An independent gym owner in Mid Ulster has secured the future of his business following a six-figure investment supported by Ulster Bank as he anticipates greater need for mental and physical health support services in a post-pandemic world.
Entrepreneur Aaron McGonigle established the self-named Aaron’s Gym in 2012 when, from the backyard of his home in Magherafelt, he began offering personal training and coaching sessions.
Three years ago, in 2018, he followed the venture up with the launch of Aaron’s Gym in Cookstown, a fully equipped gym on the Molesworth Road designed to cater for gym-goers at every stage of their fitness journey, from athletes to newcomers.
With a six-figure facility from Ulster Bank, Aaron has now acquired the Cookstown premises his gym operates from as he seeks to expand the brand and its services within the local community.
Supported by a team of 21 staff and personal trainers, Aaron’s Gym offers a wide range of weights and plate-loaded equipment plus an array of cardio machines, including treadmills, cross trainers, exercise bikes and rowing machines. It also runs a programme of group sessions and fitness classes, including kids’ classes.
In an adjoining unit, also acquired as part of the investment, Aarons operates the gym’s sister company Energy, Mind & Body, a wellness hub providing mental, emotional and spiritual support by way of counselling, classes, workshops and holistic treatments such as yoga, reiki, meditation, reflexology, massage, acupuncture and more.
James Fox, business development manager at Ulster Bank, says the investment, which comes as the business approaches its 10-year anniversary, will secure an important asset for the local community.
“Aaron’s Gym has proven itself to be much more than a successful business. It has become a hub for all aspects of mental and physical health and has nurtured a supportive and compassionate community with reach and impact far beyond the gym floor. Ulster Bank is strongly focused on supporting the communities in which it operates and we’re proud to support businesses and entrepreneurs like Aaron who are delivering important services at the local level.”
Commenting on the timing of the investment, Aaron says his memberships have bounced back to pre-pandemic levels.
“We’re as busy now as we were before the pandemic began. Looking ahead, I anticipate demand for what we offer to continue trending upwards. Our old membership is back training with us and we’ve also attracted a number of new registrations as the young and old seek out support and the means to rejuvenate themselves both mentally and physically post-pandemic.”
He believes the increase is a result of the holistic approach to mental and physical wellbeing championed through the Aaron’s Gym and Energy, Mind & Body brands.
“My own personal journey is woven into the fabric of both businesses. From experience, I can say many people use physical fitness not only for the obvious health benefits but as a way of propping themselves up, creating an armour. This is why we established Energy, Mind & Body as a side business to the gym. There was a clear need to cater for the mind as much as the body.”
In April 2020, at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Aaron and his team also established Mid Ulster Community Support to raise funds and deliver much needed food parcels to the most vulnerable in the Mid Ulster area. The network continues to deliver its services today and has expanded to include mental health support. To date, it has delivered over 3,000 food parcels and raised over £10,000 through charitable initiatives to run its programmes.
Caption: Ulster Bank business development manager James Fox (left) pictured with gym owner Aaron McGonigle.