A beacon of physical well being in South Manchester
Sandwiched in between the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University lies the Aquatics Centre. Originally it was purpose-built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games but now it serves its purpose as a large swimming pool, health suite and gym. It is a vast building that is popular with both fitness fanatics and families in the surrounding area.
The exterior from Oxford Road
The Aquatics Centre offers numerous facilities for their visitors. The swimming area boasts an adjustable 50 metre pool that can be split into two smaller sections depending on the requirements on that day. There is also a smaller pool with adjustable depth that is used for both diving and other aquatic classes. Generally they offer a place for lane swimming and another for recreational swimming, there is also a couple of water slides and a jacuzzi with specific opening times. The swimming is the main event for the Aquatics Centre, this probably comes as no surprise what with the name of the place. You can have a look at the pool timetable here.
Despite the aquatic dominance there are other facilities. The gym and fitness suites provided are of a good standard and are well maintained. There are plenty of cardio machines (treadmill's, cross-trainers) and resistance machines. As well as this there are two free weight areas though they can become very crowded during the evenings. If you want to make use of the gym it's advisable to try and get there during the day unless you don't mind waiting for weights or machines. Perhaps this shows a bit of an over-subscription for the Aquatics Centre, particularly when all the students return to their Universities around September. Regardless, it is a good quality gym that would fit the needs of most people.
If you're not fussed with all the fitness and don't fancy getting your hair wet you can always use the Sauna, or if you're peckish they have a café that overlooks the pool. There are also events held at the aquatics centre and you can be a spectator. These include junior swimming competitions as well as senior, on top of this there is often water polo matches being played in the main pool. All of these are good entertainment though be warned, because of the crowds the bigger events can disrupt the gym and usually the weights areas take the hit.
In terms of access, there is a large multi-story car park across the road from the Aquatics Centre, though this is not exclusively for the gym and does get very full around lunch times. Disabled parking is outside the building itself and there is disabled facilities within the building.
Overall the Aquatics Centre provides a great opportunity to keep fit in South Manchester, particularly if you are a student living round that area. The prices for subscriptions are quite high though not extortionate with a range of different contracts available.