Kathryn Thomas takes a sip of her Americano. Make up free, styling brushes dangling from her hair, she breaks into laughter. “I hadn’t a rashers what I was getting myself into.”
Three years ago, in the midst of another double prime time TV stint – The Voice and Operation Transformation – she got to thinking about her summer, how she’d spend her months off when the schedules wrapped.
Before she’d “pull out the rucksack from under the bed”. Now though, settled into a relationship (with now fiancé Padraig McLoughlin) long stints away didn’t have quite the same appeal.
So she set up Pure Results. She pulled together a team – chef, trainer, nutritionist -– and headed for Inish Beg in West Cork.
She’d experienced bootcamps and wellness treats abroad – largely during her 10 year stint on No Frontiers– and wanted to bring something like it to Ireland.
“I knew I was making a statement with it and I’d be watched – people would expect you to fail. Or they’d think you were only adding your name to something,” Kathryn recalls.
“If I do something then I do it. To be honest I didn’t know I was such a perfectionist.”
Early that first summer she juggled filming on The Voice and Operation Transformation – and then she was back in the car to spend weekends with Pure Results in West Cork.
It was a steep learning curve. Pure Results wasn’t just fitness. This incorporated food, hotels, the hospitality sector.
“I quickly realised there was something powerful about bringing people together in this forum,” she says.
“There were burnt out company vice presidents, women recovering from cancer, the end of a marriage. To make a decision like that, to come out of comfort zone, there must have been a trigger. The power in the room is always profound.”
Return bookings are high.
“I often describe it as a summer camp for adults. We give you food, you’re away from the kids, you don’t have to think. You just have to turn up.”
Thomas is doing something very different. A holistic approach, there’s around three hours of intense work out in the morning. Then it’s gentler walks, yoga, workshops on nutrition, meditation.
“The word boot camp can give people the heeby jeebies,” says Kathryn, “but I’m loathe to call it fitness retreat either.”
It walks a fine line between both, and as a result, Pure Results has gone from strength to strength. The team is now made up of 12 people. Her sister Linda joined last year (“we made a decision not to talk business 24/7”). Linda’s past role was in branding at Google in LA – and the dynamic woman has brought a new direction to the business.
Three day bootcamps now join the weeklong offerings, with day camps popping up all over the country (the recent Cork event was a sell out).
The new focus was a logical one – the corporates.
Linda had after all worked with the company that had pioneered wellbeing programmes in the workplace, proving it was a major factor in employee productivity.
“We are riding the wave of wellness,” says Linda.
Weekend meets the team to get a taste of the corporate offering. With varying price levels – bronze, silver and gold packages – companies can choose a fitness day, or motivational talk. One requested an event like school sports days of old – egg and spoon to three legged races.
They’ve already been working with the likes of Irish Life Health, Bank of Ireland, General Electric and Bank of America.
First up I meet Mark Molumby, personal trainer. He advocates HIIT - high intensity interval training.
He sets up a mini workout space in the adjoining room, with mats, barbells and a suspension belt and sits down to outline a workout programme with me (overleaf). On a corporate day, he might take this approach - or put the team through their paces with a session.
Miriam Kerins Hussey is next to join us. Married to Olympics Performance Consultant Gerry Hussey, she brings yoga and mindfulness to the Pure Results team. She worked as a pharmacist for more than a decade.
“I could see first hand the frantic, stress ridden, pill popping nation that we have become,” she says. “I witnessed the rising scale in prescribed antidepressants, sleeping tablets, anti-anxiety medication and stress related diseases. It became apparent to me that I was working in a sick care system, where we treat symptoms, as opposed to a health care system where we look for the root cause.
“I could see the amount of disease out there, the very word (dis-ease) meaning ‘a lack of ease’ – a lack of ease in the mind or a lack of ease in the body.
“This lead to me to the whole are of Integrated Wellness, Yoga and mindfulness.
“I firmly believe that
health and wellness goes deeper than calories, fats and carbs, and it extends far beyond what lies on your plate.
“While nutrition is extremely important, food is only one form of nourishment.
“I think it’s so important, both in our personal and professional lives that we take a holistic view on wellness, where we look at the whole person; mind, body and spirit and implement lifestyle changes to connect all of the above.”
