Suit up like Santa this Christmas!


It’s that time of year again- and Santa’s all around the world are getting ready for another busy Christmas!

This is also the case in Andover and Romsey, where hundreds of Santa’s will take to the town centres and run together again, helping them prepare for the Christmas rush. The two fun runs are taking place on Sunday 11th December, and people of all ages and abilities are expected to get involved as usual. In previous years, there have even been dogs and miniature horses in attendance!


Andover and Romsey aren’t the only places people have been getting their Santa suits on and having a run- and people all around the world will also be marking the start of Christmas in a similar way.

Liverpool hosts one of the world’s largest ‘fun runs’, with 8,500 Santa’s having taken to the streets in 2014 to break the world record at the time.


The following year Madrid hosted an even bigger gathering, with an unbelievable 10,000 Santa’s descending upon the city centre!


USA also loves getting in the festive spirit- and there are always fun runs across the states. Texas hosts a notably large one, as you can see here! They are expecting another 4,000 this year.


Don’t worry if you can’t get to one of those though- we’ve got you covered!

The event in Andover starts and finishes at Andover Leisure Centre, and kicks off at 10am. Registration is from 8am and there’s a fun warm up at 9.45am. Times in Romsey are slightly different, with registration at 8am and the warm up at 8.45am- with the race starting at 9am.

Tickets, which cost £6 for an adult and £4 for a child, can be bought online on the Valley Leisure website at

Everyone who pre-books is guaranteed a Santa suit. They can be collected from the Andover Leisure Centre or Romsey Rapids Sports Complex from now on.


A simple way to help fight diabetes!

With world Diabetes Day earlier this week on the 14th November, we thought we would look into some easy ways to help reduce your risk of being affected by the condition.

Whilst it is a myth that sugar consumption itself directly fuels Diabetes, there are still strong intrinsic links between the two- with sugar heavily impacting obesity statistics, which in turn impacts Diabetes prevalence.

So, one simple way to help fight this problem is by swapping out sugar in everyday meals- often in places you wouldn’t even notice! Here are some that will barely affect your day to day life:

1. An obvious and easy way to start is by replacing your fizzy drink needs with diet or sugar free options. A regular 330ml can of coke tends to have 10.6g of sugar in it- that’s 39% of your daily recommended amount! Either diet or sugar free option reduces that down all the way to zero.


2. Fancy something sweet to keep you going? Instead of a Chocolate bar with 20g of sugar in it, how about a slice of toast with some Nutella for half the sugar intake!


3. In need of a hearty soup to keep you warm over the winter months? Replace some standard Heinz cream of tomato soup with a Low Calorie Mushroom soup from Campbell’s- which has only a fifth of the sugar content (2g).


4. Breakfast Time! But instead of a sugary bowl of cereal, how about a healthy replacement such as Porridge or whole grain produce which can help to slowly release energy throughout the day- with little to no sugar involved in the process!


5. Replace your added sugars in your morning tea & coffee’s with sugar replacements such as Splenda, Agave Nectar, Truvia or even Honey. These, depending on how much sugar you take with your brew, will help to reduce your daily intakes greatly- and these things build up quickly! Just imagine how many Tea’s or Coffee’s you have each month!


Of course, replacing sugar where possible is just one way of helping to reduce your risk of obesity or Diabetes- with regular  exercise also being an essential part of this process.

Not sure where to start?

At Valley Leisure we will help you every step of the way once you become a member– with free dietary plans being presented alongside the regular gym routine plans on offer!



Why Bodyweight Training Rules!

At Valley Leisure, we are always looking to find the latest trends in health and fitness which can help to maximise your workout. Increasingly in the industry, we have seen a swing towards gym users performing bodyweight exercises and functional training within our centres. This intrigued us to investigate further as to why this may be the case, and whether incorporating more of these exercises into a traditional Free Weights and machine based routine would provide added benefits.


1. Cardio: Bodyweight training helps to combine a mixture of both weight based exercise and an element of cardiovascular exercise, without the participant necessarily noticing it as much as a long treadmill or rowing session. Exercises such as Burpees, Push Ups and Lunges are ideal for this reason.

