Get active inside Barking’s new £14m fitness hub
- Credit: Archant
It’s been touted as a turning point for inactivity levels in the borough and has created scores of new jobs.
The shiny, new Abbey Leisure Centre opened last week and the Post was keen to get a first look inside.
But we had to get in line because gymers and swimmers have been tripping over themselves to sign up.
Centre manager Michelle Sinclair even cut short her maternity leave to start work, and says she’s been loving every minute of it so far.
“It’s an opportunity of a life time,” Michelle tells me as we go on a tour of the huge centre in Barking’s Bobby Moore Way.
“It’s about getting people active and having the facilities here in the borough for them to use. Because of the interest coming through the doors I think it will be a turning point for the borough’s inactivity levels.
“We want to give people more opportunities. It’s really advanced here, we’ve got first class equipment and it’s been so positively received so far.”
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Residents of the borough are treated to reduced rates at the centre and the gym includes bikes, cross trainers and a free weights area.
There are three group exercise studios and 70 classes available – a huge step up from the 35 at the old Abbey centre.
The spinning studio has a massive projector which will show virtual classes for those who miss a class and the two swimming pools come complete with two pool pods, making them accessible for people with disabilities.
“The public can come swimming most of the time now, whereas at the old Abbey pool it was restricted because there were so many swimming lessons on each day,” says Michelle, 40.
“In the gym you can watch telly on your machine so there’s no excuse to stay at home and not get active here. But the centre isn’t just about getting active, it’s about employment opportunities too. We’ve created quite a few jobs for people.”
And it doesn’t stop there. Health and wellbeing is just as important as exercise, Michelle assures me, which is why the centre is also home to Barking’s first luxury spa.
A sauna, a large jacuzzi called a “hydrotherapy pool” and two steam rooms which specialise in aromatherapy and salt inhalation stand smartly in the spa.
Spa manager Stacey Moore compares the experience showers to “tropical rainforests” and each of the four treatment rooms are neatly coordinated in pink and chocolate tones.
“I wanted the more relaxing treatments to be in the rooms furthest away from the busy reception area so it’s as quiet and peaceful as possible,” says Stacey Moore, 26.
“I was surprised how many treatments we had booked in as soon as we opened the doors. It’s been lovely seeing how popular we’re going to be.”