My Weekend: Football gave me my passion for fitness

From training elite athletes to people who suffer physical disabilities and working with people from all over the world, we chat to Ray Lally, aka The Happy Fitness Guy
My Weekend: Football gave me my passion for fitness
Ray Lally, The Happy Fitness Guy, at the Clayton Hotel Cork, Lapps Quay, Cork. Picture: Jim Coughlan

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

My family are all from Galway. I was born in Ballinasloe, but I’ve been in Cork since I was seven. I have four siblings. One older brother and three sisters. Both my parents still live in our house with our two dogs.

My fiancé, Amanda, and I live in Douglas. She’s a Kerry lady. We got engaged in Bruges in October. We’ve been going out nearly four years. So with our dog that makes three altogether.

My fitness background started with a love for soccer. I was taken over on trials with English clubs since I was 14. Captained my country at different levels. Played over in Australia for nearly five years and played with Cork City FC. I got to see and experience a lot of different countries and cultures because of this, so I was very lucky.

Football gave me my passion for fitness and the way the body works and moves. I started working in a gym when I was about 17 so have always enjoyed it. I studied in Image Fitness; Colaiste Stiofan Naofa (CSN) and CIT. I worked and lived in Australia playing football and also personal training, and when I finished there I moved to England. There I got to train Premier League footballers and TV personalities so it was a little different.

From training elite athletes to people who suffer physical disabilities and working with people from all over the world with completely different demands has been so interesting but it teaches you how individual everyone really is.

I enjoy doing the fitness segments on RTÉ’s The Today Show with Daithí & Maura. It is a lot of fun and everyone is very friendly. I also do Wellness Talks; consultations on gym designs to creating home workouts/ gyms for families. There is no one size fits all fitness plans or workouts. Everyone has different capabilities, wants and needs. I try making working out as much of an “escape” as possible. If people enjoy working out it won’t be seen as a chore and more of a reward. Personally its a great reward for myself making people happy.

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

Friday nights I either have a football match or I get to relax. I’m up early Saturday so don’t do anything too crazy. We like going to shows. I love stand up comedy. We went to Jimmy Carr recently and we’re going to Keith Barry, illusionist (my choice) and Giovanni Pernices, dance show (her choice) soon.

Ray Lally, The Happy Fitness Guy, at the Clayton Hotel Cork, Lapps Quay, Cork. Picture: Jim Coughlan
Ray Lally, The Happy Fitness Guy, at the Clayton Hotel Cork, Lapps Quay, Cork. Picture: Jim Coughlan

Lie ins or up with the lark.. which is it for you?

Oh I love a lie in but don’t get to have them anymore. It’s up at the crack of dawn.

Most days I’m up at around 5am. Once you’re up about 15/20 minutes its like any other morning to be honest.

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

Yes, you never really switch off. Well, I work Saturdays. I do my own work also after that at home, hopefully with a football match in the background. But I get to switch off for the night and try to sleep in on Sundays.

If money was no object where would you head to on a weekend city break? And who would you bring with you?

Easy... I’d bring Amanda my fiancé. I guess somewhere I haven’t been before. If money were no object, but only had a weekend; I’d hire a super fast jet and then go to Tokyo. I think it would be amazing. Also the jet will cut down on travelling time.

Closer to home, is there some place you like to head to recharge the batteries?

I just like to recharge at home. Getting up off my feet and lying on the couch. Turning the phone off is good for that. Just try get distracted by a good show. I love watching series. For walks, I bring our dog down “the line” from Rochestown to Mahon.

Do you like to catch up with family/friends at the weekend?

I see my parents the whole time. Most of my siblings live away now and my sister Nicola just had a baby so that’s very exciting for us. I try to catch up with my friends as much as I can. Everyone is so busy; not like when we were teenagers. When you’re with them; it’s like you were with them the day before. They’re really great. I do love Sundays. It is my only full day with Amanda, so I always look forward to it. Sleep in and then she gets to listen to my bad jokes all day. :)

Do you get to indulge in any hobbies? Even as a spectator?

Football is my first love. I play soccer with Midleton FC (current MSL champions) and follow Man Utd. I enjoy playing PlayStation or drawing, mainly pencil drawings.

Entertain or be entertained? If it’s the latter do you have a signature dish?

I love to cook when I’ve time to experiment. I like to try throwing in random spices and random ingredients that I already have at home. See what happens. I think a lot of people secretly do this. But in no way does that mean I’m a good cook. Ask Amanda. But if it was a choice between cooking and being fed grapes like Cleopatra, I think I’d be kicking my feet up on the couch pretty lively.

We have so many places to eat out in Cork — where are your go to spots for coffee/ lunch/ special meal?

I don’t actually drink coffee or tea. Weird I know. It doesn’t get me out of tea-making duty though. I love Ecos in Douglas or Market Lane, Nandos and KCs and but we love to try different restaurants too, it’s part of the adventure. For a special occasion I’d say Greenes restaurant.

Sunday night comes around too fast.. how do you normally spend it?

Start winding down early. On the couch with a few treats. Amanda is on one side and my dog is on the other. All is going fantastic until she turns on Dancing with the Stars or Dancing on Ice.

What time does your alarm clock go off on Monday morning?

Monday I’ve more of a sleep in as I start at 7am. My alarm goes off at 5.45am, and I snooze for easily another 20 minutes.

You can follow Ray on Instagram on: fitnessguy/ or find him on Facebook at fitness/

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