An Interview with…CrossFit Coach Of The Year.

An Interview with…CrossFit Coach Of The Year.

Representing French Vanoli , which is home to CrossFit Galway for the past 3 years, Padraic Colhoun (Head coach) was awarded Coach of the Year at the Caffiene Awards at the beginning of the month.

(Photo: CrossFit Galway Staff with Rory McKernan – CrossFit Games Host)

Last week I sat down with Padraic and we discussed his sporting and coaching background, his introduction to CrossFit, his own training and what the future holds for him.

Can you tell me a bit about your own sporting history/background?

I have played a number of different sports down through the year but the main ones would be Boxing, Soccer and Rugby before I started CrossFit. I  started Boxing in what was Ardagh Boxing Club (now Ardagh/Cross in Crossmolina) with my brother and did this from about 10 years old to 16 years old. My parents are actually still involved with the club.

 (Photo: courtesy of Ardagh/Cross Facebook page)

I also played Soccer from about age 6 to my  late 20’s with different clubs, Moyvilla, Killala and Galway Celtic Night owls league and Rugby in my teens in Ballina Rugby club and Sligo I.T. It was in 2008 that I discovered CrossFit.


When did you start coaching?

I’ve been coaching in one form or another for as long as I can remember, back in my teens in the Boxing club and I also spent a season in America coaching  youngsters Soccer. But it wasn’t until I came to Galway that I got my first gym instructor job and worked in numerous gyms throughout the city.  Like anything it’s from on the job experiences that I learned the most and working in the university college gym – ‘Crunch Fitness’  that I learned a lot from the coaches there. These coaches were into the science of training and it was there that I helped coach many local high level athletics and coached a wide range of sports from Running to Rowing to Cycling.

When and how did you get into CrossFit?

I first heard about a new work out called CrossFit in the Spring of 2008 (CrossFit was in its infancy in America at this stage and held its first CrossFit Games in 2007)  and from there I started using its methods and work outs on the beach and parks in Salthill with a friend of mine.

(Photo: Salthill 2010).

In my 20’s I also completed numerous coaching and training courses including ITEC in Gym Instruction, NSCA Personal Training, Kettlebell qualifications and Stength and Conditioning seminars and Certs.

With these techniques and on the job training I started adapting and using more CrossFit methods in my every day PT sessions and my own training. The results started to speak for themselves.

Over the years and before CrossFit came to Galway, I  helped other gyms owners and personal trainers around Galway with their clients and continually implemented various CrossFit methods and techniques.

When did you join CrossFit Galway?

Up until 2008, there were only two CrossFit gyms in Ireland and only 400 in the world. “CrossFit Galway” opened its doors in March 2013 within the walls of “French Vanoli School of Fitness” in Oranmore and I was approached to join their team in April 2013. At first on a part time basis but as members joined the gym and the gym expanded I was promoted to Head Coach within 2 years.

The members in French Vanoli/ CrossFit Galway are hugely talented and vary in age and ability, from novice who want to get fitter and stronger to World Powerlifting Champions’, GAA All Stars, Ultra Marathon runners, local Running Clubs and CrossFit Kids and Teens.

(Photo: CrossFit Galway classes)

Whats a “normal” day in the life of a CrossFit coach like?

No day is ever the same in CrossFit Galway. Our classes start at 6.15am and run right up to 9pm 5 days a week with 2 classes on a Saturday.

Classes vary from Strength and Core, to CrossFit Kids,Teens and Adult classes. I work with 2 other coaches and between us we help program and coach each of the classes. We also maintain the gym and its equipment as well as do some one on one personal training sessions.

(Photo: Claudia Vanoli, owner and staff of CrossFit Galway)
As CrossFit athletes ourselves we also arrange early or stay late to get our own training completed. The great thing about CrossFit is the community, we as coaches love seeing the members improve and hit their personal best in the gym but its the fun, the banter and the competitive element that we get while training with them (and sometimes against them) that makes CrossFit that extra special. We are not only coaches in there, we all are CrossFit athletes too.

Do you do your own programming for your training?

I get asked this a lot as members in the gym will see me doing my own training in the gym and while from time to time I will join a CrossFit class and do the work out of the day. More recently I got back into my own training on a more serious level  and now work under the training eye of Dominic Munnelly who I praise as one of the best PTs in the country. (Dominic is based out of CrossFit Green in Dublin and has a high level of both coaching and competing in the CrossFit Europeans Regionals himself).

Who do you admire in the training CrossFit industry?

Like any industry there are good and not so good coaches out there and as a coach I believe part of my job is be update to date and always open to new ways of coaching and training and I believe CrossFit in itself is always changing and constantly varied. Thanks for the rise in social media and more and more CrossFit boxes been opened I can admire and follow many national and international coaches from the comfort of the gym.

*Colm O Reilly from CrossFit Ireland who was one of the first to bring CrossFit to Ireland and gets a special mention from Padraic as does Chuck Carswell and Adrian Bosnian (CrossFit Level 1 flow masters).

(Photo :Padraic with Chuck Carswell at the CrossFit Regionals 2015.)

So how did it feel to be awarded Coach of the year?

Been awarded Coach Of The Year is a proud moment for me but my learning and coaching doesn’t stop because of it and I am always open to other coaches and people techniques and methods so that I can continue to help my clients become the best that they can do and be.

Whats your plan for the next 5 years?

Over the next 5 years I would like to still be Head Coach in CrossFit Galway as I see such high potential for the business and the members in it. I also want to build on my Level 1 CrossFit qualification and go up to Level 3 CrossFit Coaching Cert which will open doors for the Level 1 coaching staff.

(Photo: Padraic with Dave Castro – Director of CrossFit games).

If you enjoyed this blog, you might also like some of my other blogs on CrossFit .Click here.

Stay holistic 🙂

Catherine x


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