Athlone sports centre to be at the heart of Healthy Town project

The refurbished regional sports centre will host events and family days over the next couple of months

The Athlone Regional Sports Centre

The Athlone Regional Sports Centre


The Athlone Regional Sports Centre is planning to play a major role in this year’s Irish Times/Pfizer Healthy Town project.

The facility, refurbished two years ago at a cost of €1.8 million, will host a slew of events, including family days, where the pool and equipment will be offered to families and the public free or at a reduced price on a designated day.

Its staff are also offering to attend workplaces to show employees simple steps to better physical fitness, says general manager Liam Cunningham. Other events planned include organising running group to target a 5km run after eight weeks training. There will also be events aimed at teenagers and older people.

The facility which is owned and run on behalf of Westmeath Co Council, is aimed at everyone, says Cunningham. He says there is a misconception that facilities such as the centre which boasts a gym and swimming pool as well as outdoor pitches are only for fit people. “It is for people of all shapes and sizes,” he says.

The centre gets more than 330,000 visits per year, mainly from people in Athlone and surrounding areas. It also deals with a number of referrals from Tullamore Hospital and Portiuncula as well as GP referrals of patients who may have had cardiac issues or are suffering from diabetes, asthma or lung conditions or those with mental health issues.

“It is not just for healthy people,” says Cunningham, “it is a safe, controlled environment.”

The gym contains the latest state of the art equipment and is designed with the latest research in mind. “For example, research has shown that you go to the first equipment you see that you are confident you can use - such as the bike - and many people never progress to using other equipment,” says O’Donoghue.

In the centre, the equipment is grouped around the gym. The first area - the circuit area is aimed particularly ant parents and children to encourage them to train together. There are no weights in this section, the equipment is based on body resistance and equipment is used for 10 seconds and 30 seconds.

It moves on then to the cardio area where equipment includes treadmills, bikes and cross trainers. O’Donoghue says certain equipment- such as the cardio equipment is kept separate from other equipment. “For example, you don’t want to be doing cardio work with someone who is doing strength work, say lifting weights.”

The cross-trainers and treadmills have programmes which are changed every few weeks, so that users do not become bored and can also be downloaded to your phone. But, if that doesn’t suit you, you can always watch television while running on the treadmill or using the other equipment.

An important part of the gym for many users is the equipment for core work. It helps improve balance, essential for many sports, according to O’Donoghue.

Among those using the facilities are a ladies soccer team and a ladies hockey team. The centre is self-financing says Cunningham, “which means that all the money goes back into the facilities”.

The centre has regular spinning classes but has also introduced virtual spinning classes which gives flexibility to users. It means that classes can be run at different times, without a trainer, depending on demand. The programmes, which were designed in New Zealand, are projected on a screen and users follow them.

There is also a good-sized swimming pool where both swimming classes and aerobics are held during the week.

There are a number of membership schemes, starting at around €35 per month. Other schemes can work out at around €57 per month for a family (where children go free) for use of the pool and the gym. The facilities are open seven days a week.

For more information contact the Athlone Regional Sports centre on 090 64 70975 or email