The Chapel Gym - Wheathampstead Community Fitness

by Wheathampstead United Church in Wheathampstead, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 5th January 2021 we successfully raised £21,870 with 124 supporters in 43 days

Repair an iconic disused church and convert it to a not-for-profit gym accessible to all, so improving health and wellbeing in the community

by Wheathampstead United Church in Wheathampstead, England, United Kingdom

 New stretch target

We have plenty of needs for extra funds...we will put anything extra towards insulation of the windows, strengthening the flooring and purchasing gym equipment.  This will give us a big boost to help us open the gym earlier.

Lots of people locally helped us enormously when we ran a crowdfunding campaign earlier this year.   That made a big difference and enabled us to reinstate the electricity.  Can you help us again please, this time so that we can insulate the ceiling? 

How your pledge will help

This new CrowdFunding campaign can be match-funded pound for pound.  So please make your pledge now to help us secure this fabulous opportunity – AND DOUBLE YOUR MONEY!


Why a gym?

There is a huge demand for a gym: there isn’t one in the village at present.  Because of this, we have received massive local support.  Many volunteers have helped us with jobs that don’t need to be done professionally, and many local firms have kindly provided their services on a cost only basis.  In this way we are striving to keep our costs to a minimum.   

What are the aims of the gym?

  • To give an empty Victorian church building (built 1876), near the village centre, a new lease of life
  • To convert it into a not-for-profit community gym and fitness centre, accessible and affordable for all, whatever their income or circumstances.
  • To inspire a more active lifestyle amongst people of all ages and backgrounds in the village.  To improve their physical health and make users more resistant to health challenges such as Covid-19.
  • To offer a place for community support and new friendships.  For some to combat isolation and improve self-confidence and resilience. In this way to help with mental and emotional health and foster a sense of wellbeing.
  • To help our village to thrive.


The need for a gym

In a 2018 survey two thirds of adult men and nearly two thirds of adult women were either obese or overweight.

Our village (population 6,500) is by southeast standards rural, a diverse community with private and council housing. We have a limited, daytime only, bus service to nearby towns.

We ran a survey and open days in 2018 to find the level of support for a community gym, which showed overwhelming backing.   Gyms in nearby towns are very expensive (from £25 - £80 a month). People told us they couldn’t afford it or one was hard to get to or finding time was difficult. This will be on most people’s doorstep and easily reached on foot or by bicycle, reducing carbon emissions.

The gym will have equipment and an exercise space for a variety of classes. It will be not-for-profit, raising only enough to cover maintenance of the site and staffing, some of which will be by volunteers.

A Community project

1608152542_1608152533214.pngThis is a joint venture between the United Reformed Church and the community.  The building is owned by the church who have worshipped elsewhere for 8 years. The gym will initially have a ten-year lease. We are creating a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) to manage the site and the gym.  A management Committee has been formed.  

The project has lots of grassroots involvement. A first crowdfunding campaign raised £5000 in three weeks. Over 400 took part in a poll to choose the name “The Chapel Gym”.  Our current Crowdfunding campaign reached £5,000 in just 8 days and then was Match Funded by M&S Energy.  

We have a gym manager working with us, with 25 years’ experience in the industry, who lives in the village.  We also have County, District and Parish Councillors, the chairs of our Preservation Society and U3A, a local businesswoman, a fitness instructor and residents with marketing and fundraising experience. We can call on others with expert skills as needed, e.g. an architect, risk assessment specialist.


What we’re doing

So far, as well as the electricity being reconnected, urgent groundwork has been carried out and we have begun to redecorate the exterior.  You may have noticed the newly painted front door – doesn’t it look magnificent?   

Next up we need to repair the floor, insulate the ceiling.  Then we can start to instal heating and a toilet, clean and decorate the interior, as well as pay the legal costs associated with setting up the gym.   

Once these have been sorted, we can do the really exciting bits - purchase the gym equipment, engage staff and volunteers to run the gym and put up the signs to show we’re in business!



The details of the work

We are looking for further funding towards:

  • Painting and decorating materials                                             £ 1,000
  • Strengthening of floor using recycled wood                             £ 6,000
  • Installation of fire alarm                                                               £ 2,500
  • Installation of toilet/disabled wet room                                     £ 5,000
  • Heating and ventilation                                                               £12,500                 
  • Ceiling and floor insulation                                                         £15,000

 We will then move to the final phase of our project and raise money for the equipment.

How we want to achieve this

1608152535_1608152533396.jpegWe’re taking great care to preserve the character of the building, maintaining the basic layout and protecting the stained glass windows.  

It’s also very important to us that the gym is available to everyone, whatever their circumstances.  The gym will be on one level with full wheelchair access.  It will be not-for-profit and affordable to all, with any excess funds used to further redevelop the site including the church hall.


The outcomes

  • Improved physical fitness, more active lifestyle, better health for many in the community
  • A new community facility in Wheathampstead
  • A historic building saved from demolition and put to new use.


How much we’ve raised so far

The money we have raised so far, including the last crowdfunding campaign, comes to £24,500.   In addition, many suppliers have provided their services for free or at discounted rates, saving us £22,500.


As you’ll see we have some rewards open to everyone who pledges at least £25.  Some of these rewards have been donated by a local business - Scoop Nutrition.  We are very appreciative of their support.

Please help us to succeed.

We will spend every penny raised on improving the building so that it can be used as a gym.

We are determined to make this project successful so we all have the opportunity to improve our physical fitness and lead a more active lifestyle, while a historic building will be saved from demolition and given a new lease of life.

Thank you so much for supporting the Chapel Gym project – we are so grateful.



This project offers rewards in return for your donation. Please select a reward below.

£25 or more

£25 Reward

You will feature on our Thank You Board in the gym - showing all the kind benefactors that have helped us get this project up and running

£50 or more

£50 Reward

A free gym pass for an hour visit to the gym when it is open

£100 or more

4 of 5 claimed

£100 Reward free 45 minute PT session

A 45 minute Personal Training session with Sammy Cooper - Scoop Nutrition and Personal Training. If you prefer you can gift this reward to someone else. See for further details of Scoop Nutrition.

£250 or more

0 of 3 claimed

£250 Reward Free Nutrition Consultation -by Scoop

This is offered by a local business Scoop Nutrition. You will be entitled to a free nutrition consultation with Sammy Cooper from Scoop Nutrition in Wheathampstead or if you prefer you can gift this to someone else. See for further details of Scoop Nutrition.

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