Anger as Aquafit Class Which has Run for 30 Years Cancelled

Older and disabled users protest at New Chiswick Pool decision

Anger as Aquafit Class Which has Run for 30 Years Cancelled
New Chiswick Pool. Picture: Lampton Leisure

There has been widespread anger and dismay at the cancellation of a longstanding fitness class at New Chiswick Pool.

Regular attendees at the women’s two Friday Aquafit sessions say the classes have been running for over 30 years. Despite this it was cancelled at short notice with no consultation from Lampton Leisure, the council’s wholly-owned company which manages the pool.

Over 25 participants have now emailed Lampton Leisure’s Chief Executive, Rowland Omamor, and local ward councillor John Todd has agreed to intercede on the participants’ behalf.

The last class is due to take place on Friday 18 November after which point, general swim sessions will take place instead.

Opponents of the move say that it is discriminatory towards women, particularly those who are older or disabled, many of whom rely on the classes to maintain their fitness. Some of those attending can’t swim and therefore won’t be able to use the pool anymore.

The last class will take place on Friday 18 November 2022. The sessions are likely to be replaced by a general swim session.

Spokesperson for the Aquafit participants, Roula Konzotis, said, “They bring together women from all walks of life and attract not only the able-bodied but people who are disabled or have mobility issues. The sessions are a lifeline for some mature and elderly women, providing not just exercise, but also fulfilling a social function by helping to combat social isolation.

“My fellow participants are keen to do classes where they can move safely because they are supported in the water. Cancelling these sessions and replacing them with a general swim - of which there are already many such sessions during the week - is no substitute for Aquafit, especially as not all Aquafit participants can swim.”

She claims that that, although the decision may have been made in an attempt to save money, it may backfire as some members are already considering cancelling their memberships.

Complex disability sufferer, Evie Sykes, said, “My condition presents like cerebral palsy so these sessions are critical in helping me with my disability, especially my back and my balance. I’m heartbroken they are being stopped and I will be lost without them. Shame on Hounslow Council and Lampton Leisure.”

Another regular user of the class, Melanie Corr, stated, “If it wasn’t for these classes and the new friends I’ve made there, my health wouldn’t have improved to the extent that I’ve lost three stones in weight and my knee replacement operation has now been deferred yet again. I’m very angry; it’s such a short-sighted move.”

Roula Konzotis, added, “At a time when the government at both local and national level is emphasising the importance of maintaining healthier lifestyles and combating obesity, canceling Friday Aquafit seems a retrograde step.

“It’s hard not to conclude that mature and elderly women are an expendable and easy target and we call on Lampton Leisure and Hounslow Council to reinstate these classes for this often overlooked and forgotten group.”

A spokesperson from Lampton Leisure said, “We regularly review our group exercise schedules to ensure the number of classes provided meets the demand at our centres. Following a recent review the total number of Aquafit classes at Chiswick New Pool has been reduced from 6 classes a week to 5. The discontinued class is one of two Friday morning Aquafit classes. Unfortunately the instructor who delivered the remaining Friday morning class has now resigned. We know that this class is important to the community and we are working hard to recruit a new instructor so we can reinstate this class as soon as possible.

“We are committed to making the pool accessible to everyone and we would encourage centre users to try one of the other timetabled Aquafit classes or, if these do not meet their needs, to speak to a member of our team about the accessible sessions we run in the pool which are designed to help pool users who may require additional assistance.

"We hope to be able to share an update on recruitment soon.”

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November 17, 2022->->->