I struggled with how to describe Pat for this interview; a personal trainer? a fitness guru? a wellness expert? a best selling twice published author? inspirational speaker? Charity Sponsor? I settled on entrepreneur as I believe that it means to start a business to fulfill a need. Pat Divilly is one of the most inspiring people that I have had the pleasure to meet.
Many are aware of his story and how he went from training 5 people on a beach in Galway where he quickly built a large following to then opening his own studio to raising €1000’s for charity to doing a TedX talk (link) and the sky really is now the limit for this ambitious man who wants you to take control and think that same.
And without further delay – here is my interview with the inspiring Mr. Pat Divilly;
What is your very first memory of sports / fitness?
I played and enjoyed lots of team sports as a kid and then found martial arts in my early teens. I turned to the gym at 13/14 to improve my strength for martial arts and I was hooked.
When did you decide that you wanted to get into the fitness industry?
It was all I ever wanted to do from those first days in the gym at 13/14. Id’ gotten a lot from training and from the time I first set foot in a gym I decided it was what I wanted to do. I ended up studying for an arts degree in Galway which I had no interest in. I had convinced myself I’d never get the points for Sports Science of Physiotherapy. Looking back it was a self limiting belief but at the time I didn’t know that. Half way through the Arts degree I started studying personal training on the side, ended up getting qualified and then moved to England to do a Masters in Exercise and Nutrition Science.
From hearing your story I understand that it is not that easy to establish yourself as a personal trainer. Would you have any advice to someone looking into personal training as a career?
There are so many people in personal training now it’s difficult to have a big impact but my biggest advise comes down to some of the stuff I talked about in my recent TedX talk- belief and belonging. You need to help people believe. They might have very little belief in themselves and your job as a coach is to help nurture that belief. I think it’s important too to build a community of like minded people and give them a sense of belonging. Far too many trainers are more concerned with learning new push up variations rather than learning how to help people with their mindset.
I actually first came in contact with you doing classes in a sports hall down the Claddagh in Galway and I was hooked. Do you see yourself going back into personal training or doing classes in the future as you have a great way about you as a coach?
Thank you for the compliments on my classes 🙂 At the time I loved teaching classes. From starting on the beach in Barna, then expanding to 4 different locations before opening my own gym I thought probably 2000+ classes in 2 and a half years. Moving into seminars, books and other ventures with lots of travel it became too hard to balance everything. It was a difficult decision to close my gym at the time. It was like a family but I knew that I was encouraging my clients to chase their dreams and live up to their potential and I felt I could achieve more by passing the gym on to Geoff, one of my coaches.
What is your own personal favourite way to ‘get fit’ or workout? Is there a specific target in your mind (Ironman perhaps?)?
Swimming has been the challenge I’ve taken on most recently. I’m shooting for a half Ironman in May and a full in July. I’ve had some back issues for the past few months, a bulging disc so swimming has been the only training that hasn’t been aggravating that. I’d also love to get back into martial arts in the future when I’m in one location for a few months!
For someone who wanted to lose weight, I don’t think that there is a quick ‘fat loss’ solution, I think it is down to hard work and commitment. Would you have any top tips for someone just starting their weight loss (or gain) or fitness journey (and would you agree 🙂 )?
Biggest tip is the idea of 1% better every day. Most people start a new training plan and diet and hope to see results immediately. They are either 100% on plan or 100% off plan. If you commit to training 4-5 times a week for 30-45 minutes and make your sole focus a tiny improvement with each session you can do amazing things in a short number of weeks. With nutrition start off again making tiny changes each day, cutting back on the processed foods, drinking more water and eating more natural foods. It might not sound sexy but it works!
Sugar…. so I recently decided to go cold turkey on sugar and it is hands down one of the hardiest things that I have done! Would you have any advice to people with regards sugar and how to give it up/cut down?
