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FITNESS, HEALTH, WELLNESS

features

HCM People: Jen HollandCEO: Edinburgh Leisure

Edinburgh Council will have a £143m budget shortfall by 2028/29 and so must find ways to become more efficient

Published in Health Club Management 2024 issue 4
New CEO Jen Holland is also a qualified accountant / photo: Edinburgh Leisure
New CEO Jen Holland is also a qualified accountant / photo: Edinburgh Leisure
We need to shout about what we're doing to tackle inequalities and get people living longer in better health

What appealed to you about the new role?
Having recently worked in the health and social care sector, I wholeheartedly believe in the critical role physical activity can play in improving health and wellbeing outcomes. Going forward, I see the sector as a critical partner in delivering improved outcomes in terms of the health needs of our population.

If we moved the whole system around to thinking about prevention and early intervention, we could have a huge impact on social care and health demand. I’d love to bring that change about.

It starts at a young age and requires us to remove the barriers to sport and physical activity, as well as building communities.

I strongly believe in the positive impact sport and physical activity can have for everyone and I’m passionate about creating opportunities for everyone to get and stay active.

What’s your background?
I’m a qualified accountant and from 2019 was the director of strategic commissioning and partnerships at Scottish Borders Council. Previous to that, I worked with various public sector and charity organisations, including Fife Cultural Trust, NHS Fife and Live Borders.

What are the main challenges?
The biggest challenges facing Edinburgh Leisure are being felt across the whole sector – public sector funding cuts against a backdrop of increasing demand for wider services to meet the changing health and wellbeing landscape, not to mention the need to invest in facilities to ensure they meet the demand of modern users.

Going forward, we need to shout about what we’re doing to tackle inequalities and get people active and living longer in better health. That’s a key part of what leisure trust outcomes are, which often isn’t recognised.

Tell us about Active Communities
The Active Communities programme supports 10,000 people a year to get active. There are specific programmes for different demographics: older adults, including Steady Steps for falls prevention, as well as people on low incomes – including children who have lived in care. It also welcomes children and young people, people living with disabilities, with concessionary rates and carers coming free and programmes to boost mental wellness – including supporting people with dementia.

What are some of the opportunities?
The Active Communities programme will be critical for us moving forward, so I want to do more to champion it. We need to ensure we’re at the table and talking collaboratively about the outcomes we want for this city and how we can support the agenda. We have so many programmes to help people live well, so ultimately prevention and early intervention reduces the need to access NHS or other public services.

There’s also an opportunity to work directly with acute services: hospitals have seen an unprecedented increase in demand and we need to start working more collaboratively with colleagues in the NHS to help reduce this demand.

We also need to harness the data available to lobby effectively, so decision-makers are fully informed about the benefits of physical activity.

The City of Edinburgh has just launched a draft Physical Activity and Sport Strategy to continue the work of reducing inequalities and is currently asking residents for their feedback in order to prioritise spending. Edinburgh Council will have a £143m budget shortfall in by 2028/29 and so must find ways to become more efficient, reduce costs and raise more money, or it may have to reduce or stop providing some services, so it’s important that residents influence these decisions.

The demand for Edinburgh Leisure is really high, so we need to continue with community engagement, marketing campaigns and collaboration to ensure we’re meeting the needs of the people of Edinburgh.

In terms of our estate, we've created a team to look at sustainability and ways to move towards Net Zero.

What trends are you seeing at the moment?
There is a lot of interest in sociable sports, such as pickleball. We offer this at a few of our centres, mainly during the day, by lowering the nets on our badminton courts.

Padel tennis is also on our agenda and we’re looking at opportunities for that and considering other new trends and our response for the future, including Hyrox.

Golf is another area of growth. It was declining pre-COVID, but is on the up now, so we see that as a huge opportunity. We have six courses and are looking at opportunities around coaching, development and adding technology, such as simulated driving ranges.

With £100,000 from SportScotland, we’re upgrading the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena at Ratho, with new bouldering facilities, which will improve opportunities to progress at all levels of the sport.

The redevelopment will make Ratho the only climbing centre in the UK with Olympic-standard facilities for all three climbing disciplines: lead climbing, speed climbing and bouldering.

