“ Various „
I had been looking to join a gym for a while, but had never quite gotten around to it. Finally, when my fiancee and her sister showed an interest because they wanted to get in shape for the summer things stepped up a gear. I looked at many based on the price range and what they had to offer, but we ended up going with Virgin Active. I felt they offered the most for the money we would be spending every month.
I joined just before Christmas and so far I have been very impressed. I pay £46.00 per month, which is fairly expensive, but not David Lloyd prices! This is a good thing though I think because it stops all of the riff raff from joining. For that you get full use of all the gym equipment - cardio machines including bicycles, running machines, cross trainers, rowing machines stepper - free weights - with a large selection of benches and equipment and all of the resistance machines. There are also classes every day and these are all included within the price. There is also a small swimming pool with a jacuzzi, steam room and sauna, although i'm yet to use the pool, but I've seen it on the guided tour we were given on our first visit and it is very nice. They do also offer personal training, but you have to pay for this and I'm not sure about the cost. However, you do get a free gym induction with one of the personal trainers on your first visit for a workout and they formulate a basic exercise plan for you based on your aims.
The club does get quite busy, but it depends what day of the week it is and what time you visit. Monday and Tuesday evenings tend to be the peak times, probably because everybody feels they need to go to the gym after over indulging at the weekend. I'm quite lucky though as I work shifts and therefore tend to go during the hours when others are working themselves. During the daytime it is always quiet, which i find is the best time to go because you can relax more and just get on with your workout without worrying if you'll be able to get onto all of the equipment you want to use.
The changing rooms are spacious and everybody has the use of the lockers. You can bring your own padlock, purchase or rent one from the reception area. They also sell a range of health drinks including protein shakes in chocolate, vanilla and strawberry flavours for £3.00. I drink these most times I go because I feel it is a benefit to drink the shakes after exercising.
The only issue I have is the parking. The gym, which is in Epsom (Surrey) is situated on the top floors of a shopping centre and therefore gym users have to share the parking which is in the basement with shoppers and it gets very busy and is expensive - works out about two pounds per visit. It doesn't sound a lot but when you think we're already paying the subscription and throw in a protein shake it does stack up. You can purchase a parking permit from the reception for around £30.00 and this lasts for six months at a time.
Overall, if people are looking for a gym I would definitely recommend Virgin Active. The equipment is top quality, the staff are very experienced and helpful and the gyms tend to be very clean. I often see staff cleaning when I'm in there working out. I would give Virgin Active gyms five dooyoo stars *****.
Thanks for reading - feel free to comment.
I have been a member at a few gyms but for me nothing compares to virgin active.
Facilities- I am a member at their didsbury club and although its not the biggest gym aound you can have a great workout. All of their equipment it technogym which has to be the best brand there is, there is a decent range of free weights 1-50kg, resistance machines and cardiovascular equipment. They also have some original stuff which you wont find anywhere else such as TRX suspension training and VIPR (I suggest you look these up for more information). They have a spin studio with around 25 top quality bikes, two large studios upstairs and a mind and body studio, all of which contain top of the range equipment which is well maintained. They showers are lovely and contain hair and body wash and hair conditioner of a high quality. There is pleanty of space in the locker rooms but not changing cublicles which may put some people off.
Wet area- They have a 25m swimming pool which looks great as it is an infinity pool and has some lovely lighting around it, situated around the pool there is a sauna and jaccuzi aswell as sun loungers for chilling out on. In the male and female changing rooms there is a steam room, I think it would be better if both sex's could use the same one as you could go in there with different gender friends/your partner, but I guess they didnt have the space for this.
Classes- There is a huge range of classes from spin to mother and baby yoga. The classes are suitable for people of different abilities and they tell you the level on the timetable. All of the instructors are great at what they do and there is a real buzz in there. The classes usually last between 45 mins and 1.5 hours. There are also a few childrens classes which is a great idea because it means you can leave them in there whilst you do your workout. They also do an aqua aerobics class and I have seen posters saying there is going to be a new aqua zumba class. For the most popular classes you need to get tocken from reception beforehand this means there are not too many people in class.
