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15 July, 2021

National award for mens health

A SMALL Atherton fitness program has made national headlines after being named as the Best New Men’s Health Initiative at the 2021 Men’s Health Awards.

By Rhys Thomas

The Atherton Men’s Shed has been recognised for their new health program being voted the Best New Men’s Health Initiative at the 2021 Men’s Health Awards.

A SMALL Atherton fitness program has made national headlines after being named as the Best New Men’s Health Initiative at the 2021 Men’s Health Awards. 

Starting at the beginning of the year, the Atherton Men’s Shed teamed up with Atherton Community Health, FNQ Health and Fitness and Tablelands Regional Council to deliver a specialised, tailored program to its members.

The Atherton Men’s Shed Physical Activity Program ran for 16 weeks with an initial survey done at the beginning, seeing where each participant’s fitness was and what they wanted to get out of the program. 

The program was not just restricted to the men’s shed members however as over the course of the program they had many different people and other groups coming along to participate. 

“We had an overall objective for what the program would look like, but we maintained a concept of flexibility to make sure the program developed to meet the needs of the guys participating,” Clinical nurse for Atherton Community Health Malcolm Fraser said.

“Each of the sessions was supervised by a clinical nurse and an exercise physiologist.” 

Now the program has won the Best New Men’s Health Initiative at the 2021 Men’s Health Awards, where they also got second in the Equity category for the same program. 

Mr Fraser felt that the program had a good balance of being professional and structured, and relaxed and fun. 

“We were able to find a balance between making it structured and yet being not as structured, so the men felt free around coming and going as they like. 

“There was a lot of banter, a lot of laughter and pleasure about the program because they weren’t under pressure.” 

Carla Barletta from FNQ Health and Fitness was the on-hand exercise physiologist for the duration of the program and agreed with Mr Fraser’s comments about the program. 

“We wanted to make it a professional program too so all the measures that we took blood pressures for example,” she said.

“From our background in health we wanted to make sure they were safe and felt really supported in the environment.

“They felt safe and supported because of the professionalism.”

President of the Atherton Men’s Shed Paul Jones said he was surprised about the response and community support that the program received. 

“We feel quite good about it because the more the fellas got into it the keener and keener they got,” he said.

“Some of them I’d never seen up so early.” 

Now with the program finishing its 16-week lifespan the Atherton Men’s Shed members now have the knowledge to keep the program running. 

“Part of the underlying philosophy of men’s shed’s in Australia is not only the workshop type activities but mental health as well and also the physical health,” Atherton Men’s Shed secretary John Whyte said. 

“It was designed to have an ongoing, self-perpetuating model process and that is working well as well. 

“So, every new person that comes to the men’s shed is invited to come to the program and join in if they want.” 

Being a success, the program now has the potential to spread to other men’s shed’s across the country.


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