Edinburgh Leisure operates more than 50 venues across the city

• 17 gym venues, hosting 750+ fitness classes and 250+ gym classes per week

• Royal Commonwealth Pool

• Meadowbank Sports Centre – that opened in 2022, replacing a facility which had previously hosted the Commonwealth Games

• 12 swimming pools including five Victorian baths. Edinburgh’s last remaining Victorian Turkish Baths

• 32 indoor and outdoor tennis courts

• 141 sports pitches

• Three soft play areas

• Europe’s largest climbing arena

• Six golf courses

• Community access to sports facilities and room hire at the city’s 23 high schools

Membership costs (per month):

• Climb membership: £54.50

• Climb and fitness: £77.50

• Full fitness: £59.99

• Fitness class: £45.99

• Gym only: £39.99

• Under 18s memberships: £14.99

• Young adult 18-24: £29.99

• Swim: £45.99

• Soft play: £18.99

• Annual golf season ticket: £588.50

• Golf bolt on: £34.25

Supporting refugees and migrants

Supporting access to all populations is an important part of Edinburgh Leisure’s work. In 2018, the Relocated People Access Programme was created in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council’s Refugee and Migration team to support relocated individuals new to Edinburgh.

Since April 2023, Edinburgh Leisure has supported 1,192 refugees to be active and there have been 19,502 visits to Edinburgh Leisure activities, with referral rates peaking in 2022.

In recognition of the high numbers of refugees accessing Edinburgh Leisure services and the contribution the programme was making to the refugees’ wellbeing, the City of Edinburgh Council awarded Edinburgh Leisure £100,000 for the programme in 2022-23 and 2023-24.

Edinburgh leisure has 17 gyms in the city / photo: Edinburgh Leisure / Chris Watt Photography
Edinburgh leisure has 17 gyms in the city / photo: Edinburgh Leisure / Chris Watt Photography
Young people should not face any barriers of participation / photo: Edinburgh Leisure / Chris Watt Photography
Young people should not face any barriers of participation / photo: Edinburgh Leisure / Chris Watt Photography
A full adult fitness membership costs £59.99 per month / photo: Edinburgh Leisure / Chris Watt Photography
A full adult fitness membership costs £59.99 per month / photo: Edinburgh Leisure / Chris Watt Photography
/ photo: Edinburgh Leisure / Chris Watt Photography
Targeting prevention and could have a huge impact on health and social care / photo: Edinburgh Leisure / Chris Watt Photography
Targeting prevention and could have a huge impact on health and social care / photo: Edinburgh Leisure / Chris Watt Photography
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/2024/211214_316453.jpg
The new CEO of Edinburgh Leisure talks about plans to build active and thriving communities against a backdrop of council funding shortfalls
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features

HCM People: Jen HollandCEO: Edinburgh Leisure

Edinburgh Council will have a £143m budget shortfall by 2028/29 and so must find ways to become more efficient

Published in Health Club Management 2024 issue 4
New CEO Jen Holland is also a qualified accountant / photo: Edinburgh Leisure
New CEO Jen Holland is also a qualified accountant / photo: Edinburgh Leisure
We need to shout about what we're doing to tackle inequalities and get people living longer in better health

What appealed to you about the new role?
Having recently worked in the health and social care sector, I wholeheartedly believe in the critical role physical activity can play in improving health and wellbeing outcomes. Going forward, I see the sector as a critical partner in delivering improved outcomes in terms of the health needs of our population.

If we moved the whole system around to thinking about prevention and early intervention, we could have a huge impact on social care and health demand. I’d love to bring that change about.

It starts at a young age and requires us to remove the barriers to sport and physical activity, as well as building communities.

I strongly believe in the positive impact sport and physical activity can have for everyone and I’m passionate about creating opportunities for everyone to get and stay active.

What’s your background?
I’m a qualified accountant and from 2019 was the director of strategic commissioning and partnerships at Scottish Borders Council. Previous to that, I worked with various public sector and charity organisations, including Fife Cultural Trust, NHS Fife and Live Borders.