Staff- Thw staff are what make virgin active so wonderful and unique, they are so friendly and helpful and go out of their way to personalise your gym experience. They are friendly without being too in your face. Everytime you go in you will see a lot of staff on the gym floor, This is good because if you have a question or need some help there is always someone around. They also create a great atmosphere.
Price- The price is slightly on the high side you could expect to pay £50 a month for a 12month contract for an adult but in my opinion it is well worth it.
Cafe/V-club- There is a cafe that brews starbucks cofe along with suppling high quality protein drinks and small meals/snacks, There is plenty of room and computers that are free to use, they also have a selection of daily papers. V-club is the crech that you can leave your children in whilst you use the gym, From what I have seen of this it looks very nice.
Cleanliness- I will finish off with another great factor, everything is spotless, they take great care of making sure the gym is clean and in good working order, it is one of the cleanest places I know!
To to summarise this is a wonderful gym that is great for anyone, come here for a fun workout.
Virgin Active is part of the well known Virgin chain and has a large number of health clubs across the UK.
To find your nearest branch I suggest you check the website which has recently been updated and is easy to use. Quite recently Virgin Active has acquired Esporta Health clubs so the number of clubs has increased, which in my opinion is a great thing as Esporta clubs are great.
There are different memberships available depending on which you join to, this then becomes your home club. With my home club the membership allows me to use any other club within my group plus groups which are lower, this gives me potential access to over 50 clubs in the UK.
Certain other clubs that are in a higher category can be used once a month and some unfortunately would have to be paid extra for.
I currently pay rounded up £60 per month. I find this to be good value considering what is on offer. My friend who has a home club only membership pays £40 per month but prices do vary depending on location and your requirements.
What is on offer?
Unlimited use of the gym facilities, which for mine includes gym, swimming pool, sauna, jacuzzi, and a beauty section should you wish to have a massage or manicure etc, (this section is payable). A lot of home clubs have a female only section which may be of interest to some.
There are televisions in the gym that you can listen to/watch via earphones, or on certain machines there are interactive screens where you can play games whilst you cycle for example. I find this enjoyable albeit rather distracting at times as I forget to cycle.
There is also the option of taking part in a large number of the exercise classes that take place 7 days a week. I have only tried a couple, but so far my favourite is the Kettlebells class, it is an intense calorie burning workout involving the use of a kettlebell which is of russian origin.
There is a variety of classes to suit different interests, for those who prefer more of a dance workout there is the Zumba class which seems quite popular. Other popular classes include body pump, spinning and yoga.
A few classes are offered on a payable basis too, this is clearly displayed on the timetable.
The staff are very friendly and easy to aproach should you have a query on how to use a machine or such.
My home club also offers a Creche facility, I suggest you look on the website to check if your nearest club offers such a service.
Towels are not free, they are available for a £1 a time fee or on a monthly basis for roughly £5. I have to say I am disapppointed they are not free considering membership has already been paid for.
Lockers are provided on a daily basis which require a padlock that you can buy at reception if you don't have your own. There is also the option to rent a locker on a more permanent basis. I personally just use them on a daily basis.
Showers are available to use and I have found them to be clean and large in size.
There is also free internet usage should you wish to use it.
Most clubs have a cafe area which provide hot and cold snacks/lunch and drinks.
What I miss in the facilties on offer is that there is a lack of racquet sports available in my area. I would have to travel a long way to use a club that offers such a facility, however it is the same with all the different brands of gym clubs.
Overall I find the Virgin Active clubs to be of great value and they offer a great range of facilities!
Virgin Active is a well known chain of gyms with 71 branches in the UK, 39 of which are in London. When I moved to London I knew I wanted to join a gym and my local one just happened to be the Wood Green branch of Virgin Active. I have now been a member for over three years and try to go at least twice a week.
