GYM members have shown their disappointment today after a gym announced it will close next month to be taken over by a university.

Members braved the rain this morning to discuss the imminent closure of the Virgin Active Gym and Health Club

The gym, based in the Falmer campus of the University of Brighton, announced in an email to members that it will close from November 21.

The sudden closure means that 80 staff members have just three weeks to find a new job and will be unemployed just a month before Christmas.

The University of Brighton also announced plans to move their Eastbourne campus as part of a restructuring move. The School of Sport and Health Sciences will be relocated to the university’s Falmer campus.

The email said the site will “revert” back for the university’s “own use” and therefore it is “no longer possible to keep the club open.”

Members have raised the question of why they cannot remain at the gym alongside the university’s School of Sport and Health Sciences.

The Argus: Members say the gym is a vital social hub for the community.Members say the gym is a vital social hub for the community.

Brian Dray, a member at the health club since 1997 and swimming coach for Brighton Multisports, said the announcement is a “shock” and said “nowhere else” offers what Virgin Active does.

He said: “It’s what the university are doing. The university want to close this site down so they can move everything from Eastbourne that they have got to here.

“From that aspect, the university is only thinking of their own needs, they’re not thinking of the needs of the local community.

“They’re closing it down in Eastbourne which will be a massive loss to Eastbourne as well.”

Brian said the health club plays an important role to the local community.

He said: “It’s a social club for lots of people. There is lots of people who come here for their mental health and their physical wellbeing. What people get out of this place is immense.”

The Argus: Members battled past the rain to let their discontent be known.Members battled past the rain to let their discontent be known.

Sharon Spicer, a member at the club, said her auntie has been left in “tears” from the announcement after not being able to find a place with suitable facilities for her needs.

She said: “My auntie, she is ringing around trying to find gyms with the same aqua aerobics things for her. She has been in tears and is upset.

“She has looked at other options and says there is just nothing else like it with the same community and feeling and all the extra facilities.”

Ian Fleet said the “social side” and family friendly environment makes the gym irreplaceable.

The Argus: One of the children's signs.One of the children's signs.

Ian said: “It’s a social thing. It’s so friendly, other gyms don’t want kids. But you come here, you can bring your kids and your family.

“I come here every day and bring the kids with me. Pretty much they can do what they want in here. I can go to the gym while they swim. The kids are going to be losing out from this. Charlie taught himself to swim here.

Vice-chancellor of the university Professor Debra Humphris defended the decision and said: "The opportunity presented by the reacquisition of the Virgin Active site at the heart of our Falmer campus means we can invest in creating an outstanding home for our School of Sport and Health Sciences alongside Brighton and Sussex Medical School and our School of Education.

"In a post-pandemic world, the opportunities for collaboration and partnership in these areas has never been more important."

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