Oli Cooney, 20, was a fitness fanatic and bodybuilding obsessive who used anabolic steroids for years. Despite suffering two heart attacks and three strokes, Cooney continually ignored advice from those around him to stop exercising. Now, the young man has died, and his family is speaking out in hopes that they can save the lives of others who are on the same path as the 20-year-old.
For some time before his death, multiple doctors advised Cooney to stop the massive amounts of weight lifting and exercising, but the stubborn man refused to end it. His family says at 18, he admitted to using anabolic steroids because he wanted to change the way he looked.
More recently, Cooney was diagnosed with chronic heart damage, and because of his diagnosis, he stopped using steroids. Still, the 20-year-old continued to exercise, and even after having two heart attacks and three strokes, he refused to stop.
On September 22, Cooney was on his way home from a night out with friends when he collapsed on the street. He was taken to a hospital but died a short time after arriving there.
Coroner Dr. Dominic Bell said that the man’s death was a result of the lasting effects of steroid abuse.
“He had this weakness that he was driven to alter his body image to become more confident in society,” said Bell, adding that Cooney’s family is not to blame for his death. “For most people what had already happened to him would have been a wake-up call but he was not willing to listen to or learn from the heart professionals. If he would not listen to them, he would not listen to you [Cooney’s family] – it does not reflect any shortfall on you.”
Cooney’s parents say that they hope his tragic death will be a lesson to others who are struggling.
“Oli was driven by a passion for bodybuilding and unfortunately it was that passion that took his life,” said Sarah Cooney, Oli’s mother. “We would not want anyone to go through the hell we have been through. We will never move on from this.”
A California woman signed up for a gym membership so that she could get back in shape after recovering from a car accident, but on her first day at the Richmond Planet Fitness, she was told by staff that her toned body was intimidating to other patrons.
Tiffany Austin says when she arrived at the gym for the first time after signing up for a membership, she decided to start by walking on the treadmill. Immediately, Austin says people at surrounding machines began to stare at her, and after only a few minutes on the treadmill, a gym employee asked her to stop.
“Excuse me we’ve had some complaints you’re intimidating people with your toned body,” the Planet Fitness employee reportedly said to Austin. “So can you put on a shirt?”
Planet Fitness proudly boasts its slogan, “The Judgment Free Zone,” but Austin says that’s not how she felt at all. Planet Fitness does have a policy prohibiting patrons from wearing clothing that reveals too much of the body in an effort to stop people from being “subjected to the hardcore look-at-me-attitude that exists in too many gyms."
Austin claims that although she was wearing a tank top and capris, she was only told upon signing up that she couldn’t wear a string tank top. When the employee asked her to put on a shirt, she agreed, but when another employee approached her and commented on her body, she decided she had taken enough. She found the manager, cancelled her membership, and left.
While Austin clearly disagrees with the policy put forth by Planet Fitness, other members think it’s a great idea. Richmond member Geovanna Borges said, “it’s unfair to show off your body” because it makes other people at the gym feel bad about themselves.
Austin says that her brief experience at Planet Fitness left her feeling harassed and intimated and that the gym that so proudly boasts about its lack of judgment didn’t uphold their promise.
The government is trying to encourage kids to exercise by contacting them in a way that is especially appropriate for the younger generation - text messages.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is spending $379,500 on a Baylor University study to see if encouraging adolescents to engage in physical activities via text is a reliable strategy. The “Txt Me: Texting Motivational Messages Encouraging Adolescent PA” (physical activity) study began in January of 2011 and will run through the end of the year.
“The physical activity to be promoted is walking, which has broad appeal and can be performed as part of usual-day activities,” according to the Clinicaltrials.gov description of the study.
The grant for the study reads: “This application will test the feasibility of promoting PA to 14-17 year olds using text messages tailored to constructs from Self Determination Theory.”
As part of the study, adolescents receive pedometers to measure their steps and are also sent prompts for physical activity and motivational text messages.
“Promoting PA to adolescents in a manner that is familiar, convenient, and acceptable has the potential to increase PA, thus reducing risk of both obesity and chronic disease, such as certain cancers,” the NIH grant description says.
The project’s leader, Dr. Deborah Thompson of the Baylor College of Medicine, has not revealed details about the exact language that is incorporated into the texts, CNS News reported.
Inquiries directed to the NIH about the “TXT Me" study elicited the following response:
“NIH research addresses the full spectrum of human health across all populations of Americans. Research into unhealthy human behaviors that are estimated to be the proximal cause of more than half of the disease burden in the U.S. will continue to be an important area of research supported by NIH.”