Sports and Health
Oxford is a place teeming with people, be they newly arrived students, long-term professionals or part of the bustling tourist scene. It is a beautiful place to spend the day with a variety of attractions: a key area of which is sport.
The town is filled with athletic opportunity, from sports clubs to raising money for a charity in the Oxford Half Marathon. Are you a keen athlete looking for training to take your career to the next level? Or do you just enjoy participating in sports? In the following pages you will see the variety of sporting options Oxford has to offer, with links to ever more wondrous events!
Gyms and Facilities
Oxford Brookes Sport
There are two Brookes gyms: one is located alongside Cheney Student Village on Headington campus, the other is in Botley on Harcourt Hill campus. Don’t think these gyms are exclusively for Brookes students – they are also open to the general public. Oxford Brookes students and staff do receive a higher discount but Oxford students still get a good discounted deal.
The Centre holds a variety of equipment, including: a large range of free weights; resistance equipment; a climbing wall; squash courts; a basketball hall; and a health suite. For those looking for a general fitness area, this is the perfect place.
As part of the health suite, you get access to the relaxing sauna and steam rooms to help after a stressful day of lectures or a particularly tough workout.
Also, the facility doesn’t leave you drifting alone. If needed, there are trained professionals and freelance personal trainers in-house to help you with any health, performance or fitness problems that may arise, be that paid sessions or a passing query about a certain exercise.
Alongside your own personal training the gym also offers a large range of classes. These include spinning, yoga, body combat, circuit training, break dance, zumba and many more.
All these classes and activities are available through one of three membership packages: Gold, Silver and Bronze, which are paid monthly. Alternatively, you can attend the gym through a pay as you go system.
In addition to indoor facilties, Brookes also boasts a range of pitches at Botley, Headington, and Wheatley for football, hockey, rugby, and even lacrosse! Although some are exclusively for university teams, many can be hired out for games with friends or personal teams. Availability and prices can be found at https://www.brookes.ac.uk/brookes-sport/facilities/courts-pitches-and-sports-hall/.
Ferry Leisure Centre
Located on Ferry Pool Road in Summertown, this centre offers a wide range of facilities such as a group excercise studio, a sports hall, a pool, squash courts available to hire, indoor and outdoor workout classes, a main gym room, as well as a cafe. The Ferry Leisure Centre website lists the timetables for group classes/swim lessons/etc, activity listings, as well giving current/inquiring members the ability to pick and choose their membership type and pay online.
For more information on the Ferry Leisure Centre, visit:
Oxford University Sports Facilities
Oxford university also have numerous sports grounds and facilities:
This famed athletic facility hosts: a pool; a gym; a sports hall; an athletic track; astroturf and grass pitches; squash, tennis and badminton courts; fitness classes; and much more. The Iffley Road sports centre not only attracts people to its ambundant state of the art training facilities; it doubles as a tourist attraction as well. The Oxford University track, more commonly known as the Roger Bannister running track, is where he (Sir Roger Bannister) broke the four minute mile in 1954.
You can find out more information on schedules, pricing, etc.
For live updates on availabilities, practice times, cancelations, and other happenings you can also visit the Oxford Uni Sport Twitter page (@OxfordUniSport).
The Marston Road Sports Ground hosts regular football, cricket and rugby fixtures. It is also available for one off bookings at set prices: cricket square (available April to July); rugby pitch (October to March); two football pitches (October to March); and changing facilities. The university parks are also available for hire. Oxford University offer Oxford students higher discount, whilst still giving discounted rates to Oxford Brookes students.
This gym is one of 80 around the UK. As well as being part of a popular and reliable chain, LA fitness Oxford contains a wide range of exercise equipment, training programs, classes and leisure activities.
- One of its key features is the quantity and quality of its gym machinery. The club is recognised for its impressive Technogym suite, where fitness specialists have brought together the best kit around to help improve all areas of your body. Alongside this is an extensive free weights room, cardio centre to work your heart and lungs, fixed strength machines and world-renowned Concept2 rowers used to help train Olympians. As well as being a top-of-the-range fitness centre, LA Fitness Oxford provides swimming lessons for adults. You can take both single or group classes to help boost your confidence in the water. If you have children, there are also family-orientated activities and facilities for kids, such as swimming lessons from trained coaches who are part of the Amateur Swimming Association.