= On arrival =
On entering the club you take a lift to the third floor and walk into the reception area. The friendly front of house staff swipe your membership card and you walk through to the changing rooms. In comparison with other Virgin Active gyms in London the reception is quite small with wooden panelling which makes it look much less modern. At reception you can purchase sportswear, water bottles, snack bars and various other sports equipment as well as hire towels. Most of the London clubs provide free towel hire for customers, however being one of the cheaper branches Wood Green charge £5 a month or £1 each time you borrow one.
Behind reception is a lounge area with two computers with free internet, a large TV screen showing Sky Sports News and comfortable sofas. Members can wait for friends in here, use the internet and it is also the area where staff can talk to potential customers about membership.
= Opening times =
The opening hours at Wood Green Virgin Active are very good and better than a lot of other gyms in the area. On weekdays the gym opens from 7.00 a.m. which to me seems very early, but I am assured that if the key holder isn't there on time there will already be a queue of angry gym-goers waiting outside the door! It closes at 10.00 p.m. with a last entry of 9.30 p.m.
At the weekend the gym opens from 9.00 a.m. and closes at 6.00 p.m. which is good compared with other Virgin Active gyms in London which close earlier or in some cases don't open on a Sunday!
= The changing rooms =
The changing rooms at Wood Green Virgin Active are basic but very clean and functional. Wooden benches surrounding hundreds of lockers and mirrors provide ample space for dressing without ever getting too crowded. There are also smaller lockers that can be hired out for £5 a month. I find it much easier to have a few sets of clothes at the gym along with trainers, shower gel and a hair brush so am happy to pay this. I prefer it to carrying around a gym kit on my commute to and from work three days a week! It is paid out by direct debit on top of the regularly monthly payment.
The changing rooms have recently been painted which has made a huge improvement with clean white walls with Virgin's bright red in various places to brighten it up. Around the edges of the changing rooms are more large mirrors with a ledge which you can use as a dressing table (I don't - I just get out of there as fast as I can!) with hair dryers, cotton pads, body cream and ear buds which are complimentary.
The showers are at the back of the changing room. There are 10 in total which is plenty considering the size of the gym and predominantly male regulars.
= The gyms =
The main gym at Wood Green is upstairs. It is a decent size with a mix of cardio and resistance machines and free weights. At the front of the gym are lots of mats to do floor work which are surrounded by free weights, kettle bells and ViPRs (Vitality, Performance and Reconditioning). In the centre of the gym are all of the cardio machines including 10 bicycles, 10 treadmills and 10 cross trainers and then towards the back are the 'men's' free weights and weight machines. I refer to the men's weights as there is a section where only men ever seem to be! The larger, heavier weights and bars are located in this area along with a series of benches. I find that this area always smells really bad and the benches are soaking wet so avoid it at all costs! The weight machines include a chest press, leg press and various machines to strengthen the upper body. Most of the machines are Techno Gym which are very reliable. Virgin Active are very quick to fix or replace faulty equipment and I've heard from friends that other gyms are not as effective in this department. I notice that they regularly update machines too with the latest technology.
There are a number of classes which take place on the mats on the gym floor. These have started up in the last year or so and are very popular. These 'fast classes' include V-Core (abs work out), 30 minute punch (boxing work out) and Heptathlon classes (these were introduced by Virgin and Jessica Ennis who worked on a variety of exercises which could represent the seven disciplines of the heptathlon).
The downstairs gym is smaller and quieter. Again there are some cross trainers and treadmills but there are also some step machines in the cardio area. There are three Powerplates which are one of my favourite things to use in the gym. Powerplates, for anyone who doesn't know, are vibrating machines which you can perform your exercise on and apparently the technology is six times more effective than doing the exercises on the floor. They are great for doing things like squats, lunges and stretches.
