Fun ways to get fit in Edinburgh

Give judo a try. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Give judo a try. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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If you got inspiration from the Games you can find a huge range of activities awaiting at Edinburgh Leisure.

We’ve been inspired, now it’s time to get active.

Why not try swimming?  Picture: Getty

Why not try swimming? Picture: Getty

For ten days, people across Scotland were glued to the TV screens as local heroes became overnight sensations at the Commonwealth Games.

For many, it may have been the first time they had ever seen certain sports, while others may now have been well and truly bitten by the bug and eager to give it a go.

So how to go about becoming the next Euan Burton, Lynsey Sharp, or Alex “Tattie” Marshall?

We’ve spoken to Edinburgh Leisure to get the lowdown:

Gymnastics is a fun way to keep fit. Picture: Jane Barlow

Gymnastics is a fun way to keep fit. Picture: Jane Barlow

DIVING

Edinburgh’s own Royal Commonwealth Pool proudly hosted the diving event for the Commonwealth Games this year, ensuring the Capital had its share of the action. Edinburgh Leisure’s diving coaching programme has trained Games competitors James Heatly and Grace Reid since they were young, and has now expanded its offering to enable hundreds of youngsters and adults alike to benefit from professional coaching. Children from P1 upwards can start diving lessons, and there is also adult instruction so it’s never too late to try.

SWIMMING

Swimming is a great activity for all ages. It can be enjoyed by babies to great grandparents, and is suited for people with physical or learning disabilities.

A great swimmer comes from grassroots clubs, learns the fundamentals and techniques and then works on stamina. Joining a swimming club brings a fun social side to training with peers, and can be the start of a swimmer’s journey to become a competitive athlete. Some 7500 people are booked into Edinburgh Leisure swimming classes every week, across ten venues.

GYMNASTICS

Who wasn’t in awe of 16-year-old Claudia Fragapane, who scooped four Gold medals for her team in the Games this year? Or Livingston’s own Adam Cox, who picked up silver.

Gymnastics is increasingly popular in Edinburgh among girls and boys, helped by the opening of Tumbles Portobello, the city’s first state-of-the-art gymnastics and softplay facility. The development has led to increasing jobs for gymnastics coaches and a recruitment drive to train more as demand grows.

The coaching programme spans nine venues including Ainslie Park Leisure Centre, Craiglockhart Leisure Centre, Drumbrae Leisure Centre, Gracemount Leisure Centre, Jack Kane Sports Centre, Kirkliston Leisure Centre, Meadowbank Sports Centre, Tumbles and the Royal Commonwealth Pool and provides a pathway to the sport professionally, as well as being simply fabulous fun.

ATHLETICS

For children keen to give athletics a try, the Run, Jump & Throw programme is perfect. Tailored to suit children of all skill levels from age three upwards, it offers the chance to discover and participate in athletics activities all year round.

The RJT programme offers children a wide variety of athletics events and techniques, and focuses on the fundamental movement skills, important in every child’s development.

Edinburgh Leisure has partnerships with athletics clubs across the city who utilise the facilities, and RJT is the ideal way to get youngsters started on their athlete journey before moving on to the club of their choice. ­Sessions take place at Ainslie Park, Drumbrae and Meadowbank, for various age groups from three to 18.

TRIATHLONS

The thrills of the triathlon made headlines during the Commonwealth Games. Working with Triathlon Scotland, Edinburgh Leisure provides a range of ­facilities for preparing for events.

Every year Edinburgh Leisure hosts a Youth Aquathlon, as part of a national event. The most recent at Drumbrae Leisure Centre saw 120 children age eight-16 embrace the swimming and running challenge. Triathlon events offer a new experience to those who perhaps are already in a swim or athletics club and want to take the challenge to a new level.

HIGH FLYERS AND PARA SPORTS

High Flyers is Edinburgh Leisure’s sports club for children and young people with physical, learning or sensory disabilities. Working with Disability Scotland, High Flyers can provide a pathway to competitive sports for talented youngsters keen to enter paralympic sports on a professional level.

For children of all ages and various abilities, High Flyers provides a vital opportunity to get active and healthy, as well as benefiting from the huge social benefits and confidence boost that sport can bring.

The High Flyer Multi Sports classes at Currie High School on Friday afternoons are for children with physical disabilities and who use wheelchairs, and feature athletics, tennis, basketball and badminton.

There are also sessions in High Flyers boccia, tennis and bowls, while Jump In is the highly successful funded swimming programme for youngsters.

For further information contact Heather Williams, Edinburgh Leisure’s Disability Sport Coordinator, on 0131-458 2150 or email heatherwilliams@edinburghleisure.co.uk

JUDO

Judo was another big pull in the Games, and while it is exciting to watch, it is even better to participate.

Kids love this full-contact martial arts class which involves throwing and holding movements. Judo promotes co-ordination, flexibility, self confidence and fitness. Children from as young as five can start in a general class to master the ­basics and then develop their skills. Progressing through the ­famous coloured belts gives children a real sense of achievement which may even take them all the way to a ­future Games. Judo is currentl offered at Ainslie Park, Drumbrae and Meadowbank.

BADMINTON

Badminton is one of those classic sports associated with summer holidays, trips to the local sports centre as a kid and fun times. Recreational badminton classes on Friday afternoon at Craiglockhart Leisure and Tennis Centre are hugely popular.

If you or your child is interested, get on the waiting list as spaces do become available.

Coached sessions are available for 5-7, 8-12 and 13-16 year olds.

For further information call 0131 443 0101.

BOWLS

Not everyone can be Tattie Marshall, but bowls is a great way to get outdoors, active and socialise, and is also a Commonwealth Sport with a difference.

Edinburgh Leisure offers five bowling greens across the Capital. Suitable for all ages, there are junior and senior competitions and leagues for all levels.

UNDER 5s

Whether it’s the start of a great journey to the Commonwealth Games, or a lifetime love of being healthy and active, little kids ­naturally love sport, and the younger they start the better.

With coaching tailored to Under 5s offered in a whole host of activities including gymnastics (Gym Nippers), swimming and football, there is something for every youngster in Edinburgh to enjoy. There is also the new Active Start programme, providing under 5s with a rounded introduction to fundamental skills which can be a foundation for a variety of sports. This approach is designed to take young talent from playground to podium.

Edinburgh Leisure is hosting a series of free under 5s days in the first week in September, to allow little ones the chance to try a whole host of activities, as well as enjoy face painting, bouncy castles and free health checks. See www.edinburghleisure.co.uk/news/free-under-5s-open-days-september

More information on all the activities featured is available at www.edinburghleisure.co.uk.