Total fitness Chester is very average. It has lots of equipment but at busy times there's a wait for a treadmill which is annoying. The class timetable is impressive although they are all that little bit too late meaning having to hang around if going straight from work. The instructors and classes aren't great either compared to other gyms (greens liverpool, fitness firsts in London). Overall I'm dissapointed with the gym but unfortunately there aren't any other viable options in Chester.
I recently joined Total Fitness in Chester and think its well worth the price they charge for monthly membership. I joined on a 'joint' membership with my partner. It initially cost £195 to set up including the membership cards. From then on it costs £69 a month for the both of us. When you first walk into the building you are greeted with reception, all of the girls behind there are very helpful and directed us to the membership signing up area. (Which is to the left of reception!) We were shown around by a bubbly total fitness employee who explained the general areas of the gym and pointed out the main machine but didn't go into detail of how to use them that comes later. She also told us certain rules and regulations as we wandered round the gym with her, these include stuff about the pools and changing areas etc etc. When you first walk into the gym through reception you are faced with a small section of cardio machines and weights downstairs to the left, if you wander abit further down here are the squash courts which you have to pay extra for the lighting as you play (not that much tho). On the right is a cafe area where you can sit if your waiting for a friend or just relaxing after a hard slog at the machines. The prices for the bar are cheaper if you buy to take out, I found this out when I bought a bottle of water! - Don't know if it applies to other stuff like food. Access to the female changing rooms is through the downstairs cardio area, you can't miss it. Straight infront of you is the main stairs up to the second level, this is where you go to access the male changing rooms. When you get to the top you can either turn left to circle the lower area above (so you can look down at people) turn right and you can look downinto the pool area, also around here are the class rooms used for spinning, pilates, ninjitsu, areobics etc the list is endless, and there is a a lad
ies only gym tucked in the corner (which I thought was a good idea) or failing that you can go straight up into the main cardio area - here there are lots of bikes, rowing machines, cross trainers, treadmills, and weight machines, including free weights. There are different areas to the weight machines, ranging from circuits to specialist abdominal machines. If you do decide to join the gym you need to have a health check and an induction (at no extra cost you'll be pleased to hear) both of which can be taken at a time most convienient for you - and theres no time limit for you to take them but I suggested you get it over and done with and out of the way because until you have a health check you need to sign a waiver form. The induction is very good, having discussed why you are at the gym and what you want to achieve!! One if the instuctors takes you round the gym, explaining the machines and actually gets you onto them to assess your capabilities, they then write out a training program which should help you on your way, this training program is also up for review when you feel necessary to move further onto different parts of your body or you eel you need to up the pace a little. The large swimming pool is quite cold and the gym has a compulsory 'hat' in the pool rule. The hydrotherapy pool is the best thing I think! The bubbles and warm water are very relaxing after a good workout. Theres also a sanarium, sauna, and steam room, most of which you need to use a sweat towel to sit on. The sweat towel is compulsory as is a drink bottle for spinning (if your adventurous that is). The gym have a started pack for under £10 which I highly recommend, it contains: - A swim hat (choice of Red or Blue) A padlock (for the lockers in the changing rooms) A sweat towel A band to put your key on from the padlock and a large sports drink bottle. Around the building are numerous cold ater f
ountains which most people use. the facilities on a whole are very good the changing rooms, have spinners for wet clothes, weighing scales, stand up sunbeds which you pay for by the muite on a machine, hairdryers, large mirrored areas to get changed an they even have soap in the showers incase you forget yours. For ladies who may be a little conscious of their bodies in the female change rooms, there are areas to get changed in private and a sauns should you not wich to use the public ones. Apart from the gym also in the building is a hairderssers and lazer treatment centre both of which can be used by non gym members. On the whole - I think total fitness is a very good gym and you could have worse if you went somewhere else. I would thoroughly recommened it to someone who has been to a gym before or someone who hasn't. My experience has been one of immense enjoyment.