Both the upstairs and downstairs gyms have large flatscreen televisions which are programmed to the individual sound systems on the machines which means you can listen to the relevant channel if you have headphones with you. The channels normally showing are BBC1, ITV, Sky Sports News, Sky Sports 1 (or 2 or 3 depending what is on) and Virgin's music channel. They are normally quite good at changing the channel over if you ask for something in particular. Water taps are located around both gyms and outside both changing rooms.
= The studio and classes =
The studio is a good size and can fit up to 40 people for most classes. There are many classes at Wood Green gym and most take place in the studio including:
- Body Balance - combines yoga, pilates and tai chi.
- Body Combat - non contact martial arts set to music.
- Body Pump - weight training work out to music.
- Punch - an energetic workout with dynamic punching combinations.
- Step - aerobic choreography with the aid of a stepping bench.
- Yoga - spiritual discipline with meditation.
- Zumba - Latin American themed dance.
Classes are particular busy in the evenings, especially between 6.00 - 8.00 p.m., however the gym do not seem to put a limit on how many people can attend and won't introduce a first-come, first-served system. On Tuesdays I get to the gym early for a Zumba class but people are still walking in 15 minutes after it starts and trying to slot in between people. This is the thing that annoys me most about the classes because generally they are a lot of fun and the instructors are excellent.
= The other facilities =
Virgin Active Wood Green is quite small and in comparison with some other gyms and other Virgin Actives around London, is lacking in the facilities department. First and foremost it doesn't have a pool. To a lot of gym goers this would be a huge deterrent but as someone who struggles to swim a length it doesn't bother me at all. It does have a sauna in both the male and female changing rooms which is nice as others I've been to have been mixed sex. I've used the sauna a few times myself but generally it's very underused and I've never been in there at the same time as anyone else! They have recently added a sun tanning bed (it's an upright one) in both changing rooms. Again, sadly, I've never seen anyone use it! The price starts at £3 for 3 minutes.
Since the big refurbishment (the paintwork!) we now have free internet in the reception area as I mentioned earlier. This has been very popular and is well used, although I've never seen anyone having to wait around for a computer. I haven't used it myself as I don't live too far away and spend enough time on the internet at home and work, but it's good to know the facility is there!
Another good thing about the gym is that it is part of Wood Green's Shopping City and shares its car park. The receptionists can stamp your parking ticket which means you do not have to pay. This might sound standard to a lot of people but free parking or even parking facilities in general in London can be hard to come by.
Personal training works out at around £30 a session which I think is ridiculous considering the gym instructors are very helpful and you can learn anything you need to from them without a PT session. Members are entitled to a free 30 minute session with a fitness instructor every six weeks anyway which is a great, however it isn't something I make the most of!
= Cost and membership options =
When I joined there was an offer on where there was no sign up or administration fee. They were also offering the rest of the month for free which was a good incentive to sign up there and then and make the most of it! As my boyfriend works in Local Government and I live with him I was offered a reduced rate - £37.50 a month for unlimited access to the gym which also includes access to any other Virgin Active once a week. This is quite handy as Crouch End gym is only twenty minutes away from my house and if I needed to use the pool or try and different classes I can do this. I occasionally use the gym at Strand too on a lunch break as it's close to my work. My favourite of the London Virgin Active gyms is the one at Angel. It has a massive bubble pool and a really nice relaxed vibe around the whole place. I tend to go there at weekends if I don't have much on.
In the three and a half years I've been a member it has only gone up once and is now £39.50. This might sound a lot for anyone living outside of London but in comparison with a friend who pays £70 a month at Virgin Active Regent's Park, another who pays £66 on the London/Essex border and another who pays £100 at a gym at Canary Wharf! I believe that full price at Wood Green is around £50 a month.
I know that Wood Green offer a student membership option which is around £30 a month which is great value, but means that these members can't use any other gyms in the area.
= Location =
98 - 100 High Street
Sales: 0845 270 9121
Direct: 0208 889 6161
Wood Green Virgin Active is right in the centre of Wood Green High Street. It is easily accessible by bus routes and is less than 5 minutes walk from both Wood Green and Turnpike Lane underground stations, which are both on the Piccadilly Line. There are lots of shops and places to eat nearby, as well as a cinema next door.
