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As a long term regular gym goer at Edinburgh Leisure for over a year I feel I can give a half decent review of the service it offers. Membership is paid monthly by direct debit and averages at around forty pounds however I pay £32 as I am a student.
The centres vary in how good they are. Leith Victoria is nice, however the gym is slightly small and clautrophobic and the changing rooms are tiny - no good for if you want privacy. On the plus side, the staff are wonderful and the place has excellent opening times - 6am-10pm weekdays, although the opening time of 9am over the weekend is a bit late. Other Edinburgh Leisure gyms, which your membership gives you access to, have different opening times again, some are better than others.
The gyms vary - Meadowbank is big but sometimes the air conditioning is not on first thing. Ainsley Park has the best gym in my opinion but sometimes the showers are cold in the morning. Basically, the different gyms have their own strengths and weaknesses.
Overall, this is a good facility but I plan to join a health club. For an extra twenty pounds, I can access luxurious surroundings (EL is very basic). If the gym is a very big part of your spare time, you may want to go with a health club, however if you want an all round half decent place to work out, EL fits the bill. However, going early is advised if you can. The places are horrendously busy in the evening.
Scotland has an appalling health record - which if you look at the nation's love of anything that comes out of a deep fat frier, whiskey, cigarettes and sugar is no real surprise.
I have a typically Scottish sweet tooth and in the time I have lived in Edinburgh I have tried my level best to ensure I get a decent amount of exercise to try to counter the calorific content of the sweet treats I enjoy.
There are, of course, a large number of private health clubs in the city, offering fantastic facilities. However they are not cheap and many tie you into a contract that can be difficult to extricate oneself from if, for various reasons, you can no longer make use of your membership.
Edinburgh Leisure is a company wholly owned by the City of Edinburgh Council and offers fitness facilities for all the family at various locations dotted around the city ensuring you are never too far from somewhere to go to keep fit.
I use Edinburgh Leisure predominantly for swimming and the gym but it's worth noting that they also have a marina, two golf courses (the Silverknowes course is particularly attractive and offers lovely views over the River Forth), tennis club and climbing facilities in addition to the gym, fitness classes and the pool. Football, karate, dance, basketball, squash and badminton are also on offer.
What attracted me to join Edinburgh Leisure was the fact one month they had an offer where you didn't pay the £35 joining fee. Even better, you don't have any protracted agreement with them - the deal is your membership card is only valid so long as you pay your direct debit - so if you want to end the deal, you just cancel the direct debit with the bank and that's the end of your membership.
Currently Fitness membership prices for adults are £43 per month for a full membership and this entitles you to unlimited use of the swimming pools, fitness classes and gyms. You can also get a Swimming only membership for £26.50 and concessionary rates are available for children aged between 12 and 17, senior citizens and the disabled.
You can also pay per visit which gives you added flexibility and prices vary depending on the time you visit. I find if I visit more than once a week I save money with my £43 per month membership.
One other thing worth noting is that primary school children swim for free at all the pools except Leith Waterworld, which is a waterpark with flumes, rides and waves.
When I first signed up with Edinburgh Leisure I found myself on a steep learning curve. I am fully aware of the fact municipally run swimming pools in particular can attract unruly children and sometimes obnoxious youngsters. Sadly, the facilities in Edinburgh are no exception.
As a result I tend to try to visit early in the morning for a swim to avoid the youngsters who beg for inflatables or balls on offer to use in the pool and then go and hog most of the pool with them. Most pools do have lanes cordoned off for those who like to do lane swimming but as someone who only does the breast stroke and is pretty slow, I struggle in these lanes and need somewhere I can go at a slightly more sedate pace without running the risk of getting a ball in my face or having a small child fall off a float as I swim past.
Of course the other side of the coin is the fact my daughter loves being able to use these devices and thoroughly enjoys a visit to the pool.
However overall the staff are very good and really bad behaviour isn't tolerated.
My daughter has had swimming lessons through Edinburgh Leisure and was taught with other special needs children on a one to one basis which didn't break the bank.
I find the gym staff to be excellent - when you first visit the gym you are advised to have an induction which is to help you become familiar with the equipment. I found this really helpful and whilst I have never had a personal trainer in the gym, I think it's a great option if you need someone to help motivate you.
Children under 16 are not allowed to use the gym facilities until they have done 10 sessions at the NRG Zone classes which are for secondary school pupils. This is to ensure they fully understand how to operate the equipment and also to be certain they are exercising for the right reasons. Sadly I have seen a teenage girl refused access to the equipment because she was dangerously underweight and there for all the wrong reasons.
The council also funds children's sessions called Open all Hours which is where my daughter picked up her love of the gym. Confusingly, this isn't run by Edinburgh Leisure and only runs during school term times but it is a great facility for children in S1-S5 at high school in the city and gives them use of the pool, gym and other activities laid on for them.
Open all Hours runs at various venues on Friday evenings and there is a girls' only one at Leith Victoria on Saturdays. My daughter, who really doesn't like boys, is particularly fond of this one and even better the girls have exclusive use of the pool for this session. Also, several girls she knows from school are regulars so they are completely used to her sometimes unpredictable behaviour.
Now that Open all Hours has finished for summer (leading me to question the wisdom of the name) my daughter is far more limited in when she can use the gym, with only 4 NRG Zone sessions per week available to her at Ainslie Park. Frustratingly, sometimes the sessions are cancelled due to lack of staff in the gym, which invariably leads to tears.
Some of the centres have crèches and some are more car friendly than others. For example, Dalry Swim Centre has no parking at all, whereas Drumbrae and Ainslie Park have large car parks. Some have café facilities, others only offer vending machines.
It's also worth noting that the city's best pool, the Royal Commonwealth, is currently closed for refurbishment and won't be open again until 2011. I mention this as I know this establishment is popular with tourists to the city.
I have used Edinburgh Leisure fairly regularly since I moved to the city, although I did let things lapse when my husband died. Of course I have paid the price in gaining weight and having poor fitness levels so I rejoined again two months ago.
The website is excellent and gives detailed information on every venue including when fitness classes run, opening hours and the all-important pool timetable.
I would recommend the facilities Edinburgh Leisure offer to anyone who wants to get fit or keep fit, whether you live in the city or are a visitor.
I think the service provided for what they charge is excellent as is the sheer variety of activities offered by them.
Providing sporting facilities and classes within the City of Edinburgh. Including Gyms, Swimming pools, Golf courses, fitness centre and more.