What are the main challenges?
The biggest challenges facing Edinburgh Leisure are being felt across the whole sector – public sector funding cuts against a backdrop of increasing demand for wider services to meet the changing health and wellbeing landscape, not to mention the need to invest in facilities to ensure they meet the demand of modern users.

Going forward, we need to shout about what we’re doing to tackle inequalities and get people active and living longer in better health. That’s a key part of what leisure trust outcomes are, which often isn’t recognised.

Tell us about Active Communities
The Active Communities programme supports 10,000 people a year to get active. There are specific programmes for different demographics: older adults, including Steady Steps for falls prevention, as well as people on low incomes – including children who have lived in care. It also welcomes children and young people, people living with disabilities, with concessionary rates and carers coming free and programmes to boost mental wellness – including supporting people with dementia.

What are some of the opportunities?
The Active Communities programme will be critical for us moving forward, so I want to do more to champion it. We need to ensure we’re at the table and talking collaboratively about the outcomes we want for this city and how we can support the agenda. We have so many programmes to help people live well, so ultimately prevention and early intervention reduces the need to access NHS or other public services.

There’s also an opportunity to work directly with acute services: hospitals have seen an unprecedented increase in demand and we need to start working more collaboratively with colleagues in the NHS to help reduce this demand.

We also need to harness the data available to lobby effectively, so decision-makers are fully informed about the benefits of physical activity.

The City of Edinburgh has just launched a draft Physical Activity and Sport Strategy to continue the work of reducing inequalities and is currently asking residents for their feedback in order to prioritise spending. Edinburgh Council will have a £143m budget shortfall in by 2028/29 and so must find ways to become more efficient, reduce costs and raise more money, or it may have to reduce or stop providing some services, so it’s important that residents influence these decisions.

The demand for Edinburgh Leisure is really high, so we need to continue with community engagement, marketing campaigns and collaboration to ensure we’re meeting the needs of the people of Edinburgh.

In terms of our estate, we've created a team to look at sustainability and ways to move towards Net Zero.

What trends are you seeing at the moment?
There is a lot of interest in sociable sports, such as pickleball. We offer this at a few of our centres, mainly during the day, by lowering the nets on our badminton courts.

Padel tennis is also on our agenda and we’re looking at opportunities for that and considering other new trends and our response for the future, including Hyrox.

Golf is another area of growth. It was declining pre-COVID, but is on the up now, so we see that as a huge opportunity. We have six courses and are looking at opportunities around coaching, development and adding technology, such as simulated driving ranges.

With £100,000 from SportScotland, we’re upgrading the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena at Ratho, with new bouldering facilities, which will improve opportunities to progress at all levels of the sport.

The redevelopment will make Ratho the only climbing centre in the UK with Olympic-standard facilities for all three climbing disciplines: lead climbing, speed climbing and bouldering.

Edinburgh Leisure operates more than 50 venues across the city

• 17 gym venues, hosting 750+ fitness classes and 250+ gym classes per week

• Royal Commonwealth Pool

• Meadowbank Sports Centre – that opened in 2022, replacing a facility which had previously hosted the Commonwealth Games

• 12 swimming pools including five Victorian baths. Edinburgh’s last remaining Victorian Turkish Baths

• 32 indoor and outdoor tennis courts

• 141 sports pitches

• Three soft play areas

• Europe’s largest climbing arena

• Six golf courses

• Community access to sports facilities and room hire at the city’s 23 high schools

Membership costs (per month):

• Climb membership: £54.50

• Climb and fitness: £77.50

• Full fitness: £59.99

• Fitness class: £45.99

• Gym only: £39.99

• Under 18s memberships: £14.99

• Young adult 18-24: £29.99

• Swim: £45.99

• Soft play: £18.99

• Annual golf season ticket: £588.50

• Golf bolt on: £34.25

Supporting refugees and migrants

Supporting access to all populations is an important part of Edinburgh Leisure’s work. In 2018, the Relocated People Access Programme was created in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council’s Refugee and Migration team to support relocated individuals new to Edinburgh.

Since April 2023, Edinburgh Leisure has supported 1,192 refugees to be active and there have been 19,502 visits to Edinburgh Leisure activities, with referral rates peaking in 2022.

