As a gym manager, Keegan has a unique perspective into the lives of his customers that other small business operators often don't. Being on the ground at Jetts in Bundaberg and seeing his regular clients a few times a week means he gets to hear about their daily lives, their joys – and often their struggles. He has known club members who’ve experienced a mental illness, some of whom have then died by suicide.
That’s why Keegan, his team and Jetts members were inspired to raise funds for the Black Dog Institute and help support the organisation's world-leading research into mental health treatment and prevention.
Thanks to his job, Keegan has seen plenty of examples in his daily life that show how strong the link is between exercise and mood. This made exercise challenges the ideal answer when they were thinking about fundraising ideas. "We decided that by helping the Black Dog Institute we could make people aware of the benefits of exercise and encourage people to find help."
And so the 12-Week Challenge was born. The club organised two teams of 30 people to battle it out in a series of challenges and see who could rack up the most donations. There were a series of weekly group fundraising challenges both inside and outside the gym. The teams also organised events throughout the 12 weeks to help boost their funds, getting creative with movie nights, golf days, dances, trivia nights, car washes, dog washes and barbeques.
Keegan understands first-hand the message behind Black Dog’s Exercise Your Mood week – that exercise has mental benefits as well as physical ones. "I feel that it should be something we're promoting on a regular basis,” he says. Amongst those benefits are its protective effects against depression. For example, research by the Black Dog Institute has found that one hour of exercise per week can prevent up to 12% of future cases of depression. Another mental benefit is improved self-esteem. Increased self-esteem is something Keegan sees often in the individual journeys of Jetts club members.For others thinking of following suit and starting their own fundraising challenge for Black Dog, Keegan has some valuable words of wisdom: “It’s important to have support from a team of people.“ The Jetts journey reflects the experience of other fundraising groups who’ve banded together for Black Dog – operating as a team adds an extra element of fun and means individual members feel supported in their fundraising efforts. Creativity is key too, Keegan notes. “Don’t be afraid to think outside the box for ideas.”