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With his warm manner and palpable energy, Tom Harrigan is a personal trainer whose motivation is infectious. Whether you’re looking to train for a marathon or just find the will to get off the sofa and away from the Quality Street, come rain or shine, at your house or on the beach, for a fit and healthy 2020 - Tom’s your guy!
I have been a personal trainer for about 20 years. I did a sports science degree in the late ‘90s and I played a bit of rugby as well. I was always fit and healthy, and it was a natural progression for me to go into personal training. I moved to London and worked in a number of gyms before taking the leap to become self-employed 15 years ago. I have also worked in Pilates studios and I started doing retreats for clients in Europe, long before it became so fashionable!
We gradually moved to Devon as it took a little while to transition my business away from London. Now I have clients across the South Hams and all the way up to Somerset. I also do some work for Asics as a brand ambassador - their ethos is very much aligned with my own.
My wife was brought up in Kingswear and about four years ago we decided we really wanted to get out of London and come to live back in Devon and be near her family. We bought a house in Berry Pomeroy and started off transitioning our lives to Devon, building up work here but still working there until were in a position to move here full time.
We had a baby boy at the start of 2019 and by that time my wife was already in Devon full time. I had built up my client base in London over 20 years, so it was quite frightening to start again and move it to Devon, but we’ve been here for nearly a year now and have had a wonderful welcome.
I’ve been a personal trainer for more than 20 years, and I think what’s really helpful is being adaptable, and able to offer lots of different approaches so you can tailor it to individual needs. I have a very holistic approach to fitness; I want to get people active and promote a healthier way of life for all ages, abilities, sizes and objectives.
In London, I had the privilege of working with clients for a long time, and seeing them through different life stages, which also means different fitness challenges and goals. I worked with one client for 17 years, so in that time his needs changed from when he was in his forties to now in his sixties.
Having done a lot of Pilates, I am able to bring a different dimension to personal training, which does add longevity to it and means I work particularly well with an older demographic, but I think overall the important thing is having empathy with a client and really understanding what they want and what they like doing. My background is sport so there’s a lot of crossover with different types of fitness and I go to other peoples’ classes as well because I like to learn from other people, I enjoy fitness and I really recognise what different types of exercise achieve for people.
It’s mostly private training because I find people get more out of it and achieve quicker results one-to-one. However, I can also do small group sessions. I’m mobile so I go to the client wherever suits them, whether it’s at the gym, their house, the office, meeting them in the park or even at the beach. I have equipment I can bring as well, but sometimes clients have their own gyms.
I am happy to go out in all weathers - it’s very unusual for it to be bad enough for a training session to get rained off. That said, I have a space at home for people to work out as well - either if you don’t have gym membership or if it really is too wet out!
For me it’s about supporting people to manage their lifestyles and their goals, and for that it’s so important to have a flexible approach and a variety of tools to help people.
A lot of people have desk jobs, and many clients I have seen have never really been interested in exercise. Perhaps they were the kid at school who always tried to get out of PE lessons, then by 50 they find they need to up their activity levels, but having never run before, it’s a big lifestyle change and hard to find the motivation or know where to start.
Then again, a client might also be someone who’s running a marathon in a few months and wants to work with me for a specific time period and a specific goal. The biggest thing for me is understanding individual needs, and being empathetic to different peoples’ situations and mindsets.
Right now I am enjoying finally being in the South Hams full time, and being with my family in Devon. As Christmas and New Year approach, people are working through seasonal challenges and managing their health alongside all the celebrations, so I am enjoying helping clients with that. I am also generally looking forward to meeting more new people and helping people with their different goals!
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