One spa. One steam room. Two saunas. Four swimming pools. Two gymnasiums, a cycle room, and the largest Group Fitness room I have ever LesMills BodyStep-ped into.
Ascot Vale Leisure Centre is best approached by car, as it's situated on the busy corner of Langs and Epsom Roads, which can be difficult for the faint-hearted pedestrian to navigate. However if the irony of driving to an exercise centre isn't lost on you, follow the lights, step over the low fence and cut through the car park to the impressive main entrance.
If you're new to organised fitness, Ascot Vale Leisure Centre is a great way to start. With some of the most impressive public gym facilities in Melbourne it offers both members' and non-members' change rooms with swipe-card access, free lockers, childcare facilities, a running group, a health studio and a large cafe. Their reasonably comprehensive Group Fitness timetable follows the Les Mills program and also includes Seniors' and Teen Gym classes, kettlebell, Tai Chi, Zumba and yoga.
A casual visit to the gym will set you back up to $18 (about $15 concession) but once you're over the hurdle of the sign-up fee, membership is reasonably priced at about $32/fortnight, direct debit. A casual swim pass is reasonably priced - under five dollars for both adult and concession.
The only downside to the Centre is that, being large, it is quite impersonal. Although the staff are friendly this may not be the gym for you if you're after a first-name-basis, community feel.
In the pool, you can take lessons from beginner through to advanced, join in the aqua aerobics or try hydrotherapy. Also, Ascot Vale Leisure Centre offers women-only swimming every second Sunday from 8pm.
Generally, the Centre is busiest at early evening, when the after-work crowd rush in, so if you don't mind an early morning you'll have more room to move before business hours – they open at 5am on weekdays, and offer discounted membership for off-peak. Otherwise, take your chances; Ascot Vale Leisure Centre closes at 11pm Mon-Wed, 10pm Thursday and Friday, and on weekends is open 6am – 8pm Saturday, and 8am – 8pm Sunday.
Oh, and an inside tip – if you sign up for the 5-day Trial Pass, you can sometimes trade it in – unused – for 50% off the membership sign-up fee. Just check with the staff to make sure the offer is still valid!
You can chase up Ascot Vale Leisure Centre online, or call 03 9375 3411.