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Pack 'em in 'luxury' gym
Holmes Place (Ealing)
Member Name: flickpugh
Holmes Place (Ealing)
Date: 30/09/05, updated on 30/09/05 (9140 review reads)
Advantages: Good facilities, handy location
Disadvantages: expensive and very busy on weekend afternoons
I don’t actually belong to Ealing Holmes place, but I was a member of a central London, had a few guest passes spare, happened to be in the area so went along for an afternoon.
I realised on arrival that I had forgotten my padlock and asked at the reception if I could borrow one. This request was granted, without be told I had to buy a new one, which I have experienced before. However, being blonde I couldn’t work out how to do the combination straight away and didn’t quite hear the numbers the receptionist gave me as the code. She at this point was complaining to her colleague about shift changes, so I waited patiently for five minutes or so. Eventually I was forced to ask again and was met with an irritated tut and sigh, before I got the reluctant explanation. Hey I can’t help being stupid don’t make me feel worse? I don’t pay £65 a month to feel stupid, I get that for free! In retaliation I filled in a customer feedback form of complaint about rude staff and pointedly posted it into the box. I saw her glare at me so I’m sure she rushed to get it out after I left, but my point would have been made. One thing I can’t stand is rude and/ or inefficient customer service as anyone who has read my ops regularly will know.
Anyway, I’m going off on a bit of a tangent but it is not without relevance, since you must appreciate this was my first impression of Ealing Holmes Place, the only private gym in the area I believe, unless you count David Lloyds which calls itself Ealing to sound posh, but is actually based at Sudbury Hill, nearer Greenford.
FACILITIES AT EALING HOLMES PLACE
After collecting my over processed complimentary towels, I decided to make the most of my guest pass (it’s worth £10) so headed to the café (known as the club room) first. This is a facility my own club doesn’t offer and it was very nice. It was a bit of a mess, crumpled newspaper supplements scattered over plush white sofas, a few dirty glasses and plates left neglected on smudged glass tables. Other than that though it was a surprisingly good facility for a pack ‘em in type gym, which I know I’d appreciate if I was a full member. Situated as it is in the middle of Ealing Broadway centre it’d be a nice place to relax for a bit while out shopping, or wait for a friend to finish their browsing if you’re an impatient shopper like me and just while away some time, reading all the weekend newspapers and other magazines for free.
The menu selection for snacks, light meals and drinks is not at all bad. Choices include jacket potatoes, Thai green curry and numerous salads. For a health club they’re not too rigid and there are fizzy drinks available, but far more tempting was their range on healthy-without-suffering-for-it fresh fruit juices. They are blended as you wait and you can have a wild and wonderful combination of berries and tropical treats from pineapple and mango to melon and nectarine. I tried melon and clementine juice which was liquid heaven.
I leafed through some glossy Sunday supplements and quite randomly, though this is West London so perhaps not surprising, a pile of Australian women’s magazines. Then I decided that as pleasant as this was I should do some exercise as this was supposed to be the point of dragging myself out of my nice warm lounge on this rainy Sunday afternoon.
There is a ladies gym as well as a mixed gym here, something that quite a few Holmes place branches offer, but not my normal one. Can’t say it bothers me seeing men working out or them seeing me either, I’m not there to pull, I don’t mind see the odd sweaty hunk and I’m not particularly self conscious about what I look like in front of them either. However, I know plenty of women that would appreciate this option so it’s a nice touch, although my dad thinks it’s reverse sexism and that they should offer a men’s only gym as well in that case. I guess he has a point! It has been pointed out since that those types of gyms tend to cater for a particular type though ...
I’m used to using a city centre gym on weekends if I bother at all and they are usually pretty quiet, catering mainly for workers, although my regular one is a hotel as well so you get a few more people, although again it’s mainly business guests who use it during the week, rather than tourists on the weekends. Ealing is packed on weekends and hence so was this gym. I braved the mix gym (low hunk count) since there was a few queues already in the ladies section. There is the same equipment in both though, apart from the weights which are mainly centred in the mixed gym.
