Do NOT join this gym, or rather 'gym system'. While it appears to be a very good bargain, one should not forget that the 'bargain' aspect of these gyms is the result of a heavy tax subsidy funded by all the happy little UK taxpayers. In truth, similar to other private/public partnerships (think of the train system) there is much lacking.
The majority of these facilities are filthy (the toilets in Pond's Forge are a health hazard), their customer service is exceptionally rude and you'll end up sharing or waiting for the weight room at Don Valley with whatever local rugby team they see fit to rent it out. You are basically paying market prices for the gym but getting far less in terms of hygiene and basics then you would at private gym that needs to pay attention to these things in order to stay afloat.
On a final note, if you ever decide that 'enough is enough' and try to end your contract, be prepared to be hunted down by third party debt collectors even if you gave written notices and highlighted the deficencies of the company. A year later you could find yourself still dealing with the mess of it all! My short and squalid 'relationship' with this company was not good and I would give this company, even in spite of the many venues, a miss and head somewhere clean and friendly like Fitness First. (And no, I do not work for them-just a happy member).
Fitness Unlimited (Sheffield): Well, the WOW applies to several things: the price, the flexibility, the facilities, the locations, and most of all the fact that I have joined! I'll take you through them in reverse order... Firstly I am the kind of person who has never done any exercise in my (adult) life. So the fact that I decided to join 'Fitness Unlimited' came as quite a shock to my closest friends and family. My best friend didn't believe me, and my mum nearly fainted when my flatmate told her I was at the gym! So why did I do it then? I didn't become suddenly obese, or even develop a fetish for instructors, so what had changed my mind? Well, really it was my love for swimming... Fitness Unlimited is a way of joining three fitness centres in Sheffield: Ponds Forge, Hillsborough and Don Valley stadium. The idea of belonging to three centres may seem a little strange but in fact gives you the best of all worlds. As Ponds Forge is often used for national and international events, it allows you to use a different centre when their facilities are unavailable. It also means that they can provide a much wider range of activities throughout the consortium. Having so far only tried out the Ponds Forge sports centre, I can only talk about their facilities but I have been assured that the others are similar. The facilities themselves are fantastic. You can go lane swimming (in an Olympic size pool at Pond's Forge), fun swimming (with flume slides, bubble pool and a lazy river!), use the gym, circuit training, aerobics, aqua aerobics, yoga classes and maybe best of all (for me anyway) full use of the health suite, which includes Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. From my experience the pools are rarely busy (although I do tend to get on weekday evenings) and the lane etiquette is of a very high standard. If there aren't enough lanes for one each, they operate an anti-clockwise
policy so as you aren't bumping into each other. From my experience I would choose your lane carefully as slower swimmers can easily hold you up. The Health club also has been quiet when I have visited and although the Jacuzzi was out of order on my last visit, the general service level has been excellent. Also, which I found quite surprising, the steam room and sauna are always friendly chatty places, rather than stare-at-your-toes-in-silence areas. There are changing areas close to every facility (mixed in some areas) and I have always found them to be clean, tidy and with plenty of cubicles. And the best bit? Saved until last, is the price. Only £19.99 per month! Unbelievable but true! You do have to pay by direct debt, but personally I find this a lot easier than receiving a bill or having to pay in person at the start of each month. My free gym induction is tonight and my first yoga class is a week on Tuesday, so expect an update! *** Update *** Well. my gym induction has been as high in quality as the rest of the Fitness Unlimited package. Myself and my friend (who joined together) were shown around every machine in the gym with a full explanation of how to use it, what it does, which body parts it is good for and recommendations on levels and times. All of the machines are new at Ponds Forge and they all have the same (or similar) control panel, which makes it very easy for a beginner like myself. Our instructor pointed out she could show us around for as long as we liked and we could always go back to her at any time during future visits for a repeat explanation. We can also have a free assessment, during which the instructor follows you around your work out for an hour and then develops a personal training programme for you. Although I can't really compare the gym facilities to any other, my friend was very impressed and she has been a member of several other gyms. <br> Again it wasn't too busy, and there were always spare machines of each type to use. This package is really spot on! Go have a look on their website: http://www.fit-un.com *** Update 2! *** How rude of me to forget to keep you all informed!...;) Well, Yoga was a bit of a wash out for me. Although the class was supposed to be for all levels I didn't think the instructor paid any attention to the beginners. Particularly when she launched into the breathing exercises without explaining them first. However, all is not lost. I have joined a class called 20-20-20, which translates as 20 minutes of each: Step, Aerobics and Floor Stretches. I really love this class as it is well taught and really does cater for all levels. The teacher is great... she doesn't even mind me laughing when I am going the wrong way to everyone else! I have also started using the weights, although the gym has been getting very busy of late. Having said that, it is about half the price of the rest of the gyms in the area so that was to be expected! Apparently there are plans for expansion so I will let you know if that happens. I tried out the gym at the Don Valley Stadium a couple of weeks ago but it is very weights based and full of scary looking bouncer types (both male and female!). It was a little intimidating as my friend and myself were probably the only non-body builders in there! Having said that it's still a fantastic offer, although I am not sure I want to encourage any of you to join until it has calmed down a little. Until next time... *** Update 3! *** I received a letter this morning to say that the price will be going up! From 1st May 2001 there will be two price bands. Off peak (up to 3:30pm each day) access: £19.99 Unlimited access: £24.99 However, the good news is: existing members will still only pay the lower price for full access. Q
uick hurry and join! Also a new centre (the Concorde centre) is being added to the package and the Pond's Forge Gym is going through a 40% size increase through the opening of CVUnlimited. Watch this space!