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Let’s get physical! Sports centres in Ipswich start to reopen after lockdown

PUBLISHED: 11:29 19 August 2020 | UPDATED: 11:56 19 August 2020

Shelley Boak's  aerobics class gets underway. Whitton sports centre has re-opened after lockdwon  Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Shelley Boak's aerobics class gets underway. Whitton sports centre has re-opened after lockdwon Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Charlotte Bond

Ipswich council is starting to reopen some of its sports and leisure facilities – and regular uses could not be happier to be back on the gym equipment and in the aerobics class at Whitton Sports Centre.

Manager Andy Wilesmith. Whitton sports centre has re-opened after lockdwon  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDManager Andy Wilesmith. Whitton sports centre has re-opened after lockdwon Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Along with the Fore Street Pool – and Crown Pools for club bookings – Whitton is the first council-run sports centre in the town to reopen, and already users are happy to be back on the exercise equipment.

MORE: When will Ipswich sports centres reopen?

Martin Hynes in the gym. Whitton sports centre has re-opened after lockdwon  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDMartin Hynes in the gym. Whitton sports centre has re-opened after lockdwon Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Operations manager Andy Wilesmith said that since it reopened its doors on Monday bookings had been coming in and staff had been getting back to dealing with customers.

Joanna Oldham in the gym. Whitton sports centre has re-opened after lockdwon  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDJoanna Oldham in the gym. Whitton sports centre has re-opened after lockdwon Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

On Tuesday evening the centre was being used for several different activities – badminton in the main hall before it was taken over by an aerobics class while in the gym people were taking the chance to get back on the equipment after months of exercising at home.

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Aerobics teacher Shelley Boak has remained busy during the lockdown by taking her classes online through Facebook – and has been working with people around the world. She said: “I’ve had people tune in from all over the country and abroad, from as far away as Canada. It’s all free. I’m still doing that, but it’s really good to be back here for a real class.”

Mr Wilesmith said there had been changes – equipment and badminton courts had to be set up in a way to ensure there could be social distancing and staff were ensuring the equipment was cleaned thoroughly after every session. There are social distancing notices and hand sanitisers around the centre.

Sarah Rudd and Darren Walters playing babminton. Whitton sports centre has re-opened after lockdwon  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDSarah Rudd and Darren Walters playing babminton. Whitton sports centre has re-opened after lockdwon Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

He said: “Actually the cleaning isn’t that much greater than we have always had – we always have cleaned all the equipment after sessions but I think the current situation has put that work into a greater focus.”

One couple glad to be back were Martin Hynes and Joanna Oldham. They met at the gym in Gainsborough Sports Centre 15 years ago and have been regulars at council sports centres over the years.

Whitton sports centre has re-opened after lockdwon  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDWhitton sports centre has re-opened after lockdwon Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

They live on the east side of town, but cycle over to Whitton because it is the first centre to reopen – and they come there regularly for pilates classes.

Mr Hynes said: “We have been working out at home over the last few months and doing online classes but it is good to get out to the gym. We don’t need to do the cardio-work on the exercise bikes because we ride over here anyway and that gives us that kind of exercise!”

Whitton is the first dry sports centre to reopen – and Mr Wilesmith said everyone was hoping all the other centre would soon be able to welcome back visitors.

He said: “Everyone realises how important keeping fit and healthy is for people both physically and mentally. Getting up and running again is very important – but we accept that persuading people that we are safe is very important and hopefully this will do that.”


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