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Television and treadmills at Manor Park Fitness Centre

PUBLISHED: 14:30 06 June 2015

Reporter Phoebe Cooke trying out the new gym in Manor Park with personal trainer and site manager Jamie Croxon

Reporter Phoebe Cooke trying out the new gym in Manor Park with personal trainer and site manager Jamie Croxon

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Watching my favourite soap while my legs obediently jog below me is not how I envisaged my first gym experience in a decade.

Phoebe gets to grips with the outdoor rope wallPhoebe gets to grips with the outdoor rope wall

Yet this is how I find myself warming up in Manor Park’s sparkling new fitness centre, guided by a superbly patient personal trainer and feeling strangely at home among these once alien contraptions.

I’m on a Life Fitness basic treadmill, superior to the cross-trainer, I’m told, and with a number of options to adjust speed and incline. You can also save your work-out and choose from a number of pre-planned sessions. For the less motivated among us, day-time TV is the real draw.

“It removes the barrier to working out – you can essentially kill two birds with one stone,” enthuses Jamie, sales and fitness manager, who doubles up as one of four personal trainers based on the site.

“It keeps people with very low attention spans engaged, gives them something to focus on which isn’t the fact they’re in a gym.”

Newham Recorder Journalist Phoebe Cooke trying out the new gym in Manor Park with Personal Trainer and Site Manager Jamie CroxonNewham Recorder Journalist Phoebe Cooke trying out the new gym in Manor Park with Personal Trainer and Site Manager Jamie Croxon

Built on the site of the former Greenhill Community Centre, the council-run fitness facility is focused on providing a high quality gym experience for those on a low budget. At just £15.95 a month, with no contract or obligation to sign up for longer, it’s perfect for those who have an inbuilt fear of gyms or don’t wish to shell out for what turns out to be a month-long fad.

“I’m incredibly excited by this opening. The area’s been screaming out for a gym like this,” adds Jamie, now taking me to what looks like a jumping platform, part of a whole circuit called Synergy 360.

It sells itself as an entire work-out in half an hour, which suits me just fine, though I end up finding the glutes-strengthening squat-and-jump weirdly addictive.

We then focus on some core stabilising, where I’m literally shown the ropes as Jamie demonstrates some a biceps work-out with so-called ‘battle ropes’ – far less foreboding an exercise than weights, though there’s stacks of those too for those in search of more traditional work-out.

The outdoor Synergy equipment allows for an open air workoutThe outdoor Synergy equipment allows for an open air workout

Our next stop is the cycling studio, where gym-goers can whisk themselves to the Caribbean, or compete in the Tour de France before they realise they’re in a spinning class.

Virtual classes allow you to jump into the studio and get cycling with a host of fictional but motivational others. You’re shown the way by a group of enthusiastic, smiling cyclists on the big screen, who have me up and down on my bicycle seat and sweating just seconds into the session.

We finish off with some heavy shaking on power plates, situated in a discreet side room away from the bustle of the central floor. Some people consider it a massage, Jamie says, and I have to admit I feel a buzz of something like adrenaline from the experience, all in the smug knowledge that my core strength has been stabilised.

Manor Park Fitness Centre is now open from 6.30am-10.30pm Monday – Saturday, and 6.30am-8pm on Sundays. For more information, go to activenewham.org.uk/manor-park-fitness-centre


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