It’s one of the smallest yet most recognisable buildings in Cardiff.
The pink hut on the barrage has long been a local landmark not just for Cardiff Bay but for the city as a whole. But while tens of thousands of us have walked past, few of us will ever have seen the inside, which is now being used as a private gym.
The work of lock keeper Tony Hughes, the one-room, one-man exercise space has been kitted out with punching bags, a bench, a bar and plenty of weights. Combined with a view like no other overlooking the sea, it’s all he needs to do his training, with access any time of day or night.
As someone who has been working on the harbour for the last 20 years, Tony, 46, was looking for a space to train for a charity MME event when he came up with the idea of somewhere an arm’s length from both the office and his home in Penarth.
After getting approval and moving in his kit last Christmas, he’s been there ever since.
Tony said: “With lockdown and social distancing a one-man gym is perfect. The building was originally a yacht start building. The judges would start races and judge them there, but it’s in the middle of a shipping lane. When you have high water you’ve got a shipping lane there and in low water you can’t get there so it’s a bit of a folly to be honest.
“The last time it was used was when they had the Volvo Ocean Race when the officials had their equipment there. It’s a shame – I love it, I think it’s brilliant.
“I’ve got two bags up there, a bench, bar, weights, I’ve got the lot. It all had to be broken up into bitesize pieces and put in my backpack and it goes down under the cover of darkness.”
A self-professed former “couch potato”, Tony is currently training for an “Ultra MME night” which will be held next year in the Vale Sport Arena to raise money for Cancer Research. So far he has raised £500 out of his £1,000 goal. You can donate here.
As well as fundraising for a good cause, he wants to raise awareness of ADHD in adults after being diagnosed with the condition three years ago, and prove himself as a role model for his 10-year-old daughter.
With this year’s event being cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, one year after a dislocated knee stopped him from taking part, he is fortunate to have such an unusual gym location to keep him motivated.
Tony said: “It’s fantastic, it’s my motivation. The views are phenomenal over the bay. I’ve never had training, I’m not a disciplined boxer, not a judo or jujitsu person, I’m just going in blind.
“I like a challenge so I’m just training myself to get better physically. Last year I was a bit of a couch potato, a proper sofa surfer, so I’m just getting my fitness up and getting some better techniques for when I get the MME training beforehand.”
Speaking about his ADHD diagnosis, he added: “At the time [I signed up] I’d been diagnosed with ADHD and I was having a bit of a bad time with it. I always knew there was something and my daughter was diagnosed before me.
“It changed my life, it took a long time to get the right medication but once I had that I haven’t looked back. I wouldn’t have done the training until I got the medication. I decided it was time to do something and it sounded like a good thing at the time.”