Private gym with mental health support to open in Sudbury

Joe James personal trainer in his new studio gym in Sudbury aiming to help people with mental health

Joe James in his new studio gym in Sudbury - Credit: Denise Bradley

A personal trainer is to help gym-goers to have healthy minds as well as bodies - by opening a private fitness studio to focus on their mental wellbeing, as well as physical fitness.

Sudbury's Joe James designed his new gym with a place to train, a consultation room, a sports massage clinic and a shop during lockdown.

Mr James is also a mental health first aider - and has therefore pledged not just to help clients lift dumbbells, but cope with whatever might be weighing on their minds too.

Joe James personal trainer in his new studio gym in Sudbury aiming to help people with mental health

Mr James has already attracted a lot of interest in his new gym - Credit: Denise Bradley

Mr James wanted to incorporate mental health within the fitness studio after his own difficult childhood. 

"I am a mental health first aider, so if people are suffering I will be there for support as well," he said.


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"I had a difficult childhood growing up. My mum was an alcoholic. It was a really hard upbringing especially for my brothers. 

"My mum passed away from leukaemia in 2001 when I was 14 and I moved in with a family friend. 

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"One of my brothers suffered with mental health issues and was addicted to heroin, he was also in and out of prison."

Mr James' brother took his own life in 2017, with the personal trainer saying: "I hadn't seen him since I was 12 but, when the police got in contact, I had to deal with all the sadness of my childhood which caused my own depression. 

Joe James personal trainer in his new studio gym in Sudbury aiming to help people with mental health

Mr James spoke about how his childhood and the birth of his son motivated him to set up the gym. With Joe is his son Charlie, 10 - Credit: Denise Bradley

"He was so kind to me and I loved him very much.

"This has made me want to create something where people can feel good about themselves and with mental health fitness this is huge.

"It also inspired me to make something of my life. That is why the gym was born and I decided to be a mental health first aider.

"Having my son Charlie was the inspiration I needed to carry on and do good."

Mr James added that the private studio "is a good place to come if you have anxiety about going to a gym, as the space is nice and relaxing for anyone to achieve their goals".  

He also said: "The gym will have functional training equipment. I am using loads of Bulldog gear which is top of the range stuff. There is a whole range of equipment."

"As well as a personal trainer, I am also a qualified sports massage therapist, nutrition coach and I can also help with pre and post natal exercise referral."

Mr James plans to open his gym on Monday, April 12, when gyms across the country are allowed to reopen for individual exercise for the first time since lockdown. 

The official grand opening is due to take place a day earlier, with his little boy Charlie cutting the ribbon. 

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