MARCUS Blackwood may be one of the only 12-year-olds hitting the gym in Warwick and for him it's been a game changer.
A partnership between Voyage Fitness and headspace Warwick has seen over 10 of the support centre's clients head to the gym to work out.
The program is built on offering clients access to exercise that can improve their mental health and overall well-being.
They are supported along the way by headspace Warwick's youth engagement officer Simon Young.
Marcus said he loved hitting the gym.
"Simon and I get to have some really good chats here," he said.
"It's much better than sitting in a room and talking to someone.
The Warwick High student said hitting the gym was not only about physical development but also about self-expression.
"I think you need to be able to have fun to express yourself properly," he said.
"I'd totally encourage other people to try it, There's music playing, it's a proper social experience."
Tanya Blackwood, Marcus's mother said her son liked that he was starting to tone up.
"Some people have said he's too young for gym, but it's not about weights, it's fun and fitness and mental health and it's all his decision," she said.
"All the exercise is great for these kids; it clears the mind and makes them feel better, and it seems to have a lasting effect.
Mr Young said this partnership was the first of its kind for a headspace centre.
"It's an innovation for headspace and Voyage Fitness; the aim is to offer young people access to a level of personal fitness and social intereaction that benefits their mental health and well-being," he said.
"We're so grateful to the guys from Voyage for their positivity towards the young people that come in and for the flexible membership options they offer our clients.
"The exercise opens them up to talk and it's something they enjoy doing.
"It complements the clinical therapy for stress, depression, anxiety and social isolation.
"Exercise is the number one treatment for depression; it boosts mood, alertness and concentration, it improves the chemical balance in the brain, releases endorphins, improves sleep patterns and develops a sense of self-control."
Voyage Fitness manager Jaron Cumerford said the benefits of the program were easy to see.
"I think the work headspace do is so beneficial to our community," he said.
"Most health organisations make it very clear that exercise helps to get you in the right head-space.
"So we decided to give headspace a helping hand to assist the youth of our community."



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