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01 Dec 2021

'The community spirit at Kilkenny Active is special for people of all ages' - Philip Ryan

Day In The Life Kilkenny

Philip Ryan is the manager of the Kilkenny Active Club gym in Hotel Kilkenny and its sister hotel, the Ferrycarrig. The gym and pool reopen on June 7

Gyms have been closed since the end of last year and, after a long six months, they can look forward to reopening their doors to the public on June 7.
I caught up with Philip Ryan, the Group Active Operations Manager Griffin Hotel Group, and had a chat about his plans for Kilkenny Active Club and keeping its members safe.
Philip, the manager of the gym in Hotel Kilkenny and its sister the Ferrycarrig Hotel, oversees the Active Club’s management. Hotel Kilkenny boasts exceptional leisure facilities. Technogym, the best equipment in the world, can be found in their exceptionally spacious state of the art gymnasium. It also boasts a 20 metre swimming pool area that has won many design awards.
Due to the pandemic, Philip moved his own business online, ‘Pilates with Phil’ which is dedicated to helping people improve the body and maximize wellbeing through the art of movement.

People will have more confidence coming back to the gym if they have a structured plan. If we can them that little incentive, it will help them feel good about themselves


I am a huge advocate of the gym, it’s been my lifesaver as exercise helps me live with arthritis.
It’s not just about workouts and fitness in Kilkenny Active Club - there’s a wonderful community there too, a community of all ages. It’s a real Club and its member have missed hanging out there for the chats over coffee after a workout or dip in the pool.
Philip and the team have been missed by the members - we can’t wait to walk through those doors again from Monday!
Here is a glimpse into Philip’s world…
Kilkenny Active is popular with Kilkenny’s fitness enthusiasts. Your members must be excited to get back in!
Yes it’s a big occasion. We closed our doors on December 30, so that’s the best part of six months. These are exciting times for people in general at the moment. It’s so important for everyone to get back into a normal routine - it’s important for ourselves and for the people we serve.
How normal will life be in the gym with all the Covid guidelines in place?
It’s going to be really normal and very similar to the way we opened in the middle of Covid the last time. Hopefully I won’t be saying that again!
We have a booking system in place and everything is spaced out, so our members are working out in a safe environment in the Club. We need our members to feel really comfortable on their return.
We are only allowing 20 people in the gym at the time. We could fit more, but we feel with people moving around that we need space allocated for everyone to feel safe at the required distance and don’t feel they are being approached by someone.
As for the pool, there’s space for 15 swimmers and that includes the kids’ pool. There’s plenty of room for people to move about and enjoy their swim.


Unfortunately we can’t open the steam room because of the temperature, but we can open the sauna. We are only allowing two people into the sauna on allocated spaces.
At one stage in the pandemic Kilkenny Active ran classes outdoors. Could we see these classes staying on for the future?
Yes, it has proven to be very beneficial for a lot of our members.
It’s a safe space out in the open, you are covered in a wide open marquee and with the guidelines we are allowed that. So we work out in pods of 15 people outdoors. We are definitely going to keep them going into the future.
Outdoor fitness is huge and we are looking are more ways to incorporate that down the line. Weather permitting we want to bring some of the equipment outside for classes, such as the rowers and exercise bikes.
Kilkenny Active ran some online classes for members. Will you continue with them?
We started them a year ago because some members didn’t feel comfortable coming to the gym. They were frightened of what they were hearing about Covid.
Teaching online was so different for us but the take-up have been incredible. It’s great to be able to give someone a good healthy experience virtually.
The feedback has been great so it’s something we are going to continue with for our members. If they are under pressure and can’t make it to the gym, than they can go online for their workout.
‘Pilates with Phil’ has been your speciality during lockdown. I think we all need Pilates, considering we are sitting at our desks all day, sloping over a keyboard with bad posture.
Pilates serves so many purposes. It’s good for back or shoulder pain, or if you are in discomfort or have mobility issues. It’s great for your core and your tummy.
It caters for everybody but it’s predominately female members that do the classes or people that have pelvic floor issues or want to strengthen their core after having kids. However I have started to do it with all male teams and they couldn’t believe how hard it was.
A strong core helps a weak back and 10 to 15 minutes of Pilates everyday can help so much if you are sitting at the computer all day.
Your Club members are lifers. What makes Kilkenny Active Club so successful?
It’s the relaxing club community that we have here. Our lobby, pre-Covid was the busiest coffee shop in Kilkenny! Our members love sitting down for the chats and reading the newspaper.
The community club spirit here is special for people of all ages.
It’s important to come in and train hard, but it’s also important to feel comfortable walking into a gym and that’s what we create here. Our members love sitting down with their friends for the chats post-workout. Hopefully we will have that back by September.
We also need to look after our mental fitness over the next few months. How are you helping your members do this?
This is something we identified, because people are not exercising, they are not meeting people and they are not in a routine. All of which is affecting them mentally. So we started sending our members a helpful email.
Every Friday, we send an email on nutrition. It’s helping people with a structure. Keeping the communications open with online classes has also helped.
There has been a certain percentage of people who were interactive with us during the pandemic, but we also need to look after those people who haven’t. It’s really important for us that everyone gets assigned a trainer when they come back to the Club, especially people who have been away from exercise.


Everyone will get three individual sessions with a qualified personal trainer. I think people will have more confidence coming back to the gym if they have a structured plan. If we can give people that little incentive, it will help them feel good about themselves and get those endorphins working.
I am very grateful that you and the team have kindly offered to help me with a charity challenge to help children suffering from scoliosis – 5k a day before noon in June.
Yes Siobhan, we are delighted to help out. The ‘Straight Ahead’ charity are fundraising to give a child in pain a chance of a free operation. These kids need vital surgery and some of them are on waiting lists for years.
The challenge, as you said, is ‘5k a day before noon in June’, and we all want to help you reach this. We know you are a busy woman and might not make the deadline every day, so please do pass on the baton to one of the team here and we will finish the 5k for you.
Kilkenny Active Club is open for bookings from Friday. Click here or ring in to book your time slot 056-7762000.

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