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Leah McInerney Jul 12, 2020 4:00:00 PM 21 min read

How FFS Gyms Changed my Life - Leah McInerney

Starting my journey with FFS Gyms

My journey with FFS Gyms began back in June of 2018. I had just moved home from New York where I had been living after I graduated from NUIG. I had always struggled with my weight growing up, although I may never have let on to my peers, it had been an issue for me for my whole life. I had tried everything growing up but nothing seemed to work; when I was 16 I even did a food replacement diet where I consumed less than 600 calories a day. Over the space of 3 months, I lost the guts of 4 stone but as soon as I reintroduced food the weight came back on at an alarming pace, I actually gained more weight than I had lost bringing me to a real low. Of course, this happened as nothing in my life had changed, I hadn’t learned anything.

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It was at my brother Rory’s wedding (I’m sure most people know but Eva & I are Rory and Craig’s sisters!) that things changed for me. I had just moved home from New York and was surrounded by loved ones and although I did feel beautiful on the day of the wedding, I didn’t feel beautiful in myself anymore. Even when I was at my heaviest people would always say to me that I had a pretty face, but I didn’t even see that pretty face anymore, I had lost myself in the amount of weight I was carrying. You never would have known by me but I could barely look at myself in the mirror at that time. It was that day that I decided I was going to change my life and become healthy, happy, fit, and strong. I knew that Rory and the whole team at FFS Gyms would be an integral part of helping me to achieve those goals.


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Personal Training at FFS Gyms

My first FFS Gyms Coach

I have had the pleasure of training with a lot of the coaches at this stage, but my first coach, Neil Gunning, really gave me faith in myself and in FFS Gyms. I came to Neil with a very low level of fitness; I was so unfit, unhappy, and, to be honest, completely terrified. In the testing element of our first session, there were a lot of fails. I was incapable of doing a lot of the basics and I was out of breath almost immediately but there was not one hint of judgement from Neil. I did not feel embarrassed or ashamed - I actually felt encouraged! Even though those early sessions were really tough, and my body was constantly sore and tired as it was not used to exercising, I look back on them now with such pride at how far I have come over the last 18 months thanks to everyone at FFS Gyms.


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In terms of the actual personal training sessions for me personally lunchtimes was the most ideal time to train as I didn’t have to think about it - it was already done! The coaches are super accommodating at finding times to suit your needs. I started out doing 3 X 30-minute personal training sessions a week. When I started training, I didn’t really care about the specifics of each class in terms of what training we were doing; the road ahead felt so long that I just wanted to know that I was at least on the path. I told the coaches that I would do whatever was required to lose weight and get healthier. I would be lying if I said I remembered the exact breakdown of met cons/strength and conditioning/suspension at that time but I also didn’t feel any pressure to focus on one over the other, I put my complete faith into the coaches at FFS and let the experts come up with the best personal training programme for me, and that they did.


Personal Training - Exception Level of Detail

One of the many amazing things about the FFS coaches and the personal training they provide is the level of detail. Every day when I came in, I would get asked how the body is, any niggles, pains etc. If there was anything specific, then the coaches would work in some stretches for the said area into warm-up/cool down or we would make alternates on exercises. A very close eye was kept on my wellbeing, which, as a complete novice at this point, I massively appreciated. Another area I have to commend the coaches on is attention to form. My current coach Jamie (who is an amazing coach and has the patience of a saint to deal with me every day!!) would always correct me on my form and breathing techniques, ensuring I am learning correct movement patterns from the get-go. He took the time to lay the foundations so that over time we have built great movements, increased rep ranges, increased weights and, as a result, we have had various ways of measuring progress.


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Coaches who Care

It’s so refreshing to feel as though your coach cares just as much as you do about your progress and I can honestly say above all else that the staff and coaches at FFS just care so much, they really do. They want to see you succeed more than you do and they will push you, as they know that we are all capable of more than we give ourselves credit for. The training can be very tough at times and there are moments where you don’t think you can finish a rep or a set but the coaches will give you that push to get you over the finish line - once you reach the finish line you are golden. It’s called the “home of hard work” for a reason, but, as they say, hard work pays off; the rewards that follow the tough sessions far outweigh the temporary pain or discomfort during them.


