Monday, August 1, 2011

Car-Free Diet

As I mentioned in my previous post, it's easy to go on a car-free diet here in London.  On the other hand, it's not so easy to go on an actual diet.  The allure of chocolate, fresh pastries, ice cream, and other treats is hard to resist, and British pub food (which I generally try to avoid, but Josh loves), is anything but healthy.  So despite the ridiculous amount of walking I've been doing since we moved here, I've only lost a couple pounds, and could stand to lose a few more.

Back in DC, I went to a Jazzercise class a few times per week, which was fun and gave me a good mix of cardio, strength training, and social interaction.  I was hoping to find one here, but while there are plenty of Jazzercise centers in the UK, for some reason (probably lack of an affordable venue) there are NONE in the greater London area.  The closest one is 15 miles away and would take over an hour to get to (no car...), so that's out of the question.  Today I decided to check out two fitness centers that are within easy walking distance of my house.

The Wimbledon Leisure Centre is in a building from 1900 that once housed the public baths.  It has two pools, one for recreational swimming, the other for lessons.  Where there was once a third pool, there is now a gym with weight machines, treadmills, and the like.  Although I had called ahead and asked if I could take a tour, it was some time before the receptionist could find someone to show me around.
Wimbledon Leisure Centre
The center is in the early stages of a major 3-year renovation, so the facilities were a bit limited.  They didn't even have separate locker rooms for men and women, although the room did have individual stalls (like a public restroom) for changing in.  The day care room doubles as a classroom, so you can gaze up at drawings of Thomas the Tank Engine as you do yoga.  After the tour, I waited around again until they could locate a manager to talk to me about membership.  The woman who finally showed up seemed a bit terse, as if I was wasting her valuable time asking questions about classes.  I finally just asked her for a brochure. That's when I discovered the fees: £45/month!  That's $75!  Yikes! 

I went down the street to the YMCA.  Even though I hadn't called ahead, the receptionist was much friendlier and immediately agreed to give me a tour.  First she sat me down and went over their membership options and gave me several brochures, and then showed me around their facilities.  They don't have a pool, and their gym is much smaller, but they seem to offer more classes.  The fees: £40/month ($65).  Our Wii Fit is starting to look better and better...

While I was out, I ran a bunch of other errands around town:
  • Scheduled an appointment at the flooring shop to get an estimate on replacing the carpet in our entryway with hardwood floors.
  • Had extra copies made of our house keys.
  • Got cash at the ATM
  • Dropped off copies of my health records at the doctor's office
  • Picked up a few groceries at Sainsbury's
  • Bought plums and apricots from the farm stand
Our local farm stand - alternates with a lady who makes crepes
Yes, I was able to do all that on foot, and within a mile radius of my house.  Wimbledon has just about everything you'd need right in the town center, so it's turned out to be a pretty convenient place to live.

While I was out, this bumper sticker caught my eye.
From a distance, I thought it belonged to a Washington Redskins fan -- perhaps another transplant from DC -- but upon closer examination, it turned out to be for a local ice hockey team.  (Streatham is part of south London, a few miles east of Wimbledon.)  Why an ice hockey team in London would chose to call themselves "Redskins" is completely beyond me!

1 comment:

  1. I pay a similar amount ($65/month) for the Berkeley YMCA, but it is a massive three+ story building with three pools, several gender-segregated locker rooms (with rentable and day-use lockers), and even available women-only workout rooms, which is a huge improvement over the 24-hour fitness 2 blocks away ($24/month, MWF only) that had a cardio room and a weight room. Period.


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