FeelFit / OMAA
FeelFit offers multiple floors of fitness, located in Templars Shopping Centre in Cowley. On the main floor you'll find the reception area, changing rooms, sauna/steam-room and the main gym suite. This gym offers state-of-the-art equipment, including kettlebells, free weights and sandbags, as well as plentiful cardio equipment and stength machines. For ladies who want to work-out privately and comfortably, FeelFit is the only gym in Oxford to offer a lady's-only gym floor, located upstairs. What's best is the FeelFit Café, where you can buy both your pre-workout and post-workout shakes and meals, as well as healthy smoothies, proteins and amino acids to help you reach your goals. Other facilities at FeelFit include the Oxford Martial Arts Academy, offering muay-thai, Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu and boxing classes and training, as well as personal training and help-on-hand to help you achieve your goals.
Pure Gym has two establishments within Oxford; Templars Shopping Park, Cowley and the centre of Oxford. It is a student friendly gym which offers flexible no-contract membership options. It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can be accessed using a personal code. Pure Gym in Cowley is state of the art, offering over 50 free classes a week and 220+ pieces of equipment. There is free parking, lockers and Wi-Fi which is all included in a single gym session or a membership. Upstairs ranges from cross-trainers, treadmills, steppers, rowers, spin cycles and a selection of kettlebells. Downstairs there is fixed-resistance and plate-loading equipment, including an Olympic weightlifting platform. This is accompanied by a large weights area which includes fixed weights and free weights; dumbbells up to 50kg. If you are struggling with reaching your goals or using any of the equipment, personal trainers are available at an extra cost.
Oxford Ice Rink
Not many cities in the UK have an ice rink but Oxford does! Located on Oxpens Road just a 10 minute walk from the city centre and railway station, Oxford Ice Rink offers facilities for ice hockey, figure skating, courses and even discos.
Out and About
Oxford is a wonderful city to run in; from meticulously maintained parks and walkways to well-lit streets, there's plenty of routes to choose from for beginners and experienced runners alike. Running is the perfect exercise for students, because - as long as you have the gear to wear - it is completely free, and has no time restrictions.
South Park, located just south of Gipsy Lane campus, is an almost perfect 2km route with a challenging incline, which rewards you with an absolutely stunning view from the top. For anyone wanting to run a more flat route, then Oxford University Parks are a perfect choice. The Parks are home to Oxford University Cricket Club, as well as a variety of other sports from Hockey to Quidditch, so there is always a lively and motivating atmosphere.
The Parks can be accessed from Parks Road, South Parks Road, Norham Gardens, the Marston Cycle Path, or a series of pathways in the Marston area. Be sure to check the website for the closing times, however, as these change throughout the year and the park gates are locked each evening.
Oxford is incredibly bicycle-friendly, and has plenty of well-marked cycle lanes and pathways throughout the city and surrounding areas. Whether you're out on a serious ride, or a more casual cruise, as long as you adhere to the rules for cyclists in The Highway Code, then Oxford is a very safe place to ride. As so many people in Oxford commute on their bikes, there are plenty of cycle-shops throughout the city that will supply everything you need for a safe ride.
Getting on your bike can also be a great way to expand your social circle beyond your lecture halls. Oxford City Cycling UK are a group open to all abilities and meet for regular Sunday rides, leaving Broad Street around 9.30am. The distances range from 35-50 miles in winter to 50+ miles in summer but don’t worry, they insist it is a social occasion with a ‘No Man Left Behind’ policy! More information is available at: cyclingukoxfordshire.org/cycling-groups/oxford-cycling-uk
For those unsure of owning a bike but still wanting to join the fun, Pony Bikes are dockless bike sharing company that allow riders to unlock the bike with their phones and leave it anywhere in Oxford when they’re done. It’s also perfect for visiting friends and family to join you on rides around the beautiful sights. At £0.50 per thirty minutes, it’s cheaper than public transport, better for your health, and allows you to really soak up the Oxford atmosphere.
Oxford Half Marathon
After its initial start in 2011, the Oxford Half Marathon has grown year on year in both number of contestants and money raised. The 13.1-mile run is in aid of local Oxford charities.
The event is becoming more popular each year and takes an incredible amount of preparation and cooperation. It is all made possible by a large number of people and organisations that invest time and money into making the run both safe and enjoyable. Some of the core groups behind this are the Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire emergency services and Oxfordshire City Council, who are vital in the planning of the event. Each year a number of sponsors, varying from Lidl to Up and Running, help the day run smoothly and with as little trouble as possible.
