How to get ripped in Croydon (without getting ripped off)

By - Friday 18th September, 2015

Can you get the body beautiful on a budget? asks Marcia Henry-Morgan

I’ve lived in Croydon over a year now and have thought to myself on more than one occasion that I should really keep fit and work out, as a work-life balance sort of thing. I’m going to be honest, though: I’m not a gym enthusiast.

I find them a little bit boring: it’s that notion of running but not actually going anywhere… plus seeing a lot of people in a physical state that I wish I were in myself is intimidating.But wanting to be healthy outweighs my hang-ups.Also, it shouldn’t take a new year for me to make a resolution. So, this is my mission: to seek out what’s out there in the way of gym offerings and (of course, being me) to keep it as cheap as possible. Can you get the body beautiful on a budget?

My first thought was ‘try before you buy’. Financially, a gym seems a bit of a commitment. What I could spend at the gym in a year is a cost of a holiday, so it needs to be worth it. More importantly, I need to want to go back. I’ve fallen victim to good gym intentions before, then my trainers collect dust, my waist collects inches and the only pounds lost are from my bank account. So I decided to do a few ‘taster’ sessions, to see what Croydon’s gyms have to offer.

First stop: Easygym, London Road, West Croydon: the closest to my home and also the budget gym.

I popped into the gym and was given a tour by Rods, one of the Easygym staff who was really polite, knew his stuff and gave me a breakdown of the classes. I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the gym and the amount of equipment. Considering this is the budget gym, it really didn’t feel like it. At the end of my tour I purchased a day pass for £6.99 for the next day. On my return Chris, another member of the team, was super- helpful. He helped me use the equipment and gave me info on the classes: core, tone, fit, high intensity and something called the Insanity Workout. I opted to take the fit class while I was there. I worked up a sweat during my session. I felt worked out and then some.

At £19.99 a month with a £25 joining fee, you can’t go far wrong. It’s worth noting that they don’t offer concessions, but this is the Easy brand so there are optional add-ons, such as a £1.99 a month media package which allows you browse online and watch TV when you work out. The opening hours are good: 6:00am to 11:00pm Monday-Saturday and 8:00am-8:00pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Whether you’re a die-hard or just looking for a quick work-out before work, this is a gym to consider.

Second stop: Thornton Heath Leisure Centre, in the High Street: the mid-range leisure centre.

This council-run leisure centre has two pools and is family-friendly, so if you have children or younger siblings this might be more up your street. As a leisure centre, it has a lot going on.

There are activities and sports related courses for children. My trial visit was free, so again worth a visit if you’re thinking about working out, and they have a gym area and more classes than you can shake a stick at, some included in membership and some not. Again, I had a lovely work-out and they have saunas for that after work-out pampering. So I’d say there’s something here for everyone.

Membership is more comprehensive than Easygym, with individual, group, family and corporate memberships as well as concessions and pay as you go rates and also peak and off peak periods. Full individual rate is £46 a month (joining fee £35), concessionary rate is £37 (peak) and £31 (off-peak), good in that it gives access to all council leisure centres in Croydon, but not a sufficient difference in rate to really make it affordable, in my opinion.

Third stop: LA Fitness, Brighton Road, Purley: the premium end of the market. 

The day pass is free, which is great if you want to try before you buy. This was also the furthest from my home, but not impossible – a seventeen minute bus ride. When I got there I was greeted by the uber-friendly Luke, and we talked about what I wanted to get from the gym.

LA Fitness has an extensive class timetable and pool and can offer Water Aerobics, Zumba, Spin and then some, plus a sauna and steam room. I slept like a baby that night.

But for how much? Actually, they have some fantastic offers: six months’ membership of one site only is £33 a month. As with Easygym there are optional add ons, starter packages and premium start packages (includes personal training sessions and online weight loss guru). The opening hours aren’t as long as Easygym: Monday to Thursday 6:30am to 10:00pm, Friday 6:30am to 8:00pm and weekends 9:00am to 5:00pm, but it’s by no means poor. LA Fitness doesn’t offer concessions. Still, a premium gym with a not-so-premium price tag, so if you’re low on funds it’s worth the month-by-month rolling membership.

Croydon’s public transport makes fitness super-accessible

Once again I have to mention that public transport in Croydon is seriously good. Everywhere I went was in walking distance of a train station and on good bus routes, which makes an after work work-out somewhat more palatable. And of course, there are loads more gyms in Croydon, making fitness super-accessible.

I would have loved to visit more. I’m still not a gym buff but I can actually see myself using my membership. I enjoyed my workouts and liked the people I met.

But of course, let’s not forget ‘nature’s gyms’ – Croydon’s fantastic parks. They’re free!

Marcia Henry-Morgan

Marcia Henry-Morgan

I am a marketeer by profession, originally from the East Midlands and moved just over a year ago to Croydon for work. I love food, whether it’s eating out or cooking at home. London has a lot to offer in the way of work and play but I am keen to discover what is available to me locally as I feel you don’t have to always head off to the city to have fun.

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  • Anne Giles

    I am a member of Virgin Active in Surrey Street. Great place. I just do swimming, sauna and steam, not the gym. As a disabled person, I have a hoist to get in and out of the pool and usually have a lane to myself. I have my own changing room (the one for disabled) with it’s own shower, etc.

    • Marcia Henry-Morgan

      Hi All,

      Thanks for the tips. I might have to check out Solutions if they have lots of classes. Fitness 4 Less sounds really good, am quite shocked (pleasantly) a budget priced gym with a sauna.


  • Ochuko Adekoya

    Fit 4 Less behind East Croydon station is worth a try. It’s super cheap (£19.99), has a good range of classes, a small sauna/steam room & isn’t intimidating at all. Not the fanciest gym by any stretch of the imagination, but does the basics well

  • Reena

    You missed two more options: The Gym in George St (packed!) and Solutions in Lansdowne Rd (lots of classes and swimming pool)

  • Ordon Gordon

    Glad I visited this site. This certainly assisted me in putting things in perspective as I am seeking a budget friendly and adequate gym. I am interested in toning and strength. I started boxing a month ago so the outside variables such as a good gym would be great.