The Rapids, in Romsey, which opened in 1990, is owned by Test Valley Borough Council but managed by Valley Leisure Ltd., who operate four other sites in the borough. The centre offers it 1300 members a variety of cost effective inclusive memberships as well as pay and play discounts. Membership includes access to 100-station gym, a comprehensive timetable of studio classes, leisure pool, including new water features, health suite comprising sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi and discounts on treatments at BodyPlus Wellbeing.
We already had a good working relationship with the company and their service has always been, and continues to be, exemplary
Pete Collins, Group Technical Manager for Valley Leisure, explained, “The old gym only had 24 stations and the other facilities were also getting tired after fifteen years of heavy wear and tear, so it made sense, during the new build to refurbish the pool changing rooms and add some new water features in the leisure pool. We are keen to attract members and customers from the surrounding area, but competition from private clubs in the area is very strong. One of our other centres, at Andover, already had a cardio entertainment system and we were keen to extend the concept to Romsey as part of the refurbishment. Previously we only had one TV in front of the cardio equipment and there was no sound. I don’t think you can open a gym now without a personalised AV solution. It is definitely a selling point and something that customers have come to expect.”
The refurbishment, which took place throughout 2005, included a £30,000 AV project. This featured the installation of a state of the art wireless cardio entertainment system, Audeon, as well as girder mounted plasma TV screens. A new PA system was also created in the extension, which feeds the coffee lounge, reception, gym, crèche, play area and changing rooms. This was integrated into the existing building’s PA wiring to replace the original 15 year old unit. Finally, the installation of satellite dishes and fm aerials and the addition of two new sound systems for the centre’s studios were also added. The centre decided to use Leisure Sound Solutions for their AV and entertainment provision. Pete Collins explained, “We already had a good working relationship with the company and their service has always been, and continues to be, exemplary. These two things go a long way as far as I am concerned. Their quote was also the most competitive. They are very knowledgeable and really take the time to listen to their customers. As a company, they understand that money is an issue and try to find a solution based on this.” The centre also decided to use Audeon rather than a wired system, so that they didn’t need platforms for their fitness equipment and to keep the clean lines of the new extension. The wireless system also reduced their expenditure, as cables weren’t needed, and it allows them to change the layout of the gym without affecting the AV system.
The investment has enabled the centre to compete with private chain competitors in the Southampton and New Forest area. Pete Collins concluded, “The AV system is very easy to use. It is just plug and go and the new and refurbished facilities have been really well received.”