This is review of the Bradley stoke, Bristol branch of livingwell gym inside the Hilton hotel. I was a member for a year and paid £35 a month on 12 month contract. For this price there was use of the gym, sauna, steam room and 15m swimming pool.
I'll start with the positives of livingwell. Its a very relaxed place, the staff are friendly and the pool is a great addition for the price you pay per month. The gym is also very clean, they provide you with towels for showers and shower gel/moisturiser for all your pampering needs! Not only this the swimming trunks drier is brilliant for packing your bag post workout!
Unfortunately I did find some negatives with the livingwell gym. The gym in Bristol is actually very small. There are 6 treadmills, a couple of bikes, a few weight machines and some dumbbells. These are all quite compact and there is little space around the machines, which at peak times can make getting on equipment or even around the gym difficult and frustrating. The dumbbells also only go up to around 25kg, now i'm not a massive weights lifter, but that seemed a low highest weight even for me. The 12 month contract is also a long time without an option to transfer or freeze your account.
In conclusion if you like smaller gyms then this is good for you, it can be fairly empty but busy times are frustrating. The pool is great for members even though it is only 15m in length. Much prefer fitness first even without the use of a pool at many.
After piling on the pounds not only after the wedding but leading up to it! Jeebus only knows how – I thought brides lost weight with stress – well not this one and I was stressed more than most being the only person who planned the wedding – what do you know, turns out I AM a freak of nature. Anyhoo, Mr Fishbulb was feeling a little unfit and didn’t want to be married to a fat Mrs Fishbulb so off we went to join a gym. Well, we went round a few of the gyms in MK and between the pair of us we’d been members of half a dozen, the thing is right, Mr Fishbulb wants to get a little fitter and wants a gym with lots of good weights equipment and Mrs Fishbulb wanted to join somewhere with good facilities and aerobic classes as well as a place to relax and be pampered this is how we came to join Livingwell Health Club. WHERE IS IT? / FIRST IMPRESSIONS Parking’s not so great at the health club, being right in the Centre of the Central Business district of Milton Keynes and just across the road from the shopping centre. You’d be lucky to get a parking space during the week. There are some free spaces dotted around the building and some pay & display (80p per hour) it’s all free after 6pm though! Well, we’d both been users of the club several years ago so we kinda knew what to expect. We both work in the building (Central Milton Keynes Business Exchange / Exchange House – CBX) and to get to the actual gym you leave the ‘office side’ and approach the back of the building. You are walking along a balcony overlooking the most beautiful ‘indoor rainforest’ is the best way to describe it, with palm trees, birds of paradise and multi-coloured plants of all shapes and sizes. There are two stepped pathways that lead down on either side of this jungle or a glass lift in the centre – you see, majority of this gym is underground. The centrepiece to this beautif
ul garden is a huge pond and ‘stream’ feature with the largest fish in it you’ve ever seen. Some of these fish are as large as small dogs (creepy!!). You will also notice that there are some tables and chairs just outside the main entrance for you to sit and perhaps enjoy a coffee or a sandwich (more on that later) RECEPTION There is a small shop area that sells sports clothes, shorts, swimsuits (all both for men & women) they sell water bottles, towels, headphones, beauty products & some make-up. On your right and to the front there is a café area along with a lounge area complete with several leather sofas and a TV that is probably about 5feet Square! Nice! The café sells breakfast in the morning at a reasonable price and sandwiches, pasta, beer, wine, along with several soft drinks, energy drinks, tea coffee and baked potatoes. For a baked potato with cheese & beans (my fav) you can expect to pay about £2.00 – bargain! Back to the reception desk. We have a small membership card (a bit like a boots advantage points card), which is swiped though the computer and our name and details (along with a ghastly digital photo) come up on the computer screen – we are always welcomed by our name! Then you are given 2 towels (1 small & 1 large) and are free then to enter the actual club. CLUB If you can see behind the receptionist you’ll notice the swimming pool, you walk past into the club with it behind a glass wall on your left. You can also see the Jacuzzi and I know that just behind that is the steam room and the two saunas. When you’re in the pool, you have a wonderful view right out into the rainforest that I mentioned on the way in! Walking further down the corridor there is a huge aerobics studio on the left with three glass walls. For those of you who are more conscious about being watched, you’ll be pleased to hear that these are partially
