It’s the stuff of childhood memories – inflatables in the pool, odd posters about people ‘petting’ and yellow chips in the cafe. It was probably accompanied by the disinfectant foot bath, faulty hair dryers and lots of people’s hair in the shower plug. Somehow we managed to enjoy our weekly swim with Mum or Dad ( these were the days before parent : child ratios) and learnt to tread water in our pyjamas.
I recently decided to run my baby massage classes in Cardiff Leisure Centres despite the large number of private amenities around the city. I wanted my classes to be accessible and affordable for Mums and babies in Cardiff and to try and be supportive of what I believe to be important. I have been an advocate of local services for a while now but have observed that local leisure centres don’t quite fit the same grade as other local providers. You can buy fresh produce, service your car, furnish your home and walk your dog all using locally based providers. However, local Leisure Centres ain’t so vintage/ retro / ethically chic..?
My starting point with my resurgence is that if I don’t use it I can’t complain when it’s gone. Furthermore I worry about communities that are inhabited by people far less likely to be able to afford / be near private amenities. As I realise now, local Leisure Centres offer more than just family swimming. They have a huge array of fitness options to suit absolutely everyone, no matter of age or fitness level. You won’t feel out of place and will be assured a warm and supportive welcome. I see people with additional support needs, young people in specialist educational provision, the elderly, the very young and all of us in between.
I accept there is a level of competitiveness and ease within private facilities. I imagine it’s quicker, better, cleaner and smoother in many respects. However I do think we could all do with spreading our ethical Leisure pound around a little more. There is soft play, children’s parties, Baby Massage, fitness classes, sport training, weight training, all age swimming lessons, water sports, festive fun, school holiday activities, dance and drama classes, creches and so much more – and it’s all local. So I hope that my ‘shopping local’ now includes ‘leisurely local’… try it, it might catch on.