Fitness is fun at Cork gym that combines laughing with lifting

Fitness is fun at Cork gym that combines laughing with lifting

On the ball: Philip Connolly, Eoin Murphy, and Dean Sheehan having fun at EMF Lifting and Laughing Gym at Blarney.

A CORK man has established a gym with a twist, offering people the chance to get fit in a fun environment.

EMF Lifting and Laughing has been in Blarney since 2015, when it was set up in the GAA gym by local man Eoin Murphy, a fitness fanatic who has worked in gyms abroad.

Eoin said he was at a crossroads in life when he decided to open EMF Lifting and Laughing.

“I had recently lost my job and felt it was the right time to finally take the leap of faith and start my own thing.

“A good boot out the door from my mother towards the social welfare office helped no end also,” Eoin said.

“An Irish mammy is the best business consultant you will ever have.”

Instead of taking the rigorous ‘no pain, no gain’ approach adopted by many gyms, Eoin wanted to do things a little differently at EMF, which now has its own premises by the Mills.

“The inspiration behind the direction we took was simple,” he said.

“I had worked in and been a member of gyms all over the world, from San Diego to Sydney and Cork to Cardiff.

“I saw so many gyms and personal trainers take the ‘go hard or go home’ approach and felt that way didn’t really appeal to the vast majority of the world.

“I wondered if taking a fun and banterful approach would work, and could it be developed into something that would appeal to the masses,” he added.

“I myself am a bit of a joker and a messer, so I felt bringing this to the gym would make it more of an entertainment venue as much as a house of exercise.

“Ideally, somewhere you looked forward to going to and somewhere you left feeling better than when you entered.”

Eoin said that EMF Lifting and Laughing offers people the chance to reimagine what a gym could be.

“That lifting weights and getting fit is something they can do, even if they hate the idea of the gym or believe themselves to not be a ‘gym person’,” he said.

“It gives people a healthy hobby that lets them make friends, have fun, and improve their physical and mental health in the process.

“I always say that the exercise we do is a bonus.

“Most people come down to unwind, de-stress, have a chat, listen to some jokes, and have a move around the place.

“For us, that means they have a good time here and they then come back.

“A bit like Rome, good health and fitness isn’t built in a day; it takes many months, if not years.

“Guilt tripping or shaming people to come back doesn’t last, we have found.

“Most people just want a safe and friendly space to move around and take a load off.

“That is what we offer.”

The impact this approach has had on clients attending the gym has been hugely positive, Eoin said.

“To say we have a majorly positive impact on the lives of our clients would not be an overstatement,” he said.

“We are a second family to them in some respects.

“We are somewhere they can go to get away from it all and feel good about themselves, no matter what is happening outside of the gym.” EMF Laughing and Lifting have three staff, but Eoin said the team is always growing, and encouraged anyone with coaching experience to get in touch if they are job hunting.

“Our three current staff are myself, Eoin, otherwise known as the Baron of Banter, Phil the Duke of High Jinks, and Dean the Count of Craic,” Eoin said.

“Fun and messing on a regal level is how we like to do things.”

Like many businesses, EMF Lifting and Laughing was forced to close its doors with the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, and during the subsequent lockdowns.

However, Eoin said that the gym quickly established an online presence to help clients stay active at home.

“From this, EMF Lifting and Laughing Online was born overnight and we managed to facilitate everyone that was able with fun fitness over Zoom for the bones of a year.

“Covid has really shown us how important health is to everyone — it is a global health pandemic after all.

“Since we reopened most recently, in June, we have never been busier,” he added. “So many people have realised they want somewhere to go to have fun, get healthy, and meet good people.

“Always focusing on the positive down EMF way is our only mantra, so, thankfully, Covid wasn’t all bad.”

Eoin’s hopes and plans for the new year are simple.

“To just continue to spread the good word that fitness can be fun, that laughing can accompany lifting, and that there is a gym out there like nothing you have ever experienced, in a good way, hopefully.

“One major plan for 2022, though, is the rolling-out of our EMF Lifting and Laughing internship,” he added.

“An eight-week programme for qualified coaches to learn how to do all that we do.

“We firmly believe every town in Ireland should have an EMF Lifting and Laughing and by launching this programme, we can, hopefully, start populating the world with more regal-level coaches.”

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