“ Canterbury City Council run a passport to fitness scheme which allows members to use any of the gyms in the area. „
Canterbury City Council have an excellent scheme to help people to stay fit and it runs across all the main leisure centres in the area. For those of you who do not know this part of the country the area covered by the City Council is quite large and includes the coastal towns of Whitstable and Herne Bay. The Council's 5 star scheme covers the Kingsmead Leisure Centre in Canterbury which includes a fitness suite and swimming pool, the Heron Swimmimg Pool at Herne Bay, the Pier Sports Centre at Herne Bay which includes a fitness suite, separate weight rooms, rollerskating rink, squash and badminton courts etc. It also includes the Whitstable Swimming Pool which also has a fitness suite and the Whitstable Sports Centre which is the "poor relation" of the five in that it only hosts traditional gym facilities like badminton, five a side football etc. The way in which the Council operates their scheme is like this. You join up and pay a one-off induction fee of £16 for a session with a trainer who talks you through how to use all the gym eqipment and also, if you want, prepares a personal fitness plan for you, taking into account whether you want to lose weight, get fit, tone up certain parts or whichever combination you seek to achieve. This is not a mandatory part of the scheme and I personally decided to just do what I felt happy with. From time to time the Council runs a special offer and waives the induction fee, being a Scot that's when I joined. After your induction you then set up a standing order of £25.50 per month for unlimited use of all the facilities at all centres. An individual visit to the gym would normally cost £3.40 so your break-even point, using the gym alone, would be eight visits a month. I normally go 3 times a week so I am saving about £15 a month by using the scheme. A swim at the various pools costs about £1.80 for a single visit so you would need to swim a lot more often, if that was the only use
you were making of membership, for it to be worth your while. Most folk do a combination of both. The gym at Whitstable opens at 7am during the week, so that is particularly helpful for anybody who wants to work out before going to work. I first went down there one morning at 7.15 thinking in my naivety that the place would be empty, only to find it half full and having to wait to get on to individual pieces of equipment. Whitstable also gets very busy in the evenings and at certain times you need to pre-book your time slot, which I would find quite a pain, but my wife manages to get on alright with it. Whitstable also has considerably less equipment than Herne Bay. The gym I use is the one at Herne Bay Pier. I tried Whitstable a couple of times first but now use Herne Bay all of the time. There are a number of reasons for that. Firstly, you never need to book. I have never gone there and not been able to use some piece of equipment immediately. Secondly, Herne Bay has separate weight training rooms which means that the pumping iron brigade are not competing for floor space with us lesser mortals. Thirdly the views out of the windows at Herne Bay are great, looking out over the sea can be very tranquil and help your brain to conquer the pain your body is putting you through! I will try to describe the layout of the place to give you an idea of the range of facilities. The room is a long rectangle with one wall full of windows looking out to sea. Down this wall are four treadmills, three very good ones which have lots of different programmes to choose from, a heart rate monitor facility and so on; the fourth is a geriatric old machine which is better than nothing if the other three are occupied. Further along there are 2 sit-up-straight exercise bikes. I tried these a few times at first but they struck me as a lot of effort for not a great degree of calorie burn-off. At the top end of that wall there is a load of kit I have never used inclu
ding bench presses, haul your arms legs and whatever apart machines and so on. At the far end on the short wall there is a telly. Down half of the other long wall there is a big mirror with lots of mats in front of it where folk do floor exercises using those sit-up devices which I assume are designed to tone up tummy muscles etc. There are also several more of those bench press instruments of torture. At the bottom end of this side there are four steps machines in three different designs. I mainly use these and the treadmills. Along the bottom end wall are 3 rowing machines, one computerised one which allows you to row against a simulated backdrop of the Thames on a TV screen. Funnily enough most folk prefer to ignore this "toy" and use the two conventional machines instead. Also on this end wall is another TV which is usually tuned to Eurosport. So there you have it, a guided tour of the Pier gym. The Pier centre itself also has the other usual amenities such as a cafe, drinks machine, sweets machine, weighing machines and so on. But is it working for you I hear you ask, or not as the case may be. Well, I started using the gym as a new Year resolution and my intention was to get my weight down to 12 stone before going on holiday in August. When I started at the gym I weighed in at 13 stone 3 and last week was down to 12 stone 1 so I have very nearly achieved. I am 51 years of age, have/had a sedentary job and I look on my visits to the gym as hopefully helping me to keep my heart in shape and give the Grim reaper at least one less excuse for paying me a visit.