Matt Boyles is a different kind of personal trainer. As a gay man himself, he understand the struggles we go through as a community, the pressure we feel to look a certain way, and the self-esteem issues that come along with that. Matt is tearing that stereotype down, working with LGBT individuals to build confidence in the community, helping them become comfortable in their own bodies.
With his training program 'Fitter, Confident You', Matt has started a new wave of body confidence, and he's doing it with a smile!
Good Morning to you Matt, where am I speaking to you from today?
Good Morning Kevin, I'm at home in Clapham, Southwest London
So let's talk about Fitter, Confident You, the training program for gay guys that you created. What's that all about?
I've been a PT for five years, training clients in the park. I love doing that and the relationship I build with them, but there's a limit to the number of people I can work with. I started focusing on working with gay guys in the last year, as I didn't feel the community was being served fully. Yes a PT can work with anyone, but I wanted to offer more than just that. As tolerant and understanding as any family is to their gay family members, I feel we all suffer from hang-ups and internalised homophobia to some extent - it's impossible not to come across people questioning, debating and sadly sometimes downright hating gay people, just for being gay. From personal experience, I know what exercise and meditation can do for your self-esteem and how you connect to the world. There are loads of online fitness programmes out there that give you workouts and nutrition plans, but I wanted to be able to help gay guys to a deeper extent. I call it working on the Inner You as well as the Outer You. What I've found from seven months of meditation (not continuously, lols - in fact just five minutes a day) is that the more content I am inside, the less I care or mind about things going on around me. Not that I don't want people not to exercise, as that's part of the whole process of looking after yourself, but I found I worried less about what people think and am able to just go about my business, being me. My online PT programme, Fitter Confident You is the culmination of that. Yes you get awesome workouts which don't take up hours of your week. Yes you get easy-to-follow nutritional coaching to support your goals, but you also get my Meditation Guide, weekly-check-ins with actual me and my 12 weekly Confidence-Boosting Challenges, all of which are designed to help you, bit-by-bit find your place in the world.
Do you feel there's a standard and pressure in the community that gay guys have to look a certain way?
Absolutely. I mean, there's a standard in every community, but I think we push a more extreme version - the hyper-ripped Circuit party boy for example. This is why I never talk directly about aesthetics as a reason to exercise. Yes, your body will change and improved confidence/body confidence may come from that, but first and foremost I want you to create a strong body that will let you do what you want for as long as you want.
Why do you think that standard exists?
A lot of it is self-imposed, stemming from internalised homophobia, specifically from not wanting to be seen as female or feminine in some way. I know when I first aware I was gay I wanted to build my body up as much as possible. I had the idea that a massive frame cancels out the negatives people might be thinking about me being gay/sissy/girly/whatever - all those words we might have been called or worse, called ourselves, in a negative way. The extremes of this are people turning to steroids to achieve some kind of fetishized ubermale character.
You have a Facebook group, open to guys who want to talk about their doubts and achievements with fitness, I'm part of the group myself, it's very comforting to know that there are guys out there that don't feel as confident as they should about themselves. What made you decide to create this space?
Simply because I was looking for it, and it didn't seem to exist. It's a safe space where gay guys can talk about health and fitness in a non-judgemental place. I'm insanely proud of it and all the guys in it - it's ridiculously supportive and motivating. Guys are sharing their experiences and recipes and workouts and asking questions and helping each other and I just adore it.
You also give advice on mediation, how important is that aspect to you and your clients?
Eight months ago, I would have sneered at me building meditation into my programmes! I was always put off by the meditation snobs saying you have to do it for an hour to feel the benefits and find your zen and all that nonsense. In reality, doing it for five minutes every morning as part of my daily routine is all I've needed to transform my mental health. It helps me to face the day calmer, more confident and more capable. Things that crop up bother me less, and I find I'm kinder to other people, which in turn means I'm kinder to me. It's not something I insist on, but I recommend all my clients try it, as it's a great deal easier to fit into your life than you may have thought, and the benefits are incredible.
You're also a massive pop music fan, give us a rundown of your favouriteworkout tracks.
Ahhh, my other main love! I love that hammering/driving sound of Sigrid's Strangers and BloodPop's ‘Friends’. But moreover I just love strong, interesting, sometimes weird female popstars: Bjork, Roisin Murphy, Sia and Marina and The Diamonds. I also love Ariana Grande, Carly Rae Jepsen and Britney Spears.
So what's next for Matt Boyles and Fitter, Confident You?
I want to be the gay Joe Wicks. The more I tell people, the more it's going to happen. What he has done in terms of taking online personal training global is amazing. I want to do the same, but focusing on helping and working with gay guys. Bigger picture, I want every gay guy to feel comfortable in their own skin. I want them to be proud of being gay, to not hide and feel they have to defend who they are in some way. I want them to do things and go for things they might not have before. I want to inspire and encourage and support and motivate and be a shared resource for us all.
Where can people find you if they want to contact you?
They can drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org
My 12 week online PT programme is here: www.fitterconfidentyou.net/onlinetraining
I'm all up in your socials:
Twitter - @mattboyles
Facebook - @FitterYou
Facebook private group - 'Online Personal Training - Fitter Confident You'
Instagram - @FitterYouLondon