= Overall =
I am a massive fan of Virgin Active and am very happy with my membership. I've never had any issues with them - the staff are friendly, the equipment is modern and always working and the price is excellent for London. The membership is flexible enough that I can use other gyms but feel happy at Wood Green knowing that they have most of the things I need. The classes are good and I find them much less intimidating than at Strand where everyone seems to be a gym professional and the staff aren't quite as friendly. I would recommend the gym to anyone, unless you want a swimming pool and then you'll need to keep looking!
4/5 - they lose a star for the lack of facilities! I would obviously like free towels and free snacks (I've seen this in other places!) but am very happy with the service they provide and at the price, I won't be complaining!
Sadly, Virgin Active Wood Green has closed down since I wrote this review. It was bought out by EasyGym and I have not joined the new orange gym which does not have instructors...
I'd suggest thinking very hard about whether to join Virgin - well, I suggest you don't. I'm only working two days a week now and can't afford the membership anymore - but have been told it isn't possible to cancel my membership until my 12 month contract expires. Not only that but I'll soon be on maternity leave - even the fact the gym membership will take up a stonking 25% of my income doesn't sway them. Mortgage lenders are more understanding!(My local club is Clapham, but it's the same policy across all their gyms)
I signed up to Virgin Active about 6 months ago and must say that I have been very pleased with it from day 1.
Virgin Active is a gym that is aimed at young professionals. The main selling point of this is that there are no children allowed so if you want to go for a swim you don't have to dodge any children playing in the water. For me, this was a major boost.
I called up on day to arrange a look round and was seen that same day. I was taken round a tour of the facilities including the gym, pool area, changing rooms and where the classes are held. The lady that showed me round was very informative and answered all my questions.
After going through the different types of membership, I opted to sign up to a 12 month contract with just the Kingston gym. The alternatives were to sign up on a monthly rolling contract or a 12 month contract but for all Virgin Active gyms and this was more expensive. In the end the package I chose cost me £45 per month.
Included in your membership are full use of all facilities at the gym including all the different classes. There are numerous classes running all day long and these ranging from things like spinning to circuit training and step aerobics. There are also varying levels of ability so you don't have to worry about being useless! I have been to a few classes and have always found the instructors to be very good at their job.
In terms of cardiovascular machines, there are numerous machines including all the usual arrays of treadmills, cross trainers, rowing machines and bikes. There are always plenty available when I am there (straight after work) so it is never a problem to get going. At the front of the gym there are also some televisions which you can watch by plugging in your headphones. Alternatively there are some music channels which you can listen to.
There are lots of different types of weight machines as well. Unfortunately I have not spent much time using them so can't really comment on them. However, I can say that there are lots of weight machines and from what I can tell they pretty much have everything you need.
The pool is nice and big (20m I believe) and for some reason it never gets too busy. It is divided into 2 parts - one for fast swimmers and one for slow swimmers. Generally there are no more than 4 people in the pool when I am there which means you get a fairly uninterrupted swim. Next to the pool is also a Jacuzzi which is a good size and will comfortably fit 5 people in there at any one time and obviously more people if you squeeze in!
I must also say that all the changing rooms and in general the club is very clean.
The only gripe I have about the gym is that if you wish to use one of their towels then you have to pay £1 per use in order to cover the "laundry costs." Firstly, already paying £45 per month should entitle you to a free towel and, secondly, there is no way that to wash one single towel costs £1. You can hire towels as part of your monthly package but I think it is around £6 per month which is plain stupid. In retrospect, I should have tried to negotiate this when I signed up.
It is also worth saying that you need to provide your own padlock for the lockers. As with the towels, you can buy them from Virgin, but they charge you a fortune.
Overall I must say that I am extremely happy with my membership at Virgin Active. It is everything that I want a gym to be and, from my point of view, the fact that children are not allowed is positive point. If only they could stop being so cheap and give towels away for free!