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How the gym can help your mental health

The Gym Group has been announced as a official partner of The Movember Foundation with a commitment to raise £50,000 to support the global men’s health charity. 100 gyms across the UK will inspire members to take on epic in-gym fitness challenges and raise funds. We spoke to Gym Group CEO John Treharne about the importance of good mental health

The Gym Group has been named as a major partner of The Movember Foundation. How did this come about?

The facts and statistics about men’s health are staggering and the links between fitness and good health are undeniable, that’s why this partnership was an ideal venture for The Gym Group. It’s not about losing pounds – it's about raising them.

The Gym Group has always been philanthropic: members can choose to donate to the charity of the month when they join. Why is charity important to the company?

We have 100 gyms across the country and a huge community of avid, loyal and engaging members. That is a very powerful and valuable platform on which to help raise awareness of charitable causes and so we are proud to do what we can to support a number of charities.

The gym is an inclusive exercise space that caters for all abilities and incomes. As mental health care in the UK isn’t accessible to all, do you think this approach is a viable alternative to NHS treatment?

In regard to mental health specifically, statistics show that increased aerobic exercise or strength training has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Statistics such as this are invaluable when looking at how to combat and treat mental health issues. Recently there has been a huge improvement in awareness and acceptance of mental health, we hope that will continue and force the issue to be assessed at the highest levels.

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Why have you chosen to be such a visible champion of men’s mental health?

The simple fact is that men are dying too young. If, though our channels, members, communications and platform as an inclusive gym operator, we can raise awareness and funds to support this most valuable cause then we do so wholeheartedly with as much visibility as possible.

Is the ‘macho’ ideal something you see men aspiring to at the gym?

The great thing about The Gym is that it is for anyone, anywhere at any level. We have people of all shapes, sizes and abilities at our gyms and that is something we are proud of. That’s why the in-gym challenges to Move for Movember will work well, it’s not about being the fittest or going the furthest. It’s about getting out there, having fun and doing good by raising funds along the way.

Are attitudes changing with regards to men talking about their emotions and experienced with illness?

Recently there has been a huge improvement in awareness and acceptance of men’s health issues and we hope that will continue. Through partnerships such as this we can help to raise awareness about these topics and help to break any existing taboo.

Tell us about the Movember challenges?

100 gym locations across the UK will inspire members to take on epic in-gym Move challenges such as ’Row to the home of Mo,’ which will see participants contribute to a national target to row the 34million metres to Melbourne in 30 days, or individual challenges such ‘Trek the Inca Trail, ‘ ‘Bike from London to Paris,’ ‘Row the Zambezi River’ and ‘Run the marathon de Sables.’ There are also group triathlon and rowing challenges.

Are there specific goals that the campaign hopes to achieve?

Through the partnership we will:

  • Help raise funds and awareness to help men lead happier, healthier, longer lives.
  • Raise £50,000 in order to help Movember in their valuable work, which include game-changing health projects and research to tackle testicular and prostate cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.
  • Engage with our members and fitness industry community to highlight the links between fitness and good physical and mental health.
  • On average, men die six years earlier than women
  • Every minute, somewhere in the world, a man takes his own life
  • Three out of four suicides are men
  • One in four of us will be affected by a mental health problem
  • A man dies every 45 minutes from prostate cancer in the UK
  • Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men under 40
  • Testicular cancer rates have doubled in the last 50 years
  • One in two men in the UK do not meet recommended guidelines of physical activity
  • People who do regular physical activity have a 30% lower risk of early death
  • Exercise can reduce your risk of major illness, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer by up to 50%
  • Increased aerobic exercise or strength training has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Two thirds of men in the UK are overweight or obese
  • To stay healthy, adults should try to be active daily and aim to achieve at least 150 minutes of physical activity over a week through a variety of activities

Register for Movember and raise money for men's health