SAINTS legend Franny Benali has opened a new gym.

The centre - run by The Gym Group - opened to the public on Monday with an appearance from the former Southampton FC player.

The former Premier League player officially opened the gym, above Sainsbury's in Portswood high street, with a speech promoting an active lifestyle and the benefit to the community.

He told the Daily Echo: “It’s brilliant to be here. For Portswood, it's right on the doorstep and it's so nice to see another venue for Southampton.

"It’s looking great and it will help people keep fit and healthy."

The Gym Group opened its 208th workout space as part of its plans to open 18 more over this year.

One of the next locations planned is Locks Heath.

READ MORE: Portswood to welcome new gym to the area

General manager for the Portswood site, Debra Pallet, said: “With Franny coming in it's been so positive.

“We went to the Saints Foundation and Franny lives in the area and is such a great person who does lots in the community.

"It was a good fit with him being here today.”

The Gym will host an open day to showcase the facilities for those wanting to see the new site this weekend.

Assistant general manager for the facilities, Tom Chippindall-Higgin, said the Portswood area was "very welcoming". 

He said: “Portswood people have been so nice. The local community has really been excited about the gym opening.

“We have state-of-the-art facilities with passionate people working with us and we’ve really felt the community respond well to us.”

The chain has two other locations in Southampton - Shirley and the city centre.

The work started on the Portswood site three months ago with the location originally pursued by PureGym back in July 2019.

Two of the first visitors to the gym, Ryan Gerry, 22, and Felix Forrest, 21, said they have been waiting for the facilities to open.

Ryan said: “It’s a shame it didn’t open sooner.

"We know other students who go to the city centre just to go to The Gym so now it is open lots of uni students will go here. It will be busy.” 

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