Keen local swimmer Jeanette Spinks has been attending York Hall Leisure Centre for over 40 years, and we caught up with her one morning before she went for a workout to find out what keeps her coming back to York Hall Leisure Centre.

1. When did you learn to swim?

I learned how to swim at the age of five months by my mother at Ilford Swimming Baths and completed my lifesavers award (Rookie Lifeguard) aged 12 years. I used to go swimming with my granddad at the age of five years. My granddaughter who is now 26, learnt how to swim at a similar age at York Hall Leisure Centre and it was such a pleasure to go and watch her.

2. How long have you been visiting the Better Leisure Centres? Since 1972.

3. What have you been busy with since then?

In the 1970s, I used to be a part of the Meals On Wheels team, delivering lunch to Old Age Pensioners throughout the year, even at Christmas time. It was such a rewarding job, knowing you were making a direct difference to peoples’ lives.

After that, I became an OPA Estate Warden for Tower Hamlets Council in the Globe Town area. Our role was to help over 60s to live independently, provide them and their families with daily support. Tower Hamlets was a really good employer and as a council, they do so much for the local community.

4. What would you say has changed since then?

The building has always been welcoming, and it is so nice to see some of the same staff from years ago, who have grown with the centre and progressed on to other roles. Better has made some great changes in the gym with new equipment, and the centre has introduced some new fun classes on the Group Exercise Programme.

5. What activities do you take part in?

I swim 5 days a week, after a short gym workout. My daily target is 20 lengths, and even if it is a cold morning and I am feeling tired, if I have come in to do just 10 lengths, it is such a good feeling. In a funny way, it makes me feel warm even on a cold and snowy day once I have been for a swim. What I also find is that it fights any aches and pains I might have.

6. What part of your experience at the Better Leisure Centre(s) do you enjoy most?

I am so comfortable at York Hall having been coming here for over 40 years. The staff is so welcoming and receptive to what the customers say. Going to York Hall every weekday morning kick-starts my day and I feel so healthy.

The 50m Olympic-sized pool is great, and it encourages a perfect work out.  I also enjoy meeting new people at the Leisure Centre, as well as maintaining old friendships that I have.

7. What health benefits has taking regular exercise given you?

I find regular exercise rids me of any aches and pains I have. I continued swimming and riding my bike during pregnancy, as it gave me some ‘me time’, helped me relax and tone up.

8. Has attending the Better Leisure Centres helped you develop any new skills and/or improve any previous skills? If so, which skills?

I improved my front crawl attending York Hall Leisure Centre over time, watching people’s technique, asking other swimmers for tips – everyone is so friendly, and we have great banter.

Also, I never used the gym, but a few years back a friendly member of staff encouraged me to come along and booked in some time with me to make me a fitness programme. I have kept a fitness programme ever since!

9. What is your view on the staff at the Better Leisure Centre?

Encouraging, friendly and supportive.  They freely give me advice on correct technique if I am ever unsure in the gym.

10. Is there an activity at the Better Leisure Centre that you would like to try, but have not taken part in yet?

The new Group Exercise programme looks so inviting – I really want to try the Funky Bums, Tums and Thighs class on a Friday between 6.15pm -7.15pm.

10. Will one of your 2014 New Year resolutions be achieved in the leisure centres?

Definitely – next year I am going to increase the amount of lengths I swim each day to 30 from 20! I am also keen to try out the Funky Bums, Tums and Thighs class.

11.  Is there any advice you would give someone who has not been to one of the Better leisure centres in Tower Hamlets?

Yes. Even if you don’t know how to swim, go to your local centre and take a look around the pool so you can see how much fun it can be. There are short courses available no matter what age you are which are usually 4-5 days long and give you a good introduction to the water. The staff at York Hall are so friendly and will make you feel welcome, which makes it such a nice experience each day.

For more information, swimming pool and class activities timetable and to book online, visit