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My name is Brian Horwell, Owner / Operator of Primal Fitness. I am based here in sunny Gisborne and I am trying to break the stigma and raise awareness of men’s mental health. I have suffered with my own demons throughout the years and have had to deal with sometimes crippling anxiety, since moving to Gisborne.


The feeling of isolation can be very hard to deal with but thankfully my "go to” was not drugs or alcohol, but exercise. Even with exercise, trying to break into social circles has been hard and something I have never struggled with, previously. All of these factors have definitely taken their toll over the years and there have been multiple times when I have thought about packing it all in.


This to me, has meant contemplating leaving New Zealand, to the more extreme thought of ending it all. When I set up Primal Fitness, it was never to be a businessman, it was to help people in the way I know how – through connection, health, wellness and exercise.


Setting up my own business allowed me to try to do things my way and on my terms and let me tell you, for someone who suffers with low self esteem and sometimes a lack of confidence, I often think I need to get my head checked! But it has allowed me to start making a difference in my community. Initially I started out working with the Cancer Society, working with a group of prostate cancer patients. This group is still going strong and now we have opened these sessions up to all male cancer patients.


Then I got the opportunity to connect with Krissy Mackintosh, through a mutual friend. After our initial meeting I think we both sensed that we had a huge passion for wanting to help our community.


From this, the concept of the first 8-Week Challenge was born. I will never forget that first group of guys and the first session, everyone just being open to a new “thing” and willing to just go along with it to support Krissy. (But also, to support themselves and each other).


Not many people know, but we started our first session on a Tuesday evening and I found out on the Wednesday, that my dad had committed suicide in South Africa. This hit me harder than I ever thought it would. Those guys will probably never realise how much they helped me through that experience just by showing up, being raw and vulnerable and just working on breaking the stigma around suicide and men’s mental health.


I will always wholeheartedly support Krissy and #HEAR4U. Two hundred participants later and I have seen the effect that our programme has had on these amazing humans.

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