Protesters have called for council bosses to reconsider plans to shut at least two leisure centres in Gateshead.
Dozens of people demonstrated outside Gateshead Civic Centre earlier, vowing to "fight back" against the proposals.
Gateshead Council has warned facilities in Saltwell, Dunston and Birtley could be selected for closure due to a funding crisis.
It said existing services had become "unaffordable" due to reductions in its budget.
Wendy Arkle, who goes to pilates classes at Gateshead Leisure Centre, said the proposed closures would affect "people from nought to 90".
She added: "There are babies learning to swim and we have a lady in our class who is nearly 90.
"It is so important for people's physical health and their mental health too. During Covid we missed it so much."
Eddie Bellis, a leisure centre regular for more than 40 years, believes the closure would have a more damaging long-term impact than the current budget crisis the council is facing.
"We have all had it drummed into us for the last couple of years how we must look after our mental health and exercise is an important part of doing that," he said.
The demonstration came on the day public consultation on the proposals ends.
It also coincided with the council's cabinet being presented with plans to cut £14.5m from other areas next year – including the loss of almost 70 jobs and reductions to frontline services such as street cleaning and weed control.
Council leader Martin Gannon acknowledged closures and cuts would have a "profound and damaging impact" that would be "disastrous for Gateshead" but added the authority was being squeezed by budget cuts.
The council has had its budget reduced by £179m since 2010 and is facing a financial black hole of £55m over the next five years, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
A final decision on the leisure centre proposals is due to be made in January.
Follow BBC North East & Cumbria on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Send your story ideas to [email protected].
Closing athletics stadium 'could save other venues'
Synchro-swim club at risk from pool closure plan
Leisure centres are unaffordable, council warns
Ramside Park in Durham named North East's most expensive street
The five most expensive streets in the North East revealed – and one is in Durham
Gateshead man claims pregnant partner lay on makeshift bed on floor as she waited 18 hours in A&E
Sunderland rail station Christmas closure plan did 'major damage' despite U-turn, council leaders say
Pop legends Sugababes and Blue added to Sunderland's Kubix Festival line-up
City leaders react to partial u-turn on Sunderland station Christmas closure
Ukraine's Zelensky planning to visit US – reports
Emergency in Texas city as Trump border policy in limbo
Trump tax returns will be made public, panel votes
African, Arab or Amazigh? Morocco's identity crisis
What to expect from next World Cup in 2026
The trip that transformed Australia and China ties
The two sides of Scotland's gender law debate
Ghost Town: 'The song Thatcher wishes was never released'
Ros Atkins on… China’s Covid surge. Video
What it will mean when Indians outnumber Chinese
Who could replace Elon Musk as Twitter boss?
America's greatest living writer?
The dark side of a children's classic
Asia's most beautiful train route?
The diseases soaring post-lockdown
© 2022 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read about our approach to external linking.