Private or council gym and swimming pool?

I have finally learned to swim but still pretty poor and prone to a bit of a panic when out of my depth.

Currently I go to the council gym and swimming pool. The gym is fine. The pool is very wide, and is roped off so that it provides for swimming lessons, lane swimming and an area for general swimming. It's 2 metres at the deep end, so I tend not to complete a length.

About the same distance away is a Nuffield Health gym and swimming pool. The pool is only 10 metres wide and has no deep end - it's just the right depth for me. But it costs twice as much as the council place. It does have free parking but that's really neither here nor there.

Are private gyms really worth the extra? There are built in health checks to the Nuffield place - and I need to lose a lot of weight and get fitter.


  • Quackers1Quackers1 Forumite
    107 Posts
    If you're more confident in the private gym and pool, and might use it more, then I'd said it is worth the extra money?
  • I would personally invest the difference in lessons to improve your confidence. Once you feel better you can cancel them and get the money back.
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  • jenniewbjenniewb Forumite
    12.8K Posts
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    Don't just look at the pool, look at the rest of the facilities: do you use the changing room? Which has a better shower and is there a chance that if the shower is good enough you can save a bit of money by showering at the gym and not at home? Some gyms even offer free towels and shower gel, again money saved.

    Which gym has better customer service and makes you feel welcome?

    Do you have a family or find that pools with a lot of high small high pitched screams from children playing/splashing around in the pool can put them off- are both gyms for children as well as adults and is this of use to you?

    Is there a decent caf! area in each? Not every caf! has suitable food and doesn't over charge and can you can bring your own food for refuelling after a pool session or work out session? Not cafes allow food not bought from them but some will.

    Have you visited both? See if they'll let you try a day/pool or gym session for a day so you can test things out, most gyms will let you do this.
  • NikadiNikadi Forumite
    48 Posts
    Eighth Anniversary Combo Breaker
    I think it depends on the other facilities too, and your general feeling about it. I live in a city and when looking at gyms (with the pool facilities being a big selling point to me) the council run gyms were almost half the price. However the classes were split over numerous sites, most had paid-for-parking and whilst one pool had free parking it was limited on useage times due to school groups using it and the other pool was in the city centre a 20 minute bus ride away, going twice a week by bus would actually work out more expensive than paying for the David Lloyd which was a 2 minute drive away with free parking. There were significantly more people using the public pools as well, so lane swimming was awkward on occasion and obviously you had the kids jumping in and out of the lanes at the weekends which !!!!ed me off.

    So I went for DL and really enjoyed it, started using the gym and tried out a variety of classes which I turned up on the day for with no pre-booking unlike the council-run gym classes which you needed to book. I ended up using the other facilities like the sauna/steam room and the cafe and, for me, the cost was well worth it.

    I really regret dropping my membership earlier this year, I got pregnant and thought it wasn't worth it for the swimming alone and that we could save costs a bit as I was struggling to go more than twice a week anyway (I was new to weight lifting so didn't want to risk continuing when I wasn't 100% sure what I was doing!) and I'd just use the council-run facilities instead but it hasn't happened due to the buses/limited times!
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  • Rich2808Rich2808 Forumite
    1.2K Posts
    Seventh Anniversary 1,000 Posts Combo Breaker
    Private gyms will usually be nicer and quieter - most won't have kids screaming and splashing away which might make the experience more pleasurable. They may also offer towels and as you say free parking. They are often open longer hours - often from 6 am to 10pm.

    If money isn't an issue I would go for Nuffield.
  • NasqueronNasqueron Forumite
    7.7K Posts
    The Nuffield health check isn't mandatory, if anything it's worth a look as it simply gives you basic checks on cholesterol, blood pressure, blood glucose and some bits like VO2 Max, resting heart rate and BMI, it's done to encourage you to work on fitness, not on whether you can join.

    I'm happy to be called a snob but I like private gyms as they are less busy, no kids (my local one has a rule kids have to be out by 6 even at weekends). The pool isn't full of chavs messing around so you can actually do lengths separate from the slow people without having to avoid people bombing and splashing. The machines are normally free without queues outside of the first few weeks of the year where the cash cows that keep my fee down waddle in to huff and puff and do 20 minutes on a running machine until they inevitably give up in February until next year
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