You’ve probably seen Bayley Garnham around the Gym, helping out with training groups, behind the desk and or on the Gym floor. But what you may not know is that Bayley’s been completing his Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science degree, ticking off his co-op placement and capstone research project. Commencing his placement working with Personal Trainer Thomas “Tommo” Henderson in December last year, Bayley’s been a sponge for knowledge and experience since.

When it came time to choose a topic for his final research, with the directive of a topic which would benefit AUT Millennium, Bayley decided to bring two aspects of the organisation together. “My supervisor is Matt Wood, who operates out of the Human Potential Clinic upstairs from the Gym,” he says. “I decided I wanted a project which would integrate the Gym and the Clinic.”

Bayley with mentor trainer Thomas Henderson
Bayley with Tommo.

The pair decided Bayley could investigate the resting metabolic rate (RMR) of gym members, and how this may change over a certain period with prescribed training. RMR refers to the amount of energy required by the body to perform the most basic functions at rest, such as breathing, blood circulation and brain function. Bayley recruited a dozen members he got to know through his time with Tommo, and put each through an initial 20-minute test which indicated a baseline figure for how many calories they burn each day just being alive – that is, not taking into account calories burned through exercise.

The group followed an eight week weights programme, with some slight adjustments around August’s lockdown, and most participants recorded an increase in their RMR. “I was expecting to see increases simply because they were increasing their workload, but I didn’t certainly didn’t expect the magnitude of some of the increases,” he says. “One woman hadn’t done weight training before, and her RMR increased by 450 calories, which is quite a lot. Another member lost 11kg from the first test to the last, has increased her strength and balance and is feeling much more confident in the gym.”

It’s those outcomes which are most rewarding for Bayley. “Those are great results for me and my studies, but that’s not my priority,” he says. “I’m more pumped about seeing the health outcomes, hearing one of the guys say ‘I’m now doing 100kg on the squat!’ or ‘I feel stronger’. Seeing those emotional results has been great, I couldn’t have imagined just how much it would impact the participants like that.” Many of those involved have now incorporated weights into their regular routine, and some have asked Bayley to write them additional programmes to keep progressing.

“The exercise science literature shows that from your 30s onwards, RMR begins to decrease naturally,” he tells. “So it was great to have our group aged 30-60, because now I can say that with the inclusion of weights, you can increase your RMR. It’s a small contribution to a field with so much research still to be done.” He’s keen to continue his work in the area, and help explain to people who may be intimidated by weights training that it can help you lose weight, strengthen and tone up, rather than bulk up.

A humble guy, Bayley isn’t taking credit for the results the members saw from his programming. “I wrote the sessions, but there was nothing special about them,” he says. “The results happened because of their dedication, especially after the COVID interruption.” In fact, Bayley reckons he’s learned more from the members than they have from him. “I came in with a background in Olympic Weightlifting, where each week in the gym, you’re trying to better yourself. It’s all about high performance, and I came into this gym thinking that was the best way,” he recalls. “But being in our gym has changed my whole idea of exercise and fitness. Realising that people have different goals which are relevant to them, and different ways of working out. I’d never done cardio training, I’d not been exposed to group fitness. I’ve learned from Tommo and all the trainers about different ways of programming. It has opened my mind so much.”

Sam’s stoked to have Bayley join the Gym team following his placement. “Bayley came to us with a can-do, positive attitude, and it didn’t take long to work out he had the X factor we needed for our team,” she says. “His personal development alongside Tommo’s mentoring has seen his confidence grow, and we’re very fortunate he’s joined our team. He’s even going to take up Group Fitness Instructor training with us! He’s an incredibly passionate guy, and if you ever get the chance, have a chat to him about developing strength, technique or furthering your fitness.”

With his studying days nearly over, Bayley’s grateful to have secured a permanent position in the AUT Millennium Gym team. “The environment here is amazing, so supportive of members and of each other as staff. I’ve got so much to learn from the trainers and their different specialties, from Sam around the business side of things. Tommo’s been great, taking me under his wing, and reminded me I have to pay my dues, just like they all did. I just want to soak it all up.” He’s got his sights on becoming a personal trainer in the future, and is also keen to continue his work in high performance sport. “I’m really lucky to be doing some strength and conditioning training for North Shore Swimming. I’d really like to work in high performance further down the track, so it’s a great taste of how it works in the elite sport realm.”

With his mind open to any and all challenges, and a whole lot more time on his hands now study is finished, he’s excited to be able to help even more Everyday Champions in the Gym. “We can play a big role in people’s fitness journeys, and the emotional journey as well. We have an opportunity to help change people’s lives for the better, and I won’t take that for granted.”

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Heather is our Communications Manager here at AUT Millennium. With a BA/BCom from the University of Auckland and postgraduate qualification in communications, Heather honed her copywriting skills in the recruitment and tertiary industries. As a storyteller, she loves to share the inspirational stories of the AUT Millennium community. Her mood will greatly depend on the current (mis)fortunes of the BlackCaps and Warriors. [email protected]