The 55 steps

Window dressing versus real accessibility

That same Friday morning last month, when I’d inadvertently counted the steps at Barbican tube station, I purposely counted the steps at the gym. Disabled friendly it ain’t.

First there’s a steep flight of stairs down from the entrance door, then two metal spiral staircases and further steps beyond, making a grand total of 55. Even if a potential gym user with a minor disability could make it down the first flight of steps, they’d have a limited amount of equipment available to them – about ten weights machines. For the rest, plus the treadmills, cycles and mat areas – and the all-important changing rooms, showers and lockers, it’d mean getting down 13 spiral steps. And then a further spiral staircase to get you to the remaining equipment and – guess what – the changing rooms.

The gym designers went as far as providing a disabled toilet and shower. All in one ‘wet room’ with seats, handles and a help alarm – ideal, were it not that it’d take a minor miracle to ever reach it. Clearly no disabled person is ever going to use these facilities.

Are all ‘high street’ gyms as ridiculously inaccessible as mine?

About Ed Green

Writer and editor, Yorkshire bred, now living and working in Central London. This blog charts the writing of my memoir 'Twinned' - life with and without my disabled sister. It features disability issues, cerebral palsy, traumatic death, bereavement, twinless twins, guest posts, and throws in the occasional 'off topic' post.
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