Slow and Steady

People with mobility issues don’t go to health clubs.

Posted on: August 31, 2012

Well that is what private gyms owners seem to think. I’ve been going swimming at my local pool for years, as it’s the only non stretching exercise that doesn’t hurt a lot. A few months back my friend invited me to his gym. It had a heated pool, jacuzzi and a steam room. It was bliss, and I didn’t feel as sore as I usually do the next day. I decided that while it’s like 30 times (Nope, I’m not exaggerating) more expensive, it was worth it.  I started looking around and what I found surprised and irritated the hell out of me.

The Nuffield gym that is down the road from my house has no disabled parking, and the walk to the reception is far. It would be a nightmare to use a wheelchair in the car park because it’s gravel. While the pool is on the ground floor, I couldn’t use the gym even if I wanted to because there is no lift. I didn’t sign up there because when I went for my trial day, the jacuzzi wasn’t working and when I got talking to the members, it sounded as though it was a regular occurrence.

I then tried Solutions. Again, no parking, no lift and the gym is upstairs. The pool itself was lovely and warm. The shallow bit was so shallow, I hit my head on the floor when I was swimming! The doors are also fire doors and are really really heavy. As there was no lifeguard, I had to wait for someone to come out of the changing room to get back in there. The jacuzzi had 3 steep steps. Just no.

Greens was a good experience on the whole. They have disabled parking, and a private disabled changing room, which led straight out to the pool. The water was a bit cold, but still warmer than my local pool. The only problem with this gym was the steep steps into the jacuzzi and the stairs to go into the steam room.

There are 2 Virgin Active gyms near me. I knew as soon as I parked by the first one that it was going to be a problem. It only had steps going up the door. They weren’t steep, but the fact that they were there alerted me to the fact that people with mobility problems were not catered for.

I was proved right when the oily salesperson came up and sneered at my 4 wheeled trolley. There were 3 flights of stairs to get to the changing room to get to the pool. I laughed. Hard.

Then we get to the final one, the other Virgin Active. It has disabled parking, and lift to the gym. They have something none of the others did. A hoist! I can get in and out easily. The steam room and jacuzzi are all one level. The jacuzzi does have steps, but they are the very very shallow ones. On the whole it’s a nice space and I’m going  to look forward to exercising there.


All the others should fix up though. I think it’s disgusting that in 2012 people with mobility issues are not catered for.  Swimming is the one exercise that is almost always recommended for people with chronic pain. Even if not swimming, just exercising  in warm water is good enough. For most of these journeys, I used Dial-A-Ride, and the people I met on them were very interested in whether or not we were catered for. The market is there, but it seems like very few private gyms are interested in us.  Maybe the owners only want a certain look for their club…?


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