by Colin Campbell
THE Inverness leisure centre reopened on Wednesday with a new wave of inductions, with newcomers and existing members being given guidance on how to use the superb range of new equipment now installed in the extended gym.
Does this herald a typical January “surge” in activity after the festive period of merriment, indulgence and in many cases fattening up?
Let’s hope so. After the effort and expense High Life Highland have put into providing Inverness with one of the best equipped and best value for money facilities in Scotland, they deserve nothing less.
Even Nicola Sturgeon yesterday got something right and indirectly delivered a boost to leisure centres everywhere.
First of all she caved in after weeks of trying to be different from the English by reducing the self isolation rules to seven days instead of the ridiculously excessive 10 days.
That was the headline. But for the first time she also seemed to acknowledge, finally, that her days of restrictions and dominance of people’s lives are over, and that people will have to learn to live with the virus, which as of now means omicron, where the ill effects in the overwhelming number of cases are either non existent, very mild, or at worst tolerable for the very few days that they last.
More and more people know, as I do, of others who have been infected. And we are seeing and hearing evidence to bolster our own personal knowledge of how omicron is little worse than a mild cold.
The days of being influenced by sensationalist doom mongers in the media are over. As are the days of paying attention to dire warnings from Sturgeon or other politicians.
The situation has moved on. In my experience, and from what I’ve heard, that of many others, fear of virus infection is fading rapidly.
I go to the gym without a second thought. But since it reopened last year pre-vaccine I’ve always gone without a second thought.
But now more people are likely to respond accordingly. The benefits in health and mental wellbeing are huge, and they far outweigh any very remote risk of catching a minor virus which will have minimal impact in any case.
The likelihood is that most people, particularly younger and healthy people, will this January come round to that way of thinking.
And across the range, former leisure centre stayaways will start turning up.
The signs of that happening looked good yesterday.
Looking back last night over the two years of coverage of the virus we have provided here from the very beginning in hundreds of articles – and what an extraordinary click of a page record it is of an extraordinary two years, something you will find absolutely nowhere else – I ended up back at the beginning, and the early, dark day when the Inverness leisure centre closed down, and became a depressingly empty shell. “Inverness Leisure closes its doors – perhaps for months on end” we wrote on March 20, of 2020, reflecting and recording the mood of the time, which was total uncertainty, apprehension and bewilderment.
So much has changed since then.
And as the superb new gym at the centre prepares for what should be a busy, energy packed January, there is the firmly positive feeling that those grim, darkest of days are finally behind us.