Topnotch vs. Cotton Fitness First

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Wednesday 22 September 2010 10.12pm
Hello fellow SE1ers, firstly a quick thank you to everyone who contributes to this forum. I moved to SE1 earlier this summer and have found the site a fantastic resource.

Something I have struggled to find though are some fairly recent - from this year - postings on gyms in the area. I live towards the south end of Bermondsey Street and commute via London Bridge so am looking for somewhere convenient to both. I'd like to take some classes and also love to swim (and so have ruled out Soho Gym at Empire Square - no pool). Cotton Fitness First and Topnotch are offering me membership for virtually the same price and I am torn between them; bigger pool at Cotton but more crowded and less personal than Topnotch (from what I can tell). I plan on looking at 37 Degrees as well but get the impression it will be significantly more ús.

Before I make a 6+ month commitment to one place I'd really appreciate any feedback you may have. Thanks in advance!
Wednesday 22 September 2010 10.23pm
Having used both, I would go with cottons, they have the pool and you will be able to use other fitness first gyms around the country!

Also on the weekend, the branch over the bridge (Thomas Moore Sq) is pretty much quiet(er)... you can do your warm up with a jog over the bridge, ready for a workout & swim when you reach!

(I have not been in top notch for over 3 years, unsure what its like inside now!)
Thursday 23 September 2010 5.21am
i was a member of topnotch (albeit a couple of years back)... but to say cleanliness was not a priority would be an understatement
Thursday 23 September 2010 10.27am
hmeah wrote:
Also on the weekend, the branch over the bridge (Thomas Moore Sq) is pretty much quiet(er)... you can do your warm up with a jog over the bridge, ready for a workout & swim when you reach!

Yes, jog to St Katherine's Docks to the Fitness First at Thomas More Square, have a swim, then do your Saturday food shop at Waitrose!!

Useful to know because I go to the Fitness First at America's Square, close to Tower Hill tube and that is closed at weekends, so I end up at Cottons at weekends.

As mentioned before, being able to access different gym locations with Fitness First is a positive. I also find there is more cardio equipment at Cottons than at TopNotch. However, I cannot comment on the swimming pools, I am afraid.
Thursday 23 September 2010 10.29am
Cam123, if you like swimming, you should also try VirginActive Tower Hill which is just off the Minories because that gym has a really nice pool.
Thursday 23 September 2010 12.18pm
I was a member at Top Notch about 3 years ago so don't know if my experiences still hold but I found the changing rooms and showers to be dirty and the music policy absolutely dreadful, I really wonder who considered Cotton Eye Joe and Phil Collins to be good gym tunes! The staff were relatively friendly however.

If you're keen on swimming, the pool is only 15 metres which isn't long enough for training, by the time you've kicked off you're halfway down the pool. For a decent swim the 33 metre pool at the Seven Islands Leisure Centre in Rotherhithe is by far the best option around here imo and not as bad as it looks from the outside!

As a more leftfield option however, Rooney's Boxing gym just off Bermondsey Street is great, the Monday and Wednesday evening circuit sessions are an amazing way to get fit and very friendly, you can also pay by the month if you don't want to commit for a year.

No gym around SE1 seems to gets consistently good reviews on these forums so I guess you pays your money and takes your choice.
Thursday 23 September 2010 3.18pm
smoggy wrote:
No gym around SE1 seems to gets consistently good reviews on these forums so I guess you pays your money and takes your choice.

To be fair, I've only ever seen positive things about Soho Gyms and County Hall here. I've just left one for the other, but only because of the pool. That said I did have to consider it carefully as the price difference is quite considerable!
Sunday 26 September 2010 11.08am
Thanks very much for all the replies. I had wondered about the music at TopNotch and have also seen remarks on this forum about cleanliness though most are a few years old - can any current members comment?

County Hall looks fantastic but probably too far away if I want to keep my chances high of actually going regularly! But I will definitely look at VirginActive - thanks for the tip - and possibly Rooney's though the absence of a pool is not ideal.

Does anyone have feedback on 37 Degrees or Circle Spa?
Sunday 26 September 2010 11.22am
37 Degrees has it's own dedicated multi-page thread extravaganza on this site. Grab some beers and invest several hours reading from start to finish - marvellous.
Wednesday 29 September 2010 8.41pm
Yikes, this just gets more and more confusing! I visited 37 Degrees this evening and was impressed by how quiet it was, the size of the pool, the quality of the machines,...and started wondering whether I could somehow figure out a way to afford almost 3x the cost of Top Notch / Fitness First. And then I looked at the thread Boss St Bloke pointed me to (thank you!) and am completely thrown. I guess we're lucky to have so much choice in the area but wow, it's making picking one of the gyms really difficult.
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