"COVID-19 lockdown made me realise I needed to sell Body Flex Gym" - Gym boss Tony Montalbano

Tony with his parents who he thanks for believing in himTony with his parents who he thanks for believing in him
Tony with his parents who he thanks for believing in him
Since lockdown began we have been speaking to people and organisations who have been uniquely affected by the coronavirus crisis

British & World Champion bodybuilder Tony Montalbano, who owns Body Flex Gym in Cambridge Street, writes about how the lockdown made him realise that he needed to change his life for the better as business wasn't what it used to be...

I have run Bodyflex for nearly 25 years this October and with recent events I have decided that the time is right to sell the business.

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I had an offer from a local person at the start of the lockdown but it fell through. So I thought it wasn't meant to be. But then, totally by chance I sold an item that I had for sale from the gym on Ebay, and when the person came to pick it up he said that he and his brother had always wanted to run a gym but never had the confidence to take the chance. We got chatting some more and they put in an offer for the equipment.

Tony with gym regulars, who are like family to himTony with gym regulars, who are like family to him
Tony with gym regulars, who are like family to him

It has not been easy though, the members here are like my family. But every time a new gym opens in time some of them leave to go there, after a while some come back, but over the years people not supporting their independent gym does make business a lot harder.

In October it would have been the 25th anniversary of Body Flex, and that was what I was aiming for then sell.

Because I couldn't afford staff I was doing 12 hour days myself, to make it work. To be honest the last few years the only reason it worked was because my parents own the building, so at times it was only through their support that I was able to survive and keep going.

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But with lockdown I have been forced to close. That's the first time we have been closed in nearly 25 years and Rocky my dog doesn't know what to do with himself, he's missing all the people he sees every day!

Tony competing as a bodybuilderTony competing as a bodybuilder
Tony competing as a bodybuilder

But lockdown has really given me time to think, and I've realised that I've neglected parts of my life because of the gym. My emotions are all over the place, because the gym means so much to me, it's been a massive chunk of my life and my passion, but other things are important too.

So I'm taking the offer, and sadly Body Flex gym is no longer. Just want to thank all my members past and present, and for all the wonderful messages of support I've had since this happened.

And the biggest thank you to my parents who believed in me with all their love,you made me who I am today.

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I am proud that many of my members I've seen grown to men. I know I change people's lives for the better.

Body Flex gym in Cambridge StreetBody Flex gym in Cambridge Street
Body Flex gym in Cambridge Street

Some members have become champions themselves and also personal trainers. I remember before I opened the gym I'd gone to a local gym and I see a person training in front of a personal trainer doing it all wrong that he could have hurt himself and the gym instructor didn't correct him in not even paying attention, it was frustrating and I carried that image with me throughout my business.

I'm in lockdown right now with my teenage son and we've been talking about this quite a bit, but he hasn't really said much. But the other day he made a hearfelt Instagram post which brought a tear to my eye. And he's not the only one. You've all been amazing.

As some of you know I did acting on the side the last decade and so I'm looking forward to giving it 100%, so keep an eye out for me when new TV and films come out!

Once again, thank you so much to everyone who has shown me support. And don't forget, support local firms, they are a dying breed and need your help now more than ever.

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