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MENSLINK’S Michael Aichholzer’s day job is giving young men a lift up, but the 56-year-old, record-holding powerlifter has challenged himself to give his 80-kilogram boss a big lift.
To raise money for young men with mental illnesses Michael, the education program co-ordinator for Menslink, will bench press his CEO Martin Fisk as many times as possible at the “Everything is Possible” novice powerlifting competition on Sunday, May 21.
While passionate for the cause, Martin is “not so keen” to be used as piece of gym equipment.
“He threatened to eat as much as he could before the date!” Michael says.
The competition began last year after the owner of Burley Strength, John Sheridan, pitched the idea to Michael.
With world and Australian records in powerlifting, Michael couldn’t have been more excited to jump on board. He’s been powerlifting for three years and uses it to deal with and manage depression and anxiety.
Michael left the defence force struggling with anxiety, depression and, like many males, feeling the pressure to fit into the male stereotype.
“Our programs are about strength, giving young guys a hand up, not a hand out,” he says.
“The strength-based approach fits in well with powerlifting, which is about developing mental strength as well.”
Michael says holding on to these many emotions has in the past led to ideas of suicide. Now he finds talking about his past cathartic, especially if he has a chance to relate and help others.
“The main piece of advice for young guys is that it’s not weak to speak up,” he says.
He believes that men should be able to ask about how they can deal with issues of anxiety and depression, similarly to asking how to change a bike tyre or use a phone app.
A survey by Mission Australia and the Black Dog Institute suggests that one in four males will suffer from anxiety or depression but only one in 10 males will talk about it.
As a not-for-profit organisation, Menslink relies a lot on charitable donations to provide the majority of its services free of charge.
“Your donation will help Menslink continue to fund monthly events for our mentors and their mentees, our counselling services, and our Silence is Deadly and PRIDE schools programs,” Michael says.
“These strength-based services aim to give young guys in the Canberra region a hand up, not a hand out, by providing positive male role models, life advice and positive coping skills to assist them make constructive life choices.”
The “Everything is Possible” novice powerlifting competition costs $60 to compete and spectators can make a gold coin donation.
Burley Strength. Unit 9, 145-147 Gladstone Street, Fyshwick. Lifting begins at 11am, with Michael’s challenge around 12.30pm, May 21. Donate to Michael’s challenge via gofundme.com/benchpress-menslinks-ceo-for-bucks