7 June 2023

What's your why? Local gym combats Gymphobia, promotes physical health for all

| Morgan Kenyon
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blackboard with what's your why messages

This gym takes an active approach to inclusive, holistic exercise. Photo: Anytime Fitness Weston.

Heart disease, diabetes, stroke, dementia, cancer… Just a few of the deadly conditions we risk developing when we don’t exercise enough.

More than 70 per cent of Australians are failing to reach even the lowest levels of physical activity they need to stay healthy, according to the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care.

A number of reasons sit behind our lack of exercise, including the fact we feel time poor and lack energy. Unfortunately there’s a third factor that has our activewear gathering dust – and it’s becoming more common.

It’s been coined Gymphobia, and it has us avoiding exercise because we believe it risks judgement based on clothes, looks and physical ability.

READ ALSO Kris Bignell tackles cancer head on and returns full time to Anytime Fitness with ‘new lease on life’

Anytime Fitness Weston is taking a deeply personal approach to motivation in a bid to promote inclusive exercise and tackle Gymphobia.

“The first thing visitors see when they enter our gym is the What’s Your Why board,” manager Bereket Storey says.

“What’s Your Why started as a fun, creative project to help our members think about what fuels their exercise and be a little vulnerable without fear of being judged.

“By placing the spotlight on mental, physical and social health, we focus less on appearance and help visitors transform their goals. For example, wanting to lose weight might turn into having more energy and confidence.”

group fitness session

Members have access to free group fitness sessions run by an in-house personal trainer. Photo: Anytime Fitness Weston.

The Weston gym offers a holistic approach to exercise for all ages and fitness levels.

Members enjoy free group fitness classes led by the gym’s own personal trainer, who is also available for one-on-one sessions for everything from dietary advice to machine introductions.

“We run three Functional Fitness circuits and three yoga sessions a week,” Bereket says.

“Both classes are designed to benefit full body health and give members a chance to receive tailored attention from our personal trainer on their form and overall movement.

“We have a member who still attends classes at 85, so if you’re able bodied and want to stay fit, you definitely can.”

READ ALSO Lifeline Canberra offers free mental health training

In line with his passion for fitness education, Bereket says encouraging adults to have a healthier, more active lifestyle is all about breaking down the stigmas that contribute to Gymphobia.

“There’s a perception that gyms are only for very fit people, but in reality they’re just as suitable for the everyday person who wants to stay in good shape,” he says.

“I would say anyone feeling anxious should go for a no-obligation tour in a welcoming, community-focused gym and check out the environment for yourself.

“Dismantling the idea that gyms are scary places is super important. I believe it’s the first step in fitness being seen as an everyday necessity, rather than the elective it’s made out to be.”

Anytime Fitness Weston’s EOFY sale ends 30 June. New members get two free personal training sessions and a reduced weekly rate, with no joining fee and no membership fees for the rest of the financial year. Find out more here.


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