A reformed drug user who has served time behind bars for crimes committed to feed his habit is turning his life around thanks to a pilot gym scheme.
James Baynes volunteers at Bedford’s Samsons Fitness, which means the 25 year old gets to train for free and that’s helping him to kick his habit and stay on the straight and narrow.
He is the guinea pig for a partnership between the Midland Road gym - run by Sam Nutt, Zeb Clay and Dorian Alexis - and the probation service, which is so far proving to be a success.
James, who decided to turn his life around after leaving prison last year, said: “I came out and I had it in my head that this is enough now.
“I’m quite lucky really because there are so many people on probation that probably want to change and don’t because they are not given the opportunity.
“Sam has given me a chance, it is really good of him and I don’t want to let myself or him down.”
He helps clients at the gym, cleans, sorts equipment and distributes promotional leaflets for the business and now James, who is a stonemason by trade, hopes to go back to college to gain qualifications to become a personal trainer.
The young man, of Brickhill, fell into a world of drug taking, getting hooked on heroin and crack cocaine, after leaving home as a young teenager and while organising illegal raves.
“At first it was all to do with the music and the whole scene but slowly over time it became all about the drugs,” he said. “Then once you get hooked on the harder stuff no one wants to be around you because you are not a good person to be around. You have to earn that back from everyone which is the hard thing. I’ve had a lot of positive feedback from my mum and my family and friends.”
The gym also offers Muay Thai training three times a week in partnership with the Predator Gym for those currently under the watchful eye of the probation service.
James, who has been taking part in the martial art sessions and is currently on a drug treatment programme, said: “It is swapping a bad high for a good one.”
Gym co-owner Sam said: “He is such a likeable lad. I have had his mum come in and shake my hand and say it is the best she has ever seen him and drug workers saying it is the best he’s ever been.
“As long as he sticks to the routine - that is the key.”
The gym hosted an open day over the weekend to showcase the good work it is doing in the area and its owners are hoping to dispel the road’s troubled reputation.
They have also recently started working with a local homeless charity to offer gym training sessions.
To find out more contact the gym on 01234 303427 or search Samsons Gym on Facebook.