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MORE people are using fitness centres in Liverpool than ever before.

More than 2.5million people used the treadmills and ab-crunchers at the city's council-run gyms,according to figures released today.

The 23% rise in visiting figures over the past 12 months has been attributed to changing lifestyles and also a drive to encourage people to think seriously about their health.

A celebrity endorsement by exBrookside star Jennifer Ellison has also helped send visitor figures through the roof.

The city council's 15gyms, swimming pools, sports halls and pitches -now known as lifestyles fitness centres -are now busier than ever. With 2.5 million people passing through their doors every year, the figure is the equivalent of every single person in Liverpool using a leisure facility five times.

One of the biggest success stories has been the new Lifestyles Millennium fitness centre in the city centre.

More than 60,000 people have worked out at the gym since it opened last year and it now has the second highest membership level of any fitness centre in the city.

And with the country's first childrens gyms opened at Everton Park, Peter Lloyd and Garston leisure centres, the next generation of fitness fanatics are already training for the future.

Councillor Warren Bradley,executive member for leisure and culture, said: ``We'veinvested more than pounds 40m in leisure facilities over the past decade,and our gyms are kitted out to the same standard as the best privately run facilities,but cheaper.''

Meanwhile, building work is expected to begin shortly on a pounds 4m replacement for Queens Drive recreation centre.

The facility will be used by Alsop high school and the local community and is expected to open at the end of 2005.


NEW DRIVE:A celebrity endorsement by Jennifer Ellison has helped council gym figures soar
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 24, 2004
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