Fitness Question of the Month

Ollie Emsden transformed a derelict tractor barn into a state-of-the-art gym, Vision Fitness in Henham, which recently won Boutique Gym of the Year and counts celebrities and Paralympians among its varied clients

How was Vision Fitness created?

I was looking for an ideal location and site that would accommodate a demand for a good local gym that helped cater to everyone’s goals in a relaxed friendly environment. I found an old derelict barn in Henham so I approached the farmer to tell him my vision. We worked together for about a year and a half and then Vision Fitness was born!

How have your first two years been?

Amazing. More than I could have hoped for. We have been lucky enough to have some amazing people walk through our doors since we opened. Local celebrities such as boyband Blue’s Antony Costa, who also filmed his personal weight loss documentary with channel 5 at Vision Fitness. The production team contacted me to use the gym as they thought it would look great on camera. As well as Antony, we have had an EastEnders actor, Olympic and Paralympic athletes. We have also attracted a wide range of people that have what I call real life changing goals such as stroke sufferers, the partially sighted and people that have undergone major health operations. This is something we wanted Vision Fitness to be; a gym that can help everyone and cater for all goals. A real community hub that is more than just a gym.

Ollie Emsden, creator of Vision Fitness, Picture Jon_Bawden (28221214)
Ollie Emsden, creator of Vision Fitness, Picture Jon_Bawden (28221214)

We hear that Vision Fitness won Boutique Gym of the Year at the National Fitness awards. . .

Yes we did! We still can’t quite believe it. We were shortlisted earlier in the year which we thought was amazing in itself. Judges then came out to view the gym and ask questions. My team, family and I went to the National Fitness Awards at Athena Arena in Leicester for a black tie event. We were in the final six and discovered on the night that we had won! This meant that out of the whole UK we were considered Boutique Gym of the Year. It was a surreal moment for myself personally but also everyone that has helped Vision Fitness become what it is today.

What makes you different from other gyms?

We are an independent gym which means we really do care about each of our members. There is always a personal trainer on shift to help people on arrival and during their fitness session. We create personal fitness plans and rehab programmes and offer a really nice environment with stunning views over the countryside. For example you could be running on the treadmill and look out onto a field of over 20 cows! As well as a gym, studio and sauna, we also have a unique outdoor training facility. This consists of monkey bars, rope climb, dip bar, targets, tyre flips, farmer walks and a sprint track for pushing and pulling a sled.

Award-winning Vision Fitness now (28221218)
Award-winning Vision Fitness now (28221218)

What tips would you give to people starting out on their fitness journey?

I would say find a gym, a class or a place where you feel comfortable going to, where you will receive support. If you like the place you train at then you are more likely to go back. I would also recommend joining somewhere with a friend. This can really help with motivation and increase the amount of times you exercise. I would also suggest hiring a personal trainer for even just one session. Personal training prices do vary but generally people spend more money on a round of drinks on a night out or for the cinema and popcorn! By doing at least one session with a PT it can help with tailoring a plan to achieve your goals, help with motivation and help with technique on exercises.

Finally I would set yourself some realistic and achievable goals that make you stay focussed and committed.

Vision Fitness is at Barley Barn, Parsonage Farm, Church End, Henham, CM22 6AN. Visit

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