frosted. On the right there is the beauty salon and hairdressers. You turn left at this point and there is a smaller aerobics studio in front of you – mainly used for spinning classes. Then through a set of automatic doors and you are suddenly at the top of an open plan staircase that looks down on the gym. On your left you have the cardio-vascular area to your right the weights. GYM (CARDIO) With nearly a dozen Star treadmills, Stairmaster Steppers, Stairmaster Stepmills, Crosstrainers a plenty several exercise bikes (the normal kind and ones where you have a seat to leave back on) along with rowing machines, ab-rollers along with kayaking machines and some others there’s something for everyone at different levels of fitness (and motivation LOL) GYM (WEIGHTS) There is a wide selection of machines to work every single muscle group in your body along with a large area dedicated to hand-weights and dumbbells. (I shan’t go into them all – I’ll be here forever) GYM (OTHER) There is about a dozen televisions suspended along one wall of the gym and a small bank of ‘units’ plugged into a wall above the staff desk. Basically, the TV’s are numbered (there’s also a comprehensive list of ‘what’s what’ on the wall) and you pick up one of these little units, and a belt (in a little cage next to the desk) pop the unit in the belt the headphones in the unit then in your ears and while you exercise you can listen to (and watch) BBC1 BBC2 Anglia, Sky Sports, Radio One, or the Gym CD, Radio 4, or whatever else they have decided to put on. Cool huh? And all you need to worry about is bringing your headphones. CHANGING FACILITIES Changing rooms are clean, with solid wooden lockers, plenty of seating areas, a playpen for the kiddies. Towel bins, hairdryers, mirrors, private changing cubicles (for when you’re feelin
g shy) along with two sets of showers (one with curtains and one with doors) There is a bank of toilets in here too. In the showers you will find complimentary shower gel and shampoo, near the sinks hand wash and body lotion (and it’s all rather lovely) There’s also a little spin drier for your swimsuit and a dispenser of carrier bags next to it, although this doesn’t get your costume bone dry, it’s near enough and by the time you’ve popped it into one of the complimentary bags, you can guarantee that your other belongs won’t get dampened by it! STAFF There is always a member of staff around when you want one. When you first join you have to fill in a questionnaire then you receive a free health assessment and should you wish a free guide as to what you should do in the gym and some goals to set yourself. Mr Fishbulb had high blood pressure and so every time he went to the gym they took it to monitor it as closely as possible to ensure he was safe and well. They schedule in a ‘follow-up’ appointment and assessment to see how things are going and if they can help you sort out your routine. Again, this is not mandatory, but is often a good idea to keep you on-track and motivated by changing your routine. Staff will wander over to you and chat (not always welcome when you’re 20 minutes into a gruelling workout) but they are friendly, helpful, on the ball and generally very pleasant! Personal training is available at an additional costing of £20 per hour – not for me personally, but good for those of you who need that little extra bit of inspiration. CLASSES With over 80 aerobics classes a week aimed at all levels of fitness they’ll be something here for you. There’s everything from Step, Thai Chi, Aqua Aerobics, Body Balance, Body Combat, Yoga, Pilates and spinning. Classes can be booked only 5 days in advance (this stops p
