A County Durham-headquartered gym business is coming out of lockdown in good shape after opening its biggest ever fitness facility with the help of a six-figure investment from the North East Growth Capital Fund Loan Fund Supported By The European Regional Development Fund.

OneGym has launched a new 20,000 sq ft fitness facility on the UK Land Estates-owned Portrack Lane Retail Park in Stockton to add its existing branches in Bishop Auckland, Newton Aycliffe, Redcar and Thornaby.

The new 24/7 gym is already more than halfway towards its membership target – and the OneGym management team is now working on plans to open two further gyms in North East locations before the end of 2021.

Each of the firm’s previous openings have been backed by investments secured through regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers.

And it has worked with NEL once again to bring in a £250,000 Growth Capital Fund investment via the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to enable the new Stockton facility, which includes a range of state-of-the-art fitness equipment, studio space, saunas, sunbeds and changing rooms, to open.

Eight new full-time jobs have been created in the new branch, taking the total number of people employed by OneGym to 40, and more will follow once the ongoing easing of coronavirus restrictions allow it to offer fitness classes.

Brothers Paul and David Pearson set up OneGym nine years ago to offer users access to all the latest fitness equipment and classes without costly add-ons like swimming pools that they don’t necessarily want to use.

It’s the only gym chain in the North East to offer exercise equipment from leading US brands Life Fitness and Hammer Strength.

Managing director Paul Pearson says: “We’d originally planned to open in Stockton at the end of last year and had everything in place ready to go when the latest lockdown rules came into force, so it’s great to have finally been able to open the doors of our biggest ever fitness facility.

“We’ve chosen Stockton as a natural extension to our territory, close enough to our other gyms to be part of the OneGym network but far enough away to be able to build its own membership base, and the response we’ve had so far has been extremely encouraging.

“We’ve shown that the value for money and high standards of equipment and service that the OneGym brand embodies works really well and hope to be bringing it to two more locations in the North East before the end of the year.

“We’ve worked extremely well with the NEL team over the years and it made clear sense to extend our relationship around this latest location.”

David Thomas, investment director at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “OneGym has shown how to make progressive use of investment capital to support long-term growth plans and has developed into a substantial and successful business by doing so.

“The new Stockton gym looks fantastic and it’s great to see how popular it’s already proving with local people.”

David Gibbs, commercial director at UK Land Estates, said: “It’s great to have an established North East-based gym chain at the Portrack site. It’s yet another amenity for those working and commuting nearby.

“As the largest owner of industrial estates in the North East we work hard to make our locations the best places to do business. That means great connectivity and bringing top leisure and retail operators, like OneGym, to our estates.

“We’ve enjoyed working with the OneGym team on the fit-out and upgrading of the building and hope that they continue to go from strength to strength in the months to come.”

The North East Growth Capital Fund has been designed to create around 790 jobs in more than 70 regional firms over the life of the programme and offers unsecured investments of up to £500,000 to established businesses looking to realise their growth potential.

The overarching £120m North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.

For more information about NEL’s investment criteria, visit www.nel.co.uk or contact the investment team on 0345 369 7007.