“ The gym facility at Bracknell Sports & Leisure Centre, Bracknell, Berkshire. „
Anyone living in the Bracknell area will know that the town boasts several private gyms and workout centres as well as having a pretty good council owned and run Sports & Leisure Centre. The Sports Centre comes complete with 3 swimming pools, running track, various squash and badminton courts and spa amongst the many facilities it offers. Situated on Bagshot Road in Bracknell, it's also home to the Bodyworks Gym which is the subject of this review.
Over the years, I've managed to maintain a reasonable weight but as the decades went on, so did the pounds. This weight gain wasn't helped by working in a very sedentary occupation where the world came to my desk and I just sat there and let it, or by the dreaded menopause. I won't divulge my current weight (too painful for me) but let's say I can now pinch more than an inch and something had to be done unless I wanted to end up as wide as I'm tall! Diet alone wasn't seeming to help much and neither was a weekly aerobics session, so I bit the bullet and headed for the Sports Centre to join the Bodyworks Gym.
Joining the Gym:
The Sports Centre membership process is simple and straightforward and I'm fortunate that now I'm retired I can take advantage of the off-peak Platinum membership which is slightly cheaper and gives me access not only to Bodyworks but also to the swimming pools, spa and most of the Bodybeats classes with the exception of yoga and pilates for which there's a small additional fee. Membership fees can be paid in several ways but as I'm committing to at least a year, I paid the annual fee of £319. (Peak membership is, of course, somewhat higher.) As I intend to go to the gym at least twice if not three times a week, plus possibly taking up swimming again, this breaks down to a very reasonable rate of £26.50 a month. If paying by monthly direct debit, this fee rises to £31.50 plus a further £31.50 finance fee. It's also possible to pay per session which requires basic Sports Centre membership (£57.65 p.a. for Bracknell residents) then a session fee of £7.50 currently.
My Platinum Off-peak membership also includes a fitness assessment every six months by one of the qualified trainers at the Bodyworks Gym, plus a personalised training schedule and an Induction to allow new members to familiarise themselves with the equipment.
A big plus point compared to many other gyms is that there is no contract and cancellation of membership requires one month's notice. If, like me, you've paid for the entire year, a proportion of the fee will be refunded.
The fee structure is reviewed each year and details of all the current fees and means of payment are available on the Bracknell Forest website (details below.)
Off Peak: 09:00-17:00 Monday to Friday
Peak: Weekdays: 06:30-09:00 and 17:00-22:30 (21:30 on Friday) Weekends: 08:00-20:00
The Gym and Equipment:
Bodyworks is on two levels and is a light and airily spacious place and, as it's air conditioned, it was surprisingly free of unpleasant odours. There are a good number of televisions dotted around over the machines, all of which have sub-titles activated, which helps to take customers' minds off the torture they're putting their bodies through. It's amazing how far I can walk when watching Homes Under the Hammer! There's also piped rock music playing, though most of the members, including me now, use their own MP3 players.
The gym has a large range of equipment, mainly cardiovascular and resistance machines, as well as two free weight areas and some specialised equipment for disabled members. All the machines are top of the range with computerised readouts showing stats such as distance, calories burned, heart rate etc. There are at least 12 walking/running machines and the same number of exercise bikes. The bikes also have TV screens fitted as standard, though these are at a strange angle which is probably fine for six footers who can cycle with the seat at a reasonable heigh but impossible to see if you're my height. I have to have to seat at its lowest setting! There are also about 6 each of rowing machines, elliptical trainers and stepper machines.
This amount of machinery has so far meant that I've never had to wait for a machine to become free.
This could more accurately be described as an exercise in humiliation, at least for me. The assessment calculates levels of fitness which involves lying on the floor with electrodes stuck onto various parts of the anatomy, followed by a 5 minute stint on the exercise bike. My results were not good. The only thing which came out well was my blood pressure. I knew already that this was normal as I'd been assured quite recently by my doctor that I had the blood pressure of a young woman. Sadly, I have neither to face nor the figure to go with my youthful blood pressure. After my assessment, the trainer asked me how often I planned to visit the gym and what machines I enjoyed. Truth to tell, I don't enjoy any of them but said as long as it didn't involve anything where I had to lie over a gym ball, I'd go along with whatever plan he worked out for me.
My fitness plan was ready by the time I clocked in for my induction session a couple of days later where the trainer took me through my plan whilst demonstrating the machinery at the same time and explaining the gym etiquette, ie wiping up your sweat before moving away from a machine. Lovely! I'm starting off gently with 30 minute sessions and my plan was to be reviewed in three months' time. (If I hadn't expired by then!)
My overall experience:
I can't pretend I enjoy exercising. It's a horrible sweaty business and mind-numbingly boring most of the time, though I've discovered that audio books are a great way to while away the hours (OK, minutes) of torture. They tell me exercise is addictive but it's not my drug of choice. The trainers are a friendly lot and there are plenty of them on hand to help out with machines or anything else. The clientele are a bit of a mixed bunch, certainly during off-peak, with the usual quota of gym bunnies, both male and female, all wearing the latest workout gear, but there are also lots of ordinary people, too, so I don't feel out of place huffing and puffing in my jogger bottoms and ratty T shirt and it has to be said, I look rather slender compared with some of the other clientele.
The gym is very well laid out with a natural progression from machine to machine and the many TVs dotted around means that they can be seen from all the machinery. There are plenty of mirrors for those who're vain enough to want to watch themselves exercise and lots of posters on the walls, some featuring words of encouragement such as 'It doesn't matter how slow you go, you're still lapping the guy on the sofa.'
The staff are plentiful with an equal number of male and female trainers, all of whom are pleasant and friendly. They're on hand to help if you need it but otherwise leave you alone, which suits me fine.
I've been going to Bodyworks for a couple of months now and though not enjoying it (and never likely to) I already feel that my stamina has improved and I'm certainly more energetic. Some of those extra inches are beginning to disappear as well and my fat seems to be redistributing itself into more acceptable places. I think it's probably too late to regain the figure I had in my thirties and forties but hopefully I'll be entering my twilight years in reasonably good shape.
Anyone living or working in the Bracknell Forest area would certainly get a good deal from this gym, even if paying the higher peak membership rate. The gym has all the latest machinery to help you maintain the body beautiful, it's well run with plenty of friendly and helpful trainers available to give tips and advice.
As for me. I'll be sticking it out for the foreseeable future. So, if you're ever driving through Bracknell and happen to spot a middle-aged woman staggering along Bagshot Road with a face like a boiled beetroot, toot your horn, it'll be yours truly returning home after a session at Bodyworks
Bracknell Sports & Leisure Centre
Bracknell, RG12 9SE
Tel: 01344 454203