Graham Norton, a member of ACON’s Positive Men’s health promotion team, is passionate about two things: life in general and ACON’s positive health gym program.

Last year, at a time when weight loss and gain became major issues for HIV-positive Sydneysiders, the Healthy Life Plus initiative was conceptualised by ACON in association with Gold’s Gym.

Norton told the Star intensive research was undertaken by ACON and exercise was proven to be not only effective in terms of gaining body mass -¦ but also in reducing obesity.

The program includes a free Gold’s Gym membership for 12 weeks but is more than just your average health and gym program, Norton said.

We decided that the best thing to do was to create a gym program, but we wanted to kind of value-add and actually let people gain some health benefits across the board. We developed a resource, Healthy Life Plus, which was designed as a stand-alone resource. It’s a book which enables people to learn about nutrition, body image and stress and how to deal with those issues and hopefully improve their lives in a more general way, Norton said.

Participants receive personal guided training, body measurements before and after the program, group motivation, nutritional consultation, and health improvement seminars.

Gold’s Gym has been an important partner for the program since its development.

Norton speaks fondly about the first time he met Gold’s owners, the program’s major partners.

Gold’s were fantastic. I can’t speak highly enough of Marc and Steve. At the time when we thought about it, Gold’s weren’t even open, but they had an exhibition at Arq where you could pop in and sign up, and I walked in real na? and said, how would you like to do this, and they said yes. And they have been really enthusiastic about the program ever since. Marc and Steve come from the States and have had a large experience with the AIDS crisis that happened there and simply are really keen on giving something back, Norton told the Star.

Gold’s Gym Sydney’s enthusiastic support was recently rewarded with the coveted Ed Connors Humanitarian Award. As the award’s recipients they were selected from among 655 worldwide Gold’s Gyms for the most outstanding contribution to charity and community causes.

Gold’s owner Marc Eisman told the Star supporting ACON’s Positive Life Plus program simply felt like the right thing to do.

It was something dear to our heart. I was in the US and I did a lot of HIV work, and I know something inside of me told me if you take somebody who’s wasting away, get them into the gym, give them protein and get them back into society and motivate them, they’re going to get better. It was just something that seemed so right, Eisman told the Star.

The program’s achievements so far have been life-changing, according to Eisman.

The results are unbelievable. Out of the four groups that have gone through so far, a lot of them have gone back to work. They’re off the pension now. We had some people come in on walkers who needed assistance and they’re also back at work.

And the program is here to stay.

As long as ACON is here to facilitate and as long as this disease is around, we’ll have people going through the program, Eisman said.


For more information on Healthy Life Plus ring ACON on 9206 2000.

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