The equipment is all pretty standard as you’d expect from the mid range type gym (which I consider to by Holmes Place, LA Fitness, Canons and Fitness First, although Holmes Place seem to think they’re a cut above the others ( it's the slightly plusher toiletries and the fluffy robes in some branches leads them to that conclusion I suspect). There are plenty of weight and resistance machine to choose from and there were a few staff members on hand to give you a sweat towel or to help you if you had any questions. One of the things I like about Holmes place is that when you join you get a one to one induction and a programme drawn up for you, you leave that in a filing box in your main branch and can refer to it each time, adding notes on your progress. You are entitled to a free programme review every 2 months as part of your membership fee.
The cardiovascular equipment is more than adequate here as you’d expect from any Holmes place gym. There are bikes, cross trainers, running machines (used for fast walking in my case), rowing and step machines and a generous supply of mats on the floor if you fancy doing some press ups, which I don’t – there are limits to my lack of self conscious and grunting and collapsing after a few attempts at those is one of them!
I must confess that I didn’t make it to one of these today, but they are all the same ones as are run by my normal branch. I think this is where Holmes Place does excel and where you can really get your money’s worth from your membership. There are two studio rooms specifically for these classes, so you don’t have to worry about anyone else ogling you as you prance about during the latest aerobics class. There are too many different classes to list here, a complete timetable for each branch can be found on their website, www.holmesplace.co.uk but to give you a taster, you could choose from yoga, pilates, body bike (I assume this is similar to ‘spinning’ - a masochistic class where some army like instructor makes you climb up and down imaginary mountains), aqua aerobics, tai chi, ballet fusion, step, circuits and some other weird and wonderful classes, as well as classes catering for pregnant and post natal women. Some classes require a token, so ring or check the website beforehand, but most you can just turn up too.
SWIMMING POOL, CHANGING ROOMS,SAUNA & STEAM ROOM
I am a keen swimmer and this is always one of the major factors in choosing a gym for me and why I’d never consider Fitness First. After my very light workout I decided to take a dip so ventured back into the crowded and damp smelling changing rooms to shower and change. Now they may have provided a separate gym for women who are self conscious working out in front of men, but you’d better not be self conscious about stripping off in front of loads of women you don’t know. Britain is becoming far less prudish these days, there were naked bodies everywhere, walking about from the loo to the shower and back again, weighing themselves, brushing their hair and drying off swimming cosies in the drying spinner. Yep, it’s definitely not for the body modest.
The 20m, ozone treated (kinder to the eyes and hair than chlorine and hopefully just as effective at killing germs) pool was extremely crowded. It was divided into three narrow lanes with at least 3 swimmers in each. Lots of floats and other aqua aerobic equipment were left lying around, so I just settled for slow swimming with a float to practice kicking and splashing back the annoying fat men who were creating mini tidal waves. Great fun. Got bored after about 15 minutes of that though and looked for the Jacuzzi. There isn’t one. What a let down. Never mind, there is a lady’s only steam room and sauna inside the female changing rooms. The gender division here is apparently to allow for nakedness. I sat primly in the sauna in my cossie, with all these different aged and shaped bodies sprawled on towels around me. Goodness, we’re turning into Scandinavians, what is happening to the uptight Brit? I thought they must be foreign for a while, but then the naked bodies started talking to each other and they were indeed fellow Brits. I’ll get used to it I’m sure, ha ha.
Before I forget there’s a solarium for those who like paying a fortune (around £8 a time) to microwave themselves. You get the premature wrinkles included in the price.
The actual beauty clinic offers an excellent range of treatments for those who can afford it. The treatments are done using Clarins products and there are a number of facials on offer as well as massage, trimming, waxing, manicures, pedicures etc. Expect to pay £35 plus for a facial or massage.
