Aberystwyth University’s new sports dome, which features the latest in self-charging gym equipment, has been opened by one of the UK’s leading chefs.

Gareth Ward, head chef and co-owner of the double Michelin-starred Ynyshir restaurant, and a regular user of the University’s training facilities, opened the new dome on Wednesday 17 January 2024.

Located next to the Sports Centre’s multi-purpose 3G sports pitch on Penglais Campus, the 40 metre by 23 metre ‘Air Dome’ has been supplied and erected by Rocklyn with support from local suppliers Electrical Estimates, Afan Construction and Padarn Alarms.

Kitted out with 130 training stations, including bikes, rowing machines and treadmills, users can monitor their progress on digital screens powered in many cases by the energy they generate as they train.

The new equipment has been supplied by Matrix Fitness, and the development has benefited from a £250k grant from the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales.

Speaking at the opening, Gareth Ward, whose Ynyshir restaurant has been named Best Restaurant in the UK for 2022 and 2023, and ranked in the UK’s top five restaurants by the Good Food Guide, said: “I'm honoured to be opening this unbelievable sports dome. It's awesome to see the University team pushing forward with their new space, expanding and inspiring more people to improve their health and fitness. As a regular user of the gym, it's great to see the constant efforts put in by the University to invest in new facilities, and I'm sure it will be a great success.”

Professor Jon Timmis, Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University said: “We take great pride in the facilities we have here at Aberystwyth University and it is wonderful to welcome Gareth Ward to open this excellent new gym. I’m also delighted to see so many community groups and individuals taking advantage of our facilities. Just like our very popular Arts Centre, our sports facilities represent one of the cornerstones of our civic mission and offer hugely valuable opportunities that are open to every member of our community.”

The development of the new dome, which features an opaque double skin to prevent it from overheating on bright sunny days and heat loss during cold weather, has been led by Darren Hathaway, head of the University’s Sport and Grounds team.

Darren Hathaway said: “We continually strive to invest in our facilities and, where possible, to innovate when upgrading our equipment. Our new self-powered kit is another small step towards limiting our energy consumption and we also hope that everyone using it will feel just that little bit better in the knowledge that they are benefitting health, mind and the environment.”

“This development is also important as it means our Sports Hall will now revert to recreation use and team sports such as netball and basketball, and the Sports Centre’s extensive ‘Fit-together’ group exercise programme.”

The new sports dome will be open between 6:30am and 9pm Monday to Friday and from 8am to 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays.