Edinburgh Leisure’s Chief Executive, June Peebles, has welcomed the First Minister’s announcement on Tuesday which means that leisure centres can reopen again, after being closed for almost four months.

The charity is responsible for running over 50 sports and leisure facilities in the Scottish capital and an Active Communities programme, which uses the power of physical activity and sport to tackle inequalities and combat the effects of inactivity.

Ms Peebles is “looking forward to welcoming customers back and continuing to help local people enjoy active and healthy lives.  Never before has health and wellbeing been so important.”

Braid Hills Golf Course

During lockdown, Edinburgh Leisure continued to motivate their customers to keep active through their ‘Find Your Feel Good’ online hub, which has provided a range of home workout videos, as well as coaching activities and resources to support their customers to stay active and well.

Since November 2020 and during the closure, Edinburgh Leisure’s Active Communities programme has continued to work with around 450 customers per week through a blend of on-line classes and one to one sessions and ‘wellbeing’ phone calls  to keep more ‘vulnerable’ customers active and well at home, safely.

Outdoor contact sports for 12 to 17-year-olds started again on 5 April 2021, and community access to high school sports facilities began on 19 April. Edinburgh Leisure’s tennis courts and golf courses have been open throughout since June 2020.  There has been an upsurge in people participating in golf, in particular, with the uptake of Winter Golf memberships up 400%, compared to 2019 figures. 

From Monday, 26 April 2021, Edinburgh Leisure indoor venues can reopen for individual exercise. It is hoped that outdoor adult contact sport and indoor group exercise can begin again on 17 May, and indoor non-contact sport from early June, as advised in the Scottish Government’s guidance. 

In September 2020 when Edinburgh Leisure reopened their venues after the first lockdown, the experience was different from before. But, customers are promised the warm, Edinburgh Leisure welcome. 

The main changes that customers will notice are:

  • All activities must be booked via the Edinburgh Leisure app or website.
  • Edinburgh Leisure continues to operate in a cashless environment, accepting contactless payments.
  • Safety guidance will be on display throughout the venues.
  • Enhanced cleaning will take place and there are additional sanitisation stations are available in the venues for use before and after each visit.
  • All activities are timetabled with staggered session start times to reduce congestion.
  • Customers must wear face coverings in communal areas, but not for their activities.

Despite being closed, Edinburgh Leisure has continued to invest in their venues and services to make improvements.

Some of these include:

  • ‘Easy access’ has been installed at Gracemount and Ainslie Park Leisure Centres, creating a quicker and more efficient way for customers to access their booked activities, without the need to check in at reception first. Customers simply swipe their fob or membership card when they enter a venue. 
  • New digital technology in the form of boditrax, installed at the Royal Commonwealth Pool and MyZone at Craiglockhart Leisure Centre, will motivate customers to understand and achieve their training goals. MyZone is already available at Leith Victoria Swim Centre, Royal Commonwealth Pool, Dumbrae Leisure Centre and Ainslie Park Leisure Centre. 
  • Their ‘Refresh’ cafes at the Royal Commonwealth Pool and The Edinburgh International Climbing Arena will also reopen on 26th April.  Although they will be operating a limited menu, customers can choose to either takeaway or sit-in.  For those customers sitting in, enhanced cleaning arrangements will be in place and customers will be asked to ‘check-in’ and scan the QR code in-venue to support NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect service, which can be downloaded as an app to a customer’s phone. 
  • To help support a return to the water, some new pool products are being introduced.  New relaxed swim sessions for adults will be available at Portobello Swim Centre and the Royal Commonwealth Pool.  The pool will be divided width-wise into four. Two of these areas will be for anyone who wants to swim widths, and customers won’t need to get out of the pool if they want to take a break, as long as physical distancing is maintained.  The other two areas will be for customers who just want to enjoy the water but not necessarily swim widths.  Again, physical  distancing measures will apply.

Family swims are also available. 

There’s also some bookable one to one adult swim coaching at the Royal Commonwealth Pool.  Suitable for beginners or those more experienced swimmers who want to improve their stroke, these sessions will help swimmers reach their goals more quickly with expert coaching from an Edinburgh Leisure swim coach.

Edinburgh Leisure is keen to support swimmers with a disability to continue to swim. As all activities need to be booked in advance, a new Carer Access Card has been created, which allows carers to book a place alongside the individual they are supporting. The access card allows a carer to book into an activity alongside an Edinburgh Leisure member at no additional cost to the carer.

June Peebles said: “Edinburgh Leisure is committed to ‘building back better’ to a sustainable Edinburgh Leisure and to continue making a positive impact to the citizens of Edinburgh’s health and wellbeing – as we have done for the last 23 years.

“We’re very grateful for all the support we have received throughout lockdown from customers and The City of Edinburgh Council. The positive messages we’ve received from customers have boosted our spirits no end. The benefits of being physically active are more important than ever and we remain committed to helping Edinburgh keep active and well – always.”