Ian McCaldon almost has to duck as he walks inside Tea Tree Tea, his 6′ 5″ frame filling the doorway, heads turning towards his imposing figure as he sits down next to me.
A firm shake of the hand followed by a winning smile reveals the friendly and charming nature behind this ex-professional footballer’s imposing outward appearance. As he relates his life story to me, I’m struck both by how rich and varied this 35 year old’s experiences have already been; and also how much he loves the city he’s recently returned to.
McCaldon is back on home turf to start a personal training and motivational fitness business, and – with his positive manner and attitude – he is a walking advertisement for his service.
Born in Liverpool, McCaldon was brought up in Prestonpans and was signed to Livingston FC as goalkeeper by the time he was 21. A football career path followed, and he transferred to Oxford and Chester City before fate crossed his path on a holiday in Australia. Having met the “girl of his dreams” down under, he wasted no time in terminating his contract with the Chester club then living what some may call a dream life in Coral Bay in Western Australia, working as a kayak and snorkel tour guide.
“I was a beach bum!” laughs McCaldon. “It was a great lifestyle. I’d wake up each morning, pull on my shorts, no need for shoes; and my office was the ocean!”
A year later, he was off game fishing in New Zealand before his visa ran out and he found himself back on Scottish soil. A two-year stint at Ross County in Inverness followed.
“It was like a village in comparison” he recalls, “though I still enjoyed it. The fly-fishing and hillwalking were great and the Ironworks had a good music scene going on.”
In 2007, he retired from football and ended up in London, working as a bespoke furniture fitter for high-class clients in Mayfair, Kensington and Chelsea.
“It was my own choice” he says. “I’d lost the desire for football and had a string of injuries.”
It was at this stage of his life that McCaldon first started studying for his current career, taking a one year course in osteopathy.
“It was pretty tough” he admits. “With the furniture fitting and the studying, I had one day off a week. London burnt me out.”
Reassessing his goals, he realised what it was he wanted to focus on.
“It was like pieces of a jigsaw coming together. I’ve always been into fitness and also been able to motivate people. I had all the right tools and a network of friends and contacts that made being a personal trainer a pretty appealing option.”
Never one to procrastinate, McCaldon upped sticks and spent 6 weeks in Alicante on a course that saw him emerge with a master trainer certificate, equipped with a range of physical, psychological and motivational tools to help people become what they want to be.
Returning to Prestonpans late in 2009, he’s now ready to offer his unique service to anyone who wants to get fit, take control of their life and take advantage of McCaldon’s fusion of fitness and wellbeing coaching skills.
And why Edinburgh?
“It feels in my heart like the right place to be” he replies. “Edinburgh’s got everything – culture, diversity, a great social life. There’s a buzz about the place at the moment – you can see it in places like Leith and with all the new shops and businesses opening up. Though my friends joke by asking me ‘how long are you back for?’, I’m following my heart.”
And with another broad smile and confident handshake, McCaldon takes his leave, with the air of a man who knows in his heart what he wants and – perhaps more importantly – with the belief in his own ability to make it happen.
After even a short time in his company, I have no doubt he will.
Check out Ian’s personal training business – IMFitness