Work it out: Fitness expert Pat Divilly on the benefits of hard work

Pat Divilly: “We live in a time where we spend so much time in our heads; I love being able to tap into the present through jiu jitsu.”

By Irene Feighan

FITNESS expert, author and entrepreneur, Pat Divilly believes in dogged hard work. He knows from experience that there is no fast track to success.

“I was a bit lost in my 20s,” he says. “It took me a while to figure out where I wanted to go but now I get a lot from challenging myself. We live in a world where a lot of things can come easy and I don’t think that’s good for our confidence. I think we’re here to work for things.”

From Barna, Co Galway, he initially sought fame in Dublin. “I was caught up in wanting to be well known — I think it came from a lack of self-belief I felt if others believed in me, I’d eventually believe in myself.”

Finding it almost impossible to make a living in the capital, he returned home. “I started a business that was more about community, making fitness accessible to people over time it’s evolved to more speaking work and personal development coaching.”

He’s since appeared on The Late Late Show, Six O’Clock, Ireland AM and The Today Show. But the 31-year-old has no intention of leaving his seaside home in Barna again.

“Dublin seems very loud,” he says.

Pat is supporting Make-A-Wish Ireland’s Christmas Appeal, which helps to grant the wishes of seriously ill children. To donate see or phone 01-2052012.

What shape are you in?

I’m in decent nick. I grew up in gyms from my early teens and that became my profession, owning a gym and an online fitness business. However, I found by my mid-20s I’d gotten bored of lifting weights and strength training. It took me a while to find something that excited and challenged me. I now train in jiu-jitsu four to five times a week at Shaolin MMA in Galway and get out on the hills as often as I can.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

I generally intermit fast, meaning I skip breakfast, and I get all of my meals in an eight-hour window, followed by a 16-hour fast before eating again. It’s something I just do instinctively and works really well for me. I feel more alert when I start my day with just water and coffee rather than a meal.

What are your guiltiest pleasures?

Takeaway pizza. When I get home from trips abroad or I’m on the road for talks and coaching around Ireland I can sometimes come home to an empty fridge and take the lazy option of takeaway pizza and a can of coke.

What would keep you awake at night?

Thankfully, my sleep has improved massively in the last few years and I put it down to having a more balanced life and being clear on what’s important to me.

How do you relax?

Books, documentaries, and podcasts. I like my adventure books on mountaineering and all sorts of documentaries. I’m a big fan of the Joe Rogan podcast too, so getting a stroll and a listen to his show helps me relax.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Rickson Gracie a famous jiu-jitsu practitioner, Jon Krakeur the author of Into Thin Air and Rihanna.

What’s your favourite smell?


What would you like to change about your appearance?

I’m no oil painting but I’ll take what I’ve got.

When is the last time you cried?

About three months ago at a retreat. They were good tears, gratitude.

What traits do you least like in others?

I don’t like arrogance. I work in the coaching and speaking arenas and somethings speakers and coaches feel pressure to put out an image of having figured it all out. We’re all doing out best in life and on a journey of ups and downs.

What traits do you least like about yourself?

I’m impatient with myself and other people sometimes, maybe not valuing the planning process or thinking process when it comes to working on projects or events.

Do you pray?

I don’t pray, but I journal and to me, it’s the same idea. Religion, spirituality and other forms of faith are really a means of checking in with yourself. It’s hugely important.

What would cheer up your day?

Jiu-Jitsu. I can be stressed, tired, worried or anxious and have no interest in going training, but once I show up and get on the mats I feel so much better and get out of my head and connected with my body.

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