Keep-fit fans in Blairgowrie are celebrating after sports bosses partially reversed a decision to cut a lifeline exercise class.
Aquafit fans in the Perthshire town – many of whom use the class to manage conditions such as MS or to help with recovery from strokes – were facing the cancellation of two out of three of their sessions.
Blairgowrie High School, which has priority access to the pool, had commandeered the time to introduce gender-segregated swimming sessions for pupils.
However, a last minute rethink from the school and sports body Live Active Leisure (LAL) has restored at least one of the sessions, with work under way to see if all three can be re-organised.
One regular class goer said: “We are absolutely delighted to be reassured that our Thursday morning Aqua class will definitely be restarting from the start of December.
“When told that classes were to be so drastically reduced with no clear explanation given as to why this step was being taken we were somewhat anxious that they would not be restarted.
“A number of the participants are handicapped – some with MS, strokes and that kind of thing. A fair number have been advised or applauded by their doctor for attending the class for the health benefits it brings, especially at this time of year when winter is almost on us and dark nights can make for a long lonely day.”
Aquafit classes involve aerobic exercises, such as jumping, stepping and lifting, while in the water.
After being told last month that the sessions were to be axed, 36 members wrote to local Conservative councillor Caroline Shiers, who contacted the manager at the Live Active centre in Blairgowrie.
“The High School have priority access to the facility during the school day so LAL advised they were not left with any choice but to cancel these classes as there weren’t any other suitable slots to move the classes into,” she said.
“I was pleased to hear though that LAL intend on restarting the Thursday class from the start of December as the High School PE department move on to a different block of classes so will no longer require use of the pool.”
A spokeswoman for Blairgowrie High School said the school had decided to provide some swimming lessons in separate groups for girls and boys.
“PE staff at the school have reported that there was some positive impact on participation levels as a result of the separate classes,” she said.
“Additionally, feedback from the young people involved suggests that this approach was something they appreciated.
“While the centre’s facilities are prioritised for school use during weekdays, we do recognise the disappointment that some external users may feel at times and we work hard to ensure maximum levels of public access. We continue to work positively with LAL in this regard.”
A spokesperson from LAL said: “We appreciate that our customers are disappointed that we cannot offer three daytime aquafit classes this school term, it is always our desire to offer as many opportunities to the Blairgowrie community as we can.
“We are continually in dialogue with our colleagues in the High School and we hope we can find a solution for future terms.”