Flexappeal Barrow will shut soon as gym owner says goodbye

Flexappeal owner Stan Dewhurst, 60, has confirmed the gym will close on March 1 and said that the building will be converted into a house of multiple occupancy for BAE workers living outside of Barrow as a project he will do with his property developer son-in-law. 

Stan said that the gym stemmed from his ‘boyhood dream’ to become a bodybuilder.

He opened Flexappeal Fitness in 1994 after he was made redundant by VSEL. The Mail did a feature on the gym’s opening day as former Great Britain and Barrow rugby league star Eddie Szymala visited as a local celebrity.

The Mail’s article about the gym’s opening day in 1994 (Image: Newsquest)

“I’ve run the gym and competed in bodybuilding shows through the best era of bodybuilding in the 1990s and the 2000s,” Stan said. 

“I’m lucky I was able to do that, achievement-wise.”

Stan himself is a successful bodybuilder having won Mr England and Mr Universe competitions among others.

Over the years competitors based at the Hartington Street gym have won 56 first-place and over 100 second and third-place bodybuilding trophies.

Scott Archer, Stan Dewhurst, Ciaran Lewis and Chris McKellar (Image: Flexappeal)

“In my opinion, we have been the most successful bodybuilding gym in Cumbria,” he said. 

“We have won twice the north-west gym of the year, we’re the only gym in Cumbria to win it.

READ MORE: Barrow Gym to be converted into a 17-bedroom HMO

“I don’t think it will be achieved again – that’s no disrespect, I just don’t think bodybuilding will get back to what it was.”

Stan said that the profile of bodybuilding as a sport has changed since its ‘best era’ 20 to 30 years ago. However he said that Flexappeal had also had success with MMA fighters and boxers. 

After 30 years though, Stan thinks it is time to move on.

He said: “There isn’t much money to be made. There were three gyms in Barrow when I opened up – there’s 12 now. I just thought I’m 60, it’s time to do something different.” 

On a personal level, Stan will still pursue bodybuilding.

Stan after winning the NABBA Mr England Championships in Birmingham in 2006 (Image: Stan Dewhurst)

He said: “I would think I can compete in my 60s, I did in my 30s, 40s and 50s. I definitely will still be training.” 

The council gave the green light to a planning application for St James Church Hall to be converted into a 17-bedroom HMO on February 9. 


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