This new and much needed public facility opened this month, so I went along to try it out, gym kit and swimming cossie in hand.
New Barnet Leisure Centre is one of two new major facilities in the borough (along with Copthall, Mill Hill) together costing £45 million. And what a lovely place it is. The centre is easily reached by public transport, there’s a car park and parking on local roads or you could get there on foot from Chipping Barnet via King George’s Fields, Tudor Park and Victoria Recreation Ground. After that scenic warm up, you’d be ready for some decent exercise.
On a quiet Wednesday morning I drove and parked in the dedicated car park before going in and registering for my Fit and Active Barnet card that offers discounts to residents. With one of these cards, kids between 8 and 15 years of age can swim for £1 (off peak – Monday to Saturday) and under 8’s can swim for free and do note that it’s a cashless system. I paid £4.75 to swim with the gym costing £8.95; senior citizens would pay £2.90 and £4.55 respectively (off peak).
Wanting to use the gym first, I headed upstairs to the large, well-equipped changing area to sort myself out. In the large gym it was easy to find a treadmill I could use for half an hour or so. This made a change to my usual outdoor run and the time passed comfortably looking out towards the park. A year ago when I started the Couch to 5k programme, I’d never have thought this possible.
Once in my swimming kit I went back downstairs to use the pool. Big tip: if you plan to swim as well as use the gym, base yourself in the downstairs changing rooms, unless you fancy traipsing around feeling self-conscious in your cossie (I did have a towel, but struggled to find somewhere to leave it by the pool). However, the 25-metre pool is a treat. It’s designed to be accessible to people with all levels of mobility with a short flight of steps as well as a Poolpod for wheelchairs (also available for the smaller, shallow learner pool). The large windows overlooking the park allow in plenty of natural light and, being new, everything looks shiny and stylish. Another bonus is that fewer chemicals are used as the water is treated with ultraviolet purification.
Although the centre offers a tempting range of facilities that include café, multi-use games area, flood-lit tennis and a broad range of fitness classes, the swimming pool is likely to be the main attraction. The centre will also house a library which is opening on 24th September.
Finally, anyone who is thinking about starting running or getting back into it might want to consider a free 10-week evening running course beginning on Thursday 19th September at 6.45pm meeting outside New Barnet Leisure Centre with a friendly atmosphere and group leaders who will help you reach your goal. As we know, running is a great stress reliever and a great way to improve your physical and mental well-being, as well as making new friends. It’s a fun way of spending an evening and you could enjoy cooling down with a swim afterwards. Please contact Di from Barnet and District Athletic Club for more info: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday to Friday: 6.45am to 10pm
Saturday: 8am to 5.30pm
Sunday: 8am to 5.30pm
1 Lawton Road, New Barnet EN4 9BS