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24 September 2014
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Voices: Our Untold Stories »Asian Stories
Gymnation

Gymnation

Gymnation encompasses much more than an ordinary gym. It is a large building based at Alfred Street for bodybuilding, power-lifting and for aerobic exercise. But it's a centre-point for much more.

Gymnation is the beating heart of a hive of community activity

Gymnation began life quite humbly. Ten years ago, young Asian men trained in their parents' garages with equipment bought with pooled pocket money.

They shunned the 'Lycra health studio' fashion seen at most gyms which also paraded their exclusivity with exorbitant annual and session fees.

The lads improvised and utilised old pine benches, kitchen tables and even old settees. The parents beamed with pride at this homegrown industry from their boys.

»More about Gymnation

Gyms in India are known as 'Gymkhana' and this title seemed appropriate for this new gym until someone realised it is also a common name for horse-riding schools in England. GymnAsia as it was then called, would mirror the migrant workers status of its clientele.

quote
Muslim women are not excluded and are encouraged to use the gym facilities. Asian women, and Muslim women specifically, will not spend time around groups of men but this cultural barrier has been bypassed. There are three weekly 'women only' sessions which have an astonishing age span. quote
Our Untold Stories

It moved home often. However word-of-mouth increased its numbers and soon The Garage would strangle movement. Over the years, GymnAsia has hopped from shops, church halls and disused shower rooms to community centre halls.

In 1996, the Gloucestershire Resource Centre offered them rent-free space in a bare, former factory - The City Works in Alfred Street.

The phenomenal new scope and capacity allowed for a swelling of numbers and even for an archery club to exist.

Gymnation took a final leap in 1998 by absorbing a neighbouring up-for-sale gym, Goldline, and finally established a permanent home for itself.

Its moniker had served for many years but the gym was no longer exclusive to Gujarati Muslims. So GymnAsia sloughed off its skin and emerged as Gymnation.

Today it's a 'not-for-profit' limited company and a registered charity, with full-time and part-time employees and a host of eager volunteers.

Gymnation - man working out
Gymnation encourages its
members to achieve professional
fitness qualifications

Gymnation is a project that encourages its members to achieve professional fitness qualifications and promotes health and fitness as much as bodybuilding.

It cultivates trust amongst its younger clientele, enforces a zero-tolerance for drug-use and is a resource for youth-context advice and educational internet access.

The relationship extends to the local police and fire service, who not only use the facilities but also seek advice to recruit employees from minority groups. With help, they have successfully employed their first non-white staff.

quote
The gym is one of the key voluntary groups in Gloucester city and is used by nearly 200 people a week from many different backgrounds and nationalities and is a model of community cohesion.
quote
Our Untold Stories

The gym is one of the key voluntary groups in Gloucester city and is used by nearly 200 people a week from many different backgrounds and nationalities and is a model of community cohesion.

Muslim women are not excluded and are encouraged to use the gym facilities. Asian women, and Muslim women specifically, will not spend time around groups of men but this cultural barrier has been bypassed. There are three weekly 'women only' sessions which have an astonishing age span.

The Gym is the heart of a larger scheme. Its sister projects include the Friendship Café, Summer Playscheme and an affiliation to Surestart.

The Friendship Café, launched in November 2001, provides a club with youth and community activities such as sports pool tables, games consoles, table soccer, table tennis, a coffee/confectionery bar and two internet portals.

»More about the Friendship Café

Surestart is designed to encourage dads to invest time with their children by participating with play in a kids' corner. Mums appreciate the short break from the children and the big noisy husband too!

The Summer Playscheme wing organises outdoor summer activities for parents and excited children. In 2002, the activities included a trip to Cattle Country at Berkeley, a Bouncy Castle day, storytime, and craftwork.

The Gymnation committee has organised even more in recent years including a day trip to Parliament with a guided tour, horse-riding, a go-kart trophy competition and even hired a swimming pool at GL1 for weekly sessions. It's the beating heart for a hive of activity that uplifts hearts and minds.

» See 'The Bangladeshi Community'
» See 'The Christian Community'
» See 'The Gujarati Muslim Community'
» See 'The Hindu Community'
» See 'The Pakistani Community'
» See 'The Shia Muslim Community'
» See 'The Sikh Punjabi Community'

This article is user-generated content (ie external contribution) expressing a personal opinion, not the views of BBC Gloucestershire.
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MORE ASIAN STORIES
Asian colour montage
Introduction
An historical perspective
Gloucester's Islamic roots
Gujarati Muslim community
» Mahmood Patel
» Ebrahim Surty
» Mahmood Moolla
» Salim Kholwadia
Shia Muslim community
» Gulam Musa
Hindu community
» Ramjibhi Popat
» Maniben Patel
» Nandiben Patel
» Lalubhai Patel
» Gulabbhai Patel
Bangladeshi community
» Badsha Meah
» Amzad Ali
» Mohibul Hussain
» Mohibur Rahman
» Waris Ali
» Namder Meah
» Haris Ali
Pakistani community
» Ehsan-Ul-Haq
» Mohamed Sharif
» Babar Vaqas
Sikh Punjabi community
» Avatar Duggal
» Harjit Singh Gill
Christian community
» Manny Masih
Roshni Women's Centre
Gymnation
Parmjit Dhanda MP
The first Asian doctors
Islamic Girls' School
Harry Worrall
About the Authors
» Umara Hussain
» Lalit Dandiker
» Mohammed Hansdat
» Sakina Choudhury
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