Thirty Years of Stories

On Saturday 1 October, the Hogarth will be celebrating its 30th birthday. During this time the Club has shared so many experiences as have our members. Here's a few that we have received so far and have particularly enjoyed. All these receive a prize and the overall winner a FREE YEAR OF MEMBERSHIP! Some we clearly couldn't publish - but thank you for those anyway!

Janie Hildebrand

Well, when I joined the club in August 1982 my friends and family couldn’t believe it as I always got out of physical exercise at school, and was called petrol feet at one time! I am not the competitive type so trying out a health club seemed like a good idea.

The first few years, I went to the gym every day and was even told that that was too much and that I should mix the types of exercise I was doing (oh happy days of actually enjoying working out hard!). I nearly took up residence meeting my old friends and my new club friends in the bar and introducing new members in to the club. Truly life long, important relationships have been made at the club, including a now ex one, long time partner.

The club was the first place and up to date the only place I made friends with a macaw. Hogarth the club mascot was a naughty, funny and sometimes aggressive bird. Many a towel left casually draped over a bar stool was destroyed by a powerful beak. And tickling under Hogarths’ tail sent bird into raptures! And then there was Sox the cat. I remember leaving the club one sunny day and spotting my furry friend sunbathing on the bonnet of a car and called out “hello darling” to which a surprised James Cracknell coming in to the club, said hello back before he realised that he didn’t know me, and then to be told that I didn’t mean him but was addressing the cat!

I remember booking my first, and as it turned out, my last squash lesson. After just 10 minutes Ivor stopped me as my face had become scarlet and my pulse was racing, so much so that he feared for my health! From then on it was ‘ping pong’ on the squash court for me with the girls at a very leisurely pace, enough to break a sweat but still hold a conversation!

I also tried my hand at learning to swim at the Hogarth - while being terrified of water. It only took two years of lessons an hour a week in the original and beautiful pool to at last be able to swim into the deep end with my then boyfriend who kept telling me to think of ourselves as otters having fun! I am still scared of water and see the ‘new’ pool as having too much water for me!! The fear never fully went, shame.

I used to love quiz night with Derek Hobson, hysterically funny, not least when a famous actress on my team didn’t recognize the theme tune to her own TV series! And the parties!...The best one I ever went to at the Hogarth was the opening of the conservatory, it was such good fun. There really are so many great stories of the Hogarth. Some which are just unmentionable!!

The club has been a huge and important part of my life for which I am very thankful.

Stephanie Curtis-Raleigh

I first joined the Hogarth when I got engaged. Like most women I wanted to lose weight for the wedding and set my sights on that goal. After moving abroad for a few years we rejoined the Hogarth when we moved back to London as I pregnant with our son. I really wanted to lose the baby weight after Joseph was born and Paul and the team in the gym were completely fantastic. I lost a stone in just a few months!

At four months old Joseph started attending the crèche and he still goes there every day and will celebrate his fourth birthday at a party there next month.

Having moved from France and having a baby, life was tough - especially as I was running my own business. The Hogarth was my haven as there were so many friendly faces and I started to work from the cafe every morning, sitting on the platform at the back so I could plug in my laptop! It made me feel like I was actually getting out of the flat. The Hogarth seems to have been part of so many important milestones in my life - when I turned 40 I had a mid-life crisis. I decided to run the London Marathon and Voijn gave me a training schedule and all the gym staff heard about it and gave me encouragement. About half way through my training I tore my hamstring and took advantage of yet another Hogarth service - physio! Tracy Slade did my sports massage and mopped up my tears. I did the remainder of my training on the cross trainer as I wasn't able to run. I still made it round on the day and under 7 hours! Adam in the bar bought me a coffee and a pastry the Monday after as I hobbled in like John Wayne. Members in the bar got out their wallets and gave me money towards my charity. That's the kind of place it is.

Next year my son starts school - and we will all miss Claire in the crèche and her wonderful team. I feel tearful just thinking about it. Who would have thought that a gym could give us so much? Like so many others, I have made friends, got my confidence back physically and achieved something that I thought I could never do by running the marathon.

Thanks so much guys.

Sue Coggins

Looking at the invitation to write a story about the Hogarth, where does one start?!!

I would never have thought that at my recent 60th Birthday party approx 70% of the party goers would be people I have met and become friends with over the years at The Hogarth. You only need to meet one person, that person introduces you to another and so on. My first social evening apart from the fun Friday nights was the Bastille party. I never looked back.

