Sunderland ladies-only gym wins national award

Pictured with their award for the Ladies-Only Gym of the Year are staff of Club Zest, on Sea Road, Fulwell, Sunderland, from left, Debra de Luen, Loraine Belford, Holly McBride-Donaldson, Rachel Dugan and Jennie Moyse.
Pictured with their award for the Ladies-Only Gym of the Year are staff of Club Zest, on Sea Road, Fulwell, Sunderland, from left, Debra de Luen, Loraine Belford, Holly McBride-Donaldson, Rachel Dugan and Jennie Moyse.
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Staff at a Sunderland gym are jumping for joy after scooping a national fitness award.

Club Zest in Sea Road, Fulwell, came out on top in the competition to be named as Ladies-Only Gym of the Year at the National Fitness Awards.

Owner Debra de Luen, who opened the gym 15 years ago, travelled to Leicester for the prestigious ceremony, alongside manager Holly McBride-Donaldson and other staff and gym members.

They were presented with the award by Sunderland fitness expert Katie Bulmer-Cooke.

Debra said: “This is a huge national award to win and a huge achievement for us. We have been shortlisted before, so to take the title this time feels amazing.

“Because the award ceremony was presented by Katie Bulmer-Cooke, it really did feel like we had firmly put Sunderland on the map.”

Holly said: “When the gym opened there weren’t many female-only gyms in the area at all, and there still isn’t today. All the gyms around us are big budget, mixed-gender gyms.

“Women have very busy lifestyles and it can be very difficult to get to the gym when you have children to look after.

“We are open from 7.30am to 9pm and offer a very personalised service, which is why I think we stand out.

“With mixed-gender gyms, women can feel self-conscious.

“It takes confidence to just walk up the steps, let alone start using the equipment. Here, we have all shapes and sizes and ages, and it makes women feel more comfortable.”