Update at the end.... o0o I’ve tried a few different clubs over the last few years, both in the London area (Holmes Place, Cannons) and in my new pastures in the North West (Village Leisure). I’ve learned that when choosing the right Health Club, you have to first decide what it is you want from it. In my case, in order of priority: A Swimming Pool (for exercise, but also with adequate lessons and entertainment opportunities for the children); a well-equipped Gym, with plenty of space between equipment, so that you are not exercising right on top of other members; clean and comfortable changing facilities – most importantly with dry floors; refreshments, ideally with a welcoming relaxation area to allow for a well-earned cup of coffee and quick read of the paper after a strenuous work-out; and finally, a well-run and friendly crèche. Total Fitness opened their newest branch, in Chester, in the middle of March. I joined about 3 weeks earlier, happily parting with my £69 (special pre-opening offer) joining fee, and signed up for the £39 per month Peak Membership package, on the basis that this would be a state-of-the-art club, with all bells and whistles (according to my above criteria) firmly in place. On my joining-visit to the club, many of the facilities were still under construction, so I had to take the word of the sales person that all of the above would be in place for the grand opening. On the basis of my first 3 weeks of active membership, this is my assessment of the club: The Gym ------------ It’s huge. Arranged on two levels, very open-plan. One training area is actually part of reception – which feels very odd, to be watching people coming in and out while you’re pounding away on the treadmill. From there you can go up a central staircase to the main part of the gym where you will find more than enough resistance and cardio-vascular machines to accommodate
everyone, even at peak times. There is also a large free-weights area and a Ladies Only Gym. The equipment is adequate, though not the best I’ve come across. There seems to have been a “job-lot” purchasing policy in place. They have many duplicates, so at first glance you think the gym is well stocked. It’s only as you move around the various areas, that you start to realise that there is a distinct lack of variety. I’m getting used to it now, and have found ways to get around the lack of certain pieces of equipment that I had come to rely on at my last club. The staff seem very helpful, and it’s usually easy to find someone when you need them. (p.s. I don’t “do” classes, so cannot comment on the variety or quality of the programme they have in place). The Swimming Pool --------------------------- Actually, three pools. The first is a 25m, 6 lane Adult-only “training” pool. Great to have an adults-only facility (for obvious reasons!) – no problems with this pool, apart from the water temperature occasionally being perhaps a degree or two too cold. The second pool is 12.5m in length, and is situated in a soundproofed section of the building, though adjacent to the main pool. This is intended for “Aerobics and Children”. I don’t like it. It’s dark and very Spartan. Despite being designed for use by families, there are no concessions to the children, such as colourful walls, or inflatable toys and floats that you normally expect in good quality Health Clubs. This makes for a rather dull swimming experience at the weekends with the kids. After about 10 minutes of bobbing around, swimming up and down, they get a bit bored. Maybe we’re spoiled, but we’re used to messing around on the floats and inflatables for a good hour – I used to have to drag my two out before they shrivelled up completely. Now I’m hard pressed
to persuade them to make it to 15 minutes before they’re ready to go. There’s another problem – Total Fitness have a compulsory swimming hat policy. This is a bit difficult to adhere to when you’re the only adult with a couple of feisty under-5’s. Kids don’t like hats, believe me. The third pool is heavenly. It’s a Hydrotherapy pool, and has various different jets of water gushing out at different times and at varying levels, offering everything from a gentle Jacuzzi-like motion to a full-on back-pounding waterfall. 10 minutes in there, and you walk on air all the way back to the changing rooms. Which brings me neatly on to….. The Changing Rooms ----------------------------- Very basic. The lockers are barely adequate to hold the personal items of one adult, never mind a family. You have to supply your own padlock, so it’s tricky to overflow into a second locker, unless you have the foresight to bring a second padlock or are willing to purchase one for £3 from reception. Personally I can’t see why they have not used the £1 deposit type lockers that are common in most clubs. Much easier all round, I would have thought. The showers are simply terrible. There are two rows of very badly lit cubicles (my 2 year old is actually scared if I shut the door, as it’s a little like shutting yourself into a cupboard). The water pressure is barely adequate, and the whole area is pretty drafty. The mirror area is also basic, to say the least. You don’t feel as though you are pampering yourself when you are sorting your hair and face out after your hopeless shower. I like to sit on a stool at a mirror and spend a bit of time faffing around after a work-out – it’s an essential part of the whole “looking after your appearance” aspect of going to a Health Club. Instead, you have to stand, several feet at least, from your locke
