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4 March 2009

This time of year can bring a bit of a dilemma to us women. The hibernation season is not quite over and evenings spent with a takeaway and a bottle of wine are still so nice... but summer is coming - which means in the blink of an eye we will be forced to shed our fleeces and expose our flesh.

It is time to face the options. Dieting? Images of Little Britain's Fat Fighters flash by. Jogging in the park? It's still so cold and damp. Join a gym? And put up with pumping music, sweaty bodies pumping iron and a general overload of testosterone and posing? I can almost feel the need for a bumper bar of milk chocolate coming on...
Fellow sufferers, do not despair.  There is a place in East Dulwich which can take us in hand.

esph is a gym. But it is a gym largely populated by women. Women like us. At esph, 60% of members are female. Not all of them are young, toned and lycra clad either: the average gym-goer in this corner of south-east London is a 41-year-old woman. 

There is no MTV, no full length mirror opposite the treadmill to highlight your wobbly bits, no muscle-man bicep competition. Instead  you get qualified (and sympathetic) sports physios ready to give you a personalised programme which takes into account what childbirth did to your stomach muscles.
At this gym, regular personal training is built into the price, as are some 58 exercise classes a week.

What's more these are small classes. No peering over 30 heads to try and fathom how to do the sun salutation here. If you book in for a thirty minute box fit session you are sharing your lack of finesse with only five other people - who fast become familiar.

If it sounds cosy, that's because it is. esph is a family affair. Run by Elizabeth Sharp and her sons Max and Alexei, this is a unique venture. A place that listens to people like you and me.
"I'm unfit and overweight!"
esph offers a weight management programme:  no more than eight people, exercising together three times a week; a proper dietician who would never try to sell you an esph-branded cereal bar.
"I'm so busy. I'll never find the time..."

 The gym opens at 6.30am and closes at 10pm. There are 30 minute 'express' exercise classes as well as the standard hour long ones. It's even open all over Easter.
"I have kids, I can't get away..."
 There's an on-site crèche which takes babies from 12 weeks old and even post-natal classes which the baby can come to.
"I have to go to a fancy restaurant after my circuit training!"

There are fluffy towels, Korres bathroom products, a couple of decent hair driers and even a socket for my straighteners...

Ladies, I am running out of excuses here...
Sally Swingewood

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