Social enterprise gym is going from strength to strength

Web working out at projekt 42

Projekt 42 aims to provide a fitness space for all, whilst promoting good physical and mental health

11th January 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

January is often seen as a time for change and many Scots will be thinking of getting fit after a festive season of indulgence.

However stepping on the treadmill for that first time can be a daunting experience, not just because of fears of getting puffed out but also having the confidence to work out in front of others and finding the finances to meet the cost of hefty gym memberships.

A social enterprise gym in Leith is providing a space which is welcoming to all regardless of fitness, mobility, age and even wealth.

Since opening last year Projekt 42 has gone from strength-to-strength, with around 1,500 people having subscribed to activities and 180 monthly members signed up.

The gym offers classes on a pay-as-you-go basis and memberships at a base rate of £22.50 a month, however is flexible in allowing people to join even if they cannot afford to pay.

“It’s really a distribution of wealth model that we have,” said founder Sara Hawkins. “Those people that can afford to pay do, and we’ve got a number of individuals who pay over and above the £22.50 a month. They make monthly donations as well, and these donations enable us to give out free memberships every month.

“It is supposed to be 20 free passes that we aim to give out every month but it’s been oversubscribed over the past few months and we have been giving out nearer 35.

“It all balances out. Because we are not focused on shareholders and making profit we can be flexible in the way we hit our break-even point.”

The initiative aims not only to help people boost their physical fitness but also their mental health and confidence through setting achievable goals.

“The idea is from a personal journey that I went through in 2012,” Sara continued. “I just needed to find a way to give my life a boost. I was struggling, feeling fatigued with life, and wasn’t committed to anything or doing very well.

“But I had a bit of counselling, life coaching and personal training. Within six months I had run my first marathon. I managed to complete a dual masters within eight months and went on to get quite a good job.

“For me it was a very expensive time and I thought if I could create something that could provide the type of support I had but at a lower cost, then more people who had the potential to go on and succeed in life would also flourish.”

A pilot scheme was set up at the start of May, with Projekt 42 establishing a temporary home at the Newkirkgate Shopping Centre. In just 11 weeks 350 people subscribed to activities, and now classes take place throughout the week; from yoga and circuits to weight training and meditation.

An army of 22 volunteers and staff has been formed to run the operation and the charity learned just before Christmas that it had gained planning permission for a new centre just a stone’s throw away from its temporary premises.

The ethos of Projekt 42 is overcoming challenges, and the organisation is looking forward to further expand on its services and Sara can’t wait to be able to help even more people be the best they can be.

“At the moment we are not offering counselling and life coaching, we’re just doing empowerment workshops, but are planning to expand on this. We use yoga and other activities to engage with people who have low self-esteem or confidence. We remove that barrier to accessing mental health services by providing them at the gym.

“Everyone gets a bit of pride from a challenge. If you overcome a barrier or a hurdle which you initially believed was too difficult to tackle, it is a big step. The moment you achieve that goal you not only improve in fitness terms but in your life as a whole. Things can change dramatically for people and we see that here all the time.

“We’ve had a lot of women who have joined us that have stopped working after having children. They have given up their jobs and often have lost the confidence to fully understand what they can do. A number of them have achieved their fitness goals and taken that forward into their lives, with some of them now qualified to teach classes.”

The charity is also focused on providing an area that children can also enjoy a full range of fitness activities, allowing them to enjoy getting fit at an early age and also offering respite to parents.

“We’re a family friendly fitness organisation,” said Sara. “Any events that we run, children are welcome to come along to. It helps single parents who can’t afford childcare to come along, and also gets young people interested in fitness.”

For more information on Projekt 42 and the services and classes it provides visit the charity’s website or email [email protected]

New premises will offer greater health support

Social enterprise gym is going from strength to strength

Projekt 42 is set to expand after flourishing at its temporary premises.

A new larger site just off of Leith Walk has been secured for the gym and planners gave the green light to the proposals at the end of last year.

The new-build will include fitness studios, an indoor cycle studio, and classrooms to host workshops including nutrition and food planning, counselling and a fitness academy to provide affordable fitness qualifications to young adults in Edinburgh.

The charity’s founder Sara Hawkins said that Projekt 42 is aiming to expand the services it provides, particularly in relation to offering equipment for disabled people.

She said: “There are a number of individuals, because of the lack of space we have just now, who we can only provide limited access to. In terms of equipment and space we cannot overcome these barriers quite yet.

“But we are moving to a site that’s only 200 metres up the road. We have land that we are building a new pre-fabricated structure on. We are midway through the phase of raising money for the new centre. We need to raise an additional £150,000. We’re doing a lot of grant applications and are also looking at loans too.

“It’s quite challenging to provide a range of facilities, from our point of view it is very expensive. To build a service that meets everyone’s needs is incredibly challenging. There are a lot of costs involved in making sure our service is completely accessible. The type of gym equipment is specialised, and comes at a premium. However we are fully committed to providing this and our new centre will be a space for absolutely everyone.”

The new facility will also allow the organisation to expand on the mental health support it provides, with counselling and life coaching sessions being hosted inside the gym.

Work on the new facility is due to begin this spring.

Confidence is key to helping people get fit

Social enterprise gym is going from strength to strength

Alongside providing classes for those looking to get fit, Projekt 42 also offers volunteering opportunities and training.

Daisy Tulloch is one of the volunteers who now finds herself at the gym on a daily basis after catching the fitness bug.

“I went down to a couple of classes and just found it really cool,” she said. “I immediately wanted to get involved as it’s a really good idea.

“I ran my own catering business for the past four years and along the way I found fitness, and decided that I’d like to become a personal trainer.

“I used to hate going to the gym and be so paranoid about it. But you realise that everyone has their own things they are worrying about.”

Ryan Thomson was amongst the original group of volunteers who helped get the charity off the ground, and has moved on to work as a fitness trainer at Projekt 42.

Ryan said: “I was never in to fitness training really. I got taken to the gym and then quickly decided I was going to get my Level Two certificate. I met Sara (the founder) and it went from there really.

“When you come in here everyone interacts with you and it’s a really nice atmosphere. I wasn’t very confident when I first started out but over the months I’ve been able to grow my confidence and make friends.

“I never thought I would end up working here, I was happy just to volunteer but things developed really quickly and I’m delighted it all worked out really well.”