Nestled under the Arches in the centre of Glasgow is one of city’s most unique gyms with ambitions of becoming the next big thing in the fitness industry.
Central Strength isn’t your typical place, hidden under the Central Station bridge near Sub Club lies a gym that doesn’t care if it’s not like others.
From its unassuming red door, the thundering of trains overhead and its small and friendly demeanour, this place is somewhere you’ll want to visit if you’re serious about fitness or getting fit.
The gym is co-owned and ran by Bob Thanda, who is as part of the whole gym experience of Central Strength as the venue and weights are, bringing life and energy to an otherwise sleepy gym.
Late as always, I managed to snatch Bob before he started his workout to talk about his inspiration behind the gym and why of all places would you have a gym under a railway bridge.
“It started about five years ago,“ he explained. “Once I passed my personal trainer course the first thing I said is I want my own gym. So, I didn’t know how I was going to get there, I didn’t know how I could afford it because at the time I was living in London, so in the back of my mind I planted a seed that one day I wanted my own gym.”
Bob had spent three years as a personal trainer in London before moving back up to Scotland in December 2014. The following month he started working at the Nuffield gym in Finnieston.
Bob told us: “I was there for nine months, did really well and unfortunately things didn’t work out, so I ended up leaving and I continued doing personal training up at Glasgow Caledonian University and then at the time my wife introduced me to this gym, at the time it was called Outside in Fitness.”
With his vision in sight, Bob began to train at the gym. He liked what he saw and began to imagine how he could transform it, it if was ever his own.
As fate would have it, the manager was looking for someone to take over.
Bob smiled: “My business partner and I made him an offer and the rest, as they say, is history.”
The gym walks the line between having a hardcore lifting environment and a casual open welcoming place for everyone, even the equipment has been chosen in a way that neglects the usual concept of fitness, such as not having running machines and having minimal cardio machines in favour of old fashioned methods which work better.
Bob explained: “Because of my background and training and my previous workplaces you were very much limited in what you could do regarding training. So for me, because I worked in the gym group while I was in London there’s a lot of cardio machines, they’ve also got a strength side but its limited and like I said you were very much limited in how you could train as a trainer and also how you could train your clients.
“So for me, I was like okay I want somewhere where I can pretty much do what I want to do and the members have liberties, within reasons obviously.
“I liked the original feeling of the gym, so I just said let’s just pretty much keep the identity of it and because we’re pretty much limited in spacing we’re never going to get hundreds and hundreds of cardio machines in here.
“So, for us it was about educating people how to do proper cardio, so hence why the second studio, we decided to have an astro turf in there and obviously we’ve got your farmer’s walk, sled and we’ve got a rig built in so people can really do proper cardio in there.”
Since taking over the gym Bob’s transformed it from a dark and dingy premises to a welcoming club – where members feel at home.
He said: “Even though it’s a strength gym most of our members are just everyday folks who are pretty much just looking to lose weight, put on muscle. So, for us our member target is pretty much anybody.
“I think the thing I’ve learn since opening this gym is people matter, I think it’s a case where if you look after your members your members will look after you. If you can make people feel at home, then they’ll want to come back.”
And the sky, as they say, is the limit for Bob. He and his business partner have a ten year plan – and expansion is on the cards.
“My business partner says he wants 10 gyms in ten years, so we’ll see, it might be a little ambitious but we’re working hard to establish the gym and the brand, and I think we’re doing a successful job at that. A lot of people have started talking about us and know who we are. So yeah, the plan is definitely to expand.
“This is definitely a gym to try if you’re tired of corporate gyms and want to experience a more old fashioned, authentic gym experience”