Holmes place Ealing has organised lots of local discounts. At the moment you can get 20% off driving lessons at a local school and a range of discounts from 10 to 20% off a selection of Ealing eateries including well known Thai, Nepalese and Spanish restaurants. The gym also organises quiz nights, theme parties, outdoor pursuits, holidays and an annual May Ball so it’s probably a great place to join if you don’t know many people in the area and need to make friends. With the exception of the moody receptionist, it does seem like a friendly place, very much lacking the typical posers – both male and female – that you get in so many city gyms. There is also a very expensive crèche facility (expect to pay around £10 a time) which I guess is handy for mothers to meet up or just get out the house for some peace and quiet for a while. They do cater slightly for children as well, on weekends and some week days during off peak types, there are parent and child swimming sessions and swimming lessons can also be arranged.
There are a number of different price plans and some corporate rates, mainly to employees of companies based in Ealing. Certain, pricier packages allow you to use lots of other Holmes Place gyms in the UK and abroad. There are 3 categories of this type of ‘clublink’ membership; ‘privilege’ as the name suggests allows you to use all the really posh gyms, including the plush ones at Canary Riverside, Mayfair and Kensington. This goes for a whopping £149 joining fee, then £120 a month, or £108 joint or corporate membership. Then there’s the ‘classic’ package, giving you access to all the gyms at home and abroad apart from the few really posh ones. This goes for a £99 joining fee, then £80 a month, or £75 corporate or joint membership. ‘Select’ membership is for all the others, some of which don’t have swimming pools. This is a £49 joining fee; then you’ll be forking out £69 a month or £62 if you can get a joint or corporate deal.
These prices are for all the gyms nationwide if you choose a package deal, but you can of course join an individual gym. For my central London branch, I paid £49 joining fee and £65 monthly subscription. Yikes must use it more to get more out of that money I can ill afford to waste! On joining you usually get a pack with a body microwaving voucher and a few guest passes, which is what I used for this visit.
You can get off peak membership for £55 a month or £50 joint or corporate. This restricts the times you can go, details are below.
Membership fees vary quite substantially between club (in general London clubs are alot more expensive that provincial ones) and there are also seasonal offers so you may get a better deal if you're willing to wait it out.
Well as you’ve probably gathered, I wasn’t overwhelmed and rushing to swap my membership. For a club that markets itself as being a little bit luxurious it does feel as though it’s squashing as many members as it can into one average sized gym. It was basically far too busy and just a bit untidy, cold do with being cleaned a bit more frequently too. There is no competition in the immediate area, so I get the impression that they’ve let standards slip here compared to other Holmes place gyms that I have been to.
Apart from that (and the rude receptionist) though, it does offer some very good facilities, a nice club room serving tasty snacks and healthy drinks as well as soft drinks and coffee, so it is worth considering, definitely if you work in Ealing as well so can get use of it at lunchtimes too. I noticed that they are planning to do quite a lot of work to it, so maybe leave it until after Christmas if you’re not in a huge hurry to sign up, as it should all be completed by then and they’ll probably do the usual new year deals.
** Opening times
Mon – Thurs – 0.630 – 23.00
Friday – 06.30 – 23.00
Saturday – 06.30 – 22.00
Sunday – 08.30 – 21.00
Mon – Wed – 06.30 – 17.00
Thursday - 06.30 – 23.00
Friday – 06.30 – 22.00
Saturday – 08.30 – 21.00
Sunday – 08.30 – 21.00
Ealing Broadway Centre
Tel: +44 (0)20 8579 9433
Fax: +44 (0)20 8840 5094
Club Manager: John Murray
** To access the club on foot, you have to get a lift up to the 5th floor of the shopping centre multi story car park. The advantage of that though is there is car parking available if you like to drive to the gym …
**There is disabled parking near the club and access points for disabled users.
I first published this review on Ciao.
Summary: Good facilities, nice cafe, high prices
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