In what may be the first conversion of its kind in England, the Culmstock Methodist chapel has been turned into a fitness studio. The disused chapel was purchased in October by Joe Newbold and the venue now hosts his fitness business, Mypremcoach. 

Joe has over 20 years of experience in the fitness industry. He has previously worked for the David Lloyd gym in Exeter, where he trained trainers and worked as the gym manager. Now Joe has brought those skills to Culmstock. 

The Mypremcoch logo, a lion’s head, roars on the chapel gates, and on a sign at its front. Through the front door and into the waiting room a custom-made carpet bears the same hallmark. Joe says he spends a lot of time cleaning it. 

The main attraction is through the doors of the waiting room. The chapel hall is populated with gym equipment. The space is a mix of new and old. Light pours through the stained glass windows and the acoustics echo about. The varnished woodwork has been sanded back cleanly, and the floor is modern. But the building’s original beams still arch overhead. Old cornices and commemorative plaques have been retained. 

Joe Newbold pictured in his Culmstock studio
Joe Newbold pictured in his Culmstock studio (Tindle)

I asked Joe if he had a favourite feature. He said: “We do like the wood, I don’t know whether that’s because it took us so long to sand, a lot of graft went into that.

He added: “The stained glass as well is a fantastic original feature. There’s some work to do there as they’ve taken a weather beating so we have to get those up to scratch and get them functioning properly. There’s not many personal training gyms you’d find stained glass windows in.” 

I asked Joe what services his business offered. He said: “There are 3 main services, 1 to 1 base training, I also do partner training for couples or friends, and the last one is small group training. They’re like classes but with a maximum of 8 people in a session.” 

Mypremcoach offers a free trial. Joe told me: “I do offer a free trial session. People can come along, have a chat, try the equipment and decide from there if its something they want to commit to.” 

There was a large variety of equipment in the studio, including a boxing bag, dumbbells, kettle bells, striders, a ski-erg and more – everything you’d expect to find in a fully kitted out gym. 

Joe told me he caters to all ages and skill levels. He said: “Yes indeed, I always say fitness has no age. Whether its younger or older there’s no age limit. Everything is tailored to the individual. In terms of the equipment there’s a great range from lighter to heavier so everyone can work to their own level.” 

I asked Joe if the ‘prem’ in my Mypremcoach stood in for ‘premiere’. He told me it was for ‘premium’ and added: “I’m not being boastful but the premium comes from myself and the experience I have had delivering results for people. Hopefully now I’ve also got the premium facilities.”