A METHODIST church which became the latest in a long line to close has reopened - albeit with a completely new fitness-focused mission. Finn Smith headed to Shafton to meet those who have secured the Chapel Street building’s long-term future.

FITNESS experts are breathing life into Shafton Methodist Church with their new community gym.

Four Corners intends to be an all-in-one fitness hub for locals, providing boxing and exercise classes, yoga sessions and nutritional education to help locals stay fit.

The gym is run with preventative healthcare in mind and hopes to give people the opportunity to get healthy and avoid preventable long-term health issues.

Coach Chris Shimwell told the Chronicle: “We’ve all put a lot of effort in to bring this place together

“It’s about getting people back into exercise - we’re showing the importance of preventative healthcare with resistance training and building a healthy mind.

“Once we’ve got these community groups going, we can look at bringing different professionals in to run new programmes.”

On Monday, with Billy Joel blaring in the background, Chris ran the first of his boxing pilot sessions that brought in new people who were giving boxing a go for the first time.

“We can build around these,” Chris added.

“Right now it’s just about getting people through the door.

“The pilots can ease people in, get them talking, and will help us find out how we need to take things forward.”

Those running the gym also want to tackle a lot of the pressures and stigma that would otherwise stop people attending gyms.

By bringing the gear and space right to people’s door steps, they hope to lower the barrier of entry, helping more people access fitness services.

Life coach, Louise Hawkins, explains: “Often there are issues with just getting into town to the gym.

“This is offering something different - not everyone wants to travel to these big gyms, they want to feel part of a community.

“Quickly they can make friends with like-minded people and discover a new part of their identity.

“It’s an environment to help people flourish.”

Louise believes that many people feel needlessly worried about starting to exercise, when really the focus should be on them feeling better in themselves and not competing to others’ standards.

“I’m an adaptive athlete, I’ve only got one arm,” she added.

“I was anxious and depressed when I started, so if I can do it, anyone can.

“It’s just about giving it a go, there’s something really powerful about making that move.”

A major part of this self-discovery will be handled through yoga, which is taught by Courtney Hudson, who received her training in India.

Courtney admits that yoga may seem scary or unusual to many, but believes that these ‘misconceptions’ can be quickly overcome if people are willing to give it a go.

“Lots of people think of self-care as for the mind, and body, but forget about spirit.

“People can come together to create a community spirit.

“I’m not saying yoga can heal major issues, but it’s about doing it for your own wellbeing, before it’s too late.

“If you can breathe, you can do yoga.”

In future, the team are planning to run sessions tailored to people with Parkinson’s, and are in contact with NHS Creative Minds to develop future plans that can help their service users.