Like all races there is also an element of competitiveness to the day. Each contestant will get a medal and T-shirt while a select few also get the chance to win a mystery prize for coming first in a selection of different categories, varying with age, gender and group quantity.
While the event is open to a limited number of runners, there is no limit to the help needed during the run. Volunteers are always desired for a variety of tasks, so if you are unable to run you can still make a difference. More details can be found online at:
At numerous places around Oxford you will find a table tennis table with bat and ball, on which you can play for free! Ping!Oxford is part of a national incentive to get people out and playing table tennis. The idea is to encourage people to get outdoors and have some fun.
The origin of this was an attempt to help interest people in the run up to the Olympics, which has now spiralled into key community hotspots for a casual bit of sport and 500 tables all around the UK.
Yet the fun doesn’t stop there; after playing numerous games with your friends you can enter tournaments organised at various sites in which you can compete whilst having a relaxing day out. Throughout the summer the tables will host friendly competitions to keep the excitement and fervor alive.
The initiative continues further by offering detailed links to local table tennis clubs and contests in order to support people in getting involved in their passion. So why not pick up a paddle and give it a go? Its fun, free and you may find a new and healthy hobby to fill those lazy afternoons.
Headington Festival and Sports Day
The Headington Festival and Sports Day is a fun-filled afternoon, usually on the first Sunday in June, where families and locals come for hours of action packed excitement.
The festival began in 2003 and has since been a continuing success, hosting up to 3,000 people each time. In conjunction with Oxford City Council, charity organisation Headington Action brings together neighbourhood services and produce providers to create an aura of community spirit. The festival holds around 60 stalls containing a mixture of local farmers and entertainment vendors, all looking to help improve local produce awareness.
Let us not forget the sport element of this day, with a key part of the afternoon being a mixture of fantastic childhood activities including: welly wanging, face painting, dress-up contests, and other outdoor games. The day is also supported by nearby sport clubs and organisations in order to promote activity in the local area.
For further information about the yearly Headington Festival and Sports Day please look online at: www.headingtonfestival.co.uk
The Boat Race
Since 1856 the well established Boat Race is held annually between the Oxford University Boat Club and the Cambridge University Boat Club. The event usually takes place on the last weekend of March or start of April, competing on the River Thames in London. The race takes off at Putney Bridge and finishes at Chiswick Bridge, so go along to see the Oxford team in action! www.theboatrace.org
Long term residents
If you are an international student studying full-time in the UK for more than six months you are entitled to free healthcare during your period of study.
Short term residents
If you are studying part-time, or for less than six months, you may be entitled to free healthcare during your stay. Check the UKCISA website for more details
Whatever your study situation, if you are from outside the UK you will need to provide evidence of your entitlement to free healthcare in the form of passport, visa, or letters from your place of study.
If you take regular medication it is a good idea to bring with you copies of your prescriptions and a letter from your doctor, to avoid delays in dispensing.
The John Radcliffe Hospital (JR) is Oxford’s main hospital for accidents and emergencies (A&E) and is open 24 hours a day. It is located in Headington, approximately three miles east of the Oxford city centre. It is a short bus ride from the centre. The JR also has a children's emergency department, which is open from 10am until 8pm.
For those of you who are moving to Oxford, you will want to register with your local health centre. This is your first point of contact for for medical advice and prescriptions. You are usually expected to schedule an appointment to see a doctor (GP) or nurse, although some do offer drop-in sessions.
The Oxford Brookes Medical Centre for Brookes students, offers a variety of services and information. Based on the Headington Hill campus services range from medical advice and contraception to help with eating disorders.
Outside surgery hours or in vacation periods you can also go to St Batholomew’s Medical Centre.
If you are looking for a caring, professional and experienced dentist that is based in a convenient location then head straight for the Oxford Dental Centre. It is situated in the heart of Oxford, just a short walk from the town centre up Banbury Road in Summertown. It is a long running practice renowned for its quality care.
Alternatively, you could visit the Studental clinic based within the Oxford Brookes Headington Campus. Studental is not a student specific practice, it is open to everyone. Booking an appointment online couldn’t be easier, with a schedule of what times and dates are available and you can even choose which dentist you want within the practice.