Reluctantly - oh, very reluctantly - I have come to the conclusion that I am simply not getting good value out of my health club membership. It has taken me a while to reach this decision because over months of inactivity,
I have been able to convince myself that, come next week - or, possibly, the week after that - I will suddenly become a Born Again Fitness Fanatic. Sadly, I have to report that my re-birth never came.
the Membership Manager to give him the required one month's notice. Such a lovely email I wrote. I explained that I had been a founder member from the far off days when the club was Club Indigo. It has undergone two name changes since then, while I have stayed
my same self. The corporate colours may have changed but nothing much else. I even still have my same membership card. I still swim as slowly as ever I did. I didn't tell the Membership Manager all this - just too much information - but I did say how much
I had enjoyed the use of club facilities over the years and how much I would miss swimming in the beautiful pool and fun times with the grandkids during Junior Swim. I think a small part of me wondered if he would be so taken by my description of Happy Times
at the Health Club that he would allow me an extra three months' free membership. It wasn't to be.
Having Done the Deed, I turned my attention to What Happens Next. So this morning I set off on the bus to
test out the offer at the local swimming and sports centre. One of the new members of our choir had waxed lyrical about the benefits of centre membership at last Friday's meeting of the Bacon Bap Brigade so I was fired up with the enthusiasm of trying something
new. I could at least ask for a tour of the facilities, I told Mr B. I asked if he wanted to come with me but he gave a kind of shiver which might have meant one of several things - that he didn't want to be diverted from his own plans for the morning, that
he couldn't see himself joining me in the pool, or perhaps simply that he reckoned it would be cold outside.
I took the bus to the hospital then enjoyed a lovely walk through Beach House Park, emerging just
across the road from Splash Point Swimming Centre. On the bus, I had been royally entertained by a small mite, trying in vain to persuade her mother to sit on one of the seats at the front of the bus. "I want to sit here!" she said, determinedly. Her mum,
busy finding her fare in order to pay the driver, said no, go and find a seat at the back. "But I want to sit here!" wailed the little one, pulling down the fold-up seat in the space for wheel-chairs. "Other people need to sit there," she was told. "No, ME!"
It was no good, she was ushered to the very back of the bus, where I could hear her protesting loudly: "It's scary at the back of the bus!" Bless her curly head, she was learning early on the Disappointment of Dashed Desires. For myself, I must remember the
line about it being scary at the back of the bus when the Little Welsh Boys set off for the back seat, leaving me trailing,despairingly, in their wake.
I was rather impressed by the swimming centre. A sweet
girl showed me all round the facilities, the gym, well-equipped with Machines of Torture on which you could run, row or cycle all the while looking out at the sea. The swimming pool had a six lanes - one marked "slow" so obviously meant especially for me -
and there was a leisure pool with flume and other excitements to entertain the smaller members of my family when they come to stay. There was even an adult only changing room which, I was assured by my tour guide, was very much less manic than the family changing
room on the floor below.
After my tour, I bought myself a coffee at the centre's cafe and sat down to peruse the brochure I had been given. I can buy centre membership for £20 a year which will allow
me lower charges for every swim or class I choose to attend. I will be able to swim for just £2.60 which sounds like a bargain. I did a few sums, sitting there with my decaffeinated coffee ( a bit weak, but you can't have everything and perhaps I put
too much milk in, having had a bit of a tussle with the milk flask.)
My calculations were a bit like a maths exam: if a senior citizen takes two grandchildren, one aged eight and one aged six for
a swim, followed by one cup of coffee and two hot chocolates, how would the cost compare with two Junior Swims and the same refreshments at the Health Club? If the same senior citizen and her daughter take three children under the age of three for a Baby Swimming
Class how much would this visit cost, given that both adults would want a decaffeinated latte afterwards and the Rampant Toddler would probably need a slice of pizza?
It all seems to make mathematical sense.
I can still have my weekly swim, still entertain my young'uns when they come to visit. I can join aqua-aerobics classes at a reduced fee and so continue to strike fear into the hearts of the trainers with my uncoordinated response to basic instructions. I
can use my free bus pass to get there, so cutting the cost of petrol in my car. What is more, I can save myself around £700 a year.
I walked into town along the promenade, watching the sun sparkling
on the sea, the gulls soaring above. The wind was bitingly cold but it was a lovely walk. Just think, this can become my regular jaunt, my new fitness regime - a stroll through the park, a swim, a coffee and a windy walk along the beautiful prom to the bus
Really, what's not to like?