OCL is back as fitness fanatics return after four long months!

Reporter: Simon Smedley
Date published: 25 July 2020

Revolution Breakfast co-hosts Elliot and Di were on hand to welcome fitness fanatics of all ages back to the Oldham Leisure Centre earlier today (Saturday).

After weeks of meticulous preparation Oldham Community Leisure (OCL) staff finally swung open their doors again across the Borough thanks to the continuing easing of Government lockdown measures.

Gyms and pools across the country finally welcomed back customers following their enforced exile, and at the Oldham Leisure Centre it was smiles and relief all round.

Simon Blair, Oldham Active's Head of Business Development (above), told the Chronicle: "It feels great to be back.

"We've been waiting a long time for this day. We've been so eager to get open and get back to something like normality.

"It was nice and busy - though not to busy, obviously - and it's just great to see people back in the building.

Revolution Breakfast duo Di and Elliot welcomed customers at the Oldham Leisure Centre on re-opening day

"There's been a huge amount of work gone on in the background in the run-up to re-opening.

"Things have changed, and they will continue to, but we've been back to the drawing board and now we're at a point where we've got a safe delivery for everyone." 

Jo Smallwood, the Oldham Leisure Centre's General Manager (above), was relieved to welcome back so many happy customers on the opening morning.

"It was very nerve-wracking earlier on," she said.

"I was a bit apprehensive because a lot of work and effort have gone into the preparations and making sure the building was safe and sanitised for everyone.

"There's smiles on faces everywhere, though, it's been terrific to see customers old and new and everyone seems ready to embrace the changes we've put in place."

Long-time gym-goer and OCL Active member Andy (above) had booked in for a (now reduced numbers) spinning class. 

He was so glad to be back in the gym, telling us: "I started off with the best intentions by buying a spin bike for at home once lockdown was announced, but there's nothing like being here in the gym.

"I'd lost that bit of motivation being at home, but hey-ho we're back, and let's hope it keeps going.

"Everyone in the class today felt the same - just really keen to get back at it here.

"It's not just about the gym, it's your mental health, your physical health and the social life that's been missed so much."

Charis Hughes from Royton (above) is a team member at the Oldham Leisure Centre and has been delighted to be back at work after being furloughed for a spell.

However, that time was far from wasted as she home-schooled her son.

She said: "It was a bit weird during the week because we didn't really know what to expect.

"We've all had our site training of course, but it is different when the public come back in.

"Everybody's been really positive, though, and very sensible, and that's all we want.

"We want people to come to the centre and have fun, but be sensible with it, and that'll be great."

As well as the Oldham Leisure Centre, Saddleworth Leisure Centre, Royton Leisure Centre, Chadderton Wellbeing Centre, the Radclyffe Athletics Centre and Failsworth Sports Centre also reopened on Saturday, now that the government’s coronavirus restrictions have been eased.

OCL’s leisure centres are now open to both members and the wider community for pre-booked activities including the gym, group exercise classes, swimming, courts, bowls, table tennis and learn-to-swim lessons.

Trampolining classes will also restart from August 3. 

In order for OCL to manage customer numbers and ensure that everyone has the chance to book a session, it is initially restricting customers to one booking per day. 

Here's a warm OCL welcome from Gemma Croft and Joe Rees

The team is working closely with UK’s sports governing bodies to ensure it complies with the government’s current COVID-19 secure guidelines and has introduced a comprehensive cleaning regime and social distancing measures. Customer numbers will be reduced to help give everyone the space they require. 

Online services will continue for people who are shielding or who aren't quite ready to head out to the leisure centres yet. 

All activities require advanced booking via the OCL website here, the Oldham Active app or by calling 0161 207 7000.

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