AN old engine house at Runcorn Fire Station has been transformed into a fully-equipped gym.

The Healthy Hearts Runcorn Gym was inspired by firefighters who have been working closely with Halton Hospital’s cardiac rehabilitation team.

It will help heart patients recover and enable firefighters to train and keep fit.

Halton Clr Stef Nelson opened the gym as Widnes Vikings players offered exercise advice to heart patients.

Runcorn Fire Station manager, Sean Henshaw, said: " For many years, Runcorn Fire Station has been at the heart of the local community, with facilities such as its community garden and climbing wall.

“The Healthy Hearts Gym is a great new development that will be used as an outreach facility for delivering fitness sessions to patients who are rehabilitating following heart surgery or heart attacks.”

Free health and fitness sessions and healthy lifestyle workshops will be provided in an an area traditionally recognised as having high levels of poor health and deprivation.

Carol Over, principal therapist and cardiac rehabilitation manager at Warrington and Halton NHS Foundation Trust, said: "I have been involved with this initiative since its inception some four years ago.

"We have modelled the Healthy Hearts Runcorn Gym on the cardiac rehab gym at Halton Hospital and see it as a fantastic opportunity for the Cardiac Rehabilitation Team to work out in the community in an accessible location for patients.

"The work that Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has done on this project means that we can offer improved rehabilitation times and care packages for cardiac patients which we believe will improve life expectancy within the borough. "

Crew manager Tony Perischine was the driving force behind the renovations.