Henry Watkins' 24-hour non-stop fitness challenge turns heads

Shellharbour man's starts fitness challenge at 6am Saturday to help other young males with their mental health through COVID

While many will take advantage of it being the weekend and sleep in on Saturday morning Henry Watkins, 24, will be starting a 24-hour fitness challenge at Anytime Fitness Shellharbour at 6am.

Mr Watkins' mission is to raise $5000 to help young men with mental health and social well-being.

He knows what it is like to struggle with mental health having experienced his own challenges as a teenager.

"I had my own issues when I was 15 and 16 years old," he said.

"So it is good to do something to help others in that situation because I never got any support."

Mr Watkins also knows many young adults in the Illawarra are presently struggling during more than usual during the COVID-19 pandemic.

So he will spend the first eight hours of his challenge running on a treadmill, followed by eight hours of boxing with a punching bag before completing his challenge in the early hours of Sunday with eight hours on a stepping machine from 10pm Saturday.

"I want to push myself. I did a 10 hour challenge for charity three years ago on a pushbike and it made sense to try and do something harder to raise more," he said.

"It seems to be working. I have already hit $4000 and my target is $5000. Everyone has been really supportive and the gym has been really good.

"I have also secured quite a few sponsors with local companies supporting me as well."

Mr Watkins has set the bar high because he wants to raise as much as he can to to support 20 young men through Top Blokes Foundation's mentoring programs that upskill boys and young men to improve their mental health and social well-being.

Top Blokes objective is to reduce male suicide, violence and risk-taking behaviours.

"I wanted to do something big for a cause close to me," he said.

"After being through challenging times with my mental health and I know how much it would've helped to have support like Top Blokes at a young age.

"Men still aren't there when it comes to mental health. Six men die by suicide every day.

"If we can lay that foundation for boys at a young age to learn how to get support as well as to be a support system for their mates, the culture will change.

"That's why we need to support organisations like Top Blokes, and 24 hours of fitness seemed like a good start to me to spread awareness."

To help him out in this grueling challenge, donors can give Mr Watkins a breather, with every $5 donated on the day earning him a minute's break.

Donations can be made at fundraise.topblokes.org.au/henry-watkins.

Top Blokes Foundation is a young male health organisation that provides group mentoring programs for boys and young men aged between 10 and 24 to improve their mental health and social wellbeing.

They are delivered by qualified youth workers over a three to six month period in schools and communities, in-person and online.

Read the article on the Illawarra Mercury's site here.

By Greg Ellis, Illawarra Mercury; published September 18, 2020

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