Meet the duo from The Squad

Here's our My Career focus on Kate Palfrey and Josie McCarthy, owners of The Squad
Meet the duo from The Squad
Kate Parfrey, and Josie McCarthy, Co-founders, The Squad Gym, at Richfield Business Park, Ballycurreen. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan /OSM

Name: Kate Palfrey.

Age: 35.

Lives: Douglas.

Job title: Director / Owner of The Squad.

Salary bracket: €30,000 to €45,000

Education background: Honours Degree in Construction Project Management.

Hobbies: Past rower, CrossFit, spending time with family and friends.

Describe your job in five words: Rewarding, stressful, powerful (in terms of mental changes in clients!), physical, progressive.

Describe yourself in five words: Positive, intelligent, stubborn, forgetful, funny.

Personality needed for this kind of work? Emotionally intelligent, kind, compassionate, tough, understanding, not afraid to push people out of their comfort zones.

How long are you doing this job? Two years.

How did you get this job? Initially, I studied as a Construction Project Manager and decided to work in Perth, Western Australia. There I was a consultant in a Global Project Management Consultancy. Our biggest client in Perth was a mining giant and it was through the mining industry that I first fell in love with Project Management. Throughout the course of my career in Australia, I learned all about hard work, frequently working through the night to achieve a deadline or tender application. I learned resilience by being a young lady in a predominantly male environment, and determination as to not let positive/negative discrimination promote or demote me.

Sport was always a major part of my life, having rowed since I was 13 until I was 20 and also when I moved to Australia. It was always in the backdrop of my life.

Once I moved home after nearly four years, I continued to work in industry with BAM Contractors. I absolutely loved my position there and was mentored by amazing people but fitness was forever growing in my life.

It was my dad though that planted the seed in my mind to qualify as a Personal Trainer ‘just for fun’ and it was there that I met my now friend and business partner, Joanna McCarthy. It was through this cosmic meeting of two minds, energies and dreams that ‘The Squad’ was born. Never had I thought in a million years that I would leave my well-established career and peruse a life of uncertainty but something told me that the risk was worth the chance of the reward and I jumped.

Do you need particular qualifications or experience? Yes, the Personal Training course is roughly 18 weeks long, depending on which organisation you do it through.

Describe a day at work: Our day starts at 6am and from the get go we are back to back training clients or teaching classes. Each client is treated equally. They all have different abilities, goals and minds and all of these need to be minded, guided and worked hard!

Most nights we run back to back fitness classes where 18 men and women will come though the doors all looking for the same thing… to sweat and have fun! Outside of training, clients and teaching classes, we catch up on paper work, accounts and anything else needed to operate The Squad.

How many hours do you work a week? 45+.

What do you wear to work? We wear our Squad uniform on Queen B Athletics leggings and black branded hoodies. We need to be able to demonstrate exercises and comfort is key!

Is your industry male or female dominated? I think the perception is that it is a male dominated industry but I do believe there to be a pretty good balance between the sexes.

Does this affect you in any particular way? Because The Squad is run and owned by two women we do have to constantly remind people that we are not a women’s only Squad. Everyone, male or female, from 15 to 80 can come and be part of The Squad.

Is your job stressful? How? Rate it on a scale of 1-10: Some days I am at 1 and others I am at 10. Clients and classes never stress me out, it is the background stuff, the things you don’t see that would bring out my stresses.

Due to my background as a PM, I am constantly aware of cash flow, bills, and forthcoming expenses that will stop us in our tracks. Money/cash flow would be my biggest worry and my biggest concern.

Do you work with others or on your own? We have a team of five and they are invaluable to us.

When do you plan to retire or give up working? My goal would be to step away from client and class training when I can and focus on expanding different facets of The Squad. To grow the business and a self-sufficient entity and maybe help other young businesses to start off with the right advice and guidance.

Best bits: Every single one of The Squad, all their enthusiasm, loyalty and smiles. Having a fantastic team that I feel as family.

Worst bits: The pressure to keep the doors open, to not get side-tracked by something shiny in the corner! The pressure of being responsible to provide for three jobs as well and my own and Joanna’s!

Advice to those who want your job? You have to care. You have to love what you do and you have to want to be in it to actually change people’s lives.

The people who are in it for the wrong reasons are found out very fast and ultimately fail. The reason we have built such a strong Squad is because we care and our Squad know it.

