Skip to content

Nottingham City Gymnastics Club

Find out how a growing club with no base got its own building through the asset transfer of an underused community centre.

Name of project / organisation

Nottingham City Gymnastics Club and Nottingham City Council

Sport / activity


This is the story of a sports club that managed a win-win situation - saving the council money by managing a building, while ensuring it continued to provide physical activity for the local community.

The Sixways Community Centre, in the heart of the Broxtowe Estate, is home to Nottingham City Gymnastics Club - a club focusing on providing children of all abilities, aged 4-15, the opportunity to have fun when doing gymnastics.

The club has successfully engaged large numbers of local young people, as well as being a draw for those from more affluent parts of the city.

What was the problem?

Nottingham City Gymnastics Club (NCGC) was founded in 2009 and used a number of venues around the city, including schools and leisure centres. Over the next five years the club expanded its classes and grew to around 200 members training in four venues – three schools and a leisure centre.

Without dedicated space they were spending increased amounts of time setting up and putting away heavy equipment and they were limited in the number of sessions they could run. As a result they began searching for a space which they could grow into and develop the club, thereby providing more opportunities for young people, and adults, to try out gymnastics.

The club searched for their own facility for around 18 months, initially looking for an industrial unit, but had change-of-use planning applications rejected on two sites.

For Nottingham City Council there was a different problem. The Sixways centre in Denton Green, Broxtowe, was managed on behalf of the council by the Broxtowe Partnership Trust, but the trust dissolved at the end of March 2013 and the centre closed.

The council were keen to see it reopened and, in April 2013, began advertising the centre for asset transfer, however, this process was unsuccessful, possibly because it was done through a very formal contracting process which may have put off some community groups. The Centre was converted to a badminton court, but in 2014 was only in use for one hour a week and otherwise was closed to the community.


The number of hours a week The Sixways Centre was getting used for in 2014.

What was the solution?

Looking for help and support, NCGC emailed their local councillor, to explain their vision and to ask if they knew of any facilities or spaces around the area. In November 2014 they were pointed in the direction of the city council’s communities team, and the following day Sixways Community Centre – a mile away from their main venue – was identified.

Negotiations were led by the two club founders. After viewing the centre they met with the deputy leader of the council, who was impressed enough to offer staff support and draft heads of terms for an asset transfer.

From this point the rate of progress was extremely quick. With hindsight the group may have preferred a more formal approach with clear agreements, but recognise that the project might have become bogged down in bureaucracy and lost momentum. They did, however, have to submit a business plan as part of the formal process.

The council were positive about their clear vision, business-like approach, risk analysis, commitment and obvious benefits to the local and wider community, which reflected many of the council’s aims, but felt the club lacked experience in facility management.

NCGC committed to undertaking training and, over 12 months one of the directors was supported to complete the training needed to take on this role, e.g. fire requirements, food hygiene, legionella, etc. This reduced the council’s main concern and they agreed to retain this responsibility for the first year until NCGC were ready to take it on.

Ultimately, the club got what it asked for - a long lease, permission to redesign the space and the facility handed over in sound working order

In addition, the club was not incorporated, so the two club leaders formed a Community Interest Company, limited by shares, as the legal vehicle to take on the lease. This legal form is not charitable but does ensure community benefit is core to the business and also ‘locks in’ the asset so that there is no private benefit available to directors from the value of the lease.

The centre needed work to make it fit for purpose. The council agreed to complete outstanding maintenance pre-transfer at no cost to the club.

The club raised £25,000 to transform the building into a dedicated gymnastics facility, with secure doors, and permanent mats and other equipment. They redesigned the space to meet their needs with a reception/waiting/viewing area for parents and siblings, and a layout that allows users to change, warm up, do activities and leave the gym area all within a secure space.

The £25,000 was made up of a £20,000 loan and £5,000 in fundraising. They did not seek capital funding from the council or other funders as this would have slowed the process too much.

The club managed the building project even though they didn’t yet have full security on the building, but felt it was a reasonable risk to take. The two leaders/directors managed most of the work themselves but volunteers and parents were vital and got involved in painting, cleaning, fundraising, and lots more.


