Joe (right) works out in the gym with the help of his trainer Dylan.
Joe (right) works out in the gym with the help of his trainer Dylan. Warren Lynam

Personal trainer busts men's fitness myths

GOING to the gym can be a struggle at the best of times, especially in winter when it's dark and cold.

Despite the range of health benefits that keeping active bring to physical and mental well-being, all too often there's still the excuses and the sighs. Does "I'll just start tomorrow" sound familiar?

Well, what if the motivation to exercise dug a bit deeper than goals of weight loss or body image issues?

What if a daily sweat session was something to which you looked forward? If it was somewhat of a social gathering, where you had friendly competition with like-minded mates? Do you reckon you'd be more intrigued to train then?

Because scientific research suggests you would.

A study conducted by University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found those who entered fitness challenges and trained in groups were more likely to succeed and maintain long-term benefits than those who didn't.

The research found 95 per cent of those who started a weight-loss program with friends completed the program, as opposed to 76 per cent of individuals who took on the program alone. Of those who trained with friends, 66 per cent were able to keep the weight off, while only 24 per cent of individuals who trained alone kept up the positive progress.

Coming off the back of Men's Health Week, where there was much discussion centred around men's mental health and the benefits of social connectivity, the Weekend Magazine sought out to bust some myths related to men and social fitness classes. To help us, we got the help of a local trainer and his trusty old steed (uh, we mean client).

Joe Bassard recently hit his ideal weight target, he says, thanks to the support of group training at Fitstop Maroochydore. After injuring his knee in soccer, he was left unable to play for a long period of time and found himself missing the connection of "belonging to a team".


Joe works out in the gym.
Joe works out in the gym. Warren Lynam

Owner of Fitstop Maroochydore, trainer and now Joe's good mate, Dylan Fennell, believes group training is the key for men to maintain physical and mental health because it encourages social interaction, forms important bonds and encourages individuals to push themselves through friendly competition.

Myth one: Functional training is all cardio based and designed for those with weight loss targets.

The general fitness stereotype is that men want to "get bigger" (through weight training) and women want to "get leaner" (through cardio training).

However, to actually change a person's body composition the process is much more complex.

Functional training has proven results in building muscle because it requires a combination of power, strength and agility.

These whole body training techniques used consistently, combined with diet help to build genuine body size and mass.

Joe said his success was contributed to varied styles of training that combined cardio, weight training as well as endurance.

"There are a few guys that I train with each day and we've gotten to know each other, so we push each other to train harder and lift heavier. We make sort of a game out of it and challenge each other to do better," he said.

"The different types of training allow guys to do cardio but still do heavy weights if they want to.


Joe (left) works out in the gym with the help of his trainer Dylan.
Joe (left) works out in the gym with the help of his trainer Dylan. Warren Lynam

Myth two: You are more likely to get injured in a group class because it's fast paced and you don't know what you are doing.

Dylan said injury caused by poor technique was a major concern for anyone working in the fitness industry and encouraging safe practice was almost every trainer's number one priority.

In a class and supervised environment, Dylan said it was easier for trainers and clients to work together to achieve correct technique.

"If you talk to anyone, male or female, when they go into a training facility there are two things that happen; they either don't know what they're doing and they try to copy someone or they get bad advice and do things incorrectly, which are both massive challenges in the industry as a whole," Dylan said.

Dylan said the issue could be particularly troublesome in larger facilities for people who were reluctant to ask for help while working out.

"It's an intimidating interaction," he said.

"In a class environment everyone is doing the same thing, it's structured and planned for you. It's easy to pick up on those who need technique correction and trainers will offer it without asking."

Myth three: Functional classes are all female dominated and it's harder to make friends as a guy.

After his break from soccer, Joe said he was able to re-establish the positive relationships he missed through his interaction at the gym.

"I've made a heap of friends from joining Fitstop, it's become pretty much like a family to me. It's actually enjoyable to train there every day," Joe said.

As an experienced personal trainer, Dylan said a group training environment encouraged interaction between clients, even for those who were usually a bit introverted.

"In this environment you're next to people all the time, so naturally interactions and relationships start to form. Especially when you train at similar times because that's when you start to see familiar faces," Dylan said.

"You see it all the time on the socials, people hanging out who met in here.

"It's because you come in here and you've got support, you've got accountability, you've got friendships and all of those things increase your motivation and overall they really do help you mentally."

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