Mr University: Still a student at heart

Posted by er134 at Feb 26, 2014 12:20 PM |
Ellen Rudge provides a behind-the-muscles look at Leicester graduate and fitness entrepreneur David Bissell

I have a confession to make.

I’m not very fit. Now, don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t consider myself to be overweight or particularly unhealthy, but I am certainly no athlete and haven’t been within 100 yards of a gym in months.

Therefore, I was quite apprehensive about interviewing the co-creator of the UK’s first university fitness contest, Mr University, and winner of 2013’s Fit Factor competition, held at BodyPower Expo, the fastest growing consumer fitness exhibition in Europe. I really did not expect to be having lessons on how to pose ‘professionally’ by the end of our interview.

Meet David Bissell, a University of Leicester Aerospace Engineering graduate. At just 22, he runs a successful fitness-based business, Muscle and Athletic Sports Society (MASS), which he started in his second year of study in 2011.

Since then, the business has expanded considerably, with ten universities in the UK and one university in the United States now having a MASS Society on campus.

So, what’s it all about?

“Basically, we want to make it cool to be a fit student,” David explains.

DB graduation
Image credit: David Bissell

“Students are bombarded with drinks offers, bake sales and nightclub events, which in turn encourage an unhealthy lifestyle. If you don’t go out drinking as much as others, you are considered a loser.

“There is no platform to celebrate the opposite; fitness and healthy living, and that’s what MASS and Mr University is trying to create. You don’t have to follow the typical lazy stereotype and if you do train and look after your body then why not show off your achievements to others?”

David co-founded Mr University with University of Swansea students Max Kalu, 20, and Sean Lee Rice, 21, after meeting through MASS and recognising the need for a fitness competition specifically for students.

Mr University is the first and only UK university-based fitness competition- a showcase of the most healthy, athletic and fit students that the UK has to offer. They are also mixing it up with an interesting twist that lets the public decide who has the ‘Mr University factor’ and explores the personality and story behind the athlete.

“We’re not just about the muscles. In the show we will be discovering the personalities behind the bodies, who they are, what they study and why they train,” David explains.

“Some of the entrants we’ve already received have really inspiring stories which I know will have the audience captured.”

So, what about David’s story?
DB Fit Factor
David after winning Fit Factor 2013

Originally from Croydon, David has always loved keeping fit and started lifting weights when he was 15 to get “guns for the ladies like any typical lad”. He chose to study Aerospace Engineering at the University of Leicester after being wowed by talk of ‘cool’ aeroplanes at an engineering taster day. Although David is keen to focus on MASS and aspires to be an actor one day, he sees his degree as a solid contingency plan.

Speaking about winning Fit Factor 2013, he said: “It was only in my third year at uni that I started to enter competitions and couldn’t believe when I actually won – I’m just a normal guy who loves the gym.

“The competitions I entered were all around the exam period and I found that training for these actually helped me to focus on revision and the two came hand in hand.

“Training gets addictive – you get this mind to muscle connection and start to love the lifestyle and the small gains to your body each day.

As the interview draws to a close, I can’t help but admire and respect the young, determined and focused entrepreneur sat opposite me.

Sure, he loves to flex his muscles to the camera and show off his winning poses, but when you dedicate your time and profession to your body, of course you are going to know which camera angles make your body look good and subsequently want to show it off.

So, David may have won me over but has he helped to dispel the ‘lazy’ student stereotype? After an hour of me awaiting his arrival, shamelessly eating chocolate fingers for breakfast, David eventually turned up, flashed a smile and apologised: “Sorry I’m late, I’m still a student at heart and couldn’t get out of bed.”



Basically, we want to make it cool to be a fit student,

David Bissell



DB & ellen3
I think I have some work to do ...
DB & ellen 2

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