Category Archives: Fitness

Center Parcs Woburn Forest: it’s reviewer-proof

Center Parcs is practically immune from criticism. With occupancy running at a staggering 97.2 per cent all year round, the private-equity owned leisure company is the envy of its peers.

In spite of the recent kerfuffle about high prices during school holidays, there is clearly no shortage of customers willing to fork out for the Center Parcs experience when just three nights in a two-bedroom lodge can cost £900 in August, even before food, drink and any of the extra activities are taken into account.

center parcs woburn forest
The subtropical swimming paradise at Woburn Forest Center Parcs

And that’s the cheapest price available – a four-bedroom luxury lodge for the same weekend in August will set you back £2,699 and rooms are already selling out.  So clearly it is doing something – no, a lot of things right.

Which is why it opened up its newest parc, Woburn Forest, to journalists, suppliers and so on two weeks before it officially opens to the public on June 6th. Chief executive Martin Dalby was in his element as he hiked around the 365-acre site, talking to visitors and seeing his £250 million-parc finally come to life. Continue reading Center Parcs Woburn Forest: it’s reviewer-proof

Preparing for the Blenheim Triathlon – your support for Leukaemia Research much appreciated

Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire is usually a beautiful, serene, quintessentially British sort of place, where visitors happily amble around admiring the stately grandeur of the birthplace of Winston Churchill before enjoying afternoon tea and dithering over trinkets in the palace gift shop.

Next month however, the  peacefulness of the 300-year old building and its Capability Brown-designed grounds will be ruined as several thousand competitors, including me, descend upon the site for the annual Blenheim Triathlon.

The usually-serene courtyard will be packed full of row upon row of bikes underneath which will be piles of towels, shoes, helmets and other necessary kit, and throughout the weekend barefooted, wetsuited competitors will be seen gingerly making their way down to the start of the race, an icy plunge into the waters of Blenheim’s lake.

blenheim triathlon
Blenheim Place in its usual calm and serene state – before the lycra-clad hordes descend for the annual triathlon

All around the grounds spectators will line the route to cheer on their friends and families as they first swim across the murky water and then cycle and run around the course before staggering, exhausted and muddy but cheerful, over the finishing line. Continue reading Preparing for the Blenheim Triathlon – your support for Leukaemia Research much appreciated

Equinox gym London: super-pricey but will get you super-fit

equinox gym london
The rather impressive Art Deco-style workout space at Equinox Kensington.

Equinox London could possibly be one of the most expensive gyms in Kensington, London or even the country. And it doesn’t even have a swimming pool.

But the US fitness chain Equinox, which is huge across America but which has only one outlet in the UK, in London’s posh Kensington postcode (a sister club purely for personal training opened last year  in the even posher St James’s district by Piccadilly – check out E by Equinox – also called E St James) is not going to apologise for its eye-watering prices.

‘It’s not fitness – it’s life,’ proclaims its website. And who is going to cut corners on ‘life’?

So you pay your £215 a month membership fee plus a £400 initiation fee (there’s currently a special offer of £300 off the joining fee) and the cost for the current month, and embark on your journey of transformation. Continue reading Equinox gym London: super-pricey but will get you super-fit

After the Fast Diet, there’s Fast Exercise, but aren’t we missing something?


There’s nothing more than the fitness industry loves than the newest fad, the latest trend, the ‘next big thing’.

It guarantees column inches in newspaper supplements and magazines as the new idea is relentlessly promoted in books and articles by its creators. It is then even more relentlessly plugged by the bandwagon-jumpers who can spot a new trend at fifty lunges and launch their own versions of the so-called big idea.

Then fitness chains start offering classes and then there’s the DVDs, the music, the accessories and then of course, the backlash as everyone starts to wonder whether it was such a great idea in the first place and we all go back to whatever kind of exercise we were doing before and actually secretly much preferred (even if is it sitting on the sofa watching repeats of The Biggest Loser.)

From Reebok step to spinning, Pilates to Zumba, every few years there comes along a supposedly revolutionary idea which will transform the way we approach the idea of getting fit.

And the latest supertrend is finally here – hurrah! HIT (high intensity training) also known as HIIT (high intensity interval training), or Fast exercise (by the doctor-journalist who brought you the Fast Diet) is the new exercise fad of early 2014 and – here I am, getting the backlash in early – I think it is completely and utterly missing the point of what exercise is and why we do it. Continue reading After the Fast Diet, there’s Fast Exercise, but aren’t we missing something?