Cat's Eyes on Glasgow: why I am fanatical about fitness on and off the slope

This week, getting sweaty on a Sunday morning, why Ashton Lane is right up my street and one of the coolest ways to spend a few hours in the city.

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The Festival

Most folk tend to get hot and sweaty on a Saturday night - och wheesch your dirty minds, I mean stepping out for a boogie! So, it was a bit of a shock for me to get up bright and early last Sunday morning and head to, what the organisers describe as, an 'all-day fitness rave', the first public GFX (Group Fitness Experience) in Glasgow.

This is a huge year for sport in our city, so it seems right that the global brand of Les Mills, who run the event (and created classes like Body Pump, Body Combat and Body Balance), chose Glasgow to kick things off. It's basically, a huge celebration on all things fit, like. Wherever you come from. There were over 1300 people from around the country, 13 brand new fitness classes to take part in (it was crazy working out with around 500 people a class, and surprisingly less whiffy than you might expect!) and a million watt sound system (aye, it was loud).

There's plenty of research to suggest that exercising with others is more effective, so sweating it out with thousands of folk must be close to making me an Olympian. No, probably not. But it was a great way to work-out the Sunday blues and I learnt a few moves that I intend to throw on the dance-floor this Saturday night!

The Place

There's history soaked into every bar on Ashton Lane. From the Ubiquitous Chip, now 43 years old; Jinty McGintys has been jigging things up in the lane for nearly 25 years and the lovely Brel (that used to house stables) has been there for donkeys. It's a lively, well-established Weegie wonderland of wine and beer, with more charm than you could shake your pint at: fabulous architecture, twinkly fairy lights and pretty cobblestones.

There are a couple of aspects where, you might say, it falls down (a bit like the lassies who wobble over the cobbles in their sky-scrapper high heels!). Some feel that the studenty influx at weekends cheapens the lane at the expensive of its regulars. And talking of cost, a few consider it to be on the dear side. However, I don't think it generally has higher prices than many places in town. I like the cocktail of different folk that go here too, it means the lane can be all places to all people - it's good to mix things up, no man is an island and all that. And despite the diversity, it remains largely trouble free. It's worth a wander down the lane to see Glasgow past and present, and if you've got time, pull up a pew for a brew.

The Activity

I've been desperate to ski-daddle up north the last few weeks to hit the slopes for a bit of downhill action. Sadly, though, because of a number of reasons, it's not been possible. Therefore, as the saying goes, if Cat will not go to the mountain, then the mountain must come to Cat. Or something like that…

So, this week, I decided to go to the Snow Factor at Braehead. It's the UK's largest indoor ski/snowboard slope, with 1500 tonnes of snow that's refreshed each night. The air temperature is a chilly -5, but it's a much more consistent environment than the actual Scottish slopes; where, because of the wind, I've often found myself skiing UP hill. It might be the biggest, but for most experienced skiers it's still a wee bit on the small side. However, it's a good way to stretch out the ski-legs and feel (a little) wind in your hair. I think where the Snow Factor hits the high jump, though, is for little ones and learners. And it's definitely a cool way to spend a couple of hours in and around Glasgow…

Wee Bird Recommends

Pancakes are for life, not just Shrove Tuesday. So, Wee Bird would like to recommend the Glasgow place that's stacks above the rest: Tribeca on Dumbarton Road. Topping the bill, they serve fresh buttermilk pancakes every day: they're seriously flipping good!


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