DAVE Woods has been one of rugby league’s top voices for decades – and now he is calling for people in Bolton to try something new.

The well-known BBC commentator has branched out into the world of personal training and now co-owns the FitBox Gym in Westhoughton, alongside his duties in the press box.

Bolton lad Woods cut his journalistic teeth on the Bolton Evening News as a younger man and has gone on to provide the soundtrack to Challenge Cup finals, World Cups and countless games on BBC 5Live during his career.

But after falling out of shape in his early fifties, Woods made a conscious decision to do something about his fitness, which steered him on to a very different path.

“I think as a professional we are in and around athletes all the time, we might live a bit vicariously through them,” he told The Bolton News. “But the truth is, I got to the stage about three years ago where I really needed to do something about it.

“My fitness had been on and off through my life, but I got to the stage where I told myself: ‘Okay, if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it properly,’ and I actually started training to become a personal trainer, getting fitter, learning more about nutrition.

“I’m 54 now and have lost about three stone, so I can honestly say I am in the best shape of my entire life.”

Woods expanded an existing business in Buckshaw Village to new premises on Dodd Lane, along with his business partner, Nick Jones.

And while the doors are open to all, he believes people his own age are the ones who are most likely to write-off their physical fitness as something they no longer need to worry about.

“There are a lot of people in their fifties, like me, who think their time to exercise and get in shape has gone,” he said. “But that is exactly the sort of time of life you should be thinking more about your health, staying in shape, avoiding the problems that can come your way.

“Most of the illnesses that people describe as age related are chiefly down to a lack of activity.

“You look at what happened in lockdown, a lot of people may have struggled to keep a routine, let things go, feel demotivated. And I think those people are the ones who benefit most from getting back into shape because it is never too late.”

FitBox offers personal training and member classes in the morning, afternoon and evening for a ‘community pass’ rate of £35 per month.

The gym also has a resident physio and mental health councillor and conforms to all current Covid guidelines laid down by the government.

Since opening a couple of months ago, Woods is happy to report a good uptake in membership and – more importantly – a place where he feel everyone can come to exercise without judgement.

“I wanted to open a place that was different,” he said. “I think going into a gym can be intimidating because there are people at all levels of fitness, you may feel a bit self-aware.

“But since we started it has become like a little community, people are comfortable, they feel supported.

“Anyone who has been a bit nervous very quickly become a part of it and you are seeing people who didn’t even know each other come here to chat, be happy and healthy, which is very rewarding for me.”

The Bolton News:

Even though the gym has given him extra work, Woods says he has no plans to hang up the commentary microphone just yet.

The man who took over the BBC rugby league mantle from the legendary Ray French says he has had lots of messages from folk in the game.

“The rugby league lads have shown me loads of support,” he said. “Jonathan Davies said to me the other day ‘if two years ago you’d have told me the world would have Covid, and you’d become a PT instructor, I don’t know which one I’d have found stranger.’ “I’m sure he meant it as a compliment.”

For enquiries about membership email fitboxwesthoughton@yahoo.com or visit the gym’s website - fitboxfitness.co.uk – or find it on Facebook.