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In a men-only gym raising thousands to fight the male suicide epidemic

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Britain’s only men-only personal training gym celebrates raising thousands of pounds for men’s suicide prevention during International Men’s Health Week.

Washington’s Training Club, Tyne & Wear offered t-shirts and hosted a talk on mental health and well-being with motivational speaker and author Paul Mort and climbed the Yorkshire Three Peaks earlier in the year.

The gym raised a total of £2,985.00 for Andy’s Man Club, a men’s mental health charity that offers free discussion groups for men and aims to break the stigma surrounding men’s mental health.

The charity is named after Andy Roberts, who took his own life in 2016.

“To raise almost three grand for such an amazing cause as close to us as a gym is really mind-blowing,” said Ross Colquhoun, Founder of The Training Club.

“All credit must go to our amazing community. It is our mission to enable all men to challenge perceptions, increase their potential and help them find true purpose through the power of togetherness, self-improvement and fitness.”

The Training Club was founded in 2020 as a men-only gym offering personal training sessions in small groups.







The Training Club was founded in 2020 as a men-only gym offering personal training sessions in small groups
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Picture:

Marco Damian)







The training club is based in the North East, the region with England’s highest suicide rate in 2020 (13.3 per 100,000), according to data from the Office for National Statistics
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Picture:

Marco Damian)

“It’s unique in the country, there’s nothing like it,” Ross said.

Ross founded the Training Club to be not just a fitness facility, but “a place for men to come in, express themselves fully, have an hour to themselves, away from their kids, their wives, their jobs, and just be themselves.” Be able to focus on what’s going on in the room.

“The constant challenge, the camaraderie within the groups and the competition generate positive energy.

“You don’t have to feel judged walking into a place like this,” Ross said.

“We meet you where you are and you immediately feel comfortable and belonging.”

The training club is based in the North East, the region with England’s highest suicide rate in 2020 (13.3 per 100,000), according to data from the Office for National Statistics.

This has been the case for five of the past decade, with the region seeing a 15.7% increase in suicides compared to 2019.

Ross described the stat as “staggering” but hopes the training club can offer support to men in the North East who may be struggling.

“If there is more positivity in the area, in each little circle of their own, then hopefully things like this will decrease massively.

“I really believe in what we’re doing here, and I really believe there aren’t many people who are doing it with the level of care and passion that we have,” Ross said.

Training club members testify that the gym has a profound impact on both their physical fitness and mental well-being.







Training club members testify that the gym has a profound impact on both their physical fitness and mental well-being
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Picture:

Marco Damian)

Mick O’Donnell, a retired Royal Marine who served 28 years before joining the Training Club, said: “When you hang up your boots and retire, all of a sudden you seem to have that time in your hands to have. I think it can be quite dangerous.

“You’ve lived in a trusted bubble for so long, with high integrity, and you jump into the ‘civilian world,’ where there are a lot of sharks.

“Some people can take a dangerous path.”

After retiring from the Royal Marines in April 2020, Mick developed arthritis in his ankles and problems with his knees known as senior injuries.

“It’s quite a physically demanding job and it seems like all these injuries come out when you sit down.

“A lot of guys end up with bad backs, bad knees, lower limb injuries and stuff like that,” Mick said.

Mick joined the Training Club in June 2021 for support with his injuries and since then the gym has become a part of his life.

“This is not a short-term fix, this is a lifestyle change for me.

“Anyone who leaves the armed forces or a physically demanding job has to improve their fitness.

“I am now being educated on how to take care of my body and how best to live long. Coaches basically take care of you and you need that, especially when you get to my age.

The Training Club welcomes men of all ages and backgrounds, from retirees to men grappling with the impact of new phenomena such as social media.

Marco D’Andrea performed Treasure Island with Bear Grylls a reality TV survival show that aired on Channel 4 in September 2019 and reappeared on Netflix in December 2021.

12 participants were left to their own devices for 35 days on a remote, uninhabited Pacific island to test their survival skills. Over the course of the show, £100,000 in cash was dropped on the island in boxes for contestants to find.

“We are aware that there are cameras there all the time. So we’re aware that this is going to be shown on TV, but if that actually happens it’s a different story,” Marco said.

Marco took home £19,000 from the island, most of the prize money and more than any other entrant.

“I started looking at social media to see how people were reacting and there was a lot of negativity aimed at me.

“I got a lot of pretty hurtful and very hateful comments directed at me for being shown how to play the game.

“I’ve been called a liar and a cheat. My motives for participating in the show have been questioned, as has my character and integrity. It was all pretty lazy and it hurt a lot,” said Marco.







The gym raised a total of £2,985.00 for Andy’s Man Club, a men’s mental health charity that offers free men’s talk groups
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Picture:

Marco Damian)







Members have vowed to continue raising money and raising awareness of the causes of mental health in the North East
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Picture:

Marco Damian)

After the show hit Netflix, Marco experienced a resurgence of online abuse.

“I’ve been trapped in a bubble of negativity for quite a while and it hurts, it really does,” he said.

Marco found that attending the training club every day allowed him to deal with the negative comments he received.

“Being a member of the Training Club is so much more than training, it’s a community,” he said.

“I know that I will meet certain people who will listen, offer advice and help me structure my mind when I am struggling.

“It’s like in a wolf pack, everyone stands behind the other and when I see things that are against me or have doubts about myself at any point, I have friends around me who tell me how it is . They will confirm or reassure me.

“It’s a pillar of strength that cements me in reality, I think.”

Dan Talbot joined The Training Club in August 2021 after struggling with his mental health and addiction to cocaine, alcohol and gambling.

“I was out of control,” Dan said, “I just thought it was a boy and what you’re doing, but it was far from it and I wanted to change.”

He joined the Training Club to improve his fitness and develop a new routine as part of a series of lifestyle improvements.

“At first I was pretty nervous about coming, but all that nervousness was gone as soon as I walked through the door. It’s an amazing place.

“The coaches here are like friends. They’re like mini-counselors, they give you life advice, but they’re also there to just pick you up and pull you through each session.

“Even though it’s a small group, it’s like personal training with a friend.

Ross and his team of five full-time coaches are committed to helping more men by providing not only group training but also an “exit” and a “safe space.”

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” Ross said.

He vows to continue raising money and awareness of mental health issues in the Northeast.

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https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/inside-men-only-gym-raising-27270518 In a men-only gym raising thousands to fight the male suicide epidemic

Fry Electronics Team

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