Mr A’s leg brushed against my leg as we held hands at the edge of the pool sunning our faces. The kids had ventured off to the other end of the pool, splashing about with a new found independence. We talked about work, our days, the kids, I was struck by how different our conversation felt shoulder to shoulder in the swimming pool, instead of in our kitchen while making tea, or across smartphones.
The mood was definitely holidayish, although we hadn’t actually left Nottingham. The relaxed mood was the result of travelling just 15 minutes to take our first splash in the outdoor pool at David Lloyd Leisure Club. We have been invited to review a six month membership of our local club. I nearly said no; anyone who knows me, knows I love to be outdoors: running outside is my favourite exercise and walking in the Peaks our release from suburban life, which, I am forever bemoaning, drives me crackers. How would I cope with a suburban leisure club? What can I say in my defence? It was the outdoor pool that convinced me. Until running came into my life, swimming was always my favourite.
Here’s what I took away from the first day, in which the kids and I met the team and found out what was on offer.
Another reason the gym cynic in me was convinced to give David Lloyd a go was the free kids’ clubs after school and at weekends. Parents can take a dip, enjoy the spa facilities, work in the business lounge, join a class or just have a coffee and stare out the window. Mr A and I could come and swim and have a drink together while the kids enjoy a movie night. Any kind of parentshaped me time is a massive bonus in my book. I like the idea that a date night could be healthy and nurturing, rather than feeling you have to indulge in rich food and alcohol just so you can spend time away from the kids.
I also like the idea of bringing my laptop and working in the business lounge or cafe areas, a break from working at home and a great way to fit some fitness into my lunch hour.
Kids Clubs and Activities
The staff made the kids really welcome from the second they walked in the door and picked up their names in seconds. Both kids tested out the club provision and Mr G who can be the hardest to convince of these things, was eagerly asking to go back in after lunch. There are additional sport coaching clubs (gymnastics, swimming, tennis), plus holiday clubs in school breaks, unlike term time sessions these aren’t free, but having so many options under one roof in an enviroment that is both familiar, and packed with great sport facilities makes good sense to family members.
We visited in half term, so L and G were able to sample lots of different sessions: craft, tennis, multisports, outdoor free play, and even golf, another family favourite. The provision is OFSTED regulated. During my tour of the club we popped in to find the group drawing superheros, the kids were really giggling and feeding off the staff enthusiasm and punchy delivery. I thought there was a missed opportunity to challenge superhero gender stereotypes in the activity we observed, but I only saw a few minutes and Miss L told me she is old enough to think beyond princesses for girls and said the craft was her favourite session.
We’ve really fallen for the indoor and outdoor pool at David Lloyd, the spa, the roomy family changing rooms, each with a huge shower cubicle inside, the cafe with soft play and outdoor play areas.
Already we’ve established a routine of going swimming all four of us after school and work once a week and once at the weekends. Sometimes we stay for tea too. Much as I like to champion local leisure centres, I have to admit David Lloyd is a million times warmer, calmer, quieter and more pleasureable to use. After school the public can’t use the local council pool because of swimming lessons, which has always been a source of frustration. It says it all that we have been swimming at David Lloyd 5 times in 2 weeks already. It’s a really pleasurable experience. So far it hasn’t been anywhere close to busy either, which bodes well.
I love the kid’s enthusiasm for our new family leisure ritual.
Back in the pool, Mr A and debated the cost of membership….
‘It’s really expensive though isn’t it?’ said Mr A.
‘Probably just under what we’d pay for a week’s budget family holiday abroad,’ I replied.
We were quiet for a bit. It dawned on us looking round, that we could very easily feel like we were on holiday here, any day of the year we fancied.
It’s early days of course, so watch this space to find out how David Lloyd works in practice for us. I will be setting some goals for myself and asking the family to join me in my next post. Will our new found super enthusiasm continue? Will we keep going every week? Will we meet the goals we set? I really hope so! Stay tuned to find out.
Photo Credits: Image 1: Legs Underwater, Shutterstock. 2: David Lloyd Club West Bridgford by Professional Images/@ProfImages