By Kelly Tison @pandamamalove
This hidden gem in the back streets of Catford is literally that! It has activity classes for ALL ages, from babies to pensioners, from morning to evening and a great place to indulge in a tea and cake in the gorgeous Truly Splendid vintage-style tea room inside.
Personally, I opt for one of the lovely Joni’s mother and baby/toddler classes. She leads three classes per week at the centre and they are all great: Mommie & Me Cardio Club, Mommie & Me Boxilates and Mommie & Me Post Natal Pilates. She seems to have the knack of making you feel incredibly welcome and accommodated and still working your butt off! Going back to exercise after having a baby can be daunting, so I find these classes perfect. With a mixture of levels, everyone just works at their own pace and Joni gives ability options to choose from. You will never find one class the same, she likes to mix it up with a variety of props and movements.
Another delight is, I have never been to a class with the amount of toys and soft play on offer to keep the little humans happy while you work out. There is even a play kitchen sink! The classes are so relaxed, and the demands of small children and motherhood understood – if your slightly late it’s ok. There is a very at-ease atmosphere, and you can stop-start around your baby. Smaller babies tend to have mats with toys set up, next to their mums, while toddlers can play in the crèche-like set up, with soft play mats. Joni steps in to help with the little ones occasionally, as do other mums to if needed. I literally feel like my son, after first few sessions has adjusted to the environment and gets as much out of it as me. Hopefully I’ll be toning more than him though!
After a good workout and play we both want some lunch. The tea room offers a lovely setting, with vintage decor and some locally made craft items on sale. They have mugs that say “Catford and proud” – It’s personal to me and I love it as it’s the hood I grew up in. The cafe has a play corner, with kitchen area and a dress-up rail. The menu includes sandwiches, paninis, hot dishes, children’s portions and snacks, and of course freshly baked cakes. They also cater for gluten-free vegans like myself. My favourites are their chilli and rice and melted cheese toasty. At Christmas they made the tastiest mince pies too. Yep, that’s all vegan and gluten free.
In the summer the cafe door leads to the outside, with a large grass area and, yes, more toys, including bikes and scooters for the children plus a community garden with a funny scarecrow, and a football pitch.
Please go and check out Abbotshall Road Healthy Lifestyle Centre; unfortunately, it under threat of being closed due to lack of funding. This centre is an amazing community asset.