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Gym user's unique scheme wins award

PUBLISHED: 13:07 13 August 2010

a gym owner who offers health and fitness support for disadvantaged women has collected a prestigious industry award.

Working with Kent County Council, Annie Redelinghuys, owner of Curves gym in Wellington Street, Gravesend, has helped 50 women overcome social and cultural barriers by providing a free programme of exercise and diet advice which has paved the way for similar schemes in the future.

The pilot scheme ran from the end of 2008 until June 2009 with the backing of a £10,000 grant from the council.

It was so successful it earned Mrs Redelinghuys, of Pelham Road, a Future of Flame award from the leisure industry at Cheltenham Race Course on July 14. She said: “It is amazing. I knew it was big what we were doing but I didn’t think I would win.

The 55-year-old continues to support many of the women, drawn from disadvantaged or ethnic minority backgrounds, at a financial loss following the ending of the grant but has no plans to stop the scheme.

She explained that the idea was to provide free classes for women who could not afford gym membership, or who were from cultures where women openly exercising was not possible. “I heard KCC were looking for a way to reach those parts of the community and in Gravesend we have quite a number in that situation,” she added.

“It was about giving them a routine three times a week to exercise in a safe atmosphere, with only women, but also about providing eating and health advice.”

Mark Lemon, head of public health at the council, has worked closely with Mrs Redelinghuys on the project. He said: “The money has dried up but we are working with Annie to set up a community programme to run alongside Curves.

“As a private enterprise it does not have access to trust funding and grants so it is about setting up a community scheme that can still use Curves as a touching point but will be separate. It would be one of the few examples of its kind in the country.”

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