Congratulations – you’ve been accepted into St Andrews and will be joining the bubble in September! You’ve learned about the nightlife, applied for your accommodation, and perhaps even had a think about the societies you would like to join. There is something you’re still wondering about, however. Sports! Whether you’re an experienced and skilled competitor, someone who wants to try something new, or somewhere in between, there is something for everyone at St Andrews. From performance sport, to more relaxed and less competitive sport, to weekly fitness classes, Saints Sport has it covered.

To begin with, however, I must issue a disclaimer! Due to the current coronavirus pandemic, no one really knows what life at St Andrews is going to look like come September. The sports centre has been closed since March and under current restrictions in Scotland it might stay closed for a little while yet. This is all subject to change and will depend on multiple factors come September – the situation globally, and in Scotland, and on the route the government, the university, and relevant parties take to reopening. Since everything is so up in the air, this article will focus on what sporting life at St Andrews is like under normal circumstances, and fingers crossed things will be as close to this as possible by the time you begin university.

Freshers’ Week

If you are living in halls, you will likely move in during the second weekend of September, as Freshers’ Week begins. Depending on when you arrive and how you like to spend your time, the Sunday morning of this weekend might be spent taking part in the first pier walk of the semester, nursing a hangover from the night before, or enjoying a stroll along on of St Andrews’ beaches. However you choose to spend your morning is up to you, however might I suggest something for your Sunday afternoon? The sports fayre! Representatives from all Athletic Union (AU) sports clubs will gather in the sports centre’s sports arena to give you a chance to see what is on offer and to sign up for as little or as many clubs as you like! Here, you can also find information about the free ‘Give it a Go’ (GIAG) sessions that the clubs offer during Freshers’ Week. These sessions allow you to give things a try and to see what you do and don’t enjoy before fully committing, and they don’t cost a penny! GIAG sessions are also an excellent opportunity to meet fellow students, from your year and others, since all sports are available to everyone.

These sessions aren’t the only free sporting activities available during this opening week. The sports centre also offer a programme of free fitness classes and free gym access during Freshers’ to once again give you a chance to try before you buy!

If you don’t manage to make it to the sports fayre or realise after the event that there is something you should’ve signed up for, not to worry! You can contact any club via email or on Facebook to find out how you can get involved.

Purchasing a Membership

So, you have found a club you enjoy and would like to commit to, or perhaps have instead decided to buy a membership for the gym and fitness classes. How do you go about doing this and what buying options are available?

To join one (or more!) sports club(s) affiliated with the AU, you will need to visit the University’s online shop to purchase a membership. Individuals who wish to join an AU club will also need to purchase a sports centre membership. A Saints Sport club access membership can be purchased from the Saints Sport website and is valid for one academic year.

If you wish to join a Performance Sport club or take out a membership for personal use of the centre’s facilities, you should buy a Fitness+ membership, which can also be purchased from the Saints Sport website. These memberships are more flexible and can be purchased for the duration of one semester or for the full academic year. Details of what is included in the Fitness+ membership can be found here.

If you wish to make use of the centre’s facilities without purchasing a full membership, you can pay £5 per visit.

What Should I Join?

That is of course very much up to you, and at St Andrews we really do believe that there is something for everyone. Saints Sport is an excellent way to continue a sport you were involved in before university, or to start something new. Students were polled (thank you, St Polldrews!) on the best sports clubs to join as a beginner with the top five results being korfball, badminton, shinty, fencing, and mountaineering. This is of course not an exhaustive list and we recommend giving anything and everything a try! To see the full list of sports clubs click here and if you have any questions about the clubs, or how it would be to join with your level of experience, you can contact each club directly by email or through Facebook.

This article is part of a series designed for incoming first year students. Up next – what to bring to St Andrews! Packing for university is hard, so we’ll be making a list to help you out. Keep an eye out for the next instalment, and like our Facebook page to stay up to date!