Harrow Leisure Centre in running for UK award after putting community at heart of fitness

Harrow Leisure Centre

It wants to give every single person living in Harrow the chance to improve their health and wellbeing.

From our elderly residents and people from different cultural and religious backgrounds to residents dealing with long-term health conditions, Harrow Leisure Centre understands that Harrow’s diverse community has diverse fitness needs.

Passionate about keeping people fit – in a borough where residents often struggle to do so – its staff help provide an all-inclusive environment for both experienced gym-goers and those of us who may experience barriers to staying active.

And now the leisure centre’s dedication has been recognised at a national level – beating hundreds of gyms across the country to be shortlisted for ‘Local Authority Gym of the Year’ in the prestigious National Fitness Awards.

Cllr Sue Anderson, Harrow Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community, Culture and Resident Engagement, said: “It’s not the most beautiful place but the staff are so amazing in every way. They have done so much in meeting the needs of and bringing our community together to improve their wellbeing. I hope more people will now want to experience what it has to offer.”

So what unique opportunities does it give its 6,000 members? The leisure centre runs out-of-hours sessions during the month of Ramadan so that Muslim members can stay active.It also holds women-only classes for swimming, Pilates, group cycling and yoga.

The centre, which opened more than 40 years ago in Christchurch Avenue, Wealdstone, has GP referrals, cancer rehab and cardiac rehab schemes.

In addition, staff reach out to the wider community through regular visits to GP surgeries, talking to breast patients in hospital and offering free health assessments at supermarkets. They also work in partnership with specialist local groups, including:

  • Ignite: to provide at-risk youth with work placements
  • MENCAP: to engage learning disabled young people in activity
  • Age UK: to help older people get active and combat loneliness
  • Harrow Striders: to provide Nordic Walking across the borough

Other achievements the leisure centre team is proud of include:

  • As well as a 160-station gym and dedicated strength gym, there are classes such as rebounder and virtual classes which have helped reduce attrition rate to just 4.5%
  • A gym with a separate entrance and privacy blinds, allowing specialist groups to work out in a private and comfortable space
  • Five members have felt so inspired they have gone on to become instructors with three now teaching at the centre
  • A huge refurbishment project leading to a £40,000 reduction in utility costs

Harrow Leisure Centre, which is managed by Harrow Council in partnership with Everyone Active, will now be visited by a member of the National Fitness Awards’ team for a final assessment.

The award celebrates council-owned fitness centres “demonstrating excellence, innovation and achievement” at the heart of their local community.

Winners will be announced at a ceremony in Leicester on Friday 1st December.