In May last year, we had ONE sunny day and my Mum I were both like ‘YAY, LETS JOIN DAVID LLOYD BECAUSE OF THE OUTDOOR POOL AND WE WILL SO GET OUR MONIES WORTH AND GOP ALL OF THE TIME’.
Inevitably, we had around four more sunny days to actually use the outdoor pool, and one of them was flying ant day so we spent the day fishing kamikaze ants with a mission to taste pinot grigio out of our poolside glasses of wine while trying to keep up the façade that we were having the time of our lives in the new posh gym we’d joined.
Come the Winter, we did actually use the Basildon club quite a lot for the classes and also the sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi. And when I say classes we went to YOGA once a week without any other form of diet or exercise then sacked it off because we were not losing any weight, can’t think why.
So as much as we’d utilized our nearly a year’s worth of membership the other day, it was only the other day the thought dawned on us that we can use different clubs. During an awkward sauna chat (if you’ve been to one, you’ll know all about awkward sauna chat), someone told us how nice the Southend one was.
It was then I had a fabulous idea. Why don’t I try and get round as many as I can and review them?
I haven’t done my local club yet, as it’s having a refurb, but we visited Southend on Sunday.
Southend on Sea, David Lloyd
The gym in Southend David Lloyd feels a lot more open plan than the Basildon one. Everything seems to be a lot more grouped together, and there is literally a long row of treadmills, which means if you can go with four of your mates you can all run together in a squad and look like you are in a Destiny’s Child video. The weights area is nice and spacious, and there are floor to ceiling windows that look out onto the car park, which lets in a lot of natural light and makes it feel a lot more open.
There’s lots of new and expensive gadgetry which I have no idea what does, so you’d best look into it yourself if you are one of those really gym type people who doesn’t look at certain gym equipment and wonder if it’s there to toast a sandwich.
Unfortunately, all I did was run so I can only give you an honest opinion on the treadmills, and my opinion of them is excellent because they have TV’s, and who doesn’t want to watch Saturday Morning Kitchen while they try and motivate themselves to eat less and exercise?
The Changing Rooms
The changing rooms at Basildon are always clean, so I was expecting nothing less, but the ones at Southend are extremely modern. They have obviously modelled their changing rooms on those you get in Spa’s rather than gyms. The showers on offer were the temporary ones, but the rest of the changing room was basically done. The new lockers are HUGE, and I’d venture to say you can probably swing a cat in them.
There’s about four different bays with hairdryers in and there’s also a separate family changing room.
The Outdoor Pool
Yes, it was warm enough to use! This was the day I’d been waiting for since the last, chilly but still sunny day in September when we used the outdoor pool for the last time (although I wasn’t happy as I didn’t have time to emotionally prepare myself for it being the last time then it got so cold they shut it).
I’ve only been to two, but I gather most David Lloyds have a similar size and structure outdoor pool. It’s nothing fancy, just your standard oblong pool, but it’s heated and you can swim a decent length. There are sun loungers and a grass area, so you can pretend you are on holiday when it does actually get warm enough to use it AND sit out there too (we run in like a cat that had just heard his bag of dreamies being shaken in the kitchen – pool might be heated, getting out and walking back in was freezing).
There is also a shallow kids pool bit, which is fabulous if you have children or can’t actually swim.
Yes drum roll please, onto my favourite part of the whole gym. Spa’s have become a popular addition to gym’s in the last decade or so, and most of them now call themselves ‘health clubs’. Now there is a vast difference between a ‘health club’ and a ‘spa’.
A ‘health club’ tends to be a gym with a decent sized swimming pool for hard-core fitness freaks to segregate and swim in lanes in, and a tiny sauna and steam room plonked in somewhere beside it, like when you serve up the mashed potato last on a dinner and it just goes where it falls. These are usually primarily gyms, and the health club bit is just a bit of a bonus.
A ‘spa’ is the opposite. The main focus is on the relaxing and tranquil environment, and they may plonk a gym somewhere so that all of the women relaxing in the Jacuzzi can get rid of their husbands for a couple of hours while they relax.
It’s unusual to get the balance between the two, but the spa area in David Lloyd in Southend has done this perfectly. If you go to the end and to the right of a swimming pool, the spa area if sectioned off with a little wall. Instead of being one or the other, David Lloyd have decided to keep their gym and swimming pool as what they say on the tin, and then make the spa area it’s own separate entity.
There’s a large Jacuzzi, which fits 16 people, with four sections, and two showers that spray warm water. It reminds me a lot of the thermal spa at Ufford Park in Woodbridge. The sauna and steam room are much larger than most of the others I’ve seen. The steam room has mood lighting, and that spa music they always play in spa’s which you are always quite agreeable to hear when you are there, but you literally would never find it anywhere else and to be honest you wouldn’t bother looking.
The only disappointment was that the café hadn’t finished being renovated yet. No after gym wine for me! Also that I couldn’t get many pictures but apparently iPhones are not waterproof.
Next time, I’ll be visiting the Chigwell club to give the brand new spin studio a try.