Friday, March 09, 2007

Beating the British Bulge - staying fit in London

I've lived here for over a year and a half so I can't really use the Heathrow Injection - the old adage that everyone piles on a few pounds once you walk through the gates of Heathrow - as an excuse anymore. These days my biggest problem is the pile of Tim Tams/Caramello Koalas/Cherry Ripes etc that I brought back with me from Australia 'to share' with my London housemates (let's just say there has not been much sharing).

Anyway, it's about that time of the year when it starts to get warmer and you start thinking about all those summer clothes you've got to squeeze back into in a few months. It's a little bit harder for working travellers in London who have been coping with the unfamiliar winter chill with cheap pub meals, pints and nights out in the capital. The good news is though is that there are plenty of (affordable) ways to beat the bulge in London.

Social sports
Now it's getting warmer, the outdoor social sports comps are starting again. I've signed up for netball again (£45 for 10 games in a social league) and my mates have organised a touch football team. There are heaps of comps and leagues across London and the UK where you can meet friends and get fit. I wrote about some of these leagues in the WORKgateways newsletter last year - check it out here

Many travellers are astounded by the cost of gym memberships in London - for a decent gym in inner London you are looking at membership fees of between £60-£80 per month. You should instead look to smaller community fitness/rec centres which allow you to pay per visit or have lower fees (of course the equipment and decor of these places is not going to be as nice as the plush inner city gyms though). You could always just head to your local lido (the Brit name for an outdoor swimming pool) for a calorie-burning splash.

Gym deals
Having said how expensive gyms in London, you can definitely pick up some great discounts and deals so keep an eye out. PruHealth is currently running a promotion that if you sign up for health insurance with them (at a cost of £18-£25 per month), you can get six months free gym membership at Cannons health clubs. They also offer a discounted rate for Virgin Active gyms across London. Another loophole to saving cash, is that if you join up to PruHealth via the online cashback co-operative Quidco you get £115 cashback on top of your free/discounted gym membership (I did this myself in February so can guarantee it works).

Spectator sports
If exercise is not for you (and who are we kidding, there are a lot of us out there!), perhaps spectating is more your style. One of the most fun sporting events in London coming up is the Oxford and Cambridge Boat race, held on the Thames in Putney. It's on 7 April. Everyone over here is also getting excited about the Rugby World Cup, to be held later this year in France, and the Cricket World Cup which has kicked off in the West Indies. Go team!

1 comment:

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