GYM members at Oak Farm Community School have appealed to school governors to rethink their decision to close the Acorns gym.

The Farnborough school has blamed dwindling usage and financial problems for its decision to close the gym, on a temporary basis, from April 26.

Oak Farm headteacher Gren Earney said that difficulties in attracting staff and maintaining regular opening hours had led to a loss of more than £2,000 per month.

He said that when the gym opened in 1995 it hoped to have 500 members but there are currently only 55 regular local users.

Freddy Stringer, 81, who keeps fit for his role as a flying instructor, goes to the gym four times a week.

He denied that user figures had decreased, saying that the gym was very popular with local people.

“We heard rumours a long time ago but members were last week sent a letter to confirm the bad news.

“I can’t believe that they have made this decision because people from across the local community enjoy using the gym.

“The excuse that user numbers are dwindling is nonsense.

“I heard from an instructor that they have had to turn away 30 prospective members since news of the closure.”

The school has said that much of the gym equipment is reaching the end of its usable life, and would cost £40,000 to replace.

In an attempt to soften the blow, members have been offered incentives to join other local gyms.

One has offered to allow members of Acorns to transfer and pay no joining fee, while another has offered to waive the induction fee.

Another Acorns member, Orina Ram, said that many users would be reluctant to pay higher monthly fees and will lose the convenience of a local gym.

“I am a non-driver and with the lack of public transport around here I would find it very difficult to get to other gyms.

“I know of members who have moved away from the area but still keep coming back to Acorns because they enjoy it so much.”

Cllr John Wall, who represents the Empress ward, said the gym was an important part of the local community.

He met Rushmoor chief executive Andrew Lloyd on Tuesday last week to discuss the situation.

“The leisure team at the council will be going into the school to investigate exactly why they want to close.

“There are stories flying around that money is being lost at a rate of knots and until we have some hard information there is little we can do.”

In a statement Mr Earney, said: “The governing board and the school staff continue to work closely with both the borough council and LEA officers with a view to ensuring that community provision continues within the school pavilion.

“However the school is unable to continue to subsidise the gym in its present format.”