Arthur Interviews Rory
1. Arthur: For those of who aren’t familiar with you Rory, could you give a brief synopsis of you, your background and how you got to where you are today please?
Rory: At the moment I find myself in the bizarre position of being a ‘Multi-Hyphenate’ – with interests in business, performance, health and wellness.I am a 30 year old owner of several businesses in the Fitness and Wellness Industry, a Strength Coach and an Athlete from Belfast. I also do work with a local charity to help raise awareness for mental health, particularly in males.
The story of how I got to where I am today is complicated but on reflection it feels like each juncture, twist and turn lead towards my current position.I studied Biomedical Science, Sport and Exercise Science and worked in S & C and Applied Exercise Physiology in amateur and professional sport. It sounds quite convenient that I’m now Head Coach at HENCH after doing all this but the path to getting here was fairly convoluted.
In reality I've worked in over 20 jobs since I was 14, from earning £2 per hour in Jungle Jims, to making cold calls for 8 hours a day,to holding down 3 jobs to put myself though University.
2. Arthur: You run a semi-private gym in Belfast called Hench (a very similar model to CityGym). Tell me more about it and the philosophy you and the other coaches there follow?
Rory: The model we use at the moment has evolved in response to seeing what worked over the years to help normal people and athletes actually achieve their goals. We’ve tried the open gym model but found curating the culture of the gym was challenging – it takes a different type of person who puts their hand up to ask for coaching VS those the average gym member who feels they don’t require help.
We now ‘vet’ all members and this has been one of the best decisions we’ve made. It helps to create the special atmosphere we now have; positive, motivating and fun.
Our philosophy (copied and pasted from our site!): ‘Real fitness cannot exist without a solid foundation of raw strength, built on good health and well being.’.
At the time of starting HENCH, Upper Body Transformations and quick fixes were the industry standard in Belfast and around the island. It is hard to believe now, but we took a bold step being the first dedicated strength focused gym on the island - but it felt right.
Delighted to see places like CityGym thrive – the industry CANNOT have enough good quality, intelligent and compassionate coaches. The days of the Spice Boy PT spoofing his way through his ‘career’ are numbered.
3. Arthur: When you opened Hench, what was your target for 3 years down the line (i.e.approximately now), what challenges did you face in order to get Hench to where it is today?
Rory: My team and I have now exceeded all of even the loftiest goals I initially had for HENCH. Challenges are almost too innumerable to list (understatement) but with each one it strengthened us.
The biggest challenge was risking everything to pursue our mission, whilst growing the business. Being commercially successful in the fitness industry whilst not compromising your integrity is no joke. The layman doesn’t know how to differentiate between the charlatan and those who are the authentic, so learning how to communicate this to our customers has been instrumental.
4. Arthur: You recently hit a whopping 707.5kg Powerlifting total in the Irish Powerlifting Federation’s All-Ireland Championships in the 93kg class. Firstly congratulations on that, particularly when you consider you were nursing a knee injury at the time! How do you manage to consistently keep adding to your total whilst running a business?
Rory: Thanks man! Appreciate it.
I had set out at the start of the year to seek out the highest level of drug free competition nationally in raw powerlifting, and was fortunate enough to win the Overall Best Lifter Trophy at both the NIPF and All-Ireland Championships.
I intend on doing the same in 2016, but will also have a crack at at my first international competition in the IPF – the Worlds in Texas. I was honoured to be selected to represent Ireland last month and can’t convey how excited I am to be a part of the team. Ireland is beyond an after thought in elite drug free powerlifting, but this will change from next year. We have a number of excellent male and females coming through – very exciting time to be competing for anyone form the island.
As for improving despite running the businesses? I’m quite thorough when it comes to all aspects of recovery, but it’s difficult at times – especially dealing with emotional stress. Having said that, I consider it a privilege to compete- I’ve been involved in strength training for 16 years now and love having the opportunity to test myself but still feel like I’m only getting started, really feel there’s load left in the tank. I have ambitious goals for this year, and will be competing in the 83kg category for Ireland internationally.
5. Arthur: Are there any mistakes you have made in the past (in training, coaching or business) that if you could go back in time and rectify what would they be?
Rory: Good question. The answer to all three is to avoid spending time with people with self limiting beliefs. Being ambitious, positive and driven solves most things.
Also, if you want to improve in any of those areas, seek knowledge from those who are the real deal. This will involve lots of reading, but passion will make this a breeze!
6. Arthur: What does the future hold for Rory Girvan and Hench?
Rory: For HENCH, we are continuing to improve the way we do things and the quality of the coaching we provide to our members. For me, some new ventures and new sports and hopefully more adventures!
7. Arthur: If you could give the average gym-goer 1 piece of advice, what would it be?
Rory: Make friends with people who have surmounted similar challenges to the ones you’re trying to over come. Your friends are your future.