People are often nervous about going into a gym for the first time.

Laura Lowrie, owner of The Studio on Denton Street, says: "There was a girl who was going to come last night. She messaged me to say 'My friend couldn't come, so I can't come by myself.' I've been in that position. I'm sure everybody has been in that position.

"I remember my first class at one gym. I walked in and no one spoke to me, including the instructor. I made a point of not being like that."

She proudly describes The Studio as "not at all cliquey. You walk in and somebody will smile at you. No one cares what you wear. I buy my gym pants from Primark."

Laura has taken fitness classes around Carlisle for about 10 years.

Her previous venues have included the Sands Centre, Lifestyle Fitness, community centres, schools, and even pub function rooms.

She opened The Studio on Rome Street in January 2016. She moved it to Denton Holme last September, in part of the former Mitchell Dryers factory which closed in 2016.

Laura recalls: "A client said 'Have you ever thought about getting your own place?' I hadn't. I can do more classes. I don't have to travel.

"The ages are 18 to 70. It's for all age ranges and fitness levels. It's predominantly female. I'd love to get more men through the door but men don't like classes as much. Exercise classes have always been female-dominated. Men are more comfortable going to a gym."

One chap often here is Laura's labrador George. He sits in the office and is a big favourite with clients.

As well as Laura there are four other instructors at The Studio. Classes include Pilates, Boxercise, Konga - a fusion of boxing, cardio and dance - and Kettlercise: a whole body workout using a lightweight kettlebell.

Laura recently recruited four women to test the benefits of Kettlercise by giving them free classes for six weeks. All lost several inches from their waist and hips.

She says: "People come here initially because they want to get a bit fitter and lose a bit of fat and make new friends.

"They soon realise it gets addictive. It's the mental clarity. The majority of people have got kids at home. They need to get out and have an hour or two or they'll go insane!

"It sounds a little bit pompous, but you actually change people's lives. When one woman started coming she was going through a horrendous time at work. It was coming to classes that saved her sanity. You see people become more confident.

"At any class you work to your ability. You could be next to somebody who can do something better than you. That doesn't matter. You focus on what you can do. No one judges. I'd kill them if they did."

Laura would like all her clients to give 100 per cent in every session, but says "as long as they're giving something. Some classes, you're dead at the end of it. Then you get that smile: 'That was hard but it was so enjoyable.' Agony can be enjoyable, we've found, in a weird way."

* Weight loss and strength coach Iain Martin will be holding a seminar at The Studio on Sunday May 20 at 1pm. This is based around the impact of exercise and nutrition on mental health. The event is for mental health charity the Campaign Against Living Miserably.