Floating to fitness

By Kathrin Kobus

Fun in the pool.
Photograph provided by the Markiewicz Centre

There’ll probably be no huge bells ringing, but for Aideen O’Connor, Manager of the Markiewicz and Irishtown Sports and Fitness centres, this December marks the first anniversary since the Markiewicz facility reopened.

Back in September 2015, a ten-week closure took place, initially to redo the changing rooms area. “When I came in, the pool was already closed and I saw the scaffolding. I could see that it was a big challenge.” She remembers her first days at the beginning of 2016. It was only at the end of that year that business as usual returned.

The centre in Luke Street opposite the Dublin Fire Brigade consists of three main sections, the cardio/weightlifting, the studio and the pool. A new innovative fitness programme on the water proves a hit. “That’s our Floating Fit classes. It is a half hour high-intensity training session for up to ten adults per group. The sessions go back-to-back, just the floats get handed over.”

Other offers include Aqua Classes, Pilates, one-on-one sessions with a personal trainer or various group activities. 

Another first was this year’s Summer Camp for primary school children. “The children loved it, not just the gym and the pool, but we also took over to visit the fire brigade across the road. We are definitely putting it on again in 2018.”

Both facilities are run by Dublin City Council, two of six such centres the corporation has all over Dublin. Markiewicz is within easy reach for residents of Ringsend, Irishtown and Sandymount. The final number 47 bus stop is practically outside the glass doors. 

Markiewicz facility’s focus is the pool, in comparison the Irishtown gym incorporates the stadium, five astro pitches and the running track. It has been home for years to the Crusaders and during weekday evenings, the five-a side soccer teams. Pitches four and five are due to get a new ‘carpet’ and the track just got another facelift at the starting and finishing areas.

The tarmac has to be ready to host competitions like the Dublin Championships and school sports days from St. Patrick’s, Marian College, St. Michael’s, or St. Matthew’s next spring and summer. 

Early morning hours see the Irishtown gym regularly used by pensioners like Michael Behan from Ringsend, who says, “It’s nice to have this gym here. The staff are friendly. Now I am off cycling.” Cycling is on the spot with a view towards the rising sun over Irishtown.

Another customer this morning was Thomas Cullen, 65, from Irishtown, who usually comes three mornings during the week, who says, “I’ve come here for the last four years or so. I had a hip replacement a couple of years ago and the gym helps me to keep moving. Otherwise, I would just be sitting at home in front of the telly.”

That’s precisely what Aideen O’Connor hopes to achieve for all their customers: “I see our centre’s programmes as tools to promote physical fitness for everybody, so in the new year we will introduce a ‘Change for Life’ course at Irishtown Gym. It will be running over six weeks and is inspired partly by Operation Transformation.” 

One doesn’t need to join the specific programmes, the Centres are open for everybody who just wants to improve personal fitness, or general well-being. That means for some simply going for a casual ride on the bicycle machines, a session of rowing or a quiet swim followed by a trip to the sauna or steam room.

Last open day for this calendar year will be the 21st of December. On Friday the 22nd the doors close for staff training and reopen again in the new year.

However, if you feel the urge to go for a run before sitting down for turkey, ham, spuds, sprouts and the selection boxes, the traditional mile run goes ahead at Irishtown Stadium on the 25th between 10am-12pm. 

Contact for opening hours, prices, offers for OAPs, students, passport for leisure are available at  sports&fitness.markievicz@dublincity.ie or sports&fitness.irishtown@dublincity.ie