It has been an incredible 2015 so far. I took some time out to reflect on this during my week off on holiday up north in Torridon and Aviemore. My brain, and also my leg muscles started firing during many hours of hiking, up several of Scotland’s finest and most challenging peaks including Liatach, Beinn Eighe and Bynack More. I brainstormed an update for you all to deliver on my return.
The summer months of June and July were really busy. We welcomed many new Energy Gym and CrossFit Skirmish members to the family. On the product and nutrition side I introduced our new ranges of protein based food and protein drinks at reception, which are great value and taste great. The new Nespresso machine was also a popular addition.
One great thing we are now doing is working more closely with our local community. I was involved in a series of coaching sessions with local youth groups. Gavin, Drummond, James and I put a group of budding rugby internationals aged 12-16 years old through a series of gruelling circuit sessions in the main hall. We were also really fortunate to work with George Watsons College and Merchiston Boys School who now use our facilities after school, in addition to their gym training on campus. It’s a pleasure to have the youngsters along to train in an adult environment.
I also dedicated some of my coaching time to aid the Boroughmuir Ladies Hockey Team in July and August. I tortured them through part of their pre-season training in an outdoor environment, with a boot camp style circuit training class.
Our CrossFit Skirmish team have also been working with local sports teams, with Sasha our Head Coach doing CrossFit sessions with the Watsonian Ladies Rugby Team too. Our aim is to help improve their strength, conditioning, and all round fitness in their drive up the league table.
My commitment to you all in April was to increase the standards at our club, to make the gym a friendly and welcoming place to work and exercise, and to grow the business. I am proud that my team and I have succeeded in achieving these goals.
There have been a few personnel changes in my team line-up. Drummond McCulloch left us in September to move to Glasgow and study Biology at Glasgow University. Drummond was my first recruit into my new team in April, and he did an amazing job. I speak on behalf of everyone involved in our gym that we miss him, and we know he will do us all proud. Drummond finished in 2nd place at the Scottish u23 Power-lifting Championships at the weekend. This was a fantastic achievement in his debut competition.
Poppy Croal and Rutger Pelgrom both joined my team in September. They are both tremendous additions to our front of house team. Poppy is a member of the GB Canoeing squad. Poppy achieved the young person’s coach of the year 2013 award by the Scottish Canoeing Association. Rutger is a Strength & Conditioning coach with excellent qualifications gained in his home country of Holland. He also has a strong sports background. He played rugby, football, and practiced martial arts including Ju-jitsu. Rutger has gained a nickname as ‘the healer’ due to his exploits in the injury remediation called Mylogenics. Both Rutger and Poppy have made a brilliant start to their careers with us at Energy Gym.
The rest of the team are on fine form. Natalia Witt is now working a Thursday evening and Saturday shifts this semester. Natalia is a super-hard worker, and trainer. We all missed James when he was on his honeymoon, and it’s been great to see him back refreshed and happy after his break. He has already started training for his next bodybuilding competition in 2016. Sheona Lindsay and Tony White our newest Personal Trainers (PT) are a terrific addition to our squad. I am very impressed with the high level of technical competence and client care in our PT team.
I love to celebrate successes, and one of our St Andrew Boat Club machines, Iain ‘iron’ Wilson competed in the World Rowing Masters Regatta, in Hazewinkel, Belgium in September. Iain and his team of C4s (crew average age 43 years or more) won their race bringing home the Gold medal to Scotland. Iain also won the Scottish Rowing Master of the Year for 2015. A brilliant effort Iain!
During the last few months we celebrated the nuptials of Gavin and Siobhan. They returned from their honeymoon in the USA Mr and Mrs Barry, refreshed and energised. My trusted corporal James Ward married his sweetheart Sarah in September. It was an honour to attend their evening ceremony in my kilt, joined by many of my team. It was very funny seeing everyone dressed up in their non-gym wear. The troops looked resplendent in suits, kilts and stunning dresses. Sasha and Yana married in Russia in the summer to complete the gym hatrick. Congratulations to everyone and many blessings for happy and prosperous lives together.
On a personal note, I have gone through an incredible amount of change in my life this year. Most important was a big career change to my role here at the gym. The change has been smooth, and now 6 months in, my motivation remains extremely high. I am very happy in my job, and as I am sure you can tell when you speak to me in the gym, I absolutely love this place.
I sold my house in Penicuik recently, and subsequently moved into a new flat in North Meggetland. Selling, buying or moving property are some of the supposed most stressful events in life. I kept reminding myself that ‘calm is the key’ during the process. It’s great being so close to work now, and the Kilted Pig pub. In August I had the honour of being best man at the wedding of one of my best friends Keir and his wife Laura. Delivering the best man speech was a real highlight and good experience (for me anyway, not so much for Keir). It was amazing to have my old training partner back from Australia for a few weeks for several pre-wedding weight training sessions at Energy Gym. My chess form has been reasonable, and my grading this season is a personal best of 1693. The new season kicked off last month and the games are coming thick and fast. In my first 3 games I recorded: 1 win, 1 loss and 1 draw. The draw was the longest game, lasting a monstrous 3 hours and 27 minutes of intense concentration.
On the mountain climbing front, I climbed 49 summits so far (my target this year is 50), including re-climbing the highest 3 peaks in the UK: Ben Nevis, Ben Macdui and Braeriach, plus a few of my favourites An Teallach, Buachaille Etive Mor and Buachaille Etive Beag. I lead a charity team of 28 people from Barclays Bank to the summit of Nevis in June, with 2 metres of snow still on the summit. Our group helped my friend Mark Hutchison and his colleagues raise over £18k for a wonderful charity called ‘Let it shine’ helping provide education for girls in Ghana. I also had great fun leading a team of 12 from our gym to the summit of Buachaille Etive Mor (Glencoe) in the month of May. There have been so many highlights, and still 8 weeks to go.
My closing thought is that winter is coming. The phrase from my favourite show Game of Thrones is a literal statement, but also an analogy for life. During all the good times and successes, we must always be prepared for winter. The clocks changed a few weeks ago, and the evenings are darker, and colder. In my next blog I will talk more about how to keep spirits up during the winter. Yes winter is coming, and some people may be apprehensive about it, maybe even dreading it. Our team are here for you. We recently shot a promotional video about the gym, giving a message about our community spirit, excellent customer service, and fantastic set-up at Meggetland. I am proud to share it with you and hope you enjoy it. During winter, there is always a place here you can come for support, encouragement, and even a hug if you need it.
Best wishes and thank you for reading.