Gym Helps Turn Lives Around

published on 7 Apr 2014

A former Lifehouse resident Tony O'Neill  is helping the centre that turned his life around by co-running a fitness programme for current residents at the Lifehouse's new gym.

Centenary House, in Victoria Street, Belfast, has built a gym after the request came from the residents following a successful fitness programme at Pure Gym.

The centre received a small amount of funding to allow a group of residents to visit a gym ran by a local community group three days a week. The interest in the gym continued after that fitness programme had stopped and in a service users meeting, a number of residents asked for a fitness programme and a small gym to be part of their personal development.

After public donation, the centre was able to create and build its own gym in a flat that had been sitting empty for some time. The residents have been fully responsible in the creation of as well as the ongoing design and art work for the gym.

Tony O’Neill knows first-hand the importance that fitness through gym work can play, as the former resident who is now a full-time member of staff, completed his Level 1, 2 & 3 in personal training whilst living at the centre.

Tony said: “I will be running fitness programmes along with Pure Gym who will kindly be coming in for one day a week to work on fitness with the guys and I will be doing personal training beyond that.  

“I know from personal experience that it is a great source of anger management and being able to work out is really beneficial for your overall health.”  

Michael, a current resident, said: “The gym is a great opportunity for me and the other guys. It gives us something to do in the day when there is the potential for us to build up frustrations. The gym is a really good outlet to work out any issues but more than that is a great opportunity to stay healthy and motivated.”  

Stephen Potter, who is the service manager, said: “We want to constantly improve the opportunities for the guys and we do that by just sitting and listening to what they want. They tell us what they think would work and we do our best on every occasion to achieve that.  

"As a Church and charity we care about the whole person and in our Lifehouses we do this by offering a listening ear, education, training, volunteering, employment skills and much more to help break the cycle of homelessness. Tony and his use of fitness is a great champion for the this”  

Stephen and Tony are both members at Pure Gym and after building up personal relationships invited Pure Gym to run an eight week fitness programme at the Salvation Army Gym.

Stephen continued: "We have called this our Spirit Gym, recognising that, while The Salvation Army offers unconditional holistic support to anyone in need, we also care about their spiritual well-being too. We have painted a passage from Hebrews on our wall that talks about running the race with perseverance - not only does this talk about sticking true to the Christian journey but also reminding our residents to persevere in life."