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Office of the Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner’s Safer Gyms scheme officially launched at NG24 Fitness, Castlegate, Newark, in partnership with Newark and Sherwood District Council, Nottinghmashire Police, Nottinghmashire Women’s Aid, Active4Today and other partners





A pioneering scheme aiming to make gyms a safer place for all has been launched this week.

The Safer Gyms initiative was officially launched at NG24 Fitness on Castlegate, Newark, and will look at practical solutions to making gyms a more comfortable environment, particularly for women and girls.

A survey conducted by the Office of the Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner found that women are often made to feel uncomfortable in a gym or fitness setting, with experiences of being stared at while exercising, receiving unsolicited advice or overly flirtatious comments, being followed and even being photographed or recorded without consent.

The launch of the Safer Gyms scheme in Newark.
The launch of the Safer Gyms scheme in Newark.

The scheme comes off the back of the Safer Streets project, which has seen significant investment in community projects and actions to tackle anti-social behaviour and crime across the district.

Although the initiative is being trialled in Newark and Sherwood, it is hoped that if successful it can be rolled out across Nottinghamshire, the Midlands and the country as a whole.

Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Caroline Henry, said: “This is a game-changing way in which gyms will operate.

“The idea came about from one of our excellent Safer Streets project officers, Ellie, who told me about a really uncomfortable experience she had in the gym.

“A guy had approached her, she said that she didn’t need the help, but he still didn’t keep his distance.

“He then began taking pictures of Ellie and this incredibly confident woman was made to feel so uncomfortable that she left the gym.”

Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Caroline Henry.
Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Caroline Henry.

She added: “For me, one of the biggest aspects of Safer Streets is about focusing on violence against women and girls and gyms seemed to be a hotspot.

“We conducted a survey and the stats were shocking. We found that three quarters of women have had some sort of uncomfortable experience in the gym.

“We’ve had national interest in this scheme and if our good work here can inspire other authorities to do the same, that can only be a good thing.

“The more people talking about this issue and calling it out, the better.”

A training programme has been designed and delivered by Communities Inc. and Nottinghamshire Women’s Aid, giving gym staff practical tools for dealing with incidents and supporting victims.

Active4Today with be taking part in the scheme across all of their gyms, in Newark, Southwell, Ollerton and Blidworth.

Alexis Knock, business director at Active4Today.
Alexis Knock, business director at Active4Today.

Alexis Knock, director of business at Active4Today, said: “We want to make sure our facilities are safe for everybody and we were very keen to get involved in this project.

“It’s around trying to remove as many barriers as possible for participation, and in particular for females who may be anxious about entering a gym environment.

“There is a big female population that participate in sport every week, but where do they go where they feel uncomfortable, get approached or photographed without consent? A gym is one of those places.

“We’ve done staff training to make sure we can identify any inappropriate behaviour, take action and reassure people that it’s not acceptable and it won’t go unchallenged.”

Alongside training, other aspects that have been introduced include a new online reporting system for those that don’t feel able to make a report in person and accredited site visits to ensure that gym equipment is placed and angled appropriately to make gym users feel more comfortable.

Changing room security and CCTV in and outside of gyms and fitness centres will also be assessed as part of a wider approach.

Myles , owner of Fosse Way Crossfit.
Myles , owner of Fosse Way Crossfit.

Owner of NG24 Gym, Carl Greaves, said: “I’ve been training female boxers for a long time and I feel it’s important that women feel safe around men.

“As a gym owner, I know it can be daunting to step through the door and I really want to encourage more women to get involved with fitness, so when I heard about this project I thought there was no better way to do that.

“If anyone ever feels uncomfortable all they need to do is approach a member of staff and we will deal with the situation.”

Myles Brownhill, the owner of another Newark based gym, Fosse Way Crossfit, said: “Over 50% of our members are female, so we wanted to get involved in this scheme to show our support.

“A lot of our women are strong, they’re muscular, they’re athletic and can feel like the odd one out and uncomfortable with the way others look at them.

“So we want our environment to be as comfortable as possible for them.”

District commander, Charlotte Ellam and NG24 Fitness owner, Carl Greaves.
District commander, Charlotte Ellam and NG24 Fitness owner, Carl Greaves.

The scheme has been developed in partnership with Newark and Sherwood District Council and Nottinghamshire Police.

Newark police district commander, Charlotte Ellam, said: “A scheme like this is about social responsibility.

“We collectively have resources and strengths and when we work together in partnership it creates a joined up approach.

“Within policing we like to take a preventative approach and with Safer Gyms, by tackling low level behaviours early we can prevent criminal escalation.

“We all want people to feel safe and able to enjoy the facilities in their community without fear of being a victim of a crime, so creating these safe and inclusive environments is really important.”



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