HUSBAND and wife team Dominic Munnelly and Graine Park have team up to write a book detailing their integrated approach to well being including their takes on mobility, exercise, sleep, nutrition and stress management.
Newbridge man Dominic is one of Ireland’s most experienced and highly respected personal trainers with almost 20 years in the business and his experiences deal with the physical and side of the book.
“I went to Patrician secondary school and knew from there that I wanted to do something relating to sports. From there, I went to Carlow and attended the regional college as it was there. I did physiology there for two years and that gave me the opportunity to go to Sunderland and do my sports science degree over there. When I came back I worked in the fitness industry and built up a client base of my own. I went out on my own when I was about 27 and have been working for myself ever since.
“It was hard back then. There was a lot of word of mouth, getting contacts through contacts,” said Munnelly.
Munnelly’s experience in working with all types of people and all types of body shapes mean that few people working in the industry today have a better understanding of the human body than him but this book is about far more than just about workouts and building fitness and muscle.
“All the physical training and gym work is great but ultimately if people are not managing what is going on outside of the gym then none of this really matters. It’s very difficult to train somebody who is anxious about something, or who maybe hasn’t slept well, sleep is a huge factor. We always ask clients how they are feeling, how they have slept, how their nutrition has been.
“The idea of going in to crush every workout is not realistic anymore. ‘Go hard or go home’ or ‘If it’s not hurting it’s not working’ – all these little phrases that are used around the industry are actually quite detrimental. If you think that every workout has to be hard, how hard motivated will you be to train every day? None of the top sports teams in the country train like that, it’s far more scientific than that.
“If books don’t have those components and acknowledge those components and talk about why mobility is so important then what we will see is massive rates of burnout in the fitness industry and huge rates of injury,” said Munnelly.
“With the book we want to put together a manual whereby if you got an injury you’ll get a better understanding of that. If you want to train smart you’ll get a better understanding of that. From a calorie perspective, calories do matter and that’s all built into the book along with recipes as well. There’s nothing out there like that like what we are providing in this book and hopefully this is the blueprint for all other fitness related books in the future,” added Dominic.
Dominic’s wife Grainne is a Health and Wellness coach, as well as being a huge food fan, and that comes across in her section of the book.
“When I look at the word nourish, I think of nourishing the body and nourishing the soul and they are the bits that I wrote. Dom would have been about training and how the body moves. As a health and wellness coach I work with people on things like stress, sleep, work/life balance. I started on just the food side of things though really. When I met Dominic I was working as a consultant so was very busy, always working on projects and different things like that. I was always passionate about food though, I was youngest of six children and I was always helping mum with the dinner from a very young age.
“Because I was mad into food I used to cook for Dominic and then he had clients who were asking about nutrition so I put together some recipes. I went off and did cookery classes and then started my own food blog in 2010. That became something that Dominic used then to show clients about food.
“The Be Well chapter is about how to balance life when things get very unmanageable. How you can help with your stress but obviously there are pieces around really getting help for things like depression and anxiety. There are strategies for good sleep, being happy because there are lots of ways to cultivate happiness in your life, there are ways to build up a bank of good experiences so that when life does throw challenges at you that you are able to cope,” said Grainne, who also details some of her favourite recipes in the book.
“It is based on the philosophy of what a meal should contain. I’m a massive vegetable fan, I adore them and the benefits of fibre in your diet is huge. I love sauces and dressings too so I wanted to show how you can use them too, maybe in smaller portions because they can be fattening but they are great for snazzing up food. I had about ten more recipes that I was going to include but I just felt they were a little complicated and I wanted to recognise that the meals could be put together reasonably quickly if you are busy and are just home from work. We don’t eat a lot of red meat anymore, maybe once a week, so there is just the one red meat recipe in there but there are fish, beans, grains, chicken. We are not vegan, we don’t exclude anything, we just have a variety and these are all recipes that I love. I recognise too that people will have kids of different ages and our kids love all these as well,” said Grainne.
Exercise and workouts are a major part of the book too but Dominic can’t stress enough the importance of working on flexibility and mobility before undertaking and significant exercise.
“It is the cornerstone of the physical side of the book. We believe that if you are using your body in a way where your muscles are tight and stiff that it is like trying to drive a car with the handbrake on. You have access to power but you can’t express it. If people are not addressing that there will come a point where the activities they are currently enjoying they will no long be able to enjoy. Somebody who runs a lot might say they are fit but if they test their mobility it might show they are extremely tight in one or more areas and if that is not addressed then down the line it will become a huge problem. People will blame certain activities for hurting their knees, hurting their back, hurting their hips but we say that excessive amounts of any activity done with poor mobility will always produce negative consequences. People have to see what their major limiting factor is and what we see time and time again is poor mobility. So we say take the mobility test in the book, find what you perform badly on and they are the ones that you need to do direct mobility work on. If your ankles, hips, thoracic joints are stiff you are going to have problems,” he said.
The book is perhaps the first to take a holistic approach to fitness and well being and everything is included to nourish the mind, body and soul.