Derry & Strabane leisure centres to welcome back indoor competitive sport and birthday parties
Staff at some Derry & Strabane council leisure centres this week welcome people back to enjoy group exercise classes and household swimming, while birthday parties in soft play areas and competitive indoor sport will resume in the coming days and weeks.
Foyle Arena, Templemore Sports Complex, Riversdale Leisure Centre, Melvin Sports Complex and Derg Valley Leisure Centre are all now open for activities, although work is continuing to fix the heating system at the Templemore swimming baths.
Welcoming the latest easing of restrictions and the reopening, Mayor Brian Tierney, said it was a positive start to the summer.
“This is a very positive move to be warmly welcomed today as we take a further step in the journey towards normal life. A lot of people have been waiting for the day when they can join a group class and once again enjoy the social side of keeping fit. And having the option of indoor training when the weather is so changeable is obviously a bonus.
“I know my own children are very excited about getting back to family swimming, and we’re looking forward to seeing the exiting programme of summer camp activities which is now being finalised. I’m also looking forward myself to being able to watch a football match very soon with the return of spectators to outdoor games.
“While this is a great move forwards, I do want to sound a note of caution and ask that everyone please works with leisure staff to ensure this return is done safely and in full compliance with the health guidelines. We want to keep up the positive momentum and ensure we can continue to enjoy these facilities safely for the foreseeable future.”
Hygiene measures and social distancing will continue to be in place, while all activities must be pre-booked. People are asked to come to centres ‘swim’ or ‘gym–ready’ with poolside changing available pre-swim and quick zone changing for swimmers at the end of sessions.
There has also been a return to indoor club training in squads this week, which will be followed by a return to indoor competitive sport from Monday coming, May 31.
Council is currently working with all sports clubs and organisations and the governing bodies to facilitate this and to ensure all the necessary health and safety measures and risk assessments are in place to ensure the safety of all users.
Council’s Director of Health and Community, Karen McFarland, said she was delighted to see progress continue. “We have been eagerly awaiting the news that we can embark on the next phase in our return to leisure and I know the staff are delighted to see more people returning this week. We’ve been making preparations to ensure that all our visitors feel safe and welcome and it’s great to see new members coming on board since we announced details of our wider programme.
“It will take time and we realise that our members’ needs have changed, which is why we are offering a more extensive and more flexible, blended programme of activities. We are also now putting in place the measures to allow for the safe return of birthday parties and reopening of soft play areas at our centres in the next few weeks, which I’m sure lots of children are really looking forward to.
“I must ask that people work with our staff and our coaches, follow the instructions and be mindful of the safety of others when they are using our facilities,” she stressed. “The Foyle Arena and Templemore Sports Complex continue to be used by the Health Trust for the roll out of the Vaccination Programme and we are working closely with them to ensure this is managed as safely smoothly as possible.
“We appreciate everyone’s patience and cooperation as we work to accommodate the variety of new demands on our staff and services. We are excited to be taking these steps forwards today, and we look forward to seeing everyone back doing what they love.”
An exciting programme of outdoor and online exercise is running in parallel with the reopening of leisure centres, for those who prefer to train in an outside space or at home. Classes are open to both members and on a ‘pay as you go’ basis.
The new programme includes a supervised Cycling Programme, junior athletics club (suitable for kids aged 5-12yrs) Female Fit sessions, and a Walk, Jog, Run scheme to get people of all ages and abilities back into fitness. www.derrystrabaneleisure.comCouncil is also working with its partners, including Disability Sport NI, to finalise the details of the safe return of the inclusive Disability programme. The Macmillan Move More programme and GP Referral Programmes, which both support people affected by Cancer and various lifelong conditions by improving their fitness and mobility, have continued remotely throughout lockdown but it’s hoped some outdoor activities will resume for these groups and individuals in the coming weeks.
While work continues to repair the heating system at the pool at Templemore Sports Complex, the centre remains open for gym members to resume their individual activities, including bookable gym sessions, 1 to 1 motivational training and a new programme of Indoor Group Fitness Classes.
Council will also be launching a new online App which will soon be available to members for the quick and easy booking of activities, while also offering a platform to access a wide range of new online classes, including live classes.
All classes and activities can be booked online at www.derrystrabane.com/leisureHousehold swimming sessions must be booked by calling the leisure centre reception. Members can book 7 days in advance and casual users can book one day in advance.
Leisure reception teams are available for all queries and bookings. Queries can also be emailed through to [email protected]