2. Bone & Joint Strengthening: If you are finding yourself suffering from sore bones or joints as a result of the exercises you perform- or in life in general, bodyweight exercises offer a less strenuous alternative, as well as helping to strengthen these areas and prevent future issues from arising.

3. Balance: Incorporating a few of these exercises into a regular routine can also help to improve your balance, especially if you are more used to a free weight based routine which only has minimal links to strengthening overall balance.

4. Whole Body Strength: The benefits of bodyweight exercises on your entire body are also highly increased. These exercises tend towards activating many supporting muscles throughout the entire body, helping to increase whole body strength- rather than isolating benefits to particular muscle groups. These benefits are especially prominent to a person’s core, as it is used constantly in order to stabilise the body in these exercises.


And so many more…

Bodyweight exercises have also been heavily linked to a number of further health benefits, including healthy hearts, reduced risk of diabetes and fighting depression.

So, what bodyweight exercises could you start using in your workout?

  • Push Ups (and variations of)
  • Sit Ups
  • Burpees
  • Pull Ups
  • Planks
  • Lunges
  • Wall Sits
  • Tricep Dips
  • Inverted Rows
  • Jump Squats
  • Box Jumps
  • Crunches
  • Muscle Ups (Advanced Users)
  • Hand Stand Push Ups (Advanced Users)

With all of this in mind, will you be considering incorporating some more of these simple bodyweight exercises into your workout?


Valley Leisure Goes Pink!

Andover Leisure Centre’s Pink Day-14th October 2016

On Friday 14th October Andover Leisure centre decided to ditch the more formal work attire for a good cause. Instead, employees donned any pink clothing they could get their hands on, and decorated the centre in a similar colour scheme- all in aid of Breast Cancer Care.

‘The Big Pink’, as the day came to be known, was a light hearted event targeting awareness of Breast Cancer, and was embraced by the Leisure Centre team wholeheartedly. Leisure Centre visitors were greeted by a shocking pink reception, which can been seen below.


The team, as you can see, wore a wide array of outrageous pink attire- with themed clothing varying from sunglasses to wigs! The promotion earned Breast Cancer Care just over £100.

Romsey Wear it Pink Day- 21st October 2016

Romsey Sports Complex also went Pink recently, for a slightly different cause. The team similarly welcomed all things bright and pink on the 21st October, a week after Andover had done so, this time for Breast Cancer Now.


The team matched Andover’s enthusiasm and even found themselves a tutu and a onesie to help support the cause all day. Romsey managed to raise an impressive grand total of £370!

Mark Raithby, who helped oversee many aspects of the events was quoted as saying “We are proud to have raised so much money for such a worthwhile cause, it was great to see everyone embrace Pink Day, and we look forward to seeing it again next year!”.


The Active Community Coffee Morning

On October 8th, Andover Leisure Centre were honoured to play host to a hugely successful charity Coffee Morning, raising over £130 for MacMillan Cancer Support.

The event kicked off with a fantastic educational presentation from our very own Liz Murray, teaching the Elderly the benefits of maintaining an active lifestyle, and that even later in life, it is not too late to feel the benefits of becoming more active.

The guests enjoyed coffee and cake whilst the presentation was made, and afterwards were invited to take a Tour of the venue by Andover Leisure Centre Staff. After seeing the facilities, many guests were inspired into taking up the offer of a 7 day free pass at the centre, giving them the opportunity to act on the message of living a healthy and active lifestyle, provided in the presentation. In total, 70 people attended, and an impressive 30 signed on for a free pass follow up.

Also on site was Sammy Meredith, who was able to provide 50 interested guests a free Later Life health ‘MOT’, recommended and provided by the BHF National Centre for Physical Activity. This helped raise awareness of the abilities and needs of the guests on site, and was received well as a beneficial educational tool. The Later Life MOT is a new person centred tool that uses a number of different functional fitness tests to determine older persons fitness levels compared to their peers.

All of this was provided as part of the National Campaign ‘Start Active, Stay Active!’, a scheme aimed at increasing the wellbeing of elderly or at risk individuals through the provision of education on the benefits of an active lifestyle. One key component of this is the Achieve 150 initiative, which teaches that 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week can help achieve the recommended activity rates.