eople booking the whole year’s worth and means that you should be able to get into the class you want) You can book in by signing your name against the relevant class in a big folder in reception or you can telephone the club to book yourself in. Also there are regular ‘activity’ classes for the children so if you fancy a bit of R&R leave them in the hands of a trained professional and go and pamper yourself (or workout – if you’re NUTS!) OTHER FACILITIES Well, I’ve briefly mentioned already the swimming pool, it’s 23 metres long and poolside there is a water fountain, ‘cubes’ (like shelves, but cube shaped) to pop your towels and things, whirlpool spa and steamroom – which always smells rather pleasantly of eucalyptus and the sauna – that’s too hot for Fishbulbs’ but it smells a bit like sandlewood! There are drinking water fountains placed all around the club so wherever you are you have access to clean, chilled water. There is a crèche where you can leave your little darlings, I believe the use of this may be included in the membership, but I’m not 100% sure – so don’t quote me on that! BEAUTY FACILITIES New hairstyle, massage, pedicure, manicure, perm, sunbed session, facial, fake nails, you name it – they do it in ‘The Sensory’ the clubs’ in-house beauty salon. It’s also open to non-members of the club, but the pricing is slightly higher (only about a pound or a couple of pounds on some things, so don’t let that put you off) At £26.00 for a shampoo, cut and blow-dry it’s not going to break the bank. SO, FISHBULB, HOW MUCH IS THIS LOT GOING TO COST? Well, the costing is based on the type of membership you get. You can get a Gold Membership (individual or joint with someone at the same address) Junior (for kiddies 5 – 16 (but only as additionally to an adult membersh
ip) Off Peak Membership (individual or joint) or Student membership. Each application is subject to a joining fee, (Junior membership exempt from this) a joining fees is a one-off payment for setting up your membership, for any single member to join it is £100 for any joint it is £200. You can pay monthly or a one-off lump sum (which is discounted) but who can afford to do that. (I’ve outlined the prices for both below) I would advise you to check the local papers regularly because Livingwell frequently offer periods of joining where the joining fee is wavered. (that’s what tipped the scales for us) FEES (Prices in brackets are the price you would pay for a year’s membership if you paid all in one lump sum!) Gold Individual £53 per month or (£604 per year) Gold Joint £85 per month or (£969 per year) Junior £10 per month or (£114 per year) Off peak Individual £37 per month or (£422 per year) Off peak Joint £53 per month or (£604 per year) Student Individual £45 per month or (£513 per year) WHAT DO I GET FOR MY MEMBERSHIP? Well, unlimited use of all of the facilities including aerobic classes, swimming, saunas and pretty much everything apart from beauty treatments and food in the café! If you have a gold membership you can do this all day everyday, but with an off-peak membership, you are restricted to attending the club at the following times Monday – Friday 9:00am – 4:00pm Saturday – Sunday 6:00pm – 9:00pm Where as with a Gold membership package you can attend Monday – Friday 6:30am – 10:00pm Saturday – Sunday 8:00am – 9:00pm There is a Livingwell wine club available to join for a separate fee should this take your fancy! Should you join Livingwells, your membership number will unlock a members only part of their website too. (Http://www.livingwel
l.co.uk) You may bring guests with you to the club at a cost of £10.00 during peak hours and £5 during off peak and you may bring children in with you as guests for £2.50, but there are restrictions as to the times they may come in and what they may do. They are not permitted to use the actual gym or the sauna and steam rooms for example. I love this place, it’s comfortable, clean and above all else, I feel safe going here – even on my own. The men are not lecherous, the woman are not bitchy. There’s a real friendly vibe about the place. It may be a little more pricey than your average leisure centre, but think of the bonuses, free shampoo, classes included, don’t have to carry wet towels around with you and their baked potatoes….. YUM! The club does have its busy periods, the cardio gym is at it’s busiest on weekdays between 5:30pm – 6:30pm with Monday’s being particularly hectic and I believe that first thing in the morning the club is extremely busy too (everyone wants to nab the free parking spaces by the building for the workday I imagine). Weekends and late evenings however tend to be very quiet, with majority of the members being local business people (we are after all in the centre of Milton Keynes Central Business Exchange) people tend to go either immediately prior or after work. With 13 clubs in Scotland, 64 in England (that’s including 6 in London) and 5 in Wales & Ireland - they must be doing something right! Further information can be gained either at the Livingwell website or by calling their customer helpline, which is surprisingly a ‘Freephone’ No. 0800 136 636. Be Healthy!