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!
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).
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.