A long wait to find out if leisure payments are worth it

by Colin Campbell

INVERNESS Botanical Gardens, run by High Life Highland, are due to reopen this week, which will provide a pleasant floral outing for those who enjoy what it has to offer. 

But the organisation’s centrepiece in the region, the Inverness Leisure Centre a couple of hundred yards, away remains silent, empty and lockfast.

Big changes ahead at the Inverness leisure centre.

There is still no specific word from Nicola Sturgeon on when gyms and swimming pools will be allowed to open up again.

She has been dragging her heels on other areas of re-emergence from lockdown purely to distance herself from the speedier timetable of Boris Johnson.

But with regard to gyms in particular, her caution is justified. There can be no area of activity, including crowded city centre pubs, which would seem a more risky environment in the current situation than sweaty, pumped up, adrenalin filled gyms.

However, time is dragging by and for those of us who have continued to pay our monthly subscriptions in a gesture of goodwill and support for High Life at an extremely difficult time, the costs are adding up. 

For individual users that’s now fast approaching the £100 mark, a free gratis donation with nothing in return. 

No-one is to blame for this and if we opt to continue forking out money that’s our choice. Members could have cancelled subscriptions at any time. 

The problem is that no-one knows what to expect when Inverness Leisure does reopen. High Life bosses are working on a range of safety measures but the centre that many of us knew, enjoyed and appreciated so much will inevitably be very different from what it was. 

There has been talk of limited time slots with advance bookings being necessary. This kind of rigmarole will be far removed from the free and easy access of the past, when members could go along to the venue whenever they felt like it.

That would be a drastic though inevitable change in circumstances which a significant number of people may be unwilling to accept. As a result there could, however reluctantly, be a wave of membership cancellations as people opt to move to more expensive but much more accessible private gyms across the city. These venues should already be lowering their prices and preparing special offers to attract those who decide to abandon Inverness Leisure.

I don’t grudge them in any way the money paid over in support so far. But let’s hope the time is fast approaching when we can decide whether the radically transformed facility still fits our needs, and when we can find out if paying up has been worth it. 

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