THE HISTORY OF MASS
MASS is a society for Weightlifting, fitness and physical appearance sports, Martial Arts and general muscle building, fitness and health. Some sports it includes are Bodybuilding, Powerlifting, Olympic Weightlifting, Strongman, Boxing, Muay Thai, MMA, Krav Maga and Cross-fit. It aims to give students the chance to try out all of the above sports regardless of their goals or previous experience.This is the University society like no other. When Fresher’s rolls around each year at Universities across the country, lads and girls flock to sign up for the traditionally popular Football and Rugby teams. So what about those students interested in other sports, who may not want to sign up for such teams? Why should these students miss out on the benefits of joining a society? Well now they no longer have to.
Taster sessions in the sports are offered at the beginning of each academic year then throughout the year most events are focused on training and improvement. MASS also offers competitive opportunities to those looking to fully pursue their sport, general health, fitness and muscle building advice to any members looking for tips and extra services for athletes wishing to increase their sports performance.
But how did MASS get started? And build up to what it is today? MASS was set up by David Bissell at the University of Leicester in September 2011, ready for the start of the 2011/12 academic year. The idea started as just a bit of fun. When the Australian bodybuilder and internet celebrity Aziz Shaversian – better known as Zyzz – passed away it was said by David that a society should be made in his memory, called The Muscle Aesthetics Society. He proposed that activities should include weightlifting, posing and wearing short shorts with stringer vests to the student nights. When gaging interest for the ‘Muscle Aesthetics Society’ the team soon realised that there was in fact lots of potential for a society that specialised in Weightlifting, Martial Arts and fitness based sports.
Upon realisation that the idea could be a success, the name was changed to The Muscle & Athletic Sports Society, which was seen to be a little more suitable, and David pulled a team together consisting of Bodybuilders, Olympic Weightlifters, Powerlifters, a boxer and other male and female fitness enthusiasts. From there MASS has engaged hundreds of students and through the ever increasing opportunities that it offers, grown drastically to the highest membership club at the University of Leicester. As well as expanding the society at Leicester, MASS has been founded at many other Universities, by equally enthusiastic individuals.
“Being the founder of MASS is great. Running it is like my addiction, I love making all these different events, Strongman competitions, organising seminars, all the different training sessions too. The best feeling is when you see someone has come down and thoroughly enjoyed themselves and even improved their physique by being a member of MASS. Bodybuilding and fitness is my joy and having an outlet to express myself and influence others is invaluable. It’s given me lots of drive to continue perusing the fitness lifestyle,” David said.
Societies at Universities are registered official charities, they unite students that share similar interests, give power to the students to organise and facilitate events to cater for those interests and some societies even receive funding from their Students Union to do the things they love!
David has taken up a hand’s on role in the development of MASS, ensuring everything is done the best possible way. “I’m quite the perfectionist and even though it’s a Uni society, I’ve tried to make it as professional as possible. Sometimes all the responsibilities did get the better of me and I’d stress quite a lot about things not getting done exactly to the book. That has been a learning experience! I think I can say I handle this aspect a lot better now and my time with MASS is even more awesome because of it. I hope to pass on this personal advice to anyone who might be interested in starting the club at their University.”
MASS’ range of sports is a harmonic blend of unrepresented interlinking niche sports that have been long awaiting representation. Through their sporting opportunities and advisory services they involve members in activities revolving around weightlifting, martial arts or general health and fitness and equip them with the motivation and know how to do it on their own outside of the organised MASS events. It aims to motivate, inspire and encourage students to look after and improve their body whilst enjoying their University experience.
As a society MASS has been set up in such a way that it can appeal to as many students as possible and offer a broad range of benefits to its members.
When joining the society there are immediate benefits. Members are able to obtain discounts on membership and entry at specific gyms and receive access to exclusive taster classes to kick-start the year. The Society also offers a beginners pack as well as many other guidance documents for those members who may be new to training and looking for advice. Supplement company NRG Fuel sponsored MASS in their second year and now they’re sponsored by USN who offer a 30% discount to all MASS members with every order they make. With a large array of links to organisations in the fitness industry many other great benefits and discounts are also available to members throughout the year.
Additionally, there are many events held for members over the course of the University year. They hold weekly classes for Martial Arts, termly physique consultations, group training events, one-off fitness classes, lectures, and seminars. Renowned Fitness Model Ryan Terry recently held a seminar with MASS in March.
MASS also continually holds competitions for members of all levels of experience, with prizes for the winners. Examples of competitions include; MASS’ Strongest Man, Most Improved Physique over each term and over the whole year, Powerlifting competitions, Pound for Pound Strongest Man and in the making is the first ever university bodybuilding and fitness show – ‘the MASS Student Physique Championship’.
MASS also holds group trips to exhibitions throughout the year. Previous trips have seen members attend the 2012 National Fitness Awards, The UK Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation Championships, and the 2012 Sportex Festival held in Manchester. The MASS team also have plans to attend this year’s BodyPower Expo in Birmingham.
The society offers additional support to members that want to take it to the next level. Their experienced bodybuilding competitors are guiding beginners to taking part in their first shows. Boxers and Muay Thai fighters have inspired members to take the sport further and work towards a competitive bout. And the societies fitness fanatics have formed a team to take part in the gruelling Tough Mudder events.
“Creating a friendship group with similar interests is awesome! We can all meet up to pose together. It’s rare to have that in the bodybuilding world, as well as in general health and fitness and keeping true to your goals can often be a lonely experience. MASS is part way to fixing that and I’m very glad to be a part of it,” added David.
The Muscle & Athletic Sports Society promotes fitness and a healthy life-style. Therefore does not strongly encourage drinking alcohol. However everyone needs to unwind once in a while so when the time comes MASS occasionally holds social nights for its members. These include group trips, supporting members competing in shows and competitions as well as nights out.
Whilst nobody at MASS claims to be a Personal Trainer, MASS offers the chance to talk, train and become friends with people who have lots of knowledge and years of experience in these topics, as well as opportunity to observe their training or nutrition.
Anyone can join MASS. Whether you have a physique that rivals Arnold Schwarzenegger or have never set foot in a gym, if you want to transform your body and are motivated to achieve goals in their areas of sports then MASS can help you make it happen! And give you the opportunity to make some great friends along the way!
So What’s next for MASS?
They are only just getting started! They’re already at 20 UK Universities and within five years they aim to be at ALL Universities in the UK and to have expanded to the United States, European, Asia, NZ and Australia. They aim to be the recognized University association for their sports, facilitating national University competitions and events.
So look out, as the MASS Revolution is coming!