Josh Gibson's Movember
This year is Josh Gibson’s first as an ambassador for the global men’s health initiative Movember, and his motivation is to encourage men to be more aware of their health.
“Apart from wanting to grow a decent moustache for the 31 years I’ve been alive, I wanted to get behind this cause,” Josh says.
“Men, when it comes to our health, [us men] are pretty proud beasts and we think we’re going to be OK. When it comes to checking our health we’ve probably pushed it aside so I thought it was something good to get behind.”
Walking, talking billboards
“My moustache is pretty disgusting,” he says. “The face feels weird. It’s not doing me any favors but it’s for a good cause so I’ll cop it for a month. My girlfriend doesn’t like it but we’ll deal with it. I wish I could grow one of those thick Ron Burgundy-type ones but I’ll have to settle for a little thin one.”
But behind the fun, the moustaches that appear in November mean participants are, according to the Movember Foundation
, “walking, talking billboards for men’s health”.
“It opens up conversations, people ask ‘Why are you looking like that?’” Josh says. “And you can explain the whole Movember story and it gets them interested. So a little bit of stupidity on my face is a wonderful way of starting up conversations about a pretty important cause.”
Josh is aware that men have traditionally been less inclined to look after themselves and Movember has a crucial role in trying to encourage men to get checked out by their GP.
“Guys think they’re bullet-proof – ‘I will not get sick, I’m too tough for that’. And then a lot of the time when they find out they are sick it could probably have easily been prevented if they’d taken the right actions months or years beforehand. Sometimes the simple act of getting a check-up would have made it a lot easier in years to come.”
“I think for a lot of men think if an issue pops up it’s ‘I’ll deal with it then’, that they don’t think about prevention. It’s that tough guy, macho, everything will be OK. The reality is it’s more macho to get yourself tested and checked out because there are some things that you need to fix. Doing some simple check-ups can play a big role in the rest of your life.
Support at Hawthorn FC
He says sports people probably have an increased awareness of their bodies because they spend so much time with health and fitness professionals around their club.
“It’s really pushed into the younger guys coming in, they are heavily educated in that area,” he says of the football club.
“We have the best doctors, fitness trainers always helping guys have a greater understanding of health and prevention (of injury). Not only helping them in the long run but it can be the difference between a one-week injury and a six-week injury.
“Once upon a time when you had an injury you just stayed out there on the track and put up with it. Now they really want you to come forward and if something’s sore they’ll pull you out of the session and miss a session rather than keep pushing it and missing five weeks.
“We’re lucky we’ve got people with us every day who are qualified in these areas helping us make the right decisions early on. We’re lucky, other people’s jobs don’t have that (opportunity). It’s important people get to their GPs and source information.”
Josh speaks about how the loss in 2013 of a friend with whom he attended Trinity Grammar in Melbourne which reinforced the need to be aware of your body, however fit you are.
“We lost one of our mates from school a couple of years ago,” he says. “He was a very fit and athletic person and he didn’t wake up one night. That was a bit of a trigger for me because he did a lot of the right things.”
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Josh’s friend, who died aged 30, ran marathons and “lived in the fitness world”. “It goes to show that even people who do look after themselves can be cut down at times. It was an eye-opener about how important it is to look after your body.”
In encouraging men to get checked out, Josh stresses that most check-ups are not invasive or time-consuming and neither should they be embarrassing.
“It can be a five or 10-minute visit to your local GP. You’re not checking into a hospital or being pushed into machines. And it can mean a healthier and happier life, and a less stressful life knowing you’re in the clear.”