Gym clo­sure brings tears

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS - PAUL MITCHELL

Fi­nal work­outs have been in­ter­spersed with hugs and tear­ful farewells as Palmer­ston North’s Con­fig­ure Ex­press women’s gym on The Square ap­proaches its last days.

Fol­low­ing the liq­ui­da­tion of the na­tional chain, gym own­ers Deb­bie and Steve Pun­nett will close their branch on Fri­day af­ter the emo­tional and fi­nan­cial strain be­came too much.

The Pun­netts said the an­nounce­ment was met with an out­pour­ing of love and sup­port from mem­bers they’d come to con­sider as fam­ily.

‘‘They’d tried other gyms, but they never felt com­fort­able in their own skins. This gym was al­ways more than just clients and staff,’’ Deb­bie Pun­nett said.

‘‘We had big dreams for our ladies. Con­fig­ure was their space, not ours. The fo­cus was on giv­ing them a safe, friendly place where they could be them­selves.’’

Six months af­ter the Pun­netts took over the fran­chise in 2015, it be­came clear that Con­fig­ure was in des­per­ate fi­nan­cial trou­ble.

‘‘We didn’t know we were en­ter­ing a fran­chise that was al­ready fail­ing. There were 23 clubs when we started.‘‘

Pun­nett said they had kept a brave face for 18 months be­cause they did not want their wor­ries to invade the space they had built for their mem­bers.

Staff will be fully paid out, and mem­bers who are in credit will be re­funded.

Pun­nett said the thing she would miss the most was the feel­ing she had made a real dif­fer­ence in the lives of the gym’s women.

‘‘This gym was al­ways more than just clients and staff’’ Deb­bie Pun­nett

PHOTO: DAVID UN­WIN/STUFF

Palmer­ston North Con­fig­ure Ex­press gym owner Deb­bie Pun­nett was proud of the dif­fer­ence the gym made.

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