Celebrating 25 Years of Fitness

Helen Walsh Pic of Helen walsh to be cropped

Helen Walsh, a fitness instructor, local community advocate and former manager of the YMCA Christmas Hamper Appeal, is celebrating 25 years as Dublin 4’s personal Mrs Motivator.

She was in fighting form as she met on a dull Friday afternoon, moving her tea to one side as she pulled out a photo album full of women in leotards, a former Taoiseach, and people with some questionable hairdos, to reminisce about her journey.

In the pictures it’s 1989 and Helen is standing there with her colleagues from Apple Fitness, which was located in Donnybrook. From left to right girls are dressed in tight pink leotards. “I wanted to be a dance teacher, Flashdance and Fame were on the TV, I wanted the ankle warmers, I wanted the leotards, and I wanted to teach.”

It was too expensive to become a choreographer back then so Helen worked in three jobs to pursue a course in dancing. The day before the class was due to start, Helen fell off a cliff. “So, I ended up doing my training on crutches, but we got through it,” she said.

Helen was brought up on Grand Canal Road, she went to school locally and eventually settled into a house on Londonbridge Road when she was 15.

She’s first and foremost a fitness instructor, but she’s also a big player in the local community. In 2011 she was featured on the front page of NewsFour for her work with the YMCA. She collected items for older people, mainly gloves, coats and scarves for the winter.

Eventually, she ended up creating food hampers for local families struggling through the Christmas period.

She eventually set up her own fitness company, Energy Management, and became involved with some minor, and not-so-minor, celebrities. “It’s very hard to talk about the famous people because I’m very careful about confidentiality with clients,” she said. “I trained certain members of U2, not all of them, and my family didn’t even know. In this business, particularly with high-profile clients, you have to shut up. I’ve had newspapers offer me money for stories and all sorts of stuff.”

In terms of her approach to clients, famous and not, Helen said she’ll sit down with them, ask about all aspects of their lives – from what food they consume to how much they weigh – in order to get a broader picture of that person. It’s not a million miles away from other personal trainers, some are better than others, but Helen prides herself on that human ‘I’m here for you’ touch that is pivotal to any aspect of physical training.

As she puts away the pictures, she makes a point to thank everybody for her success. “Nobody is successful on their own, it’s always about the other people who support you and coach you and I’ve always had great support in this area.”

Left, Helen Walsh. The photo above is from her Apple Fitness days. Both photos courtesy Helen Walsh.

By Liam Cahill