Going to the gym can be a great place to start when you want to improve your fitness levels but aren’t quite sure where to start. At a well-equipped gym you can avail of professional advice and learn how to use the equipment in a safe environment. Going to the gym can also be a social experience and is great for building a support network to motivate you on your fitness journey. Don Maguire runs Don Maguire Fitness gym in Balleybofey. He’s going to give us an insight on why the gym can be such a useful amenity when it comes to physical and mental health.
- When did you first become interested in physical fitness?
I was always a fan of football & the competitive nature of it, so for me when I had to stop playing football for a prolonged period of time due to a shoulder injury it was almost a natural change of direction for me to get into some alternative form of physical fitness, I think my first real venture into a gym was in 2014 when a friend in Sligo took me to a community school gym & I got hooked on collecting more knowledge about growing muscle in the right way from that day on.
- When did you start up your business Don Maguire Fitness?
Officially we are trading as Don Maguire Fitness Gym since August 2020 so we are a very very new start-up, but our doors have been open (& sometimes closed as the times dictate) since October 2019.
- Why do you feel gym fitness can benefit people’s physical fitness levels?
The gym for me is the perfect mix of social interaction, motivation to achieve & obviously contains a lot of different ways to achieve your goals of staying physically fit for longer. Many people seem to forget that we don’t have to grow old & feeble but instead we can grow stronger as we age physically with the correct stimuli & that is what the gym provides for me, a way to sustain and potentially build strength, endurance, power, speed and of course improve our overall health markers while giving you the chance to interact with likeminded individuals.
- Do you think going to the gym can help with mental health?
Absolutely, Gyms in my opinion & that of many others are an integral part of helping combat declining mental health. There is plenty of strong evidence out there to suggest that workouts can help you manage symptoms of depression, alleviate work or environmental stressors & even contrary to belief help to manage anxiety due to the release of hormones that can help you to control it provided you attend a gym that you feel comfortable in.
- If the Gym for everyone?
I know my answer here should be yes, that’s what people might expect me to say I guess with me being a gym owner but honestly, no, not always. This usually is a personal choice of the individual; some people just really don’t like them. Is there a gym out there to suit all needs? Absolutely, I’d think so. Will everyone decide the gym is for them? Nope. All we can do as gym staff is make you feel welcome, feel like you are in control of your outcome & hope you don’t become a one-time user.
- What would you say to someone who wants to start going to the gym, but feel self-conscious as they feel everyone will be looking at them?
Following on from the last question this one is easy. Any gym worth going to will have a presence, they will have a face, a voice, a good community & they won’t shy away from showing you that their members are priority number 1. I’d tell them that believe it or not the gym staff members & people using the facility are probably just as nervous to meet each new member in the gym. We are all worried about making good first impressions but the reality is once they are made you are then part of a community of people that are all about self-improvement not judgement & that feels pretty special. You’d be surprised how far a smile can go to making you feel at ease!
- What gym equipment is best for building muscle strength if you’re a complete beginner?
There should be a wide variety of equipment available in any well put together gym so sometimes it gets very confusing but to simply as best as I can i’d suggest working predominantly with the resistance machines, these provide a very safe, easily adjustable platform on which you can build the foundation of your movement patterns whilst increasing tension on the muscle so that you can progress further onto different movements & equipment like free weights as and when you become more confident. If you are a complete beginner also don’t be afraid to tell the staff member that, they’ll be happy to help & more confident that you won’t injure yourself if they are the one to show you the equipment. There are no best or worst machines but there are better machines to begin with for sure.
- What pieces of gym equipment would you recommend to a person who wants to build stamina?
These machines will be your cardio (cardiovascular) equipment, they will be a group of machines that cause you to ramp up your heart rate to increase the blood flow & help to create a better circulatory network in the body with the heart, lungs etc. These machines are the likes of your treadmills, Stairmasters, rowing machines, bikes, ski-ergs, cross trainers etc. & you will usually find a variety of these huddled together in most well-equipped facilities. My personal suggestion is to work with the one that best suits your goal whether that is running (treadmill), cycling (bike), hiking (Stairmaster/cross trainer) rowing/swimming/upper body endurance (rower) but these all have an amount of functionality in general overall stamina when used correctly over time.
- Do you run courses, or do group sessions?
We don’t currently run courses but I myself take small group sessions of up to 3 people when requested to work with them in achieving their personal goals.
- Do you offer one-to-one training?
I do offer one-to-one training on a very minimal basis due to a very busy gym schedule also. I usually run sessions in the mornings until 1pm Monday-Friday & usually I have very limited availability. My clients usually work with me for a block of sessions in which we set them up to aim towards achieving their respective goals.
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