‘Within four months I was totally off the medication’

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Margaret Hendry, 62, a volunteer at the gym who lives on Greendykes Road, said: “I have been coming here for three years after being advised by my doctor to come. I had terrible problems with my spine and had basically no life.

“Now I have a reason to get out of bed in the morning. It’s actually helped to cut down the amount of pain that I feel and I have met lots of different people. Then I decided I wanted to give something back.

“This is the best social club in Edinburgh and with no alcohol attached to it. It may be a small group but we have big hearts. You don’t need brand name gear to come in here, you just come in with whatever is comfortable.”

Marjorie White, 60, from Liberton, said: “I didn’t even know the gym was here until I was referred by my doctor.

“When I started coming I was taking eight high-strength co-codamol a day and within four months I was totally off the medication. The environment was non-judgemental and friendly and I took up Tai Chi and lifestyle relaxation. Now I run some of the classes.

“What I’m doing now is trying to help people who are lacking in enthusiasm, the same way I was helped when I joined the gym.

“There are always people around to chat with, like-minded people who have come through a bad time with health problems. I felt that the other gyms were interested in the younger members and not the older people. You don’t feel quite as conspicuous here.”

Another volunteer, Caroline Crosby, 30, said: “I had bad depression and I think attending the gym has made my whole life better.

“Even if I’m not exercising in the gym I like to help people who are coming in. My whole family attends now.”