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'They've a lot to offer in that environment:' Wexford's McDonald the latest GAA player to open up a gym

Wexford ace forward Conor McDonald explains why he decided to park teaching and work in the fitness industry.

Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

WEXFORD’S CONOR MCDONALD was working in a gym in England last year when he realised he needed to change his choice of career.

He had been studying Irish and geography in UCD with a view to becoming a teacher, and people were advising him to go down that route.

But it wasn’t the profession for him as it turned out and so he started to look for something else that was more his fit.

Exercise was always a central part of his life due to his hurling commitments, and the idea of establishing his own gym was simmering in his head for over a year and a half before he decided to finally go through with the plan.

His sense of ambition would see him set-up a business called 14 Fitness in his hometown Gorey, and the uptake for classes has been encouraging since the outset.

“It’s going well, I’ve literally just started so we’re just getting the first couple of transformations in, so it’s going well.

“Generally it’s one-to-one stuff or small group classes. That’s the way it’s kind of panned out at the minute. It can be [about] losing weight, gaining some muscle and stuff like that.

I’m starting to gradually get more and more classes every week so it’s going well. I just enjoy helping people and essentially changing people’s lives really, and you get a boost from that when you’re helping other people.”

McDonald’s choice to work in the fitness industry sees him follow in the footsteps of other inter-county stars such as Kilkenny forward TJ Reid, and Dublin’s Philly McMahon, who are both successful gym owners.

Galway goalkeeper Colm Callanan runs a personal training club in his hometown Kinvara, while Mayo footballer Moran left his job as a sales representative in 2015 to open up a gym in Castlebar.

It’s becoming more common to see GAA players veer into this line of work, and McDonald believes that a player’s natural affinity with fitness and good lifestyle choices empowers them with the skills that are needed to be successful in the job.

I think a lot of GAA players are going down that route because they’re comfortable in that environment and I think they’ve a lot to offer in that environment, especially in Ireland.”

“It can aid your GAA career but I think an awful lot of players are using it to their advantage to try and work both ways on the field and off.

“It can be stressful. I suppose the way I see it, it’s a bit of a challenge and it’s kind of a challenge on the other side of my life where I’ll be playing matches and you’re getting challenged every week.

“You can kind of focus on that for the time that you’re there and every other part of my life is a challenge to get people in the door and essentially try and help them.”

Bord Gáis Energy Cupán Tae Café Launch Conor McDonald with Joe Canning and Alan Cadogan. Source: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

The challenge of being a successful businessman is something that McDonald feels he can balance with his commitments to the Wexford senior hurling team, as they prepare for a new championship season under manager Davy Fitzgerald.

2017 saw Fitzgerald’s side appear in their first Leinster SHC final since 2008 after an incredible win over Kilkenny in Wexford Park, and narrowly miss out on a place in the All-Ireland quarter-finals following a four-point defeat to Waterford.

McDonald’s status as a high-profile hurler is sure to gather interest from people within GAA circles who are interested in becoming one of his clients, but he hopes that his skills as a trainer will convince people from all walks of life to put their trust in his services.

I don’t know to be honest. You’d obviously hope so that it could draw a bit of a crowd. But talking from an off the field thing I would like to hope that people who wouldn’t be into GAA would recognise me as a good trainer.

“You kind of want to attack that angle as well and that’s what I’d be hoping and be good enough in that respect.”

On hand to launch Bord Gáis Energy’s summer of hurling are ambassadors Joe Canning, Conor McDonald and Alan Cadogan.

Throughout the Senior Hurling Championship, Bord Gáis Energy will be offering fans unmissable GAA rewards through the Bord Gáis Energy Rewards Club.

For more, see #HurlingToTheCore

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