Where To Play Sport In London: Part I

Continuing our quest to unearth London’s best sports facilities and clubs…alphabetically.

Ice Climbing
If conventional climbing isn’t hard-core enough for you, head to Vertical Chill in Covent Garden, which offers genuine indoor ice climbing. The wall is 8m in length and based in a giant refrigeration unit with an internal temperature of around –6˚C. Learn to climb sessions are available for complete beginners at around £55 for an hour’s course. More experienced climbers can just turn up and climb, subject to availability, for £25-35 an hour. For other types of London climbing centres see here.

Ice Skating (and Ice Hockey)

Image by RunnyCustard in the Londonist Flickr pool.

London offers stunning outdoor ice rinks during winter and indoor rinks all year round. Picturesque outdoors rinks can be found during the Christmas period at iconic London venues such as the National History Museum, Somerset House, The Tower of London and Hampton Court. However, these seasonal ice rinks are fairly small and crowded and will certainly not suit aspiring Torvill and Deans. Instead, head to much larger indoor ice rinks such as Alexandra ‘Ally Pally’ Palace, Lee Valley Ice Centre and the Queen’s Ice and Bowl in Bayswater. Ice hockey is also a growing sport, and all of these rinks have clubs available for amateurs.

Indoor Cricket
With the UK’s weather notoriously miserable, it is no surprise that the English Cricket Board has started heavily promoting its indoor format. The main advantage is that games are only 90 minutes long, played in the warmth and made up of two teams of six or eight, making it short, sharp and fun. Leagues are available for girls, boys, men and OAPs making it a truly social sport. Play on Sports in Canary Wharf has four international quality courts available with a range of leagues on offer. The Indoor Cricket Teams are open to new players or you can assemble a team with your friends and join in existing leagues. Other organisers include Indoorcricketleagues.com playing at Battersea, Forest Hill and Wembley and the Cricket For Change School in Surrey.

Indoor Football
Often referred to as ‘futsal’, demand for indoor football rises exponentially when temperatures plummet. However, finding suitable indoor football venues and leagues can prove challenging. The best places to start are the many indoor sports halls, which usually cater to indoor football. These can be found at schools and leisure centres around the capital. Examples include Seymour Leisure Centre, Tooting Leisure Centre, and Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. Futsal leagues are also organised by Top Corner, London Soccer Dome and Play on Sports, which are available to both teams and individuals. Though not futsal per se, the Westway Sports centre in Ladbroke Grove offers covered pitches, which will protect you from the rain, perhaps not the cold.

Inline Skating

Image by Brian Lasky in the Londonist Flickr pool.

This sport is ideal, all you need is a pair of skates and the city is your oyster. If you are a complete beginner, head to London’s many parks, such as Hyde Park, which seems to be a training ground for wobbly skaters. A popular marshalled skating session is London Friday Night Skate, which starts at 8pm and often involves hundreds of eager skaters. This event is open to all skaters who are able to stop, turn and control their speed on hills and there is also a Sunday Stroll session leaving from Hyde Park corner at 2pm. If you are a more advanced skater, check out the many London skate parks or head down to the Southbank Centre for a particularly popular venue.

Iyengar Yoga
Iyengar is a popular form of yoga that emphasises posture and breathing control. The key is performing different positions slowly and precisely using aids where necessary, rather than working up a huge sweat. So if you like attention to detail, this is certainly for you. The Iyengar Yoga Association has a class finder to save time finding a local session. Further help finding classes is available through the North East London Iyengar Yoga Institute and South West London & Surrey Iyengar Yoga Institute. They both help promote the provision and development of this unique form of Yoga around the capital. Other popular Iyengar yoga centres include Southbank Yoga, Inner Heart Beat and The Iyengar Yoga Studio in East Finchley.

Previously
Part A: Aerobics, Aikido, Archery, Athletics, Aussie Rules Football
Part B: Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Bikram Yoga, Boules, Bowls, Boxing
Part C: Canoeing, Climbing, Cricket, Croquet, Curling, Cycling
Part D: Dance, Darts, Disc Golf, Diving, Dodgeball, Dragon Boat Racing
Part E: Equestrian, English Billiards, Eight-a-side Football, Endurance Running, Extreme Sports
Part F: Fives, Football, Fencing, Frisbee
Part G: Gaelic Football, Golf, Go-Karting, Goalball, Gridiron
Part H: Handball, Hang Gliding, Hatha Yoga, Hiking, Hockey, Hula Hooping and Hurling

By Sam Parton

Sam is Founder of Matchtea.com, which helps take the hassle out of booking Tennis Courts in London and other sports facilities.

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  • Edward

    Very useful article! Although recently I found out about Chobham Academy indoor football pitch and I have to say it’s fantastic! I found it through a site that lets you search for your local sports pitches called http://mylocalpitch.com/ and Chobham Academy is my new favourite indoor pitch. It is also part of the Olympic legacy project meaning its in the heart of a great sporting location!