I was told after my first gym assessment, to give up anything fatty...only to overhear that same person talking about the great fry up they’d had that Sunday morning!

Asking the barman where the cigarette machine was...only to be told “don’t be silly, it’s a health club”. He then added, “if you can get one, can you get me one to”!

Red nose day many moons ago. Is it called a lock in or a lock out! I never get it right.

The next thing was men in women’s bathing costumes swimming in what was the old pool. Hilarious!

The Hogarth Olympics… how many people can you get in the Jacuzzi?

Returning to London after my father having passed away, I came to the Hogarth and had so many warm people around me – that says an awful lot!

How many wonderful relationships, marriages and children has the Hogarth been responsible for? It would be great to know, a bit like a family tree.

I didn’t join a gym, I joined a club. Thank you Hogarth.


Just over seven years ago things came to a haltering stop. I was suffering from post-viral chronic fatigue. Sitting was difficult, let alone walking. 'Graded exercise' was the prescription - easier said than done.

Later that year I discovered yoga. Specifically Hatha yoga with Tina. Each weekly session felt like a hug. After leaving the Club for a couple of years I returned to discover that the class had moved from the downstairs room to the glorious upstairs studio - where sun would flood into greet our sun salutations. I feel hugely grateful to Tina and the Hogarth for being there at that difficult time.

Happy 30th birthday.

Apolonio Lozada

My Hogarth journey started back in 2005 when I joined with my wife with three very specific goals in mind. Firstly, my blood pressure was quite high and my doctor advised me to eat healthier and to exercise on a regular basis. This was closely linked to our second goal which was to start a family. And the last one was to lose weight. I was quite obese! My self-esteem was very low and all areas in my life needed a lift. My state of mind and poor health also had a negative impact on my business which, at the time, was a Start Up.

We looked at every Gym and Health Club in the area, going as far as Richmond. The Hogarth was by far the best option and we became members. I explained my goals to my personal trainer and with his program and supervision, I lost nearly 26 lb and my heart rate went down to a very healthy level! This was achieved over a very short period of time. I was over the moon and the cherry on the cake was to be named the ‘Member of the Quarter’. I received an i-pod as a prize although my biggest reward was to recover my health and with it my self-esteem.

I cannot thank The Hogarth enough for helping me in achieving my goals and recover my health. My wife and I enjoy the food and drinks at the restaurant and attend the social events regularly, our favorite being the Caribbean Night. We have found great friends along the way.

The happy story has seen my business grow 10 fold and today I employ more than 50 people. My blood pressure is normal and my weight is kept in check. Finally, I can tell you with great happiness that my wife is pregnant with our first child and life couldn't be any better.


Kate D

One day Hogarth the parrot was sitting quietly on his perch watching a lady member drinking water from the fountain in the sweat bar. As I walked passed I saw Hogarth jump from his perch and run to the members foot and put his strong beak through her trainer to her toes. She screamed, her leg swung out and flew up about three feet in the air. She was flying! Oh what a sight - Hogarth the parrot still attached to her toes and now both in full flight, unfortunately no camera in sight!

Chris Clark

Having almost completed my programme on the treadmill I was overcome by a “call of nature”. I left the machine running while I dashed to the loo. I raced back as quickly as I could and jumped on – only to miss my footing completely and fall flat on my face!! By the time the rollers came to a halt I realised with horror that my trousers had been gradually descending down my legs and were lying snugly around my ankles! I blushed profusely as I realised that I had caused quite a stir in front of a rather amazed audience!

Keith Wymer

Seriously, Friday nights in the bar used to be mad!.. I forged wonderful, long-lasting friendships with such a range of Hogarth characters, eccentrics all. I’m sure I was the only sane one! Every Friday it was like going to a house warming, Colin and Eva drawing us in and all of us rotating around each other, gossiping and chatting, drinking, smoking and dancing. Staying till chucking out time, we’d gather in groups and set off for a late dinner at The Light Of Nepal or Kathmandu and then on to someone’s house, where the carousing would continue. And now, as I walk down Chiswick High Road on a Saturday, I always bump into at least a dozen friends, having a brief chat and keeping up to date. No wonder it takes hours to just go and buy a newspaper!

Anna Fey

When I first had my son Noah back in August 2008 I wasn’t really prepared for the change that would take place. I felt awkward whenever I saw my old friends, being the only one with a child, and yet I felt awkward around new friends and new mothers too, never finding anyone who seemed like me. I loved being Noah’s mummy but I struggled in the role of full-time mum if I’m honest.