Pure Results chef Shane Rigney is the next to join us. Working in tandem with Jen O’Callaghan, Cork based nutritionist, he has designed the menus and food served at the bootcamps (weight loss over the week can be five to seven pounds). On the corporate days, his focus is on education – advising people on healthy eating.
Kathryn has surrounded herself with a strong team, finding them mainly, she says, through word of mouth.
“I didn’t want sergeant majors,” she says. “I wanted to give people support.”
As for her own fitness routine, like Linda, the balance in her life is 70/30 - everything in moderation.
“I was always active in school, but I fell into the bar in college. When I was on No Frontiers I never really had a sense of routine but I might plan a triathlon, so when I was home I’d work towards that.
“Now, three times a week I do a high intensity workout, I run, I walk. I’m healthy mid week – poached eggs, avocados, salads, salmon, hake, brown rice...
“But at weekends it all goes out the window - we love food. And I love my cheese.
“But then I’ll be up to early to walk the dogs.”
On top of Pure Results, she is juggling a summer radio schedule at RTÉ, filling in for Ray D’arcy.
Yet she describes these summer months, when the TV demands disappear, as quiet (she can do TV in her sleep now, she says, but radio is a welcome challenge, admitting she spends hours reading briefs the night before she’s on air).
With live radio and running her own fitness company classed as ‘down time’, it’s no surprise to hear that in the three years since she formed Pure Results Kathryn has only missed one bootcamp.
That level of hard work and determination has ensured woman who didn’t “have a rashers” has become the one of the faces of fitness in Ireland.
The next Pure Results all inclusive fitness retreat takes place on August 25 in Mount Falcon. The 7 day detox and well-being program offers a range of fitness classes, well-being seminars, nutrition talks and a 2 week aftercare program.
The Thomas sisters have recently launched the Pure Results Corporate Well-Being program offering an alternative option to companies such as team off-sites and away days and a range of on-site activities such as well-being workshops, fitness classes and motivational talks.
MEET THE TEAM
“Sometimes we are not fed by the food on our plate but by the energy in our lives.
I like to call these forms of nourishment our ‘Primary Foods’. And they are categorised into 4 main pillars:
Relationships (do you surround yourself with people that inspire you and grow your humanity?)
Career (are you in a job that energises you and that you are truly passionate about?)
Physical activity (do you have regular movement and flow in your life?)
Spirituality (do you allow time in your life to stop, breathe, and unplug form the busyness of life? Are you mindful of your thoughts, emotions, feelings?)
When we are out of balance in any of our ‘Primary Foods’, we tend to be out of balance in our lives. These are like the four tyres on your car.
Take for example you are driving down the road and you puncture one of your tyres. But you ignore the wheel and continue driving because ‘it’s okay - there is the a great petrol station up ahead and it has the best petrol in the world there, there’s no toxins or pollutants in it, it’s completely clean fuel. I’ll fill up my tank there, and I won’t bother fixing the tyre - that will get me to my destination on time’.
It’s the same in life. We can be eating the best food in the world but if we are out of balance in one of our ‘primary foods’ - we won’t be fully healthy or fully happy.
And, if there is a hole, or a void in our primary foods, we tend to fill on our secondary foods to try an compensate. However no amount food will ever meet the need of an emotional whole or void deep within ourselves.
Food can fill us up but it can not fulfil us.
These ‘primary foods’ satiate our hunger for life as opposed to hunger for food.”
Ignore fads. They don’t work. They are not just for holidays. You need to get to a point where you are stagnant in a good place.
Moderate your sugar intake - but eat as much fruit as you like. I don’t like sweet alternatives, like cake from avocado.
Enjoy everything in moderation - have the protein balls but have a bit of the brownie too on a Friday.
Keep blood sugars level.
Carbs: Work them around lifestyle if you can and eat when you are most active when your body is most receptive to them. Don’t eliminate a food group
Finally, don’t compare yourself to other people - everyone’s metabolism is different.
Five exercises x1 minute with a 15 second rest. Take 2 minute rest at the end of each set of each round.
Aim for three to five rounds total.
Squats; lunges; hip raises
Push ups; dips; lateral shoulder raises
Back extensions; with a suspension trainer: rows; bicep curls
plank; side plank; leg raises
5 full body burpees; jumping jacks; high knees
For starters, try two to three times a week plus walking and stretch on days off For a fit person, do six days a week