In recognition of the high numbers of refugees accessing Edinburgh Leisure services and the contribution the programme was making to the refugees’ wellbeing, the City of Edinburgh Council awarded Edinburgh Leisure £100,000 for the programme in 2022-23 and 2023-24.

Edinburgh leisure has 17 gyms in the city / photo: Edinburgh Leisure / Chris Watt Photography
Edinburgh leisure has 17 gyms in the city / photo: Edinburgh Leisure / Chris Watt Photography
Young people should not face any barriers of participation / photo: Edinburgh Leisure / Chris Watt Photography
Young people should not face any barriers of participation / photo: Edinburgh Leisure / Chris Watt Photography
A full adult fitness membership costs £59.99 per month / photo: Edinburgh Leisure / Chris Watt Photography
A full adult fitness membership costs £59.99 per month / photo: Edinburgh Leisure / Chris Watt Photography
/ photo: Edinburgh Leisure / Chris Watt Photography
Targeting prevention and could have a huge impact on health and social care / photo: Edinburgh Leisure / Chris Watt Photography
Targeting prevention and could have a huge impact on health and social care / photo: Edinburgh Leisure / Chris Watt Photography
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/2024/211214_316453.jpg
The new CEO of Edinburgh Leisure talks about plans to build active and thriving communities against a backdrop of council funding shortfalls
Latest News
More than 200 organisations and athletes in the UK have signed an open letter to ...
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Diversity, equity and inclusion in the European fitness industry is examined in a new report ...
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Co-founders of specialist gym and fitness wear company, WIT Fitness, have returned to the brand ...
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Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: CoverMe Fitness launches in Australian market
CoverMe Fitness, the studio management app for the fitness industry, has launched in Australia, with industry veteran Tony Zonato as managing director for the region.
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Company profile: Mindbody
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Company profile: Innerva
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Supplier Showcases
Supplier showcase - Jon Williams
Supplier Showcases
Supplier showcase - Safe Space: Delivering the vision
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Featured press releases
KeepMe press release: Keepme celebrated as one of the UK’s Top 12 Startups
Keepme, a leader in AI-driven CRM solutions for the fitness industry, has been named as one of the UK's top 12 startups to watch for 2024 by Sifted.
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Taylor Made Designs Ltd press release: Taylor Made Designs backs local Atlantic row team
Dorset based business, Taylor Made Designs, is backing a brave team of four, committed to enduring on of the world’s most gruelling ocean challenges, aptly named: The World’s Toughest Row.
Directory
Snowroom
TechnoAlpin SpA: Snowroom
Salt therapy products
Himalayan Source: Salt therapy products
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Lockers
Crown Sports Lockers: Lockers
Cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Cryotherapy
Property & Tenders
Cleveland Lakes, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire
Cotswold Lakes Trust
Property & Tenders
Loughton, IG10
Knight Frank
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Diary dates
03-05 Sep 2024
IMPACT Exhibition Center, Bangkok, Thailand
Diary dates
08-10 Sep 2024
Wyndham® Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs™ Resort, Lake Buena Vista, United States
Diary dates
19-19 Sep 2024
The Salil Hotel Riverside - Bangkok, Bangkok 10120, Thailand
Diary dates
20-22 Sep 2024
Locations worldwide,
Diary dates
01-04 Oct 2024
REVĪVŌ Wellness Resort Nusa Dua Bali, Kabupaten Badung, Indonesia
Diary dates
09-13 Oct 2024
Soneva Fushi, Maldives
Diary dates
10 Oct 2024
QEII Conference Centre, London,
Diary dates
22-25 Oct 2024
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
24-24 Oct 2024
QEII Conference Centre, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
04-07 Nov 2024
In person, St Andrews, United Kingdom
Diary dates
04-06 Feb 2025
Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
Diary dates
11-13 Feb 2025
Fairmont Riyadh , Saudi Arabia
Diary dates
10-13 Apr 2025
Exhibition Centre , Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
07-07 Jun 2025
Worldwide, Various,
Diary dates
28-31 Oct 2025
Koelnmesse, Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
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