Builder-turned-Bodybuilder Creates Ultimate ‘IsoGym’ – and Boosts Morale While Lifting Weights

When he was a full-time builder, Matthew Nunan lived on the weekends, but his life now revolves around health, fitness and wellness.

He said he embraces the construction industry and parties on the weekends in order to adjust to what others expect of him.

But Mr Nunan said he felt miserable and helpless.

“I was just a builder because I grew up thinking that’s what guys do,” he said.

“I indulged in drugs and alcohol to escape my real life.

“I had a light bulb [moment] … I had a pretty big weekend and decided that things had to change, or I might not be here anymore.

Mr Nunan will take part in another bodybuilding competition in Melbourne this weekend. (Provided: Matthew Nunan)

Today, the 33-year-old is in the middle of two bodybuilding competitions, which requires a precise and restrictive diet.

“For breakfast I had rice crackers with jam,” Mr. Nunan said.

“That’s a lot of chicken, rice, and protein powder.”

A garage filled with colorful gym equipment, including a wooden treadmill and a wooden pull-up bar.
Mr Nunan started creating gym equipment during lockdown last year and hasn’t stopped. (Provided: Matthew Nunan)

‘IsoGym’ the ideal place to train

The bodybuilder said he panicked when the pandemic caused his local gym to close.

He had just started training for his first bodybuilding competition when he faced the unexpected hurdle of having nowhere to train.

So he began to transform bricks and concrete into weight.

“It started with a few brick dumbbells, then it ended up being a rower, leg press, treadmill, kettlebells, dumbbells… then I went crazy.”

His garage was quickly transformed into a gym to bypass containment and isolation, otherwise known as “IsoGym”

He also documented the pandemic project, setting up a YouTube channel and attracting fans from all over the world.

“It touched a lot of people abroad, [I spoke to] people in the US and UK. “

Andy McKenzie with Matt Nunan
Andy McKenzie inspired Mr. Nunan to pursue strength training.(Provided: Matthew Nunan)

His 15-year-old friend Andy McKenzie, who is also his trainer, said the creation of the home gym shows how persistent Mr Nunan is.

“Rather than looking for excuses, [he was] be resourceful and [is] do something out of nothing. “

In its early days, the “IsoGym” looked more like a tool shed than a gym.

“It was literally a toolbox on the back of a ute, wooden posts and a metal post holding a few wheels together.”

Mr. McKenzie has been training his friend for three years, preparing him to take the stage.

But neither man had a gym and IsoGym shutdown on the schedule.

“It shows that no matter what kind of circumstances you find yourself in… you can really get fit in anything,” he said.

“This is the reason for being in physical form. “

After doing most of his preparation for IsoGym, Mr. Nunan finished second in two categories at his first bodybuilding competition in December of last year.

“I’m really proud of Matt,” said his mentor, Mr. McKenzie.

A man with a beanie drills a metal pole on wood to make a conveyor belt.
The old builder made a treadmill, squat rack, leg press and more. (Source: YouTube)

Can’t go to the gym? Make a

In a YouTube video that shows the making of the conveyor belt, Mr. Nunan uses his carpentry skills to assemble tubes and wood, to make a “human hamster wheel”.

Matthew Nunan kneeling in front of a homemade rower made of wood and a bicycle wheel.
To build the rower, Mr. Nunan purchased an old, unused bicycle for the wheel. (ABC Central Victoria; Shannon schubert)

He says the rower was the most difficult piece of equipment to build.

“It was a nightmare.”

Now the counselor and personal trainer has turned his attention to helping others.

“My goal in life is to guide people to follow what is true for them, and not necessarily to do what society expects of them.”

He was even able to organize volunteer sessions with groups of at-risk youth at the gym.

Mr. Nunan hopes his passion for fitness and mental health will inspire others.

“The gym for me is like brushing my teeth in the morning.”

“It’s like something I have to do and if I don’t do it, I don’t feel like myself.”

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About Joshua M. Osborne

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