Business is better than ever, despite recession

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A MORETON Hall business is thriving despite recent warnings the country is in a triple dip recession.

Membership at Unit One, a combat sports, fitness and strength and conditioning gym in Kempson Way, is at its highest ever level.

Owners Richard Gent and Don Heatrick, who set it up in February 2010, are already considering moving to larger premises when their lease expires, or a possible expansion of their existing studio.

Mr Gent, 29, said: “We started in a recession so we haven’t really known otherwise. It’s been hard but we’re getting there.”

He added: “We haven’t got any direct competition because we’re the only full time combat training facility in Bury.”

Having previously taught Thai Boxing at County Upper School, in Bury St Edmunds, the pair opened the gym with a core base of around 80 members and retrained as personal trainers to maximise their business potential.

Now more than 200 people use their facilities and they have started hosting ‘fight nights’, as well as introducing other initiatives including opening three hours earlier, from 6.30am, and a pay as you go system aimed at military personnel or people who work away for long periods.

In March, they held their first exhibition show, allowing complete beginners the chance to ‘get in a ring’.

In May, they held their first ‘fight night’ where professionals fought in front of a paying audience, who purchased drinks from a temporary bar and were entertained by a MC and music between fights.

Tickets are already available for the next ‘fight night’ on September 15, for which sponsors are wanted.

External personal training has also ‘really taken off’ with trainers able to work shifts at Unit One in exchange for using its facilities with clients, without having to pay a licencing fee.

Mr Gent said: “In a way I’m glad we started in a recession because it’s not likely to get any worse in the next 10-15 years than what we had at the beginning.”

He added: “We want to retain people rather than just have a high turn-over of members.”

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