In April of this year we opened a brand new gym on site for companions. With support from the B&Q Foundation, the new facility was built by companions and provides them with a safe and dedicated space to enjoy their leisure time.

Steve, a companion at Emmaus Dover (pictured above), has recently qualified as a personal trainer with support from the Emmaus companion fund. Steve said:

“After passing the Sports Fitness Personal Trainer diploma I am also now a qualified sports massage practitioner. Within our community gym I now train some of the guys for their own personal fitness. I do the induction, I do the etiquette, I do their training programmes, and if need be I’m in there with them to give them one on one advice and help, and to point out any variations that they can do within the training. I give them encouragement and explain what muscles are being worked. I’m more interested in the science, the form and the discipline rather than just moving a weight from a to b. So, within that it helps them to focus, it gives them a sense of discipline, to clean the bench, put the weights back and so on.

“I started going to the gym through a previous job, we had a corporate membership at a gym and I got into going to the gym, the physical exercise and training. A few of us from my job went together, so we all trained together, and then both my ex-wife and myself we stayed with it. I went down the route of weight training and building physical exercise. My relationship with training has been sporadic, mainly due to different circumstances in my life, for example at different points I lived in Greece and then Poland, and wasn’t able to train. Life sometimes gets in the way, moving house, becoming a father. Since joining Emmaus Dover, I kept raising the idea of having a gym with Debbie (our Community Manager), as it’s so good for mental health.”

Undertaking physical activity has been proven to have a positive impact on not just physical but mental well-being, and Steve and the team at Emmaus Dover have been keen to incorporate that into their approach to the new gym space. Steve recognises that people use a gym for many different reasons, and makes sure the focus is on helping each individual to achieve their own goals, as well as to make sure the gym is a safe and welcoming space for the community.

“At the moment I’ve done about a dozen inductions – that’s companions, staff members, really anyone who wants to get into the gym but doesn’t want to go to a normal gym because of different issues they might have. A lot of people like one-on-one training. If you have a personal trainer you know you have 100% of their knowledge and their focus, and that they’re committed to helping you, pushing you, and encouraging you.

“Tonight I’m training with one of the companions here. He has some issues that he wants to help address through the training, he wants to build up his body, get that sense of focus and discipline back. I work with lots of different people with different needs and goals.”

Continuing with his goal of uniting mental and physical health, Steve is currently enrolled on another course, this time focussing on counselling. He said:

“About a month and a half ago I started a counselling course, because a lot of physical and sports centres now employ their own counsellors. They can help with people who have a variety of conditions or concerns, and can help clients to understand their motivations, for example body dysmorphia, anxiety issues, any range of mental issues which they might need support with. It can help people who are training to have a sense that the gym is a safe space, and to help them have a healthy relationship with their fitness journey. I’ve got one module to go and then I’ll have passed the course: so far I’ve passed each module with distinction. It’s something I’m really interested in and hope to explore a bit deeper with the help of members of the staff here who have counselling background, I look to them for a lot of knowledge and advice.”

We are very grateful to the B&Q Foundation, and all of our amazing supporters, who have helped make the gym come to life.