Kate Parfrey, and Josie McCarthy, Co-founders, The Squad Gym, Ballycurreen, Cork. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan /OSM PHOTO
Kate Parfrey, and Josie McCarthy, Co-founders, The Squad Gym, Ballycurreen, Cork. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan /OSM PHOTO

Name: Josie McCarthy.

Age: 30.

Lives: Ballincollig.

Job title: Owner/Director of The Squad.

Salary bracket: €30,000 to €45,000.

Education background: I have a degree in Early Childhood Studies in UCC. When I decided to change career, I did the NTC Personal Training Course in the Mardyke in Cork. Most recently, I qualified as a Performance and Life Coach with Kingstown College.

Hobbies: It goes without saying that I love all things health and fitness, but my main gra is travelling. I like to work hard for a few weeks with the head down and set off for a few days, sometimes weeks to different countries.

Describe your job in five words: There are so many positives to our work. But knowing that I can get up each day and go in to a job I love, is the biggest reward of all.

Describe yourself in five words: I’m an extrovert with a soft side. I’m the best friend you’ll ever have. I also consider myself an avid listener. I am definitely a people person.

Personality needed for this kind of work? You have to be a people person. You also have to be adaptable. Sometimes people need a tough fun training session, other times they need a listening ear and a huge hug. You must be able to be versatile.

How long are you doing this job? Two lovely years.

How did you get this job? Myself and Kate met in a PT course 3 years ago and decided over a glass of Prosecco, on NYE, that we would set up a place where you could come and train and feel part of a team. The Squad was born and over the years, we progressed from renting spaces in gyms, to working in a commercial gym, before eventually setting up our own studio. I worked in a crèche for five years (Model Farm Road Childcare) and it was amazing. I loved it but my passion for the health and fitness world was pulling me away from it. I was gutted to leave but I still have some of the parents from MFRC training with me here in Squad! I also work as a Life Coach specialising in Performance and Lifestyle. I LOVE this part of my job also, so I count myself very lucky to have two different careers that I enjoy so much.

Do you need particular qualifications or experience? Yes, the Personal Training course is roughly 18 weeks long, depending on which organisation you do it through. I also got my Coaching Qualifications from Kingstown College who I highly recommend.

Describe a day at work: A 6am start full of Personal Training and Fitness Classes. Each client is individual so one session could be for a client with a specific goal, another session could be for a person who had a rough day at work and needs to de-stress and talk it out. We work splits most days, finishing at 9.30pm.

At weekends, I usually take my coaching clients then. We have an office in Squad and I have our sessions there.

How many hours do you work a week? A few too many, I’m hoping Kate will negotiate a raise!

What do you wear to work? Leggings and lots of layers! We wear all black and mostly Queen B Athletics (local Cork brand).

Is your industry male or female dominated? Even though most would say it is male dominated, I disagree. I think there are more women into fitness in recent times, which is brilliant. Weight lifting is hugely beneficial for women and I think the stigma of ‘weights make you bulky’ is finally shifting!

Does this affect you in any particular way? Besides the 100 Qs of ‘Is yer gym a women’s only gym’ question every week, it doesn’t affect us. We have many males in Squad. Some would say the female trainers in the Squad are tougher than Sam... and they’d be right!

Is your job stressful? How? Rate it on a scale of 1-10: It is… some days. Not because of the people in The Squad, or the team we have. But for other behind the scenes. We go by ‘What’s Working Well’ and control what we can control… Everything else will work out!

Do you work with others or on your own? We have a team of five… who we adore!

When do you plan to retire or give up working? I can’t sit still... so I hope to be still active enough to be rocking my Tr-ump class when I’m 87!

Best bits: Making people feel good about themselves. Inside and out. There is no point in looking after your body on the outside and not working on their mindset, overall lifestyle, sleep and stress. Working on a holistic approach is what we are all about and watching people reap the benefits is so rewarding!

Worst bits: I can’t switch off. Its my downfall. So I am making a public promise to leave my phone on airplane mode when I am on my next holiday!

Advice to those who want your job? It isn’t about the followers, likes, and crap you post on social media. Nobody cares what YOU can do. Because everyone is different. So just because YOU can do something in the gym, doesn’t mean your client should be able to also. Their starting pointing, just like everyone else’s, differs but its how you modify it and apply it is the most important thing.

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