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Just burn your own energy!


When COP26 flew into Scotland I stood at a safe distance, physically and metaphorically, and observed the sideshow. Having been an enthusiastic environmental activist for over 30 years, nowadays I am wary/weary of theatrics - as Greta says; the time for talk is over, we need action.

So, instead of protesting on the street, I headed down to the allotment to sow spring bulbs and feed the birds. However, COP26 did get me thinking of the best possible use of our time on earth in an environmentally sound way.

Getting angry and shouting through a megaphone is a start, but surely the best thing one individual can do is grow something. No one is perfect but we can try to be better by helping the environment in any way we can.

Even in urban Leith there many opportunities for guerrilla gardening - it’s the ultimate environmental act. What with ongoing Brexit nonsense affecting food supply chains, growing more of our own food can also help boost our physical and mental health.

I have a dream of supplying friends and fitness clients with greens every winter, a grandiose lettuce farm notion in my head. So I headed down to Hydra, Leith’s only hydroponic retailers and got a massive kit. Later, it occurred to me that having a grow light illuminating the storeroom of my fitness studio may attract at least curiosity and at most suspicion (what are they growing in there?).

So I decided to experiment with a smaller kit at home. After all, there’s a lot of plastic involved in hydroponics, as well as fertilizing chemicals and a shed load of electricity to power the lights – absolutely not an environmentally friendly way to start a career in lettuce farming.

If you live in a typical Leith tenement flat you may not have much gardening space, so seeing what you can grow from the comfort of your own home can help darker months seem easier - low power LED grow lights are an amazing innovation.

I started my small-scale hydroponic lettuce experiment in November, so maybe I’ll have some fresh salad to go with the nut loaf on Christmas day. However, if hydro isn’t your scene – you can still enjoy nature and the great outdoors on your doorstep...

Go Green with your Workout

Feeling claustrophobic? Around the shortest day the temptation is to hibernate indoors awaiting the return of the sun. Take matters into your own hands and embrace the season with an outdoor park workout. Dress accordingly with warm zippered layers for efficient cooling, a hat or snood and perhaps even waterproof shoes. Getting out into a greenspace over winter can boost not only fitness, but also your mood, Vitamin D levels, and immune system.

A fast walk or gentle jog to your nearest park during daylight hours (go at lunchtime if you’re working from home to get a midday buzz) can reward you with a workout opportunity. Favourite local parks with good winter vistas are Lochend, for unexpected sunny chill days, Leith Links (can be blowy) for the wee outdoor gym and the spiritual home of Griffen Fitness – Pilrig Park - for the outstanding variety and wee hill.

The good thing about exercising outdoors in winter is there are less people around so park benches are readily available; they offer all the workout equipment you’ll need.

Try press-ups on the back of the bench and tricep dips on the front. Use a resistance tube looped through the end of the bench for low and high rows, shoulder presses and even chest flyes. All sound a bit complicated? Drop me a line, I can help.

Legs can be challenged with simple squats and lunges. Try single-legged exercises holding onto the back of a bench. In simple terms, it’s standing on one leg and swinging the other around, either out to the side, or forward and back; excellent for your balance and keeping your heart rate elevated.

It doesn’t matter how accomplished you are, during winter no one is likely to stop and watch. It is not the time of year for voyeurs! Just get out there and get moving. No need to wait until January when everyone else is doing it.

Spend 30 to 45 minutes outdoors moving quickly so you feel puffed, but not necessarily absolutely knackered. Finish your workout by fast walking or jogging back from the park, then lying down on your floor at home for some well-deserved floor stretches.

You can follow an app or a YouTube stretching workout if you’re in need ideas.

A wintry park workout is awesome at lunchtime, especially if you’re working from home. It’s not unusual to get chilled to the bones to sitting in the flat, Zooming or typing away at the laptop. The temptation is to turn up the heating and eat biscuits.

Instead, go outdoors, embrace the cold then come back home and enjoy the warmth. Instead of turning up the boiler thermostat, when you go outdoors and get cold, your home will feel relatively warmer post-workout. An easy way to cut your home energy consumption, just burn your own energy!

New customers at Griffen Fitness through January/March 2022 will receive a free copy of Tracy’s newish book Get Fit and Enjoy It and a bag of Pure Leith Dried Spearmint from her allotment for delicious, warming, herbal infusions!

Twitter: @tracygriffen

Okay, it’s highly likely your park workout bench won’t look this inviting!

Having been an enthusiastic environmental activist for over 30 years, nowadays I am wary/weary of theatrics



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