AS most of you will know, North Ayrshire is the fifth most deprived council area in Scotland with Ardrossan Central the third most deprived area in North Ayrshire, nearby Saltcoats Central coming out top of the list and Stevenston Ardeer in fifth place.

According to the National Records of Scotland (October 2022), the average life expectancy of both males and females in North Ayrshire is the seventh lowest in the whole of Scotland while females in North Ayrshire have the lowest ‘healthy’ life expectancy in the whole of Scotland. It seems females living in our area can expect to live in good health for only 54 years, in comparison with Orkney’s healthy life expectancy of 77.6 years.

Social deprivation (lack of disposable income) with access to alcohol, tobacco and fast food have been noted as factors of these high rates.

Low disposable income also means having to make a choice between turning the heating on, putting food on the table and spending money on “luxuries” such a gym membership.

This has become compounded by the recent UK Active survey reported on BBC News which stated that public leisure services are expected to be reduced or lost in 74 per cent of all council areas by March 2023.

We as a charity are extremely aware that not having access to a gym can have serious mental and physical health implications.

The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety would like to help by offering females in our area, free access to its Barony St John Centre gym facilities on Princes Street, in Ardrossan, every Thursday morning from 10am – 11am.

Our gym has lots of free weights, barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells and power bags plus exercise machines such as a cable crossover, a leg press, a spin bike, a recumbent bike, a hand-bike, an elliptical trainer, a Jacob’s Ladder, a vibration plate and a rowing machine.

Add to this our matted area which has six free-standing punchbags, two hanging punchbags and three body opponent bags, and you begin to realise just how big our training hall is.

As well as allowing females free access to work out in the gym, we also plan to run various weekly classes at this time including circuit training and kettlebell classes.

But that’s not all.

You may have read that North Ayrshire has the highest incidence of domestic abuse in Scotland per capita and 2021 figures showed sex crimes in our area rose by 12 per cent with incidents of rape or attempted rape rising by a massive 44 per cent.

We plan to combat this by offering a free, weekly self defence class for females at our Barony St John Centre, every Thursday from 11am-12noon.

Our free-of-charge gym and self defence sessions started on Thursday, November 17. So that’s free gym access 10am-11am and free self defence training 11am-12noon.

It will be a closed-door policy – females only – so why not pop in and say “Hello” to our instructor Claire and get yourself fighting fit for Christmas.

If you have any queries or questions about our free classes, please feel free to email us at

And if you would like to know more about the work The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety does, please visit our website

In the meantime, stay safe.