AS a youngster, Mike Hind was the target for classroom bullies. He now runs a fitness clothing business and gym with the specific aim of helping people feel better about themselves. Deputy Business Editor Steven Hugill finds out more
IT'S early morning and Mike Hind is battling against another long day.
Loading up a delivery of shoes, he's primed for a car boot sale.
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Looking back, he admits it wasn't easy.
His salesman routine was combined with a position as a joiner at Redcar-based social housing firm Coast and Country.
But, as a committed trainer, his time was also devoted to fitness, and it was this passion that ultimately helped drive him into a new business venture selling body building and gym clothing.
The company, Mas Body Development, is based in Middlesbrough, and also operates a gym backed by some of the world's top athletes, including UK national champion, Ryan Terry, Richard Gozdecki, heavyweight world champion of the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation, and rower Emma Storey-Gordon.
It's now used by hundreds of people keen to work out and wear clothing that helps their routines.
But it all came from one piece of clothing.
“I was buying and selling Flossy shoes at car boot sales”, says the 30-year-old, “but I was always into my training.
“I wanted clothing that fitted me properly and would help me work out better, and I eventually found someone to make me five vests.
“People started to see them, how they were tailored and better for what I was doing, and became interested in them, and from then it built up that I got to the stage where I started selling them from my dining room table.
“I started the business with £50 and the clothing slowly built from there, and we've now got all sorts of items.
“I had always wanted a gym too, but wanted that to focus on helping and supporting people that want to get fit and feel good about themselves.
“It's not about the whole macho side of who can lift the most at all.
“We have built up a real following all over the UK and it feels like we are one big family; we are Team Mas.
“To have some of the best bodybuilders around wearing our clothing is a fantastic bonus for us.”
Sitting in Mr Hind's office, he speaks passionately about how the core of his work doesn't focus on the stereotypical image bodybuilding, but on the need to help people and tackle bullying.
He launched a campaign, Mas Against Bullies, to give youngsters confidence and self-belief, and speaks with real pride about how one young boy epitomises his goals.
He said: “I was always the skinny kid at school and had to overcome that.
“One day I was training in the gym, I was on my own and had my hood up, and to some people that can look quite intimidating.
“As I was working out, a young lad came up to me and just started watching me do my reps.
“His dad shouted him to come away, but we got talking and found out he was called Reece.
“A bit later, his dad came to me and said he was so surprised to see him do what he did because he doesn't interact with many people as he gets bullied.
“That was it for me, I got Reece and his dad to our factory and he now fronts out anti-bullying campaign.
“We designed wristbands for that and with the money raised off them, we sent him and his classmates for a day out bowling.”
This fervour to help others runs as a central strand throughout Mas' work, including Mike's aim of creating more jobs to give local workers the chance to get into employment.
He said: “We have taken an apprentice on and he now has the chance to build a career and has the opportunity to make something of his life.
“It's all about sheer hard work because the rewards are fantastic.
“If you want something and are prepared to give everything you have got, you can come out the other end.
“There are obstacles out there to overcome and to get anywhere in life you have to get past them.”