Personal trainer opening Bamber Bridge gym to help tackle male suicide
A personal trainer who helps men cope with mental illness is opening a new gym in Bamber Bridge.
James Calderbank, of Cottam, set up Transform Hub two years ago in Preston, and has two separate gyms for ladies and men. The 27-year-old is now planning to set up a second male group called The Men's Hub on Saturday, February 1st, at South Rings Business Park in Bamber Bridge.
The group aims to support all aspects of male health, including emotional well-being.
James said: "Male suicide is massively overlooked and underestimated so I want Transform Hub to be a place where the local government could send people to if they're struggling with their mental health," he said.
"The Hub helps answer health issues that the Government can't sort out and offers the full solution. We've built tribes and helped people become emotionally fit, which feels amazing."
James established the first men's group after discovering that Preston had been dubbed the "suicidal capital of England", and that some 471 people took their own life in Lancashire from 2012 to 2014.
"Preston is a working-class city with an old-school mindset that men have to man up. I think women in contrast naturally tend to open up more," the fitness fan said.
Support includes training, coaching and advice on nutrition. But to help men open up more easily, James said he also offers social events and mental health talks to foster a safe environment for discussing problems, adding: "When lads first come in they're a bit standoffish but afterwards they're all best friends."
And commenting on the impact that Transform Hub has had on people's lives, he said: "We've had guys say to us that if they didn't have this group, they wouldn't be here."
One of the people whose life has has been transformed is Walton-le-Dale man Jed Moss, who joined the Preston group in February after struggling to deal with his little boy's death.
The 44-year-old, who trains three times a week, said: "I lost my son four years ago and went into a state of depression. I just gave up on myself.
"I was drinking too much. Every day, I went to the pub after work, had about three or four beers and was asleep by 9pm.
"I also had a wardrobe full of clothes with only three items I could wear that didn't make me feel fat."
But when he lost more than a stone in the first month of training, Jed developed the confidence and determination he needed to dig himself out of a dark hole.
"When I lost my little boy, I had three years of really giving up on life. The group hasn't made me forget but it's helped me look forward to the future.
"It's not just about the gym but everything else. I changed my bad habits: I hardly drink now and I only go to bed earlier if I'm going to the gym at 5am."
Transform Hub is like a family, according to Jed, and the experience has helped him make more positive connections.
"Mentally and physically it's made a huge difference to me. I feel so much more positive and confident now. I've made close friends at the hub, and I feel part of a community. You meet people at the time and it makes it easier to talk to others," he said.
"It's also had a good impact on my family. We're walking and doing a lot more together."
It's also given him the confidence to step out of his comfort zone.
"I'm not as afraid to do things now. I organised a group challenge where we took on the Yorkshire Three Peaks for charity in September and everyone completed it. We did 26 miles in 10 hours. It was such a great feeling to do it," he said.
The team raised £3,000 for Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), a heart health charity that raises awareness of sudden cardiac death in the young. The team also raised an extra £1,000 for a defibrillator for the men's hub.
"I probably wouldn't have taken it on if I hadn't been as fit. It was quite the feat."
Trainer James knows the struggles of his clients, having battled with mental illness himself and found it difficult to enjoy exercise as a child.
"I was never into sport in school and tried to avoid it at all costs," he said.
"When I went to college, I put on a bit of weight and felt insecure in myself. I had a bad time with anxiety and was in a really low place. I was at the point where I didn't want to leave the house.
"When you feel like that you don't feel worthy or have any motivation."
But everything changed when a friend invited him to the gym and he discovered a new passion for fitness.
"It was a kiss of life for me. It changed my life. I lost two stone in 16 weeks and started taking part in photo shoots and men's physique competitions," he added.
Having left the corporate world, he's now been coaching for six years and opened his first gym in Preston two years ago.
James was then named the regional and national Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2018 by the Federation of Small Businesses and won New Business of the Year in the Sub 36 Awards. He was also shortlisted for the Entrepreneur of the Year category while Transform Hub made the top five in the National Fitness Awards' Gym of the Year competition.
The exercise king, who donates 5% of Transform Hub's quarterly profits to mental health charities, added: "Honestly, I go to bed every night with a smile on my face, no matter how bad my day has been, because of the impact we have on the community."