THE owner of a new gym in Westbourne Grand which could create 20 jobs said he is excited to “give back to the community and “protect a listed building”.

180-Strength are in the process of renovating the former cinema and bingo hall into a gym and have been open for small personal training sessions for the last few weeks.

Owner James Rufus, 42, said: “We are a gym in central Bournemouth already and came across this building being empty.

“We thought it was an incredible building, even though it had been falling into disrepair.

“I just thought this will make an incredible training space.”

James owns the gym with partner Sophia and said he has been in the industry since 1988.

They currently operate a gym on Holdenhurst Road.

He continued: “We want to restore the building so it is here for another 100 years and return it to its 1920s glory.

“It is such a beautiful building and works really well for us. Westbourne is an up and coming area.

“In the next days we will be putting forward a pre-application for the changing rooms, they will be complimentary to the building.

“We have got to the point in Bournemouth where we need a bigger site, our popularity is growing.

“One man who was 82 told me he would be our first member, we are a gym for all ages and abilities.”

The Grand has been unused since January 2018 when it was closed as a bingo club after more than 40 years. Before that it had been a cinema from its opening in 1922.

“We are going to spend £400,000 on the fit out and that will take three to five months,” he added.

“We’ll have a full reception team, five or six management level staff, a fitness team, administrative team so we’ll create 20-plus jobs.

“I have been a Bournemouth resident for a long, long time, I moved her as a teenager.

“I have seen this building a lot, to keep it going for another 100 years will be lovely.

“To be able to grow our business, protect a listed building and give back to the community is a good thing.”