The Fitness First Cardiff North branch opened earlier this year. Address: Fitness First Cardiff North, Caerphilly Road, Llanishen, Cardiff, CF14 5XY. Tel:(029)20695590 Fax:(029)20759130 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.fitnessfirst.co.uk/ Opening hours: Peak Mon-Fri 6:30am-10pm Sat 8am-9pm Sun 8am-10pm Bank hols 8am-10pm Off-peak Mon-Fri 8am-4pm Sat 2pm onwards Sun 2pm onwards Bank hols 8am-10pm Price: £34 per month (peak) or £24 per month off peak. I have been going since early February. I try to visit the gym at least 3 times a week and to be honest I've surprised the hell out of myself (and the boyfriend) as I'm still going! I pay the peak price as the times off-peak are really restrictive (week days), if you've got a job. Facilities: Air-conditioned gym containing bikes, running machines, cross-trainers, step machines, weights machines and free weights. Exercise Studio-with a fully sprung floor for safety. Classes-they have regular classes (with beginner, intermediate and advanced classes taught separately) such as aerobics, step, yoga, aerobiking (bloody hard work!), fat-burn aerobics, boxercise, and many more. I've personally tried the yoga and aerobiking classes. The aerobiking was beyond me as I was knackered after 5 minutes! The yoga classes are great because they really stretch out muscles (most you never knew you had!). My posture has improved and the wind-down phase is only 10 mins so even I can't fall asleep! 30 minute express work-out room: Loads of machines to give you a full body work out in 30 minutes. Operates using a traffic light system in the corner (red for stop, amber to change machine and green to work out). Nice changing rooms- large oak lockers, hairdryers, lovely clean power showers with free shampoo, conditioner and shower gel (not the best in the world but hey, it's free!). Freebies: Video/DVD library- free 24 hour loan. They have loads of videos but unfortunately many of them are quite bad. They do have a few good ones, many new ones are only available on DVD, but they do have a good kid's section (if that helps!). After 24 hours, you pay £1 per night. Gift pack when you join; containing headphones (mine have broken already and my bf's doesn't work on one side), training towel, 3 personalised fitness programs, 2 guest passes for family/friends, 1 free sunbed token (no use to me), beauty and personal training vouchers. You have a "juice bar" where you can get a selection of soft drinks, herbal and black tea, and coffee. You also get free newspapers in the morning (only a few left by evening). You also can use the other fitness first clubs throughout the UK for free. Parking: below the gym, with CCTV cameras. Sauna/steam room/ice feature/aromatherapy room: steam room is good. The ice feature is just a sink with a spout that produces crushed ice (if you're hardcore you rub this all over your body). Sauna room is not really that good, and the aromatherapy room with ambient lighting is pants and smells of pine toilet freshner. Sunbeds: you have to pay for the use of this facility. When you first start you get 3 personal one-to-one sessions with one of the instructors, who show you how to use the machines and build up a work-out program with you. You then get a progress card, so that you can fill in your improvements as you get fitter. You are supposed to have an update meeting with one of the instructors but I think my instructor's gone AWOL. Joining fee: £100, but they often run offers where you c an join free. Good points: you can freeze your membership for a minimum of 3 months (if you're going abroad, etc) so you only pay £5 per month and you don't have to pay the joining fee again. Friendly staff, especially at reception. They all give you encouragement and are very approachable. Lots of different people go there so you won't feel out of place. It's really nice that everyone doesn't look like a fitness freak, model, body builder. Events- regular socialising events are organised to help you meet other people (if you want to). Good facilities, wide range of equipment. Bad point: No swimming pool (but that's reflected in the lower cost compared to gyms with a pool). Sauna and aromatherapy room. Can sometimes get very busy and some people hog the equipment. The gym has put up a graph of the number of users each day so you can see at which points of the day the gym gets packed. Mornings and last thing at night are least busy. Between 5 and 7pm you get upto 60+ people in there. I go in the morning (7:30am) before work and it is really quiet and it sets you up for the rest of the day.