Everyone Active – The Castle Centre

I’ve been enjoying making use of the recently reopened Castle Centre in Elephant and Castle, run by Everyone Active. It’s not my closest leisure centre, but is the nearest Everyone Active venue. My bike ride there takes me alongside leafy Peckham Rye and I ride through Burgess Park to the recently redesigned Elephant and Castle roundabout. This whole area seems to be undergoing a huge level of redevelopment, with flats popping up all over the place and an enticing-looking ‘Elephant Park’ being constructed. These changes are gradually bringing in chains such as Pret a Manger – just by The Castle – and the area feels very different!

Castle entrance

Castle entrance

The Castle is easy to spot as you cross the busy road, with its bright neon sign and contemporary style. The foyer is big and welcoming, with desks straight ahead, to join, book classes or pay your entry fee. A quick wander through the automatic gates and you enter an open area, with seating and a small soft-play area for younger children. From here, you can see the swimming pool and, upstairs, the gym and studios. Navigating the centre is easy, with big, clear signage and I found the changing areas clean and well-stocked with lockers (which take a returnable £1 coin).

Changing area

Changing area

So far, I have used the swimming pool, which I have always been lucky enough to find quiet, so didn’t have any problems negotiating a space for myself. I was very pleased to see a pool-side sauna and steam room, which are quite small, but new and clean and they get nice and hot, perfect after a swim or training session (I *love* a sauna!). There are plenty of showers, with two next to the pool, with adjustable settings, so you can get it really cold post-sauna, one of these showers has a seat and is accessible. There are also showers outside the changing rooms and private cubicles in the ladies changing area (I assume this is the same in the men’s) – the good thing about these is the shower adjustment, you can get it to the right temperature and switch it off when you’re ready, none of that having to press the button every few seconds!

As well as the pool, I have also used the gym. This is really well equipped, with two areas, both with the same cardio machines, so no need to queue. There are treadmills, stationary bikes, Nordic ski machines, rowers and step machines. There is also a great range of resistance training machines, with fixed weights and a really good free-weights area. In the free-weights area there are also kettle bells and weighted bags, a TRX and various other things I’ve never seen before! I decided I should book an induction, to make sure I made good use of everything and didn’t miss out! This was a group induction, so we were shown around the whole gym, looking at all of the equipment to see how it works (it’s all very simple and there is always a fitness instructor on hand to help if you need it). After the induction, I got stuck in, warming up on the rower and heading over to the free-weights. I didn’t find it intimidating and saw that there were actually more women than men in this space.

I am yet to try any classes, because they don’t really fit in with my schedule; it would be good to have more classes in the daytime, I’m sure they would be popular.



If you want to try The Castle, the opening hours are Monday–Friday: 06:30 – 22:00, Saturday: 07:00–18:00 and Sunday: 07:00–22:00. Check the prices here and the timetables here.


Decathlon Squared

Do you fancy a new challenge? I’m feeling pretty fit at the moment, but I’m not entirely sure I’d manage some of these challenges…

Decathlon have come up with a series of tests of grit, determination and all-round fit-bod prowess. Just sign up, check out the various challenges, such as Plank Push-Ups, Russian Twists and Skip Squats, make a little video of yourself in action and share this online. Of course, it’s not all about prizes, but there are some great sporty spot prizes up for grabs and a top prize of £500 to spend at Decathlon. Not bad for something that also gets you that little bit fitter along the way.

This chap makes it all look so easy.

Erm, I might give it a try, but I think I’ll have to do some training first and choose the right camera angle 😉

Project Fitartist

It’s back-to-school time. I feel blue. It’s been a fantastic summer, with long, fun days spent building miniature boats to sail down the river, picking blackberries for jams and crumbles, playing in sandpits, splashing in the sea on our North Devon camping adventure and riding our bikes to wherever we please. I like the freedom of not being tied to a school timetable, and it’s fun starting a day not knowing what lies ahead. This morning Hector hid what I think was excitement at going back to school as he whizzed along on his bike in his uniform, he caught up with friends in the playground and lined up with his new teacher, blowing kisses as he went (this all makes me happy, knowing that he has the confidence to go in without getting upset, a long way from when he started out!). I then caught up with other parents on a slow stroll home, back into the same old routine.

I knew that fitting in any kind of structured exercise would be challenging over the summer holiday, so I decided not get stressed about it, and just did what I could. I did have a couple of weeks at the beginning where I didn’t run at all, then Hector was booked in for a week of intensive swimming: half an hour each morning. I would drop him off at the pool-side then run to the gym upstairs, run fast on the treadmill for twenty minutes then back down to get into my swimming costume and spend a bit of time in the pool with Hector after his lesson. Our holiday was spent along the South Coast Path where I managed three runs during the week. I say runs, but it was more of a climb, then a pause to take in the stunning view, another climb then another view, perfect.

Now I am able to fit in some structure again, what shall I do? To get me straight back into it, I booked myself in to the RPM class at the gym this morning, I’ve no idea. It’s a spin-type class I guess, I’m imagining pumping music, high action, sweating, calorie-burning. We’ll see. I have also registered for a local 10k on October 13th, so I have about five weeks to get 10k fit again. I would really like to run it comfortably and enjoy it, so will aim to fit in some longer runs in the next few weeks. Any ideas? Any challenges? Any races I should aim for? I’m open to suggestions!

Sports Day

Today was Sports Day. My memory of sports day is of something more running-based, with lots of cheering for the people who were naturally long and lean of limb and fast of pace and lots of huffing and puffing from those less blessed with athletic prowess. Thankfully things have moved on. A bit. Hector’s sports day was at the running track, but the lower school were positioned (in the blazing sun) on the grassy area in the middle, with an array of activities to keep them occupied and upbeat. Foam javelins were thrown (thank goodness they were foam!), ladders were tip-toed over, sprinting was done, sacks were raced and the slowest egg-and-spoon race was carried out, snail-like and with great concentration. I got my best workout today laughing at the space-hopper race, with much upwards bounce and very little forwards bounce making it a very on-the-spot sort of event. I will quickly pass over the fact that I participated in the mums’ 100m sprint and trailed weakly behind far younger and stronger women who raced ahead with impressive speed, I wondered if they run outside of the mums’ race and hoped that they do, or at least plan to…

The fact that it’s Sports Day time means that it’s also coming to the end of term and the long summer holiday. I keep looking at races of varying distances, thinking I need a challenge when actually my greatest challenge will be fitting in some running and gym training over the next seven weeks. I will take inspiration from our weekly Parkrun, which was made all the more inspiring last Saturday by a visit from Stephen and Zoe. I have followed them both for some time now, via their running blogs and through social media, so it was lovely to meet them in the flesh at last.



Shiny and new

I ran, I felt slow, I felt like stopping, I had no energy. I ran by the new leisure centre that has been tempting us for months with its glossy – and colourful – exterior and it’s ‘opening soon’ promises, to find that it is actually open. Well, ‘softly’ open until next week when they will no doubt be inundated with eager exercisers and people who like a nice sit down – the chairs and sofas in the foyer look lovely. I have booked in to try the gym out on Friday morning and I’m very tempted to go for a dip in the pool, it looks so new and clean. Ah, clean changing rooms, I hope they last.

In the meantime, I took my run upwards and did a bit of Hilly Fields then back down to my regular gym for some squatting and waving around of kettle balls. ‘This knee’ was hurting so I concentrated on some arm work and abs instead.

Distance: 3.14 miles

Time: 30 minutes 13 seconds

Average Pace: 9.37

Best Pace: 7.01

Calories: 380