The secret to happiness is a question many have asked over the years.
But Fife gym Raw Anatomy is going beyond just the regular work out, and is looking to help people turn their lives around.
The gym, at Southfield in Glenrothes, is working with Kirkcaldy’s Cottage Centre, and aims to use physical activity to improve mental health of youngsters in Fife.
The driving force behind the idea is Noel Rye (33). He says that through helping people build up their physical fitness, it can build confidence and improve their outlook on life drastically.
“Fitness is the most under-used form of anti-depressant,” he says.
“The concept of physical health and mental health have been linked for years.
“When Raw Anatomy first started out, it was just a bunch of youths who were training together, and you could see the mental health outcomes of it in our little shed.
“This is why we’ve taken it to younger people because they are the ones who have got most of the issues with mental health – it starts at that age, 12-16.”
It was Noel’s own mental health that inspired him to help others.
“I’m ex-military, in my adolescent years my father was murdered, my mum was terminally ill, I’ve seen kidnap, murder, and war all before the age of 21,” he said.
“My life was deteriorating in my mid-20s, I was taking the wrong route and associating with the wrong people.
“When I left the army, I was homeless.
“I found myself in Macedonia in the high-rise flats. I got to 27, I did contemplate numerous times on what was the point.
“I can remember feeling my best when I was in the military which was when I was in physical fitness. So I started training in my bedroom with a friend, and within 6-8 weeks, neighbours started noticing the difference in shape and attitude, and anger management.
“From there it just spiraled, then my next-door neighbour wanted to be involved and I ended up training them and then their friend wanted to get involved. I had half the block of flats training with me.”
So as the gym grows, what’s next?
“A new facility, that’s what’s on the cards,” says Noel. “I want to try and make it more central to Fife. It’s been a few years now and we’re in a fortunate enough position where the bank will support us and our members deserve a better facility. So if we can offer a better service, we can get a better result in return.”
‘If I can help people out of the doldrums, my job’s worthwhile’
One of Raw Anatomy’s success stories is Mark Dick.
“I have a blood-problem which is undiagnosed,” he said. “It’s similar to fibomyalgia but with the symptoms but it can damage my muscles. I chose to train to regenerate muscle growth. I wouldn’t have been able to do it if it wasn’t for the gym.”
Mark was left wheelchair-bound and in severe pain after an operation on his legs, and some family losses also affected him.
He said:“I was in incredible pain for over three years. You wouldn’t believe how much medication I was on.
“It was relentless pain. Then my mum became unwell and died. Because of that I had my head up my backside, and I lost my house. Then my dad got ill and he died.”
Eventually, Mark was able to get an operation to remove the damaged nerves in his leg, and he started training in the hope of turning his life around.
“Once I got into training my lower-half, the speed of recovery was incredible. I trained with Noel and he got me on my feet, I’ve been out of the chair for five years,” he said.
Now Mark works at Raw Anatomy, and helps out people with similar problems.
“I love my job. It’s the first job I’ve ever had where I look forward to going.
“It’s not just training. It’s seeing the changes in attitude.
“If I can help people get out of the doldrums, then it’s made my job worthwhile.”