The amount raised by NCGC

In all, it took six months for negotiations and then three months to opening, which was in April 2015. Building work started in June 2015 and they started running sessions from July 2015. The club took a risk in investing in the premises, but due to the commitment and reassurance from the council, they felt it was a risk was worth taking.

Ultimately, the club got what they asked for – a long lease, permission to redesign the space, and the facility handed over in sound working order before the full repair lease began. Insurance and indemnity were bought through their British Gymnastics membership, which provided significant savings.

The final lease is a 30-year peppercorn, full repairing lease for the whole building and allows subletting.

What is the business model?

The unique selling point of NCGC is that they don’t focus on competition. They are all about participation, fun and high-quality coaching. Their aim is to ‘create an environment where gymnasts of all ages, abilities, ethnicities and backgrounds can come together and enjoy gymnastics in a safe, effective and child friendly environment’.

This has helped the club to grow steadily to a point where more than 400 members pay a monthly membership fee of between £13.50 and £45 for young people (working out at less than £3 per hour for most participants). Monthly fees for adults are £17 per month for a weekly session. Fees are usually paid via standing order over 12 months, based on classes running 40 weeks of the year. All members require insurance at £17 annually, which is paid when joining.


members pay a monthly membership fee

A paid membership of just 250 would make the club sustainable. Over and above this are ‘pay-as-you-go’ pre-school sessions and home-schooling sessions to make use of daytime capacity, holiday clubs, parties and branded club tops. The city council also gave two years of funding for some free places for local children from the estate.

The club use an online management system called Class4Kids to manage waiting lists, enquiries, fees and other processes. It attracts around 30 weekly enquiries and is a source of new members, as well as word of mouth with minimal marketing.

There are paid coaches, young leaders and volunteers. There are no other paid staff.

Financially they are doing well and are ahead of schedule in repaying their loan, but they are now responsible for all costs and utilities. All coaches and young leaders are paid and staffing costs are approximately £450 per month, including all associated costs including PAYE and tax. Other main costs include utilities, insurance, and equipment replacement. Rate relief helps to bring down some of the monthly costs.

What was the result?

The city council is saving revenue and maintenance costs and has brought a community centre back into use.

The club has control of their space, security of tenure and the opportunity to continue growing the business in a sustainable manner. Club membership has doubled.

The centre is very well used and footfall is now over 650 per week. They are continually looking for ways to use spare capacity, such as a home-school session. More young people and adults are active and enjoying sport. And they are particularly successful with teenagers, a difficult group to engage in sport.

For the future, the centre will provide more opportunities, with possible dance classes for parents whilst waiting for children and running themed children’s parties. There is also the possibility of sub- letting some space to related organisations. They are aiming for 1,000 users per week.

The Club has been successful in attracting local people, raising aspirations and helping to overcome negative perceptions about the area.

Through Facebook, the parent’s network and the reception area, they engage parents very effectively. They attend local community events and will be working with other sports groups to further increase participation. They have quickly built up trust and the community feel their views are being taken forward.

A number of users have taken up gymnastic coaching courses, with some parents also starting to volunteer and gain skills and confidence.

Top tips

  • Be positive, talk to people who have done it, learn, know your risks and manage them
  • The online class management system saves hours of time - the facility couldn't be run using old, paper methods
  • Social media is a vital tool for marketing and engagement but face-to-face engagement is also crucial. NCGC ran over 30 free taster sessions throughout one summer, giving local people a chance to try before signing up. Every new joiner has the opportunity to try two sessions before they enrol. As a result of feedback they have introduced new affordable sessions which will appeal to local people
  • British Gymnastics provided helpful information and support. Always contact your sport governing body to see how they can help.

Find out more

Visit the Nottingham City Gymnastics Club website.

Sign up to our newsletter

You can find out exactly how we'll look after your personal data, but rest assured we’ll only use it to make sure you receive our newsletter, to understand how you interact with our newsletter, and to provide administrative information about our newsletter.