Kirkcaldy weightlifting club celebrates 50 years of blood, sweat and tears

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One of Kirkcaldy’s best kept secrets is celebrating its fifth decade of existence and is still going strong.

Templehall Weightlifting Club has been housed in the basement of the local community centre since rising from the ashes of another club in 1966.

The current treasurer, Ian Dryburgh, was one of the founder members and 50 years on is still working out three times a week, aged 75.

He remembers the club’s beginnings when champion weightlifter Phil Caira, the winner of two Commonwealth Games gold medals, decide to close his own gym.

Ian said: “Kirkcaldy Town Council gave Phil premises at Junction Road next to the County Motors Garage to run his gym, and I was a member. It was an old police building and it still had the cells.

‘‘It was pretty sparse. It was old.

‘‘The floorboards were rotting, taps dripped and there was damp.

“It was actually called the Murray School of Physical Education and was sponsored by Phil Caira.

‘‘That was a guy called Al Murray who was the Olympic coach and lived in Thornton. Phil had been one of his pupils.

“After Phil decided to close it down the late Peter Innes and his son Jim started the Templehall Weightlifting Club in 1966.

‘‘We went to a meeting in the Templehall Community Centre to see if we wanted to continue.

“There was only around five of us to begin with, we were the remnants of those that had gone to the Junction Road gym so it grew out of that and Pete was really the driving force to get the club started.

‘‘He deserves all the credit.”

Pete bought some weights from Phil’s gym and the club started working out in the basement under the stage.

Ian said: “It had a concrete floor, emergency lighting and that was about it!

“It was spilt into three parts. We had one section, in the middle was Kinghorn Boxing Club and in the third section was Dysart Brass Band, but we gradually persuaded them both to go elsewhere!

“At first we had the space for free, as the council said it wasn’t a rentable part of the building, but gradually that changed and the politicians managed to squeeze a few pounds out of us!”

Different members have served on the committee over the years, with Jim taking on the role of treasurer in 2002.

“If you see what it’s become since it started out it’s quite a change. It’s a very modern gym now.

“A lot of people have worked hard over the years, we’ve not had to have too many committee elections either.

“We have our own cardio section and we have a dressing room and showers, so we’re pretty much self-contained and we run the club ourselves, we’re not run by Fife Council as some people think.”

The club always welcomes new members - if they know where to go.

Ian said: “Enter by the side entrance in Beauly Place. Some people in Templehall don’t even know we’re there!”

The club also prides itself on helping the local community.

Ian said: “We consider ourself to be non-profit making. Our main aim in our constitution which we put together in 2003 is to use extra funds to make donations to local charities or sponsorships.

“We sponsor our own people obviously, we’ll give assistance if someone is taking part in a contest, but we have given away thousands of pounds over the years and will continue to do so, providing they are local.

“We also improve the facilities that we have.

“We stared off buying a lot of second hand equipment but now we tend to buy brand new.”

The club can also boast a number of success stories in its 50 years.

“Apart from Phil Caira obviously, who had the most illustrious career, we’ve had quite a few people who have been involved in body building and power lifting.

“At the moment we have a fellow called Ian Lawrence on our committee who is a former Mr Universe - you don’t get much bigger than that! We’re very proud to have him on board.

“We’ve had various Mr Scotlands like Imlach Shearer and a few that have been successful at power lifting like Mike Duffy from Lochgelly and Stuart Bell.

“Nowadays I would say that 99 per cent of our clientele just like to do weight training. The vast majority are thinking I’m off to Ibiza in a few weeks, I better try and get in shape!

“We’re not a “clipboard” gym that will follow people around saying you need to do 10 reps of this and that, but our committee are happy to help anyone who’d like to come along, but mostly we just let our members get on with it!

“We don’t actually advertise, it’s all word of mouth. We are cheap compared to other gyms in Kirkcaldy.

“We only charge our members £20 a year and it’s a pound for a session - it’s hard to go below that, but we do have a good, loyal support and we’re in a very healthy state.”

Kirkcaldy weightlifting champion Phil Caira

Kirkcaldy weightlifting champion Phil Caira