Amanda Kelly 

Amanda Kelly is one of the country’s most experienced personal trainers, based at Bodybyrne Fitness on Clarendon Street. I’m lucky enough to have been training with her twice a week for the past two years. I absolutely love it, and it’s fair to say that she really pushes me! I love being challenged, and she is constantly thinking up new moves, regimes and introducing heavier weights to continuously keep my body guessing. I’m generally a red, sweaty, dishevelled mess after an hour with Amanda, but I always feel great for it and it’s difficult to beat the feeling of being strong, fit and healthy.

I’ve picked her brains a little bit here on all things fitness:


Hi Amanda, tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’ve worked as a trainer and strength and conditioning coach for 5 years, helping the development and performance of young athletes in Ireland and Scotland.
Now, I’m a personal trainer at Bodybyrne Fitness. I’ve been working there for the past 2 years, working with all types of individuals from elite athletes, to advanced clients to complete beginners aiming to lose weight and improve their fitness. 
You’re one of the country’s top personal trainers and fitness experts, but what originally made you want to get into the fitness industry?

I’ve always been very sporty and started training as a gymnast from a very young age. Even as a child I remember asking my coaches loads of questions about training and why we were doing certain exercises! All the way through school, I competed in gymnastics, athletics and basketball. When I got a bad knee injury in my teens and needed surgery I couldn’t train in those sports at the same intensity so I needed a different outlet to train. It was at this point that I started doing some more resistance training and researching ways to maintain my strength and fitness while injured. Really this is where my interest in fitness began and I realised I didn’t just want to do it as a hobby but as a career, leading me to do my degree in sports science and health in DCU and my masters in strength and conditioning in the University of Edinburgh. 

What do you enjoy most about the job? 

The best part of my job is seeing my clients get results they want and reaching their targets, because I train such a variety of individuals that could range from a client losing weight or being able to run a 10km charity race, getting a bride ready for a wedding. It’s always satisfying knowing that my clients not only look and feel better about themselves, are more productive and have more energy following training sessions. 

Or personally, I love helping a woman maintain their fitness levels during pregnancy. I do get to know my clients well and its great to be part of that journey with them both pre and post natal. Training is something that women can often give up when they become pregnant but as long as there are no issues its very safe to continue to exercise, as long as the intensity is monitored and you listen to your body. 


How many days a week do you exercise?

I train 5-6 days a week. I always take 1 complete rest day, usually a Sunday, where I do no resistance training or high intensity cardio. I feel it’s important to give yourself a day off to let your body rest and recover. 
3 days a week I do resistance training only, so I split my body into 3 parts:
1st session legs
2nd chest, shoulder, triceps
3rd back and biceps
Outside of my purely resistance sessions, another session might be more circuit based, therefore combining resistance and cardio. My other 2 sessions will then be interval training, incorporating sprints. 


Is it difficult to find the time to train yourself after a day of helping others to get fit?

As much as my busy schedule will allow I usually try and get a training session completed in the middle of my working day, personally I train better in the middle of the day rather than at the end of the day when I might have trained 10/11 clients that day. 

I  always plan out my training at the start of the week when my clients have booked in so I ensure that I get my own training sessions completed. If I’ve had long day and have to train in the evenings, I might do 20-30mins of interval training, rather then a heavy legs day, which I’d save for another day when I’ve more energy and time. 


Do you feel under pressure to remain at a high level of fitness all year round?

I suppose there is a certain amount of pressure to look a certain way, and as a trainer I think it’s vital that I look like I train regularly and eat really well. I cant tell clients to train hard if I’m not doing it myself, so for me it’s definitely a case of practising what you preach. Training is all I know because I’ve been doing it from such a young age and I love to do it, so if I’m sick or injured, I find it so frustrating not being able to train. I do train hard and eat well all year round but I must admit if I’m going away on holidays I will be a little less strict with myself than usual. I will allow myself a cheat at the weekend, whether that’s having a few drinks or going out for dinner and allowing myself to have a dessert. Having that balance is really important for me, so that I don’t feel guilty about having a treat. 


What is the most popular type of exercise amongst your clients?

The most common exercise I tend to do with clients are squats, I always tell my clients if they were only to pick one exercise to ever do again then it would have to be squats. They’re such a great exercise that can work a lot of muscle groups. Also there is such a variety of ways you can perform squats to target specific muscle groups. For example overhead squats are a great way to target abdominal muscles, so with my clients I can hit leg muscles, abs and shoulders all at once. 

And the least?!
I would say 99% of my clients hate burpees, they’re generally an exercise I do with clients in the middle of a circuit to keep their heart rate up. I’d never give a client an exercise to perform that I wouldn’t do myself or to do just for the sake of it. There’s a reason for every exercise I do and the order in which I do them. 
Do you think that Irish people have a good attitude to fitness?
I definitely think Irish peoples’ attitudes are getting better, but we still have a long way to go. 
In one way, when I go to the gym there’s a lot more younger people training now compared to 10 years ago when I first started training, possibly for more aesthetic reasons rather than just for health. Particularly for women I think there is a more media focus on women having a more lean “toned” look, which I find great because the only way to get that look is by training hard and eating right regularly. You cant build muscle by drastically reducing calories and crazy fad dieting. 
But then our levels of obesity is rising, more preventative work needs to be done in schools to teach kids how to eat properly and get them involved in a sport or activity that hopefully they will then continue onto adulthood. Part of my undergrad thesis was looking at the fitness levels of Irish children, and it was shocking to see young kids having to stop and sit down and be completely breathless after a couple of minutes running. 
I feel our attitudes need to change to promote the health benefits of exercise and not just focus primarily on fitness and looking good. I often think that the health gains from exercise are sometimes underrated. Being regularly active significantly deceases risk of developing certain diseases, conditions and is great for mental health too. This needs to be more emphasised by health promoters. 
Briefly explain what you might eat in a typical day?
So my typical day is getting up at 5.45am, breakfast is usually oats with coconut milk and cinnamon
For a snack during the day I usually have a piece of fruit
After training I tend to have a salmon fillet and sweet potato
For dinner, it’s chicken breast or turkey with salad and veg
A snack before bed is an apple and nut butter. 
On a Sunday and Wednesday night I’ll spend longer cooking and preparing food for the next couple of days. On those days I’ll make something like a turkey mince bolognese with courgette spaghetti or a chickpea or lentil stew for a few non-meat days and I’ll have this for lunch while in work. Usually my kitchen is full of lunchboxes with prepared food for the week!
Lastly, what would be your death row final meal?!
Oh that’s a tough one! Seeing that it would be my last meal I wouldn’t have to feel guilty about it!
I think I’d have to go for a surf ‘n’ turf, but I’d definitely prefer sweet food compared to savoury foods. Are 2 desserts allowed?! Im torn between a vanilla cheesecake and a chocolate brownie, with ice cream of course!