Teacher Profile: Eoghan O'Kelly

Hey, everyone! We're starting a teacher profiles series so you can get to know the amazing instructors at the studio a bit more -- and what better way to kick it off than with the FOUNDER. So a little about Eoghan before we get to the Q&A:

Eoghan is the founder of Hanuman Health Club. An experienced trainer, he loves everything about what he does and is grateful that everyday he is able to work with so many different people from different walks of life. He is certified is a Strength and Conditioning Coach with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), Kettlebell Coach and as a Certified Physical Preparation Specialist Coach. While valuing these credentials, he believes that you can never stop learning this trade and luckily loves that he is in a profession that forces him to stay ahead with the latest science and practices in health and fitness. He has learned from many different disciplines and continues to learn to make sure he can provide the very best programming available. Eoghan also works in youth and college level athletics as Director of Goalkeeping Development with Manhattan soccer Club and Columbia University.

Hi Eoghan!!  Tell us a little bit about yourself...

Hi. Born and raised in Ireland, I moved to New York after college to pursue a career as a lawyer. I was lucky enough to realize that was not for me and even luckier to have a passion that could make me a living. 8 years later and I'm putting my own little stamp on New York’s fitness scene.

How did you get into fitness?

I hate the word fitness -- I'll explain the reasoning one day! To answer your question though, I was never out of it. I have been moving my body and playing sports for as long as I can remember. It is the only constant in my life and I can't imagine what I would be like without it.

What is your philosophy behind movement and how did you discover that?

I believe in a holistic approach to training. I believe that all modes of training, be it weight training, gymnastics, yoga or martial arts, have all lasted since the dawn of time for a reason. They all have their benefits. However, I don't believe there is any one mode that is all you need to do. In fact, I hate the dogma and cult-like approaches that can develop from being so attached to any one system. So, I guess my philosophy is to constantly be growing and learning from as many disciplines as possible with the goal of increasing muscle and mobility to transfer into better and freer real world applications of strength and movement.  Being involved in training and movement since the year dot, it has been a long journey to get to this philosophy and one that has still endless growth left in front of me. One of the biggest drives though, has been my own experiences with injuries. In my late teens and early 20's I started to break down. Constant little injuries, never feeling fresh or quick I started to open my to the idea that there was so much more to moving the body than going to the gym for 2 hours a day, lying on a bench  and lifting weights. Eventually as I matured I started to take on mentors and listen to people who really did know so much more than me. Allowing myself to admit that I know very little has allowed me to learn so much more.

How do you feel this philosophy has impacted your life?

The more I learn from different modalities of training the more open I become to different concepts. I have found myself relying less on the ego to push my training and think this transferred into my day to day life.

You opened this studio to foster that philosophy in the community. What inspired you to take the leap?

I have been teaching group classes in Inwood Hill Park for years. A year ago I decided that the only real way to cultivate my training philosophy was to open my own place. By creating this studio and bringing in some of the smartest coaches I have ever met, I feel like I am rally creating a one of a kind fitness and movement experience in New York City. I like to think of it as Workout University where you can choose from our curriculum of classes.

On the site you say, “Rather than a ‘no pain no gain’ ‘go hard or go home’ attitude our goal is to help you increase your bodily awareness so that you move better, move more and move stronger.” Can you elaborate on this? How do you see the push for intensity over quality of movement affecting our society?

Sure. In the last 10 years there has been a push towards group training with the likes of boot camps, crossfit, etc. While in essence I do think this is a positive thing, I am worried at the level of intensity that these classes ask of regular people. Your average New Yorker wakes up stressed, they haven't slept as long as they could. They rush out the door to a stressful commute on their way to a stressful job that they need to cover the stressfully high expenses this city has. Then, to cap it off they go to a fitness class where some drill sergeant screams at them for 45 minutes forcing them to do things they may not be physically capable of. To me it seems like madness and is indicative of a world where we want instant results and to outsource everything. The push for intensity kills the need for mindfulness. There is no attachment to the body. You are going through the motions but you aren't actually thinking about what you are doing.

Don't get me wrong, I believe that we need hard work. I believe in pushing yourself, but I also believe earning the right to work hard. On building the foundations and spending time understanding your own body. I want to build sustainable health and vitality that will last your lifetime not just chase some nonsense concept like ‘get sexy for summer’.

Tell us a little about your personal fitness routine and what you’re currently working on?

Right now I'm busy with the new studio, so I am not working on anything in particular. However, I have an underlying goal that my training is built on. I want to make sure that when I'm 75 and my grandson says, "Hey, let's climb a mountain tomorrow", I'll be able to say, "Sure, lets do it." For me the way to achieve that is to work on lean muscle and mobility/stability.

What is your advice to people wanting to improve in the areas of movement, wellness, fitness?

Start small, find a good coach, practice the basics and be patient.

What makes your approach different from traditional fitness and what do you hope to impart to students?

I consider my approach traditional. I have taken from many different modalities that have proven to work for centuries. However, I try to train for a little more than vanity. I train to make myself better -- not better at just working out, but in the sense that I'm more curious, more active and more willing to try new things. Things that get me out of the gym and really living.

How do you stay balanced and centered living in a place like NYC?

It's not easy. The truth: I try to get out as often as I can. I have been bad recently but I love to jump on the Metro North and go hiking or even just sitting by the Hudson. I love New York, it is full of amazing people and provides me with an opportunity to do what I love, but it can be overwhelming!  I also try to meditate first thing in the morning and try to get to the bathouse as often as I can. It's my happy place where I can spend up to 5 hours sweating away my thoughts in saunas and steam rooms. I believe that everyone should have their own version of a bathouse. Whatever brings you calm and an empty mind.

Thanks, Eoghan! :D