An Edinburgh gym is supporting people facing disadvantage or homelessness by offering free and unlimited access to its facilities, recognising the importance of maintaining physical and mental health during the cost-of-living crisis and periods of social isolation.
Places Gym on Leith Walk, which is part of Places Leisure, will offer free passes to players from local Street Soccer Scotland programmes, including the Team Afghanistan players who represented their country in the Nations Cup earlier this year.
Robbie Wood, Street Soccer’s programme manager for Edinburgh, said:
“The reaction from the players when we told them they would have access to the gym was one of complete surprise, and then real excitement. We talk a lot about the benefit of fitness on not only physical health, but mental health too, so the offer from Places Gym is greatly appreciated.
“The gym is extremely accessible for many of our players in the community and they can’t wait to start using all of the equipment, the benefits of which we expect to see on and off the pitch.”
Robbie Wood added:
“Many of our players face social isolation, so getting out of the house and trying something new can be a big step. The gym has been incredibly supportive so far, from offering our single-parent families the chance to bring their children with them, to encouraging players to work out together, to giving access to our volunteers who are not only a friendly face for our players, but mentors to many across our community projects.”
Paul Sanderson, general manager of Places Gym, said:
“Seeing the reaction of the players coming into the gym has been fantastic, and our members have been extremely welcoming. We see the benefit of exercise day in and day out so it’s wonderful to be able to extend the offer to Street Soccer players. We look forward to welcoming them throughout 2023 and working in partnership to support them on their fitness journey.”
The partnership promotes both individual and group activity, with the aim of strengthening bonds between Street Soccer players and their coaches but also developing links within the local community.
The offering from Places Gym is helping to remove barriers to those in the local area and has provided Street Soccer players with unrestricted access at a time of year when many people struggle with social isolation and keeping up with fitness activities.