A NEW social enterprise has launched a not-for-profit gym in Leith to help make exercise accessible and affordable for everyone.
Established by Sara Hawkins following her own battle with mental health, the charity gym – currently in Newkirkgate shopping centre – is open to anyone and hopes to create a truly inclusive and community led exercise environment.
It has a particular focus on breaking down barriers for people suffering from mental health.
In 2012, Sara was diagnosed with PTSD, her condition spiralled and she became unable to work or participate in everyday activities.
After months of being withdrawn, Sara was gifted a gym membership, and following several failed attempts to even get through the door, she started attending regularly.
She said: “I was put on a lengthy NHS waiting list and couldn’t find any other kind of support that was suitable or affordable.
“I started going to the gym and it was a combination of physical exercise, counselling and life coaching that helped get me back on my feet and facing the world again, and I threw all of my energy in to setting up Projekt 42.”
The charity hopes to open a purpose-built gym on disused land at Halmyre Street in January. Classes start from £2.50 or £22.50 for a membership, with all the profits going back into the charity to help provide free classes for those who need them the most.
There will be fitness classes, guided meditation, life coaching and counselling sessions available.
Sara stresses the bottom line is that anyone is welcome. “Parents or carers can come into a class with their kids, babies can sit in prams in the exercise rooms, elderly fitness fanatics can exercise next to four-year-olds. Making it as easy as possible for everyone is extremely important to us.”
The charity received pro bono support from property developers Buccleuch Property, who have brought together a taskforce of local building experts, engineers and architects, to help the project. “They have done everything for us and never asked for a penny,” Sara said. “They have been the driving force behind getting us where we are today.”
David Peck, managing director of Buccleuch Property, said: “We’ve all been really moved by not only Sara’s personal journey, but her drive to improve things for other people. Mental health is such an underdiscussed topic affecting a huge amount of people, and I didn’t have to do much convincing to get a strong team of property businesses on board to help Projekt 42 realise their vision.
“I’d urge any local businesses who are able to provide materials or support the project, to get in touch and back the creation of an important community facility.”