Did you know that the Sports Centre at University of St Mark & St John is open to all? The impressive centre, situated near Derriford Hospital, is fast becoming the health hub of choice for fitness enthusiasts across Plymouth and beyond.
It easily competes with other fitness and health centres in the city, with its refurbished 25m pool, state-of-the-art gym equipment and competitive membership options. The centre, which is only six years old, also boasts sports halls and gymnasiums which can be booked for various activities, as well as outdoor pitches, sports therapy, personal training and fitness classes.
The Sports Centre is not only popular with students and the public – professionals have also taken a shine to the facilities. Plymouth Raiders and Plymouth Argyle are based here for training and therapy, and during the Rugby World Cup in 2015, Marjon played host to the Namibia team.
Diversity is important here. Sports Centre manager, Simon White, makes it clear that visitors are welcome regardless of age, interest or ability. The swimming pool has a shallow end at 0.9m to make it child and family-friendly, and knowledgeable staff are always on hand to assist anyone who needs support and advice.
Classes and pool sessions have been planned with various people in mind – an over 60s cycle class is on offer, and in the pool there are sessions available exclusively for the over 60s, the disabled, adults only and females only. Simon is proud to tell us about the older client base they have in the gym, with lots of support available.
Final year sports students are stationed across the centre offering clinics, therapies and training, allowing them to gain practical experience while putting their studies into practice. Marjon offers courses in Sports Therapy, Science and Rehabilitation using cutting edge technology and techniques, and by their final year these students are fully qualified, although they are always supervised by staff holding a professional license and insurance to practice.
This makes their pricing very competitive – a 55 minute treatment in the Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation Clinic costs just £12.50, and this covers manual therapy, soft tissue therapy, electrotherapy and more.
These clinics are often used by those recovering from surgery or cancer, and staff work with clients to help them back into exercise, using various equipment and tailored programmes to do so.
The gym at Marjon is full of top-of-the-range equipment from leading brands. Their Synergy functional fitness rig creates an excellent fitness space, and their free weights area is situated in the centre of the gym, making it open and accessible to all.
This gym is also home to the only Life Fitness Power Mills in Plymouth at the moment. These high-tech step machines are popular in the US, and they have a screen which displays various hikes and walks around the world, allowing the user to explore scenery of their choice as they take each step.
During our visit we used the pool and were very impressed by how simple, clean and modern it is, allowing users to focus on their swimming. It was quiet on the Friday afternoon, with lots of space to swim and one lane available for those wanting to swim at a faster pace.
Taking the plunge might be daunting for someone who hasn’t swam in a while, particularly if you’re new the centre and you’re on your own, but the entire layout of the changing rooms and pool area is easy to navigate, and a woman who told us that she was there for the first time announced how lovely she thought the place was.
We swam a few lengths, feeling relaxed knowing that we weren’t confined to a lane, and spotted the diverse range of visitors Simon had been telling us about. It’s easy to forget that the centre is part of a university, with most pool users being of an older age. We were also joined by two women who were having a catch up as they took a gentle swim, and later a family with two younger children climbed into the pool.
The swimming timetable varies, with general sessions starting as early as 7am and ending at 9pm on certain days. The schedule is updated regularly and is available on their website.
After our swim we stopped at the on-site café for a coffee. It’s a great place to wind down after a session in the centre, and hot food and light snacks are available if you’ve worked up an appetite!
The membership plans at Marjon Sports Centre are competitive and flexible, with various options to choose from, although you can also pay-as-you-go to use the gym and pool if you’d like to give it a try before becoming a member.
Their most popular membership option is just £31 per month or £310 for the year, and covers unlimited use of the pool and the fitness suite with induction and a personal programme included.
There is the option to add group exercise classes to your membership for an additional £10 per month / £100 per year.
The Sports Centre currently has a fantastic offer available for 6 weeks’ membership for £45. There is no joining fee, no contract, no commitment and nothing to cancel. It allows new members to try out the facilities for an extended time, without being tied into a year-long contract.
These memberships include a parking permit which allows members to park right outside the building (pay-as-you-go users can have their car park fee refunded against their admission), and it’s easy to find – from the Derriford Roundabout take the exit towards the hospital, then take the first right at the traffic lights. Continue down this road to the mini roundabout and the large Marjon Sports Centre building and car park is immediately on the right.
Call: 01752 636876
Find them: Derriford Road, Plymouth, PL6 8BH