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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 November 2007, 10:41 GMT
Shopping centre keeps Santa fit
Three Santas
Santa will be in his grotto at Bluewater up until Christmas Eve
Santas at a Kent shopping centre have been ordered to slim down before greeting children in their grotto.

Bluewater shopping centre, near Dartford, is running a month-long boot camp for overweight Santas who will be working there leading up to Christmas.

The 12 commissioned Santas will be put through a punishing exercise regime to shed the excess pounds.

Tim Holland, property manager, said: "We want to make sure Santa is fit so he can deliver all the presents."

He said exercises would include the "Santa sack lift", to benefit and strengthen all muscles.

Role model

However, he conceded that Father Christmas was not a thin person.

"There's nothing wrong with Santa being the size that he is, we just want him to have a modern day makeover to reflect the realistic demands of being the world's most renowned delivery man."

Shoppers will be able to see the Santas sweat throughout November, under the watchful eye of their trainer.

Maria Sullivan, from the British Heart Foundation, said the initiative would send out the right message to children and Father Christmas was an ideal role model.

"Creating a 21st Century Santa is an innovative idea encouraging children and adults to get into better shape," she said.



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