Premiership Rugby’s ‘Move Like a Pro’ initiative is already helping rugby fans all over the country get fitter, but former Bath Rugby star Duncan Bell insists the state of the art programme can also improve their state of mind.
The 41-year-old forged a successful career in Aviva Premiership Rugby as a prop, playing for Bath for nine years and gaining five caps for England.
But in 2012, as he approached retirement from the game, he made the bold decision to speak up for the first time to his teammates and the rugby community about the depression and anxiety that had tainted his life for over a decade.
And now, having been named as Bath Rugby Foundation’s ‘Move Like a Pro’ Ambassador, he is turning his attention to every rugby fan in the country as part of Premiership Rugby’s new physical activity programme.
“Since speaking out about my illness, I’ve made it my mission to raise awareness of mental health in Rugby and the wider sporting community,” he said.
“You can’t see depression or anxiety – but it affects many of us, and never really goes away.
“I found rugby to be a great release, so I look forward to seeing Bath men get moving, but also having a space to talk, and take action on their mental and physical health.”
From April onwards, Bath Rugby Foundation, Newcastle Falcons, Northampton Saints, Saracens and Wasps will be running ‘Move Like a Pro’ as a free online course, but also giving fans the chance to train at their local clubs in sessions run by clubs’ own training staff.
The 12-week course has kicked off at Bath with a visit from Bell and a kick around to get the men moving, as well as thinking about their wellbeing.
They will start to look at topics designed to improve their health – such as sugar content in food, portion sizes and exercise programmes that you can do anywhere, including the comfort of your own home.
Bell added: “Move like a Pro is a fantastic programme that I am very happy to be part of. Our first session was a great success.
“A number of the blokes taking part said to me how happy they were to be there, having struggled to stick to gym regimes in the past.
“I hope my story was relatable and showed them that it’s ok to speak up about their weight, their mental health and anything else they need support with.”
‘Move Like a Pro’ is designed in particular for those rugby fans who are not currently active and miss the feeling of training and being part of a team.
All rugby fans can sign up for weekly exercise plans, mouth-watering and healthy meals, which can all be found at www.MoveLikeAPro.co.uk in videos featuring Premiership Rugby’s best and brightest.
Sarah Coghlan, County Director UK at Movember Foundation, says this is just the beginning of a flourishing partnership with Premiership Rugby.
“Premiership Rugby and the Movember Foundation have a longstanding history; players and fans bring so much energy to the sport, and they have also embraced Movember with a similar passion.
"The rugby community has raised masses of funds and awareness for men’s health over the years, and we look forward to them enjoying and benefitting from this exciting new programme” she said.
“Together we want to get rugby fans moving and affect positive change on the health of rugby fans to inspire a legacy of long-term change across the rugby fan community.”
Move Like a Pro is a partnership between Premiership Rugby and the Movember Foundation to inspire a legacy of long-term lifestyle change across the rugby fan community. Directly linked to the Movember Foundation’s vision of creating a world where men live happier, healthier and longer lives, Move Like a Pro starts with simply… moving.