Mathew Peczka had problems fitting in with his classmates and his outlook did not help matters, according to his mother Debbie Crossley.
“He was very bad at school, his attitude wasn’t good,” she said.
Then Mathew began at Jayfit fitness in Rockingham a few months ago.
There he is learning how to do bouldering – harness-free rock climbing.
“His teacher approached me one day asking, ‘What is he doing after school every Tuesday?’
“I told her about these fitness classes and she said, ‘Good, keep him doing it!”
Mathew’s trainer and Jayfit owner Jay Sellers said it was also about mental fitness.
“I run a kids’ program that is based on respecting yourself and others,” he said.
“It is based around nine points that include bullying and how to respond to it, taking responsibility for your actions, caring for and listening to those who need help, understanding fitness and exercise principles, healthy lifestyle choices, and goal setting.
“Goal setting is the big one; I want to show them that there are lots of steps before you achieve something, you have to build up to win things, whether that is in fitness or in life.
“The kids are taught bouldering, boxing and jiujitsu, which helps them nullify any bad situations.
“Bouldering especially is good for decision-making, co-ordination, confidence and trusting yourself.”
Mr Sellers said attention in children could be challenging so classes were mixed up.
“We work hard for about 10 minutes or so then we have fun,” he said. “Even if it is a fun game of dodge ball, they must play by the rules and do the proper stances and no pushing into each other.”
Ms Crossley said Mathew’s change was almost sudden.
“Within a couple of weeks – it was quite quick; he pays more attention, has discipline and is so much more confident; he is really happy,” she said.