Regular readers will know that not every post on Edinburgh Reviews is a review, and the new Spotlight column is one of them.
In this Spotlight, I have the absolute honour of putting some questions to Alex Nairn of Health by Science. Alex is the co-owner and the lead physiotherapist.
As a disclaimer, I (Girdy) am also a patient at Health by Science, but as per the blog’s ethos, I pay and am treated like everyone else. However, I do have some inside knowledge, and I know that the business is a social enterprise. That’s a particular type of business with a purpose; not every business qualifies.
You might think Edinburgh Council would be delighted to have a social enterprise in Leith focusing on helping people recover their mobility, health and stamina. Read on for more…
G: Can you introduce yourself with a fun fact about you and a helpful one about Health by Science?
Alex: I’m one of the physiotherapists at HBS, as well as one of the co-founders. I’m actually half Swedish. My mum comes from Sweden so I was raised with 2 languages, and can speak fluently. This has certainly confused people in both Scotland and Sweden when my mum will ask me a question in Swedish, and I answer with a resounding Scottish ‘Ai!’.
Health by Science offers 3 core services: personal training, physiotherapy and sports massage. We feel all 3 work closely together, so our clients are not just getting one person’s knowledge, but a team of highly qualified experts in their respective fields.
G: I’m a customer (patient?) and I don’t mind telling readers that Health by Science has made my life better. What’s it like being a positive force for people?
Alex: I always say my job is selfish. I get to work with people to help them achieve their goals, whether that’s getting out of pain or performing at a higher level. I’m there to guide and support clients to safely return to not only the level they were previously at, but ideally a higher level. When I see the outcomes, I feel this tremendous satisfaction knowing that I played a role in helping them.
G: It can’t be all good and easy, though. I know the Council surprised the business with double yellow lines outside! Can you tell us about why that’s a particular problem or about any other particular challenges health business face?
Alex: The new parking layout at Giles Street has come as a big shock. We received notice in October 2021 that plans were in place to change the layout, but we were not informed of what the layout would be. This has made it difficult to communicate with our clients what their options are for those who drive. We work with a lot of vulnerable demographics, such as stroke survivors, those with Parkinsons’ and multiple sclerosis. These people have severe mobility issues so need to drive in to use our facilities (sometimes being the only journey they’ll make out of their homes). We are currently unaware of what the options will be for them.
G: Despite those challenges you still give back to the community. Can you tell us about Thrive and being a social enterprise?
Alex: So we have been a social enterprise since 2017, and our main social cause is our Thrive class. Our Thrive class is a small group class (5 people to 1 trainer) for anyone who would benefit from improving their strength and living as independently as possible. The class began as an exercise after stroke class, but we found there were more conditions who would benefit from receiving exercise delivered in a safe manner through physiotherapists and physio assistants.
Due to the current demands being placed on the NHS, as well as waiting times, we are trying to help by providing another alternative. We deliver the class for free for 12 weeks (which include a physio assessment and a one to one induction for the class) if we receive a referral from a NHS health care practitioner.
You can find out more about our class by visiting our Thrive page. I have also attached the referral letter that someone can take to an NHS healthcare professional to sign, and then receive the free 12 weeks.
G: What’s your top “get fit and well” tip?
Alex: Consistency. It may not sound sexy, but the best way to get (and maintain) healthy is to be consistent. Starting small, and making sure you can keep it up is crucial. If you go for a 5k run everyday for a week, then don’t do it again for 2 months, there’s minimal benefits you will receive. However, if you go for a 20min walk each day at lunchtime, that adds up! The body will begin to change over time, if we give it enough TIME. From there it’s easier to increase and build upon our fitness as we’re creating a strong base.
G: What do you do to have fun and relax?
Alex: I’d like to say golf, but it’s not fun or relaxing when you play terribly! So instead, I’d say going out to new restaurants and trying different styles of food. Food is so much more to me than calories or fat content. For me food is about the experiences, tastes, and culture. There’s few things more enjoyable than trying a new place and finding a food you’ve never tried, and wondering ‘how have I gone my whole life without this!?’.
You can find Health by Science at 98 Giles Street but don’t just turn up there, book an appointment and even sample one of their free intros or online services.