When Noah was eight months old my husband and I decided I needed some time to myself a few hours a week and we joined the Hogarth Club. The fact there was a crèche was such a bonus.

I’ll never forget walking down the aquarium blue carpet towards the crèche for the first time to leave Noah. It felt more like the green mile than the yellow brick road. I handed him to a sweet girl named Claire, the manager of ABCs crèche, turned on the heel of my brand new Asics trainer and walked stoically away, not turning once as I heard my little man’s screams. I never made it to the treadmill that day. I think I went and sat in the bar and just clock watched until it was time to collect him. I remember thinking it wasn’t for me this whole crèche thing and I could just do Davina McCall DVDs at home. But when I walked into the crèche, Noah was sitting in the middle of the giant ball pit, enjoying Claire and Mimi’s cheers of praise! And in his bravery, I found a bit of my own.

I joined to lose baby weight and because I needed a place to leave my son whilst I worked out. But by joining I got so much more. I found independence from being a mother – which is essential to being a happy mother in my book. I found people who I feel genuinely adore my boys. I found confidence in my physicality again. I found friends. I found a place that I looked forward to going to everyday. I found a place where I smile a hell of a lot. And at the Hogarth, dare I say it, I found me again.

So thank you Hogarth Health Club for giving ‘me’ back to me and thank you for loving my boys as you do.

Kate Donnelly

SOX THE CAT: One day in 1992 a beautiful young Black and White cat jumped into my office through the open window with a gift for me - a small mouse. Being a lover of cats I knew he was proud of what he had caught and needed to be told what a good boy he was. From that day he would always bring me a little gift...or a big gift if he could get it through the window! Sox, as I soon named him, settled down in my office to sleep the day away.

He eventually strayed into the club and made friends with a lot of our members too. A few members did their best to have him removed, so we tried to find out where he came from, but to no avail. So little Sox stayed with the club until he died in 2009 as an honorary member.

Many members might still remember what a lovely character he was and miss him still.

Dawn Hastings

The funniest thing (but not at the time maybe!!) that I can remember is about Hogarth, the club parrot. She used to sit on her perch just at the entrance to the Bar and welcome everyone who came in. At night she was wheeled into the then sweat bar where she stayed until the following morning.

One night the cleaners left all the doors open and Hogarth decided to get down off of her perch and wander into the gym. As the gym office door was also left open, Hogarth decided to go into the office overnight and rip up all paperwork that she could find on the Gym Manager's desk (who was then Melvyn Hillsdon). I remember Mel's face was a picture when he arrived first thing the next morning to see his office totally ransacked and covered in tiny pieces of paper - everywhere!! Hogarth had had a fantastic night in there! Needless to say, Mel was none too pleased! Naughty girl!

Short snippets from Nick Teasdale

1)Russell Dawkins ending up in hospital following his daughter's christening party at the Hogarth. In a feeble attempt to retrieve his sweater from a tree in the car park, he managed to fall out of the tree!!

)A now ex-member drying his privates with the aid of two hairdryers! Not the greatest hogarth memory but certainly one that a lot of the older members will unfortunately remember!

3)Mark Lesbril resigning from the Hogarth after he ran out of new members to chat up!!!

4)A certain figure of authority (whose name isn't black), making four gate crashers leave the premises after they had tried to blag their way into a Hogarth party. Inexplicably the ringleader 'bully' just slid to the floor asleep after the aforementioned gentleman had whispered sweet nothings in his ear!

5)The Hogarth duty manager having a complete humour bypass after a post Hogarth Olympics champagne party accidently ended up in the jacuzzi!

6)Hogarth the parrot savaging any new member who rashly tried to stroke it!!

Susan Simnett

Thirty Love – a poem by the old net on the front court

Thirty-love. Love-thirty. It’s all the same to me. Over the years, ‘twas ever thus. Who will win? We shall see.

Fits of pique, shouts of anger. Shrieks of joy, cries of glee, Another thwack, the tension, goes. A player leaps right over me.

Thirty-love. Love-thirty. Thirty years of joy and cheer. Wooden racquets, classic whites Now composites and brights are here.

Players move on but I stand still. My plastic trim, cracked and torn. My stitching frayed, my wrinkles raised, I languish here, alone, forlorn.

