22 February 2017

New figures have revealed massive increases in participation rates at Sheffield’s new state-of-the-art leisure centres.

Graves Health and Sports Centre and Thorncliffe Leisure Centre both opened last year, operated by Places for People Leisure (P4P) in partnership with Sheffield City Council.

P4P has also carried out a near-£1m transformation of Wisewood Sports Centre, in Laird Road, Wadsley, which was officially reopened by boxer Kell Brook in November.

Now, figures from the leisure operator show that visits to Graves have more than doubled in less than a year, from 21,026 visits for the month of April 2016 to 43,054 for the month of January 2017.

People taking part in tennis has increased from 213 to 400 over the same time period, while those taking part in gymnastics and trampolining has risen from 290 to 855. Swimming lessons are also up by 55 per cent, from 550 to 852 people.

At Thorncliffe – a brand-new centre – the total number of swimmers is up by 90 per cent compared to parallel attendance figures from the former Chapeltown baths. There has also been a marked increase in junior swimming, due to more children going to swimming lessons and also enjoying fun swim sessions.

And at Wisewood, gym membership has soared by a massive 650 per cent between April 2016 and January 2017, meaning that the centre has been able to recruit four new members of staff.

Councillor Mary Lea, cabinet member for culture, leisure and parks at Sheffield City Council, said: “Having top-quality leisure facilities in the heart of communities across the city makes it easier for everyone to keep fit and well, regardless of age or sporting ability.

“I am delighted that we managed to press ahead with creating the first new leisure facilities in 20 years here in Sheffield, particularly during a time of unprecedented budget cuts. It is fantastic that people across the city are embracing the health and fitness opportunities on their doorsteps.

“One of the key factors with these facilities is that there are affordable membership options available for everyone, including an exercise referral scheme from GPs for adults who are inactive or have a longstanding medical condition.

“These leisure centres, with state-of-the-art equipment and a ground-breaking partnership with the National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine, also build upon Sheffield’s fine sporting legacy and create the right training grounds for the next generation of world-class sportspeople.”

The leisure centre at Graves includes a six-lane 25m swimming pool, a separate learner pool, a major new fitness suite and studios, two additional tennis courts and Sheffield’s first-ever dedicated gymnastics and trampolining centre.

At Thorncliffe, in High Green, members can use a six-lane 25m swimming pool and learner pool, two workout studios, and a gym.

The old gym floor at Wisewood, meanwhile, was expanded to four times its original size and kitted out with brand-new equipment, while the changing rooms, reception area and fitness studio also underwent a facelift.

All centres have a wide range of fitness classes available, ranging from gentler sessions such as aqua fit and yoga through to belly dancing, spinning and Body Pump.

The centres at Graves and Thorncliffe are also on the same site as FA football hubs as part of the “Parklife” grassroots football scheme, and have all-weather pitches as well as education rooms and changing facilities.

Richard Cowley, Area Manager at Places for People Leisure, said: “We are extremely pleased to be working in partnership with Sheffield City Council to ensure that we meet the needs of the local community and encourage more people to participate in physical activity.

“Our goal at Places for People Leisure is to create active places and healthy people and I am confident that the impressive new centres will provide more opportunities for the local community to get more active.”