Author - Jon Geddes, Manly Daily
WHEN northern beaches media personality Gus Worland sweated it out at the Concept 42 Gym in Mona Vale this week it was about a lot more than losing some weight from 144kg frame.
Gus Worland sweats it out training at the Rats Shed. Picture; Monique Harmer.
WHEN northern beaches media personality Gus Worland sweated it out at the Concept 42 Gym in Mona Vale this week it was about a lot more than shedding some weight from 144kg frame.
He was working on his mental as well as physical health by joining up with the Rats Shed, an initiative designed to keep former rugby players socially engaged.
After a session under the guidance of gym owner and ex-NRL star Jason Death, the 20 or so retired players aged from 29 to 60 plus in various shapes and sizes hung around for a chat and a barbecue.
Gus Worland after his session at the Rats Shed. Picture: Monique Harmer.
“The benefits are incredible, most importantly is connection for blokes,” Worland said.
“Males in particular get more and more isolated, so to be able to come out and connect and have a bit of a laugh but to also have the physical side of it as well- that will do so much good for every single bloke who is here.
“That’s what we have to try and do more of, we have too much isolation especially once we get over the age of 40.”
And the statistics are damning, with mental health advocate Worland revealing that Australia loses six males a day to suicide.
“We have to do something about it, we have to change what it takes to be a man,” he said. “It is the No. 1 killer of men between 15 and 44 in this country.”
That is why programs like the Rats Shed are so important, especially with the well-publicised cases of high-profile sports stars struggling with mental health issues.
“So this just brings everyone together again and I’m going to be here all the time now,,” Worland said.
“And I’ve got a feeling that within a couple of years there be a bond between all these blokes that will be very hard to split.”
The Rats Shed was the brainchild of Warringah’s Shute Shield No. 8 Sam Ward who recognised that a big part of why he played footy was being able to hang out with his mates.
He also realised that after rugby players have spent so much time together they can struggle finding something to replace it when their careers are over.
“And I thought there was really nothing in the community that does this for ex-rugby players,” he said.
“So why not give them that team atmosphere we all like and providing the healthy alternative where everyone gets in and tries to work on their fitness a little bit.
‘I think there is nothing better than getting blokes together and trying to facilitate a time for them to talk about their feelings a little bit and provide an environment where they feel it is safe for them to feel and be comfortable to talk.’’
LESSONS FROM DEATH
THE former Raider, Cowboy, Warrior and Rabbitoh Death said he was one of those players who found themselves in a void when he finished his NRL career in 2004.
“I got a little bit of depression and your whole life changes,” he said.
“You have to think for yourself, you have to do things for yourself.
“When you are a professional sportsperson you get told where to be, what to do, what to wear
“It is all essentially laid out in front of you.”
Death admitted that it took him a couple of years to adjust to life after football.
“I’ve been through it all and now I am rebuilding,” he said. Former players hit their targets at the Concept 42 Gym.
And Death has seen the positive effect that the shed has been having.
As a result of attending one former player who had his own struggles has now joined the gym.
“He said ‘Doc’ (Death) you have saved my life,” he revealed.
Death said he would like to extend the shed to former NRL players.
“I’d like to help in any way I can,” he said.
As Worland said: “For me the most important thing is community, connecting and just being a bit vulnerable.”