The Shape I'm in: Happy go lally Cork fitness trainer

I’m meeting Cork fitness trainer Ray Lally for the first time and put my hand out to greet him. It turns out he’s a hugger. “Bring it in,” he says, with arms open wide. There’s nothing for but to, well, bring it in.

Working under the name The Happy Fitness Guy — catch him on RTÉ’s Today with Maura and Dáithí — he’s on a mission to brighten people’s lives. And he can’t get enough of the good vibes. “It’s mad if you look at someone and they are very tired or have one of those resting bitch faces — but if you give them a smile they’ll smile back at you.”

The upbeat mood may have something to do with his recent engagement to Amanda, his girlfriend of four years. “We are getting married in summer 2020, hopefully in Kerry because that’s where she’s from.”

He was born in Co Galway but moved to Cork when he was about seven years old.

I see myself as a Corkman but if Cork is playing Galway I win either way

He also plays a serious game of soccer. Last year, his team, Midleton FC, won the Munster Senior League. He lives in Douglas and jokes he was “the only foreigner on the team”.

What shape are you in?

I think I have an athletic, lean build. I’m moving all day at work. It could be 6am starts — you get used to it — and evening finishes. I’ve got my own workouts down to an hour a week — that’s three 20-minute sessions — but they are intense. I do some push exercises, some leg exercises, some pull exercises and then I push again, so the blood is constantly circulating around. I try to do as much as I can body weight training.

I recently went over on my ankle, a football injury.

All the stability training really strengthens the core and back. I haven’t had a problem in years with my back thanks to it.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

Green smoothies — it’s the easiest, quickest meal ever. I always have frozen spinach in it along with chia and flax seeds, then I’ll add spirulina and wheatgrass. I blend it up and get it into me. If I’m in a fancy mood I might throw in some berries, banana or avocado. If I was making a smoothie for Amanda it would be different ingredients that taste much nicer.

What are your guiltiest pleasures?

Chips have always been my favourite food. I love every variety of chips, every variety of potato. And chocolat, unfortunately. It doesn’t actually show for three or four days, so when I’m very, very lean I can see it. I can have one night of DVDs, crisps and fizzy drinks — the next two days I’ll still be ripped but days three or four all of a sudden I’ve lost number seven and eight of my abs. If I drop the fizzy drinks and crisps for a week the abs just come back.

What would keep you awake at night?

Mainly my dog Cuddles — a bichon frise — running around the place. It’s our dog now, Amanda named her. Apart from that, I’d have a million thoughts running through my head. I can find it hard to switch off. I’d nearly prefer to watch something to fall asleep — lately, it’s funny stuff, like fails on YouTube.

How do you relax?

It’s pretty boring but it’s usually just sitting down on the couch, Amanda one side, Cuddles on the other side — literally just watching TV.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

An eclectic mix — Nelson Mandala, Nikola Tesla, a Serbian scientist who created the alternating current; John F Kennedy; Elon Musk, he has so many inventions it’s like watching Iron Man in real life; Jim Carey to lighten the mood and the robot Sophia, the first AI with a passport.

What’s your favourite smell?

Lately, it’s oranges. I just love the zest. And some nice aftershave, Paco Rabanne.

What would you like to change about your appearance?

I could pick out my arms, my chest, my back — my abs are slightly off. I could literally improve every bit of myself. And my giant eyebrows, but I don’t think I’ll be tweezing them just yet.

When is the last time you cried?

When I found out how much weddings cost. Amanda thought is was so funny.

What traits do you least like in others?

People who think they are better than others. I believe we are all equal.

Do you pray?

I used to say prayers every morning and every night — I was raised in Catholic Ireland. Now I pray to god or to whatever divine entity there is.

What would cheer up your day?

Smiles. Getting and giving them. That and getting home to Amanda.


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