Newest Review: ... months at a time. Overall, if people are looking for a gym I would definitely recommend Virgin Active. The equipment is top quality, the ... more
Calling all gym virgins - get to Virgin Active!
Member Name: Wickedinrock
Date: 17/03/11, updated on 20/10/11 (2001 review reads)
Advantages: Good value, great classes and nice instructors
Disadvantages: No swimming pool, have to pay for towel hire
= 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...
Summary: A good value gym in Wood Green!