r, using a hair dryer that’s stuck to the wall, much like the ones in public swimming pools. The point is, if you were happy to use facilities like these, you’d pay your £3 at the local baths, rather than forking out £39 per month (plus £10 pa for each child). On the plus side, there is a good range of sauna, solarium, samarium, plunge-pool, foot-spa and sun-bed facilities, in various areas of the Changing Rooms and Pool sections of the club. Creche and Refreshments ----------------------------------- They don’t exist yet. This is annoying. I was told the Crèche would open around a month after the main club. It now looks as though it will be more like 3 months. No-one mentioned a delay to the opening of the Refreshments area when I joined. This is a major irritation. For the life of me I cannot see why it could not have been ready on time. It does not even look as if any progress is being made. The après-exercise, and social, aspects of belonging to a health club are integral to the whole experience. Granted, there are numerous water fountains dotted around the club, plus a couple of flashy, splashy Lucozade and Coke machines. However, these do not make up for the lack of a comfortable seating area and a hot cup of something, preferably with complimentary newspapers and magazines easily to hand. In summary, I would say that Total have got it half right so far. They need to review their approach to the comfort of members. Given the rather “abrupt” nature of member notices that are pinned up around the place, I get the distinct impression that there is a corporate philosophy in place that leans towards the military. It’s almost “You Will enjoy yourself, whether you like it or not!” Well, I don’t like it, yet. I’ll give it more time, and will continue to post my suggestions at reception (they’ll be very tired of me soon!), because the bits that they have g
ot right are good. However, if they don’t start the children’s swimming lessons soon, I’ll be off on a renewed search for the right club for my family as fast as my newly-toned legs can carry me! o0o A few days after writing my original op, I decided this really was not the health club for me, and more especially, my children. I immediately applied for a refund of my joining fee (£59), and the £10 per year fee for each of my daughters. This was allowable under the rules of the club. They offer a "no quibble" money-back guarantee if the club does not suit you. However, well over a month on, I am still awaiting my refund. I have telephoned, twice, and been told that "it's in the works", but so far, no cheque. What worries me, and has prompted this update, is that the delay might be down to an overwhelming number of members doing the same. I could be wrong, of course! However, in the interests of keeping good faith with new members of the club for whom the facilities might be ideal, surely it would be no small matter to ensure that anyone finding it unsuitable, should receive a refund in a more timely fashion? Knowing my luck, the cheque will arrive first post tomorrow morning, now that I've updated this op! I'll let you know..... p.s. dooyoo asks, below, whether I would recommend this to a friend. It allows for a yes or a no. Fact is, I would recommend a yes, for someone without children, who just needs a basic gym with no frills, but would say no, to anyone wanting a bit more for their money. Update 5/6/01 -------------- Now, I'm really cross. Having waited weeks and weeks for my cheque, I have just received a letter stating that I failed to cancel my membership within the 14 day period mentinoed in the smallprint. Well, given that they opened late, and that not all facilities were available at the time I cancelled my membership, I fully intend to fight thi
s one tooth and nail. I really cannot stand companies that are this inflexible. It does them no good in broad terms, as my case shows. I have given them a pretty fair appraisal in my original op, but now I am forced to give them a negative press. This shows a lack of intelligent marketing and PR management on their part. Shame on them for penny-pinching when they clearly failed to deliver on promises.