I used to work in a leisure centre – the unwritten rules people always ignore & tips to save you cash | The Sun

FROM being skint to not having enough time – there are so many reasons and excuses we can use NOT to go to the gym.

However, the hardest part is actually forcing yourself to go, and once you're there it's never as bad as it initially seemed.

There are also lots of ways you can really maximise what you get out of a trip to your local leisure centre too.

Here, leisure centre workers share their top tips to getting the most out of your visit, while saving time and money – and reveal the unwritten rules everyone needs to know.

Locker room etiquette

The changing rooms and getting ready are a small – but extremely important – part of the experience.

How others behave in this environment can have a huge impact, and there are unwritten rules to make sure everyone feels comfortable.


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Chris says: "You should always shower before you enter the pool – we couldn’t stress this enough at my previous role.

"Every leisure centre will have showers close to the pool, and they’re there for a reason.

"We build up oils, dirt and bacteria on our skin over the course of a day, and by showering before you head in, you avoid bringing that into a shared environment. 

"Also, avoid personal grooming in the shared shower areas.

"While you’re more than welcome to use body wash and shampoo, it can be easy to become too comfortable in a shower, and fall into the routine you have at home.

"Shaving your legs or armpits is an absolute no-go, as is peeing in the gym showers.

"Also, always take your own padlock and key with you.

"We’d have people approach the front desk to buy one, and while we did sell them, it’s a cost you can avoid by simply leaving one in a pouch or pocket of your gym bag."

'It's not a pick up place'

When it comes to basic etiquette, the same applies to the gym.

Chris says: "If you need to take a break during your workout, don’t do so on a machine.

"It should go without saying, but if you’ve used free weights, put them back where you got them from after using them – they become a serious trip hazard if left out. 

"If you’ve worked up a sweat using a machine use the wipes or tissues provided to ensure it’s left how you’d expect to find it."

Jane adds: "Don’t choose the cardio machine right next to someone if there are others available… [and] let people workout in peace, it is not a ‘pick up’ place."

Money saving tips

You don't have to break the bank in order to work out, and there are certain things you can do to get the most out of your local leisure centre for less.

OriGym personal trainer Chris Allsobrook previously worked at a local leisure centre, and says: "One key thing that many people often overlook when using a leisure centre is the weekly or monthly packages on offer.

"My former site, for instance, offered day passes for £6, and a monthly pass for £20.

"Even if you’re planning to go just once a week, you’ll be saving money in the long run."

1Life’s Willesden Centre Manager Jane Hylton says: "Look out for free passes – each 1Life centre offers a free one-day pass when you sign up.

"Members should also check out any money-off rewards, for example on PT sessions, body analysis, inductions and healthy eating programmes."

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Personal trainer Aimee Pearce adds: "Some centres will also let you join a family membership with friends, making it cheaper monthly.

"Also, if you are injured or unwell and won't use the leisure centre for a while, ask if you can freeze your membership while out of action."

Time is of the essence

Many of us want to work out in theory, but use the excuse that we don't have enough time or it will be too busy to avoid actually going.

To save time, Aimee advises checking if your gym has an app you can download to sign up to classes and gym sessions, while Chris says: "If you have the luxury, off-peak times are the golden hour for leisure centres.

"Especially later in the evening (after 7pm), and during the day (between 10am and 2pm).

"You’ll usually have the majority of equipment to yourself, as well as the pool, and plenty of space to get changed."

Jane says: "Sports centres are often open early until late so it’s easy to work around work patterns.

"Save time by booking sessions in advance and then plan the rest of your week accordingly."

Pool problems

Finally, remember that while the pool is there for your enjoyment, it's primarily for exercise…

Chris says: "At my previous leisure centre, we were lucky enough to have quite a large pool, to the point where we had several lanes for swimming, and another area just for free swimming.

"What we didn’t anticipate, though, was someone bringing quite a large inflatable unicorn, complete with horn and rainbow mane, and putting this in the pool.

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"As tempting as it was to laugh, it did take up a substantial amount of room, and we had to ask the swimmer (and their unicorn) to leave.

"It wasn’t just unicorns, either. We had to confiscate numerous beach balls, lilos, and one or two inflatable drinks holders!"

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