Saturday 22 July 2017

Lorraine Ho: 'Your endorphins are pumping around - a lot of couples meet at Bootcamp Ireland'

Lorraine Ho (43) is the founder of Bootcamp Ireland and Mummy Bootcamp - military-style fitness-training sessions in parks. She lives in Dundrum with her partner, Larry, and their sons - Conor (5) and Matthew (3)

Bootcamp Ireland founder Lorraine Ho. Photo: DeviAnna/Dualitymotion.com
Bootcamp Ireland founder Lorraine Ho. Photo: DeviAnna/Dualitymotion.com

Ciara Dwyer

I wake before the alarm at 7am. I have two boys - Conor and Matthew. Usually Matthew, my three-year-old, comes in and starts poking at my eyes and my nose. Then we get up. Breakfast is porridge with seeds. I'll try to have a cup of rooibos tea, but I never get to finish it. Then it's usually panic stations. Everyone is up and dressed, out the door and in the car. My partner Larry will head off to work. He's in property management. Generally, I drop the boys to school.

After that, I'll leg it straight to get a workout. That's when I have my hour-and-a-half of me time. I'll do cardio, and something that one of the Bootcamp Ireland instructors has put together for me. If I don't get it done, I'm not in a good mood. I emulate our bootcamp classes, in that I'll do it in a park. I really appreciate that time, because it took me a long time to be able to get it. I've only started to do this consistently in the past three months. I put the foot down. I realised that I was starting to lose the run of myself with not watching food. I just pulled everything back. When I put a plan down on paper, I'm better.

After my workout, I'll either go to the office to do admin work for the company, or I'll go to a Mummy Bootcamp class. I run Bootcamp Ireland. It is military-style fitness training for men and women at all levels. Ninety per cent of our instructors are military - currently serving or ex-military. We do basic Bootcamp classes, we have HIIT [high-intensity interval training] sessions and we also do Mummy Bootcamp. No two classes are the same. One week you could be working with kettlebells, and the next it'd be boxing. The teachers change all the time. It keeps people on their toes. Also, because our leaders are military, they are great at motivating people.

I started Bootcamp Ireland 15 years ago. Initially, it was just me, an army guy and another person in the park. I had just come back from travelling and I couldn't get myself motivated to work out. I was looking for a fitness outlet. It was an amazing session. This guy pushed me so hard that I actually threw up in the trees. I'm very stubborn and I thought, 'If he can make me do that, then this is a business'. I took it from there. When I was abroad, I saw how people used the parks and the outdoors much more than we did. It just took off, and now we have the classes in 12 locations. I came up with the idea of Mummy Bootcamp when I was pregnant with my first child. In the mornings, I often turn up at a class, just to say hello or to help out. It is mums with buggies. They can come six weeks after they've had a baby - if they have had a normal delivery - or 12 weeks, if they had a C-section. Some moms text us from Holles Street, asking how soon can they can join. I bring some coffee and some healthy treats and they chat afterwards. When you have a baby, it can be a very isolating time. Your baby might be crying all night, and sometimes the dad doesn't help out. When these moms chat after the class, they realise that they are not alone. Afterwards, a lot of the mothers say that they are in better shape than before they had their babies.

There is a big social aspect to Bootcamp Ireland. That's important to me. We have party nights and skiing and surfing trips. Also, we have night hikes and survivor trips, where everyone heads off into the woods in survival mode for 24 hours. It's tough, but great fun. The amount of relationships and weddings and babies that have come out of Bootcamp Ireland is phenomenal.

One couple, who met through us, has four kids now. And so many other couples have gone travelling together, or moved abroad.

I know that you wouldn't think that when you are exercising, all sweaty and red-faced, that you'd meet a partner. But your endorphins are pumping around your body. With all that adrenaline, you are at your best. You feel great and you look fantastic. I think that women look far better after a workout than they do after putting on a load of make-up.

Everybody is into fitness and well-being these days. I think the recession was a huge part of this. People were losing their jobs, and they were feeling miserable. Then they thought, whatever about losing your job, don't lose your physical fitness.

Keeping active helped them cope with their problems. Some bought a pair of runners and realised that all they had to do was to go for a walk or a run in the park. Look at the running revolution now, with races almost every weekend. People feel better when they exercise.

I'm not invincible. After the second baby, I didn't bounce back, and I had less time to exercise. I had to fight back. But you just have to decide to commit to two hours a week. That is nothing. But you can't be haphazard about it. You need to do a bit of cardio to keep the heart rate up. And you need to keep a food diary. I cannot stress that last bit enough. As soon as you start doing that, you will notice a difference.

There is no point in working out three times a week and then going home and having a bottle of wine and a packet of crisps. You are the only person who can do it. You are in charge of your destiny.

In the evenings, I'll have dinner with the boys. We hang out for a couple of hours until bedtime. They usually go to bed at 7.30pm. Their dad will come in and wind them up completely after I've totally chilled them out. Then it's bath, bed and epic story time.

After they are in bed, I'm straight back on the computer. I don't mind working evenings. From very early on, I always knew that I wouldn't do well working Monday to Friday, nine to five. They say that if you're passionate about what you do, it doesn't feel like work. It's so true.

I love to go to bed early. 10pm is ideal, but I'd happily go at 9pm, too. I just conk out. If I didn't work out, I don't think I'd sleep as well.

Bootcamp Ireland, tel: (086) 775-3763, or see bootcampireland.com

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