their doors on the 13 April. And with that, a future not too dissimilar to that featured in Pixar’s 2008 animation WALL·E, a future where humans degenerate into lazy, corpulent blobs by prolonged unavoidable inactivity, was averted.
Kevin Arksey, owner of Xercise Fitness, Haxby, understands the challenges that we have all faced in maintaining our fitness over this past year. I talk to Kevin about how he came to own the gym and his zeal for ensuring it’s an inclusive space for all.
First, some background:
Kevin hasn’t always been involved in the fitness industry; instead his background is in sales and marketing. “Like many in this profession”, he told us, “I got a real buzz from putting the deal together and seeing it come to fruition.”
But this all changed when Kevin began having training sessions with a personal trainer; for he was so enthused by the experience that when Xercise Fitness came up for sale in 2016—now almost five years ago—he bought it. He accredits his mentor from his “early days with Debenhams” for his inspiration to run his own business.
Asked what the best thing about running his own business is, Kevin said, quite simply: “I love running a business that promotes wellbeing and helps members become fitter; it’s a great feeling to enjoy my work.”
From the outset, Kevin has been passionate about ensuring that the gym is a bright, friendly, inclusive space where anyone, no matter their age or ability, can feel at-ease using the equipment and facilities. This is something conveyed in the gym’s mission statement: “to ensure all members feel comfortable as well as offer support to help them achieve their personal fitness goals.”
When Kevin first took over Xercise Fitness, the free weights area was, in his words, an “intimidating place not welcome to the average member.” To counteract this, Kevin incorporated weight exercises into all of Xercise’s training programmes and made the area more visible from the rest of the gym. Now the area is utilized by a more diverse range of individuals. Kevin said: “This has particularly appealed to our female clients.”
Kevin and his team also run an exercise group for members of MySight York, a thriving, independent local charity that supports people living with sight loss. Caroline Robertson, Training and Engagement Manager at MySight, said: “Kevin and his team came to our rescue a couple of years ago when we lost our regular exercise tutor. Our members really benefit from getting together to support each other and look after their health and wellbeing.
“Our exercise group is one of their favourites. Kevin inspires the group and develops exercises that suit our members, ranging in age and ability as well as levels of sight loss. His detailed description of each move ensures that our members can take part safely and fully immerse themselves in the experience.”
Looking to the long term, Kevin hopes to develop Xercise Fitness to become the “go-to provider of affordable training, fitness, and wellbeing in the area” and to establish it, even more so, as an integral, affectionate part of the Haxby and Wigginton community.
Asked what he loves about running the gym, he said: “I love providing a service that promotes wellbeing and helps members become healthier; it’s a great feeling to enjoy my work.”
Kevin and his team have been on-hand to help his members make stay fit throughout the COVID pandemic, offering a full timetable of live, instructor-led classes via Zoom. Further to this, both his team and himself are greatly appreciative of all the support they’ve received while the gym has been unable to open. He said: “Thank you for [your] encouragement and support through the COVID pandemic; it’s made a big difference.”
Xercise Fitness are offering a 12-month gym membership for the price of an 8-month membership to welcome members (and prior non-members) back to the gym.
To start your fitness journey with Kevin, visit www.xercisefitness.com or call 01904 760707.