Cancer, Depression & Strength: A Powerful Story of Hope & Resilience with Tom McClelland

September 12, 2019

It’s an honour to be able to introduce you to Tom McClelland on the podcast today.

I connected with Tom at Canggu Nest, the best gym in Canggu here in Bali (my bias isn’t showing here at all ????) and was immediately drawn to Tom’s amazing energy and positivity that absolutely radiates from him.  When I got to know him a little better and learned more about his journey to get to where he is today, I knew that he was so extra special that no one was more deserving of being only the second male guest ever invited onto this podcast.



After gaining a personal training qualification as a quick way to make money in his early 20’s, fitness soon became a massive part of Tom’s life. From very early on, Tom realised that exercise was so much more about mental health than just aesthetics. After many years in the industry Tom moved out to the USA where he opened a boxing gym in Salt Lake City, Utah. Developed with his knowledge and skill in the sport of boxing and an ethos that health and fitness were more than just about the way you look; Fight for Your Life Boxing became a place where absolutely anyone could workout.

Four years on, Tom decided to move onto more challenges, Tom left for NYC where he quickly became sought after in his industry. Developing his skills in training and gaining a wealth of qualifications, he built his career as a Personal Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Coach for athletes. Following the same ethos and understanding of fitness for mental health; and meeting many inspirational people on his journey, it only further strengthened his feelings on how we should sell fitness and the image surrounding it. This became his mission.

In 2017 and with over 15 years in the industry, Tom created GLOVE, a pop up boxing studio. Tom firmly believes that the focus in fitness should be steered away from six packs and glossy images, so he created an inclusive environment where anyone who wanted to, could learn to throw a proper punch; and experience first-hand how much exercise can help your mental health.

In August 2018, Tom faced a battle with cancer. After a routine surgery and discovering a tumour, he was diagnosed with a Stage 11 Soft Tissue Synovial Sarcoma. Following treatment and recovery, then his own battle with depression, Tom decided to move to Bali to focus his health and healing. What was meant to be a one month trip, now sees Tom living here full time and alongside his own healing, continuing his journey to helping people understand how important exercise is to obtain relative peace and happiness.

This episode has been purposely timed to be released in September, which is National Suicide Prevention month, as Tom and I discuss some of the frightening truths around mental health and suicide, particularly for males.

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When Tom received the cancer diagnosis, he ended up in a very dark place mentally, and he’s sharing with us the messy journey of healing and some of the ways he turned things around and the daily practices he implements and tries to model for others that keep him healthy and happy (other than moving to Bali!)

We cover a lot of ground in this episode, including:

  • The power of a smile
  • Taking the aesthetics out of fitness and instead taking advantage of the amazing mental health benefits it has to offer
  • Importance of talking about your feelings, especially as a male which can be particularly difficult given a lot of old stigmas that many of us have continued to hang onto, and the fact that the male suicide rate is 3-4 X higher for men than for women in the western world.
  • Tom shares this whole idea around having a personal tool box of things to make you happier and battle depression and shares some of what works the best for him in his own life
  • How toxic masculinity is perpetuated and what we can do to combat the negative practices that come with it, from the standpoint of both men and women

Tom was INCREDIBLY generous with his time and energy to make this episode happen.  Most importantly, he’s really sharing what’s on his heart in a powerful way that has a massive impact on anyone he comes into contact with, both virtually and in person.  I’ve watched it in real time when someone can come into the gym a little down, and after an interaction with Tom (usually including one of his big smiles), they’re already brighter and have a more positive energy to them when they walk away. 

And as an added twist, we were able to record in-person which I’ve never had the opportunity to do before on this particular podcast, and you’ll be able to hear some of the sounds of Bali in the background to give it some extra authenticity.  Don’t mind how awkward I am in the beginning, it takes me a moment to settle into totally changing my interview style to accommodate for the face-to-face interaction I don’t normally have the pleasure of experiencing when podcasting!

Additionally, make sure to connect with Tom at his new Instagram handle here @tomxmclelland.

“I believe that if we have a tool box that we can dip into every day, with a list of things that we go through to help us live a little better each day, we will never have a reason not to smile and be happy. Teaching, motivating and inspiring people to move and sweat a little bit each day, is my part in helping people to develop these tools. I believe I went through my own darkness, in order to help bring light to others. Sharing my story is the least I can do.”

Tom McClelland



Canggu Nest

Instagram @canggunest

Room to Grow Podcast episode #17, Rest for Success & How to Manage Metabolism with Dr. Jade Teta



Instagram @tomxmclelland

Facebook @ Glove London



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Emily Gough Coaching

Room to Grow Podcast

Facebook: @ Emily Gough Coaching


PLUS!  Want to be a badass podcast guest?  You’re going to want to grab this highly requested guide walking you through every step of the way to have your interviewers begging you to come back on, and the listeners wanting to learn everything they can from you!  Grab your guide HERE.


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