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Tracking my progress with FFS Gyms

Over the last 18 months, due to the personal training sessions, balanced diet, and Precision Nutrition online coaching (which is provided by FFS Gyms!) I have lost nearly 5 stone and completely changed my lifestyle and how I live my life, I have gone from someone who was allergic to activity to someone who is extremely passionate about it. I now do personal training 4 days a week and a Saturday morning class (if you know, you know - they are the best craic!!) - I usually go for a Suspension & Bodyweight Class. While my number one goal is still body composition, the structure of my training is different now. Jamie has helped me carve out a specific programme to

  • A) help me continue to lose weight
  • B) continue to gain strength and build muscle and
  • C) keep improving my cardiovascular health as I am doing my first half marathon in October (ticking off those 2020 goals!).


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We do a monthly weight check-in, measurements and pictures to track progress and to keep me accountable, but to be honest there are so many other factors of progress for me these days, that wonderfully these things don’t mean everything anymore. I am learning all the time that numbers aren’t everything and we aim for progress, not perfection.


FFS Yoga & Physiotherapy - Essential Additions

I have to briefly mention FFS Yoga & FFS Physiotherapy. With all the training I have been doing, understandably, my body can experience a lot of tightness/muscle soreness etc. Being a much more active human now than I would have been as well as someone who finds it very difficult to switch off, recovery is not always at the top of my priority list (even though I know it should be). I have recently gotten back into Yoga and am currently loving the classes at the FFS Yoga Studio, mostly restorative and Yin and Yoga Nidra as they are not as intense as some of the other flows and allow me to completely unwind and also get some great stretching done simultaneously. If you haven’t experienced the FFS Yoga classes I couldn’t recommend them enough they are a really magical experience. It also gets me off my phone for an hour which is no easy feat!


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FFS Physiotherapy has also been a huge part of my journey over the last few months. I have worked with both Cully (Eric) and Kat on some shoulder injuries/restricted mobility and they’re wonderful. Kat has massively helped me to increase my range of motion; she has helped me to take better care of my body (I would have been notorious for not stretching- not anymore!!!) and has definitely helped to increase my pain-free movements. She is a rockstar and the most good-natured positive lady to come in and see! If anyone is looking for a new physiotherapist for a sports massage or an assessment and rehab plan of an area of discomfort, Kat’s your woman!


The Community is the Cherry on Top

The benefits of FFS to me are greater than just the personal training or classes. Whilst those two factors have been a huge part of my journey there are other elements that have been just as important if not more so. The sense of community within the gym is like nothing I have ever experienced; from coaches to members it is one big family and I feel so blessed and lucky to be a part of it every day . It warms my heart to see people just wanting other people to succeed and be happy and healthy and that is exactly what FFS Gyms and its members are; one giant cheerleading team!

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FFS has driven me to do so many wonderful things that I never would have thought I would be able to do – yoga, animal flow, sea swimming, hiking, tag rugby, running, endurance events, the list is endless as are the possibilities for the future. They also have some of the most amazing social events in Dublin! Anyone who has been at an FFS summer party can attest to that. There have been so many great times with great people and I can’t wait for more memories to be made in 2020 and the years to come.


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To summarise, joining FFS Gyms is one of the best decisions I have ever made, if there is anyone who is on the fence or needs that little push, let me be it. It has literally changed my life. Not only has FFS helped me to completely change my lifestyle and how I choose to live my life, but it has also introduced me to so many things that I never thought I would be able to do. It has pushed me completely outside of my comfort zone, and you know what they say about greatness? It happens just outside of your comfort zone! It has given me a new, real confidence (not the mask I was hiding behind before) and it has given me a group of very close friends and second family. I have no doubt it can do all that, and more for you. So, what are you waiting for?


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Find Out More

If you want to find out more about 1:1 Personal Training in FFS Gyms, please fill in the following forms depending on which location suits you best.

- FFS Gyms Leeson Street 1:1 Personal Training Form

- FFS Gyms Parnell Street (Ivy Exchange) 1:1 Personal Training Form


About the Author


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Leah has been training with FFS Gyms since June of 2018, in that time she has done personal training with both Neil and Jamie, and in the last 6 months she has began to dip her toe into Saturday classes and has become a big fan of a Saturday morning workout! She is one of the founding members of The Sunrise Society which is a sunrise swim club that meet at the 40 Foot every week (all year round) for a sunrise swim or in winter a completely dark swim!! Leah has lost 30kg since beginning her journey in 2018 and shares a lot of her transformation, celebrations, life travels & sunrise swim snaps on her Instagram. You can catch all this & her fitness journey over on her Instagram: Leahmc5494