Dan Lydiate and Rob Davies open Brecon's new gym

By Twm Owen in Local People

Sports stars Dan Lydiate and Rob Davies have officially opened Brecon Leisure Centre’s new gym.

The gym is part of a £1.3 million investment in leisure centres in Powys now run by not for profit trust Freedom Leisure on behalf of the county council.

Brecon Leisure centre is undergoing a £485,000 refurbishment which has seen the former 10 pin bowling lane ripped up and replaced with a new 52 station state of the art gym.

Wales and Ospreys rugby ace Lydiate, who regularly used the leisure centre when he was a student at the former Coleg Powys campus opposite the centre, said he was impressed by the facilities.

He said: "Sports fitness is fashionable now I’ve travelled with rugby to Australia and New Zealand and people are often out running at 6am.

"In the climate we live in you open the door and it’s 6am and bucketing down and you’d rather put the kettle on so it’s good to have these facilities.

"It’s good there are 90 kids a week coming for classes rather than sat at home on the Xbox. Powys doesn’t have a lot of stuff like this."

The flanker, who is originally from Abbeycwmhir near Llandrindod Wells, said he lifted weights for the first time when he came to the college in Brecon, now called the NPTC College.

Paralympic gold medalist Rob, from Brecon, who regularly trains at the leisure centre told guests including county and town councillors and managers from Freedom Leisure about his experience winning wheelchair table tennis gold at last year’s Rio Games.

"The leisure centre and the college have been a massive part of my development," said Rob who also attended Coleg Powys in Brecon having studied bricklaying and sports development after the injury that ended his rugby career.

Jeremy Wroe, Freedom Leisure’s head of operations for the Wales and the west, since the new gym was completed in early January usage has increased by 84%, meaning around 4,000 people used it last month.

He said use of the Powys centres, which Freedom Leisure took responsibility for in July 2015, has increased with visitors to the centres up 152% in January compared to the same month last year.

Powys council chief executive Jeremy Patterson said the partnership with Freedom Leisure had been a "big step into the unknown" for the council.

"We liked the feel of Freedom and liked their vision and what they said they could bring. There was a degree of nervousness and to see how it played out and thus far it’s working successfully.

"We’re really pleased the numbers using the centre are going up and up and up."

The council’s most senior official said he used to bring his children and their friends to the 10 pin bowling alleys which have made way for the gym. He said: "It was getting old and needed some TLC and we have to move with the times and respond to what the customer wants."

Richard Gealy, the centre’s assistant manager, said there had been "a lot of discussion" over removing the bowling lanes. He said other work at the centre included removing carpets from communal walkways and the gym, joking, "I don’t know who in their madness put a carpet down", and installing new energy efficient lighting.