Definitely, cutting down on sugar is going to be a big positive step for the vast majority. Increasing your intake of healthy fats like nuts, seeds, nut butters and avocados will help. So too will supplementing with magnesium and taking in more protein!
As a vegetarian sometimes I find that people are quick to judge that I am lacking essential nutrients by not eating meat if I lift. What advice would you have with regards good food choices to a vegetarian who weirdly likes going to the gym?
Vegetarians in my experience will be more reliant on beans, pulses and legumes as sources of proteins. That’s probably the biggest challenge for a vegetarian or vegan, the protein intake. Women in particular can be a little scarce on protein with their meals so just keep an eye on that and pair it with lots of veggies, healthy fats and some carbs.
Things have certainly moved on since your time down the beach, then to indoor classes right up to owning your one studio! Although difficult, is there a moment that you are most proud of?
My proudest moment will probably always be winning the Best of Galway best gym award for the first time and getting to bring my mum to the lunch reception and awards. I’ve won national awards since, helped raise over €250,000 for charities, opened a gym and had two best selling books but that first award was something special to me and always will be.
From following you on social media, I can see that mindset is something that you believe strongly in. What impact do you think that this can have?
Mindset is everything. For too long I was focused on trying to change all the things outside of myself until I finally realised the only thing I could change was what was going on between my ears. Now my life consists of sitting down and deciding what I want to bring in to life. I decide what I want with regard to my health, my relationships, my career, my finances, my contribution and my adventure. I write it down, I say it out loud and then I work my ass off to get there! I think too many people focus on other people, on outside sources, on media etc and don’t take time to think for themselves and invest in the most important person in the world, themselves.
At the moment there is also such a focus on mindfulness – do you think that this is important?
Mindfulness, meditation or whatever you want to call it is hugely important. We go at a million miles an hour in the modern world and I liken it to a car. If you are driving at 100 miles an hour all the time and don’t know how to slow down every now and then you’ll eventually crash. Meditation and mindfulness help us to slow down and appreciate the present.
In my eyes you are quite the inspirational person and really show how one person CAN make a difference. What (or who) inspires / motivates you?
Thank you! I take inspiration from lots of people. Conor McGregor has been a big source of inspiration for me most recently. I have huge respect and admiration for his ability to manifest, for his self belief and his work ethic. I’ve also got the world of respect and admiration for my dad, the most hard working, genuine and honest man I know.
I recently attended the Heart of Galway Challenge arranged by your new foundation and it was so much fun! What are your plans for the foundation in the future?
It was a great day and we were delighted to surpass our target and hit close to €14,000. We’re hoping to work with the Samaritans next but details haven’t been announced yet. The plan is to run 4 events a year each supporting a different cause or charity. I just want to bring great, like minded people together and create a culture of paying it forward.
If you had to leave one grain of wisdom – what would that be?
Invest in yourself. YOU are the most important person in the world. Take time for you. Write your goals down, dream, take care of your body, meditate, laugh, smile, be good to the people around you and be good to yourself. You can have anything in life you want if you are willing to work hard and treat people well.
And finally – a VERY important Tea question? Barrys or Lyons? And favourite dipping biscuit? 🙂
I’ve never drank a cup of tea in my life! Is that bad?! I’m a coffee man 🙂
Since this interview was done the details for the next Project Impact event have been confirmed – so here are the main points:
- The next event that the Project Impact Group intend to do is Tough Mudder!
- The event is on Saturday, 9 July, 2016 in Loughcrew Adventure Centre, Co. Meath
- You can sign up via Eventbrite here
- There is a group on Facebook that you can join to learn more and gain the vital support in the run up
A MASSIVE thank you to Pat for doing this interview, I’ve really taken a lot from it and I hope that you do too. And I would highly advise that if you see another Project Impact Event coming up – don’t think twice – just sign up!
You can follow Pat on his Facebook page (great to check in for his morning inspirations!) or else on his website. He also runs events and I have seen him talk 3 times I think at this stage and it is worth going.
All images kindly provided by Pat Divilly.