Thirty-love. Love-thirty. A turning point in any match. The tension mounts but mine subsides, What I need is a proper patch.

In the darkness of the night, The foxes tease and taunt me Nibbling holes along my middle. Abandoned, frail, for all to see.

Thirty-love. Love-thirty. Yet another set. A ball flies right through me. A point lost, with regret.

My spine is bent, my ratchets gone, Nothing can lift me high. My clips no longer keep me steady, I fear the end is nigh.

Thirty-love. Love-thirty. It’s all the same to me. I’m begging you on bended knee. Please put me out to grass, and let me be.

Ian Caldwell

A friend of mine, who will remain anonymous, one day climbed into the old wooden jacuzzi and joined three strapping lads. ''Hello'' he said, 'I haven't seen you around before.''

''No mate'' (In a strong northern accent) 'We are just visiting BiMal Physio for some treatment.''

''What do you do then?'' said my friend.

''We play rugby.''

''Are you any good?'' he asked.

One of them was Ellery Hanley, at the time Captain of the Great Britain Rugby League team!

Chrissie Hart

I met my best friend Suzy at the Hogarth; her happy face formed slowly out of the mist in the steam room and that was it – firm friends. After cooling off with a relaxing swim we lay and chatted on the beds near the pools edge. I bumped into her again on the cross trainers and we arranged to have a coffee after a grueling exercise and a training session with hunky Paul!

A month later we went to the bar and had our first lunch. The circle widened with her glamorous girlfriends and then it was a regular thing to meet, the four of us, Sex and The City style in the bar discussing the new Botox man at the club, men and diets.

It was more fun to swim in a group whilst laughing and chatting, when the lengths were swam to look slimmer and feel clearer of mind and absent of life’s stresses. The months passed and we all laughed our way through Linda’s exercise group with her endless jokey repartee and then we nearly killed ourselves in the mad samba groups

Suzy left, but we stayed firm friends. It wasn’t the same for a while until I met another lady who lunches, Christina, a beautiful pilot. At Family Splash she taught my son to swim and feel more confident in the water.

In summer, on stressful days I like to come to the club and use it like an oasis of calm. I sit alone at the outdoor tables and enjoy Salar’s famous avocado and bacon salad by the tennis court. In the shadow of the courts, under a parasol, I have forged business deals and negotiated my house sale. I relax no matter what I am doing as the ball thwacks across the court and laughter echoes. On winter days I huddle in the bar and listen to the rain as it crashes down on the plastic roof of the extension. I chat to other members, read or work on projects as I sip hot chocolate and wait for Salar’s flavoursome lunches to lift my spirits and refresh my soul.

When skies are grey I like to come to The Club – the young, beautiful people on the reception ready to greet me with a cheery grin can lift even the most downtrodden mood. The Hogarth is not one story, but many and it is above all my second home.

Toni Charlton

My Hogarth Story could perhaps be sub-titled ‘Boys on Bikes’. I speak of an incident in the Hogarth Car Park, which could have had disastrous consequences!

It happened one evening in November 2004. Unusually I had driven to the Hogarth – rather than walking or biking – and had parked my car in the Car Park whilst I had a half hour work-out in the gym and a quick swim. To my utter dismay, when I returned to my car I found that my passenger window had been smashed and my soft briefcase, which I had left lying on the passenger seat had been stolen!

The smashed window and loss of my glasses, wallet, mobile phone and front door keys would have been bad enough. But in the briefcase was a red notebook that I had been using to organise a Memorial Tribute to Shaun Sutton – a distinguished ex Head of BBC Drama – which was due to be held in the theatre at BAFTA (the British Academy of Film and Television Arts) at the beginning of December. And in it were all the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all the people who had contacted me with requests for tickets. A list that would have been nigh impossible for me to recreate because in those days many of these requests had been made by telephone rather than e-mail or texts. Imagine my panic! The Hogarth Team were wonderful. Police were called and CTV recordings revealed the culprits to be a gang of boys on bikes, known to the local police.

Was there any chance they might chuck the bag away when they discovered it didn’t contain a laptop? I might be lucky they said, guardedly. And I was! The next morning I had a call from someone living in one of the adjacent streets. He’d been out for an early walk with his dog past a spot where the boys had obviously stopped to examine their loot – and had found most of the contents of my briefcase. Even the wallet with my bank and membership cards. What a relief! The Tribute to Shaun Sutton was a great success – and little did the audience of actors, writers and the great and the good of British Television know what a close shave I’d had.