This may come as a surprise to the able bodied but an awful lot of us cripples use sports centres. In fact in terms of numbers and usage it's a thriving market share.
Why is this? Well many people who are retired or on benefits get cheap memberships and us cripples can even get them prescribed. Its a convivial place to go ....and of course there is physio.
To those who have only sprained the odd ankle physio is that annoying stuff you do 30mins a week with the naggy person and forget to do in between. For us zebras physio is the only tool we have to fight our illness. My full physio regime is 2hrs per day of gym. If i am rushed I have a 1hr. The recommendation is even if you can only do 10 mins do it.
So you see the gym is a second home. Over here I use the David Lloyd Leisure centre in Ipswich. This is definitely up the crunchy meusli and range rover end of the market, for instance they advertise taking the advice of nutritionists( who are unqualified and unregulated profit mongers. You would be better asking a cat ) in order to provide a paleo diet (a diet myth based on little to no evidence, heavy on the naturalistic fallacy) but it is convenient. You do pay rather a lot for the use of their facilities. But the facilities are good. I mean fair dos the equipment is clean and well maintained and theres lots of it. No complaints about that at all.
You knew there was a but right?
The clientelle in their yuppie trucks cannot park for toffee. The car park fills up at the time of little johnnies tennis lesson. But only near the door. The far reaches are often empty. Near the door is where the disabled spaces are. The photo shows what normally happens. Some lazy sod parks across the pavement adjacent to the disabled parking and goes off to pilates.
Might not sound like much but that pavement allows us lames to hobble along in safety. We need it. All of it.
So obviously when it happens I complain. And complain
And tweet. I mean I even joined twitter ( thats @Inky_r folks) to complain after the 10th complaint resulted in no change.
The response is an email sent to the wrong account and which started off by using my forename despite me not knowing them..hint to young people this is extremely rude. I am Dr Tatus till i tell you different...which says:
" Thank you for your comment card regarding parking. I have tried to call you but have been unable to make contact hence my e-mail.
We are aware that some members choose to park in unacceptable places such as on the pathways and under the oak tree. If we are aware who these members are we do address it with them. Previously we did tannoh the car number plate but of course they knew why we were trying to contact them and ignored the call. We have also put notices on offending cars but if you are going to park there in the first place a notice will not change the behaviour.
The most frustrating thing is that often there are car spaces but members choose to park as close to the club as possible. Recently we have had staff in the car park and this does work as a deterrent but is not always possible with a busy club.
Please be reassured that we are aware of the problem and the frustration it causes with members. I will speak to the management team and see if we can provide a more regular presence in the car park.
I will look for you in the club and then hopefully try and have a further conversation but for the meantime I hope this advises you of some of the actions that we have tried to resolve the problem
Now this sounds like an attempt to do stuff doesnt it? Except of course it isnt really looking at the problem. It's creative helplessness. We cannot change their behaviour...
Oh yes you can. Look at it this way, if i decided I was too lazy to go to the loo and repeatedly defecated in the toddler pool I would be guilty of misconduct that denied other members use of the facilities. I would be banned, I suspect, or have my membership suspended. So why is it when lazy middle aged women (observation not misogyny. Generally step or boxercise classes) do exactly the same that there is no effort to make them face consequences. The answer is that the able bodied, disproportionately young staff do not see it as more than an irritation. It is a low priority.
I would say that it appears that David Lloyd Leisure is oblivious to the needs of disabled members and deprioritises them. I say appears, as I have limited data. I do find their employees seem to come from a very limited demographic and would like to see their figures on equal opportunities. I have never seen a receptionist with a mild limp let alone in a wheelchair, and their managers normally have sports science graduate/pro football dropout tattooed on the underside of their identical eyelids. Lets see if we can represent the disabled community a bit? Or would that interfere with their cosy Daily Mail existence in the gated community of the Worried Well. The varied Gluten Free menu options do go nicely with the Social Conscience Free behavioural options after all.
Just as with Bloombergs revamp of London City Airport I suspect that no-one with a disability has ever been asked about operations let alone had an influence on them.
So what would I do?
Next time someone parks there follow them to the car. Ask to see their membership card. Take the number. Ban them.
Send a members email out with education on why disabled apaces are important. Why these places mean so much to us. How much abusing the spaces hurts us. And telling members banning will ensue. Dont just leaflet the bad cars, tell everyone. Run a positive campaign integrating disabled members. Get paralympians in to visit the childrens clubs and talk.
If that doesnt work put nerve gas in the boxercise dummies.