Henham gym Vision Fitness named best boutique facility at 10th annual National Fitness Awards
A gym that has been open for only two years after undergoing a dramatic transformation from an old tractor barn has been named one of the best in the UK.
Vision Fitness, at Parsonage Farm in Church End, Henham, was crowned Best Boutique Gym Facility at the 10th annual National Fitness Awards.
It was a fantastic achievement for owner and Stansted resident Ollie Emsden as the rural gym saw off rivals from Sheffield, Tunbridge Wells, Ross-on-Wye and Tavistock.
"To win this award is something I feel very proud of and the local community is so overwhelmed with pride," said Ollie.
"Members have been telling their friends and walking into the gym feeling a sense of pride knowing their local gym is boutique gym of the year."
Ollie, 26, has always been involved in the world of fitness and played football to a high standard when he was younger.
After playing for various professional clubs, he progressed to Football League side Crawley Town's youth team and reserves before leaving home at the age of 18 to play for Apep FC in Cyprus.
Having played abroad for two years, Ollie moved to Scotland to play for Greenock Morton before returning home and studying for his personal training qualification whilst still playing semi-professional football and training people at gyms, in parks and at their homes.
"I did this for about a year before my ambition took over," he said.
"I decided that to achieve a sustainable income and aspire to be the best I can be, I would need to own my own gym.
"I drove around for a few months, looking for places where a gym could work, and I came across this barn based in Henham near where I live.
"I then approached the farmer and told him my vision. He was a bit taken aback at first, but with some photos and my business model, we progressed our talks. I sent him a floor plan of all the different layouts of rooms and then the work began.
"He paid for the work to get the barn to a shell and then I had to take out a loan to make it the gym it is today."
Appealing to people of all fitness types and with a range of goals, Vision Fitness has gone from strength to strength.
As well as attracting celebrities, Olympians and Paralympians, Ollie and his team have helped people who have suffered strokes, have major illnesses and are getting back on track following operations.
Vision Fitness is also something of a community hub and does a lot of fundraising for charity as well as sponsoring sports teams.
"People from the local area come to the gym to meet people, achieve their goals and to make friends," said Ollie.
"By having a beautician, hairdresser, sports therapy clinic, gym and a studio for classes, lots of different people from different walks of life come in each day.
"This is a fantastic dynamic and members sit and chat after their classes and use the gym as a meeting place.
"Simply through word of mouth we attract members who need more one-on-one care, such as stroke victims, partially blind members and members that have undergone major surgery.
"They choose us because of our personal, friendly service and the environment is very peaceful with the beautiful countryside surroundings."
And Ollie has big plans for the future to ensure Vision Fitness continues to grow and become even more successful.
"We've had plans approved to expand into next door's barn, where we will offer new classes and have some more gym equipment," he said.
"It has achieved so much in such a short space of time, so now I want to continue this progression and concentrate on making sure my new expansion of the gym is a success too."
Go to www.visionfitnesshenham.co.uk to find out more or use @VisionFitnessUK to follow the gym on Instagram and Facebook.
More by this authorMichael Vaughton