Around this time of year I tend to bring my workouts indoors and revive my gym membership. As the weather worsens and the daylight diminishes, it’s useful to have the option to train in a gym away from the elements. Winter is also the perfect time to focus on vital strength and conditioning work which tends to get neglected during race season.
David Lloyd recently opened their newest club in Colchester, Essex and I was invited down to use the facilities. I’ve previously visited their gyms in Chigwell and Gidea Park, so I was keen to experience the latest offering from the group. David Lloyd gyms have a reputation as high-end, luxury health clubs with a family-friendly atmosphere and a huge range of activities on offer. They have invested £10 million in the Colchester club, so I went expecting fantastic facilities and a real attention to detail that you wouldn’t see in budget gyms.
The gym is fully furnished with a complete range of fitness equipment including Woodway Curve treadmills and Wattbikes. The open-plan layout is divided into specialised zones, with areas for stretching, cardio, functional training and free-weights. The space is light and airy with windows overlooking the pool below and motivational slogans on the walls.
It often can be intimidating venturing into a new gym, but I immediately felt welcome and relaxed as I walked into the David Lloyd. The family vibe really became obvious as I saw group exercise sessions for children whilst their parents worked out nearby. Finding an area on the mats in front of the mirrors, I did my strength and conditioning programme.
Sufferfest Virtual Cycling Class
David Lloyd Colchester have a packed schedule of group exercise classes in their three dedicated studios, but the class which immediately caught my attention was the Sufferfest Virtual Ride.
The Sufferfest is a series of cycle training videos featuring footage from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Paris-Roubaix. The videos are streamed onto a screen at the front of the studio alongside motivating music and on screen instructions. David Lloyd run these sessions virtually, without an instructor meaning that the cycle studio is available for use in between classes. I’ve been curious about the possibility of virtual cycle classes in a gym facility, so this was the perfect opportunity to experience it for myself.
The session I’d signed up for was a 120 minute ride focused around climbing ‘Mount Sufferlandria’ competing virtually alongside pro-riders. With only two other participants in the cycle studio, I was concerned about a lack of atmosphere but I needn’t have worried as the video was extremely engaging from the outset. The story line immediately sucked me in and I felt my competitive edge emerge as we attacked a series of epic climbs. The class was challenging but could be adapted for any ability or fitness level.
The studio is equipped with a fleet of Stages SC2 bikes. I’ve written before that I’m not a fan of bikes which use a dial to control resistance, so that was the only disappointing aspect of my cycling experience at the David Lloyd. The bikes however are relatively easy to adjust and in great condition being brand new.
After my cycle class, I made a beeline for the pool. David Lloyd is the only facility in Colchester with both indoor and outdoor swimming pools, both well-maintained and open all year round.
Relaxing by the pool on a lounger, it was hard to believe that it was actually late October. I swam an easy 1km enjoying the warmth of the water and the sunshine on my back. The outdoor pool is 25m long and divided into four lanes, it wasn’t particularly busy so I had plenty of space for my swim. Inside, the shorter 20 metre pool was busy with families teaching their children to swim.
I couldn’t leave without spending some time relaxing in the spa after my workouts. The spa at the David Lloyd is equipped with a sauna, steam room, whirlpool and heated loungers. Outside, there are additional Jacuzzis in the garden area. I’ve visited a few spas this year and this is genuinely the nicest one so far- the facilities were being kept spotless by the housekeeping team who were constantly mopping and cleaning.
I felt blissed out after floating in the whirlpool and lounging in the sauna and steam room. It would be tempting to visit the club just to use the spa alone!
DLicious Cafe Bar
The health club centres around the cafe and bar area, where you can enjoy a range of food and drinks. After my workout I was starving, so I ordered a chicken and spinach omelette with a smoothie whilst people watching. The food was really good- better than you would expect from a cafe in a leisure centre. I’ve noticed at every David Lloyd club I’ve visited that many guests seem to spend their time sitting in the bar drinking alcohol instead of working out! I’m not knocking them, but it seems strange thing to do at the gym!
There’s a play area for the kids and an adults-only lounge, so again the entire family is catered for at the David Lloyd.
David Lloyd Colchester is large complex facility- the breadth of the activities available to guests is huge. As well as the activities I tried there are also indoor and outdoor tennis courts, yoga and fitness classes, personal training and kids activities. There is something here to suit everyone no matter their age, fitness level or goals. The club is really set up to use a base to exercise, relax and socialise rather than rushing in and out.
I was given a complimentary membership to the David Lloyd, but as always, all opinions are my own.
Have you visited a David Lloyd club? What’s your favourite activity to do at the gym?