Bodysense Gym
The Oxford Hotel, Godstow Road (01865) 489901

Looking to shape up for Summer, a trial visit to Bodysense seemed just the ticket.  Attached to the four star Paramount Oxford Hotel (at Wolvercote Roundabout), Bodysense is a friendly medium-sized gym offering a bumper range of facilities; mixed sauna & steam rooms, splash pool, squash court, aqua/aerobics programme, solarium, Radiance beauty treatments and, of course, gym!

Bodysense has recently been refurbished providing members with a spacious lounge to flick through glossy magazines, enjoy a mug of tea, chat and generally delay the inevitable treadmill.  A variety of cardiovascular exercise machines are available; 3 treadmills, 4 cross trainers, 5 cycling machines, 2 rowing machines plus free weights.  There is rarely a queue for equipment even at peaks times and the amiable members often reward their efforts with a drink in the hotel¹s Medio bar giving the club a sociable air.

The leisure assistants are fun, funky and knowledgeable.  Keen to educate a fitness thicko like yours truly on good exercise technique, one assistant optimistically put together a personal fitness programme tailored to my specific fitness goal (i.e. squeezing into last year¹s bikini, fat chance!).  Squats are recommended to me in addition to cutting out dairy which is tricky as the hotel¹s al fresco terrace and smart lobby serve terrific cappuccinos and paninis, offering an irresistable (albeit caffeinated) boost to my day.

The compact changing rooms offer complimentary shower gel, hairdryers, secure lockers and the use of fluffy white towels.  Peak membership rate is £42 per month plus a £100 one-off joining fee however it is worth checking with staff as deals may be available (e.g. there is student & corporate discount).   Day passes can also be purchased, handy if you have visitors.  Ample free parking is available and members qualify for money off a range of services within the Paramount hotel chain.

The hard-working staff create a jazzy upbeat holiday atmosphere.  Experienced, energetic aerobic instructor Linda teaches a popular weekly aqua class.  Resident ORadiance¹ beautician Naomi exudes so much calm from a lilac therapy room complete with pretty drapes and chilled out music that it¹s hard to leave (even after having braved a leg wax!).  Darphin skin products are used due to their purity (containing mainly plant extracts) along with Jessica nail products.

If you are looking to flaunt the latest lycra thong this is probably not your hang out, last year¹s cycling shorts will do you fine here.  There is a cosmopolitan mix of hotel guests and members making for good steam room banter.  Whilst many of the members have amazing gym success stories to tell, Oxford¹s best kept fitness secret doesn¹t take itself too seriously.  Spotting the chocolate bars for sale at the help desk, I know I have found home!  In fact, with an array of social events, it¹s all so much fun, you may just find yourself negotiating the roundabout home without having ­ er - actually worked out, oops!  Just don¹t tell anyone!

Lita Doolan, June 2006