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BetterMan Begins

By Ryan Astle 20 April, 2024

This week marks one year since BetterMan kicked off. So, we thought we’d take you back and give you a rundown of how the BetterMan story all started…

The Bro Code

In 2018, my brother Todd came to me with the idea of starting a movement for men. He suggested we call it The Bro Code and that it would be a business that ran events that got well-known New Zealand sportsmen in to talk about their stories. Having an entrepreneurial spirit, I was keen to give it a crack.

We designed a logo, built a website, and had lined up an event in Christchurch. But then life got in the way. Todd selfishly got picked for a Black Caps cricket tour 🤣, we had young families to raise, I DIYed the shit out of my house, and then something called COVID struck.

Lads reignite the flame

Fast forward to 2023 and Todd got asked to speak at a Lads Without Labels event at the University of Canterbury alongside Kieran Read, Fletcher Newell and Ish Sodhi about his sporting journey and dealing with the mental ups and downs of professional sport and life.

Inspired by the amazing work Lads without Labels are doing for young men, and having recently retired from cricket, he suggested we dust off The Bro Code and give it another crack.

Ged, and me almost dead

He’d also suggested that we bring in Ged Robinson. I’d heard about Ged well before I met him, Todd singing his praises about his high energy, altruistic personality and that he’d be keen to work alongside Ged in some capacity.

Ged with his family

Meeting Ged didn’t disappoint. Todd wasn’t overstating things, Ged’s the heart of many communities and always on the go constantly searching for ways he can help others. He’s got four kids, a dog, is a rugby coach, has been on the school PTA, owned a pizza truck, works for Tatai Whetū, has a Diploma in Positive Psychology and Wellbeing, and he’s a personal trainer. Speaking of which, Ged runs free sessions most weekends at his place for friends, family and neighbours. Which sounds nice but his high-intensity workouts have almost killed me on a few occasions. Okay, maybe not kill me, but after my first session I did double over in his drive way and whilst gagging into the ditch did think to myself “Why in the #*&^ did I have Vogel’s toast 10 minutes before arriving?”

And if all that wasn’t enough Ged’s constantly organising darts nights, footy games and even started a dodgeball team for the local dads. Sadly, however, that didn’t last long as without fail all involved succumbed to injury. Many rotator cuffs shat the bed, and when both of Ged’s calf muscles tore simultaneously, we knew it was time to pack it in. On the plus side, at least Mike, the physiotherapist on the team got plenty of work...

Anyway, I digress, we approached Ged with the idea of starting something up and he was keen.

Snickers really clarifies

So Ged was in, but what exactly were we creating?

After Todd’s retirement, we decided to climb a mountain. Because... why not? Alongside our sister Jaimee and her partner Andrew we trekked up Mount Fyffe in Kaikoura. It was at the summit, whist a little bit delirious and eating the best Snickers we’ve ever had, that the concept began to crystallise a bit better on how we could help other men. If we ran events that we’d be fizzing to go to ourselves then surely others would be keen too. Once guys were in the door then we could layer in some chat about some of the tougher topics and share some of the positive psych principles we’d learned from high performance sport, work, and our studies. If we did all that and the three of us had a shit-ton of fun whilst learning loads along the way, and we could help just one person then it’d be worth it.

Can find a BetterMan

Back in Christchurch, after picking the brains of Michael and Liv from Lads without Labels, and a brainstorming session at our local pub The Vicarage we were frothing to get things going. We decided to lock a date in for our first event (a quiz night) and then we’d have to get our shit together. It’s a good tactic to build momentum.

I dusted off the old The Bro Code designs but the name didn’t quite sit right. Although we were trying to challenge the traditional meaning of the bro code, it sometimes has negative connotations towards women and that wasn’t our intention. After I’d drummed up a bunch of alternatives, we all unanimously agreed upon BetterMan. It just felt right.

I got to work securing the domain name, bettermannz social channels, pulling together a logo and brand and building a website.

I love the energy and excitement when creating something new and there were many late nights in the beginning bringing the idea to life, but the purpose and meaning from helping others has continued to spur us on.

Good will... hunting

We were stoked when Briar Allen from the Christchurch Star profiled us before we’d even run our first event, after seeing one of our Facebook posts on the Halswell Community page. In fact the goodwill we've received since we started has been incredible, ranging from high-profile great New Zealanders like Scotty Stevenson, and Mike King, fellow charities and their key people like Robert Dunne from Movember and Thomas Nabbs from The Waterboy, local businesses like Two Dudes, Blitz Fitness and The George, and agencies like MSD and their legendary staff including Alex and TP.

Long story, short - we've pulled off some really enjoyable events that were major successes (in my humble opinion), have raised close to $3k for various charities, assembled an amazing board of trustees, learnt a bunch and had a heap of fun.

To all those that have supported in some way, big or small, during our first year, a huge and heartfelt thank you. We can't wait to see what we can pull off in year two.

From left to right: Ryan Astle (Co-Founder), Todd Astle (Co-Founder), Scotty Stevenson (Patron), Ged Robinson (Co-Founder).


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