Joining a YMCA Health & Wellbeing Centre is a great way to get fit, socialise and feel better in yourself. What sets YMCA centres apart from other gyms is that they are situated in the heart of communities. They are not only modern, well equipped with dedicated staff, but also act as social hubs where local people can get to know each other, support each other and feel good about themselves. Our January promotion, £25 for 25 days is a great way to try out the facilities and see what makes them so special.
Siva and Lalitha Sivalingam have been members at YMCA Hawker in North Kingston since they retired. Lalitha ran a nursery in Latchmere and also lectured at Kingston University. Siva was an engineer at the BA Systems factory on the site before it closed down in 1992 and fondly remembers the centre before YMCA took it over. It was a social club for the factory employees.
“I helped to build Harrier jump jets. I specialised in joinery and metals. I’m very connected to this place,” says Siva.
Health & Wellbeing membership
When Siva and Lalitha retired they took out membership and started doing yoga, but were also interested in the dance classes. “We started going to group classes, such as Gill’s Gentle Exercise and then moved on to Latin Rhythms and Aero Latino. It’s fun and the music is great,” says Siva.
The yoga class on a Wednesday is the highlight of the week for Siva and Lalitha. It’s a focused and challenging class that they believe keeps them mobile and very fit. “The yoga instructor Bridget explains the movements we are doing very clearly. She is a very experienced teacher, we trust her. She is also a yoga teacher trainer,” says Lalitha.
As well as the great instructors, the centre staff are also a big hit with Siva and Lalitha. The centre is also very inclusive and diverse which they love. “YMCA staff here are really nice and it’s great to be part of an inclusive centre, with people with mobility issues and disability.”
The group exercise classes are very popular and often have waiting lists. But that doesn’t put off Lalitha who used to walk to the centre early morning to book, to then return later in the day. “I can now book our classes on the app which is great,” says Siva.
Siva is the often the only man in the Latin Rhythms class and he confesses he has always loved to dance at parties. “It’s a bit embarrassing , I don’t know where all the men are?!”
Why is YMCA Hawker so popular as a Health & Wellbeing Centre? Lalitha explains: “This is a very special place to us, we even had our son’s 30th birthday party here. Our neighbours are all members too. We wouldn’t change anything about the centre – it’s going from strength to strength.”