By achieving this target, people can expect to experience benefits in various ways, such as Health improvements, high quality of sleep, maintenance of weight, stress management and an improved quality of life!

Our favourite example of these benefits brought through by the scheme came from Jane Trim, who was been attending Zumba Gold at the Centre. Since joining in January, she has been able to withdraw her need for medication for her diabetes. We are delighted for Jane and we are greatly looking forward to seeing more stories like this at Andover Leisure Centre in the near future.

Watch out for many more Coffee Morning’s like this soon!

Father walking children to school

Burn Calories, Not Fuel!

October 2016 is National ‘Walk to School’ Month for over 40 Countries across the Globe, and there is plenty of reason for you to get involved in the scheme!

The scheme, started 85 years ago by Living Streets, aims to help maintain a healthy and active lifestyle for both children and parents in the modern world- where perhaps the easiest option would be to drive everywhere instead.

We love this initiative, and believe the idea of families and even whole communities leaving the cars at home and walking to school where possible is valuable to the education of children on healthy living- as well as the obvious health benefits that come with it.

The average walking distance to school now is around 1.6 miles for Primary school children, which is easily walkable in around 25 minutes at a reasonable pace. Yes, this does take slightly longer than a car would, but on a school run traffic usually does tend to be an issue, and it seems a waste of fuel- doesn’t it?


So let’s do some calculations quickly, for an average journey to school, it costs around £0.18p for each way- so that’s £0.36p per journey. Do that twice daily and that £0.72p. 5 times a week, that’s £3.60p. Starting to sound like a lot?

Well, over a year of school trips, on average, around £136.80p is spent on petrol for simply a 1.6 mile trip to school and back. That’s a lot of money for something that is easily avoidable. For secondary school it’s even worse! The average trip is 3.4 miles here, so that equates to over £270 worth of petrol money per year!


The benefit to a child’s health when walking to school is huge too! It is recommended that children get around 1 hour of physical activity per day, in order to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. Walking just 1 mile per day to school can account for 2/3’s of this! This is especially crucial when 23% of children don’t have any time for physical activity at the moment. By just walking to school, it can combat this problem directly with very little effect on the structure of the day.


Picture Credits to:



Get Your Rigs out!

Here at Andover Leisure Centre, we love a bit of new equipment to get our hands on. It’s always exciting having the opportunity to explore new exercises and their potential health benefits- as well the novelty of using modern or even futuristic technology.

The way we exercise and stay fit is ever changing, too. Which is why it’s essential to keep one step ahead of the game, identifying trends and new workout routines, and ensuring our instructors are at hand to provide expert advice on how best to utilise them.

Today, we take a look into our recently installed piece of equipment at the Leisure Centre, The Functional Training Area- or more commonly referred to as ‘The Rig’.

The Rig provides enthusiastic gym goers with the opportunity to try out something a bit different, and add new and adventurous exercises to their routine. The rig targets a specific new style of fitness which is ever growing in popularity, revolving around functional strength, with links to body weight exercises in particular.

Great for Beginners-

One important thing to remember is that it can be used by people with a wide range of different needs and abilities, which our Fitness Co-ordinator Al Darmanin was more than happy to demonstrate, alongside some of our lovely members. The unit can be used for more common and less strenuous exercises, which can be performed by members of all abilities. Such examples include Pull ups (which can be assisted through use of resistance bands), Triceps dips, Rows, Squats and Sit-ups- some of which have been demonstrated below.


Exploring Potential-

Once mastered, these exercises can be explored further, and improvised in order to create adventurous new movements, pushing the body to new limits. Al has spent many years becoming proficient in such activities, and was eager to show off just how much potential The Rig holds for those willing to practice their craft in the gym in the longer term.


Each of these exercises utilises the body weight of the individual, and directly builds strength in proportion to this weight. Many athletes and gym users have used their ability in comparison to body weight to use as a key measure in ensuring that they are hitting their desired goals, and maintaining functional fitness to use in everyday life.

Why don’t you come and explore it too, with a 7 Day Pass?