Autumn Health & Fitness: Move your body

Posted by in October's Magazine

Tracy Griffen

There are only a finite number of ways you can move the human body. Given that, it’s interesting that there are so many different approaches to fitness and exercise. In Leith at the moment we’re witnessing an explosion of the number of fitness businesses opening up. Where once was retail, now is yoga studios, gyms and even a juice bar. You can’t move without tripping over a yogi, and even Storrie’s is selling vegan sausage rolls.

Historically, Leith has always been active. Leith Links was the official birthplace of golf; where there is soon to be a statue erected in memory of John Rattray, who signed the first ever ‘Rules of Golf’ in 1744. Take that St Andrews! 



Leith is also home to the oldest boxing club in Scotland, Leith Victoria boxing club established in 1919, is now just near the Links. Gordon Munro wrote about this in issue 129. 

There is soon to be a statue erected in memory of John Rattray, who signed the first ever ‘Rules of Golf’ in 1744

Before that, Leith Franklin Academical Beige Cricket club was established in 1852 (I think the ‘Beige’ came later – Ed), housed in the wee green sports shed on the far side of Leith Links (Seafield end). It’s now more easily known as Leith FAB Cricket Club – one of the more relaxed cricket teams who also occasionally host some FAB gigs. 

When I asked the I Love Leith Facebook group (my go-to place for local gossip) for their input into the history of sport and exercise in Leith, I got over 50 comments, including: Hibs Ladies (cup winners again this year), the bowling club and tennis courts on Leith Links, George Kerr (Scotland’s Mr Judo), the numerous swimming clubs at Leith Victoria Swimming baths, horse racing on North Leith Sands, Leith Rugby Club, Auld Reekie Roller Girls, badminton at the Kirkgate and many more.

Leith Victoria pool ‘officially the friendliest in Edinburgh’

Following in the fine tradition of fitness in Leith, I set up my Personal Training studio on Balfour Street in 2010, back when there were only two local gyms: Edinburgh Leisure’s Leith Victoria gym and pool (officially the friendliest pool in Edinburgh) – the pool is currently closed for refurbishment. And George Kerr’s Judo club on West Bowling Green Street. 

When Griffen Fitness opened there were very few doing what I specialise in, that is everyday exercise that can be done from your living room or outdoors. It’s no longer niche and has become mainstream now, hooray. Living and working on Balfour Street, locals have got used to seeing me (and sometimes Coco the fitness pug) chugging around Pilrig Park, sometimes with a PT client, sometimes just me.

So when I mention that there’s only a finite number of ways you can move the human body, in a way it makes my job simple. Meet an individual client and work out the optimal ways for them to move their body to improve their fitness (and also mood). 

I always start with bodyweight exercises that use no equipment, as it’s essential to know that you don’t have to go to a gym to get fit. Much of the fitness industry relies on gimmicks and products you don’t necessarily need. I like to teach people how to exercise without using anything, basically how to move the body.

Over the years I’ve seen many varied bodies belonging to personalities from many different backgrounds. Every body is different, so it keeps creating exercise programmes interesting. My slogan is ‘it’s my job to make it easy for you to get fit’. 

To do this, I need to work out what motivates you, what you like to do, and what you’re currently able to do and what you want to be able to achieve. From this, we can extrapolate into the future towards a specific goal. I get the usual types – brides-to-be focussing on one particular day (and dress), those who have been yo-yo dieting for years, busy executives who have to travel for work. But increasingly I’m getting a broader demographic of people looking to learn how to look after themselves through exercise and nutrition. 

We’re learning that regular exercise can help boost your mental health. But sometimes it’s getting off the sofa that’s the tough bit, so learning the easy way to start exercising gives you a proverbial foot in the door to getting motivated. 

Which is why I think it’s fabulous that there’s a plethora of fitness classes operating around Leith at the moment. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re after personalised 1-2-1 training, or to join in a class, bootcamp, or even try parkour. 

I’ve enjoyed aerial yoga, spinning, pilates, learned trapeze, meditation, run, swam and cycled and taken part in a spacehopper race, all in Leith. Love it!

Twitter: @tracygriffen

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