Category Archives: Fitness and weight-loss

Luxury on a grand scale at the five star Corinthia Hotel London

The first thing that struck me about the five-star Corinthia Hotel in London when I stayed there was how utterly huge everything is. From the vast central lobby lounge with its soaring dome and chandelier made of 1,001 crystal baubles, to the high-ceilinged pillared restaurant, to the  enormous breakfast room, huge ballroom, conference rooms and outside courtyard, everything at the Corinthia is super-sized. Continue reading Luxury on a grand scale at the five star Corinthia Hotel London

Nirvana Spa: A hard day’s relaxing at this top day spa near London

You would have to start pretty early and finish late to be able to squeeze in the maximum amount of relaxation possible at my Nirvana Spa day near Reading, the award-winning spa near London and one of the top day spas in the country.

I spent the whole day there and yet when it was time to leave I realised I still hadn’t fallen asleep on a poolside lounger as I’d planned, nor read the Sunday papers that I’d been lugging around with me all day, or even tried out the futuristic-looking endless swimming pool lanes which let you swim against a current rather than having to turn at every end.  So what on earth had I been doing during my luxury day spa break? Continue reading Nirvana Spa: A hard day’s relaxing at this top day spa near London

NuBeginnings weight loss boot camp: shedding the pounds in North Devon

[This article was originally published in 2014 and since then NuBeginnings has ceased running its weight loss boot camps in North Devon. Details of its current activities can be found here]

It was when I was hiking along the North Devon coast on my own, in the rain, in voluminous waterproof trousers, that I started to question whether this weight loss boot camp was worth its hefty price tag. I was halfway through a week at NuBeginnings, the self-styled ‘boutique boot camp’ which promises to help you shed pounds. Apparently no-one has ever failed to lose weight during their stay. This was a powerful incentive to keep on marching through the mist after my personal trainer who had disappeared in the mist over the next hill, but it did come at a price.

Nubeginnings review
Preparing to hike – before the rain started coming down
Nubeginnings review
There were some beautiful views of the North Devon coast on some of the hikes

For the same outlay, you could get a week in a luxury resort in St Lucia or gym membership for a year – plus your very own personal trainer. So, was my wet week in Devon worth it? Continue reading NuBeginnings weight loss boot camp: shedding the pounds in North Devon

Spending the day at Centurion Club St Albans

[Editors’ note – this review was first published in 2014 and some information might need updating]

There are worse things to do on a Monday morning spending the day at Centurion Club St Albans out in the glorious sunshine being taught how to play golf by a rather charming golf pro.

Thankfully, said pro – Nick Ansell – who worked at this impressive golf club in Hertfordshire, did not seem to mind that almost all of my previous golfing experience had been on the crazy golf courses at Bognor Regis, Bournemouth, Boscombe and several campsites in Northern France.

In fact he could not have been more welcoming and friendly, which was just as well as the Centurion Club, one of the nearest golf courses to St Albans, prides itself on being a female-friendly golf club not to mention a golf club which welcomes beginners.

centurion golf club st albans
The Centurion is one of Britain’s newest golf courses

While men-only golf clubs still exist (and many who have recently opened their doors to women only did so to qualify for National Lottery funding), the Centurion’s co-founder Scott Evans has said that he is keen for the sport to be far more welcoming to everyone, including families. Continue reading Spending the day at Centurion Club St Albans

Center Parcs Woburn Forest: it’s reviewer-proof

[Note: this review of Center Parcs Woburn Forest was written in 2014 when the park was first opened]

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.

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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, Center Parcs 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.

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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 it will get you super-fit

Equinox gym London could possibly be one of the most expensive gyms in Kensington or even one of the priciest gyms in London. And as it’s one of the most luxurious gyms in London, it is possibly one of the more expensive gyms in 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.

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The cycling studio at Equinox gym London

‘It’s not fitness – it’s life,’ proclaims its website. And who is going to cut corners on ‘life’? This could be one of the best gyms in London, after all. It’s unlikely to also be one of the cheapest gyms in London as well.

The cost of a membership at Equinox gym London

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 it will get you super-fit