Irish schools today face an ever-growing challenge in fitting in exercise and health promotion in an already busy curriculum. At School Fitness Ireland we are helping schools around country meet this challenge by bringing in a fun inclusive exercise programme suitable to all ages and abilities.
Founded by Martin Sheehan in 2016, School Fitness Ireland has rapidly grown to become one of Ireland’s leading providers of non-competitive fitness training for children. Martin has been involved in both the youth work and fitness industries since 2006 and took the step in 2016 to launch full time into a service which provides for a serious need for the youth of today.
Meeting The Challenge
The most alarming issue we identified with children today is the rapidly declining levels of flexibility and mobility. More and more children and young people are presenting with back problems today and that is not right. Back in 2008 when we would ask a primary school class to touch their toes, around 3 out of 4 would manage to achieve this on the first effort. Since 2017 in all schools we engaged with, the average was now just 1 in 4.
At School Fitness Ireland our mission is three-fold:
- To be the industry leader in child exercise and fitness by providing the highest quality of appropriate, non- competitive exercise to children nationwide
- To make our service affordable to all so that every child can engage in a healthy and active lifestyle
- To make exercise and physical play fun again, and encourage children to exercise and play with family members outside of our class time
Through publicly funded trials of our programme in schools across Cork we managed to increase youth participation in exercise in all schools we worked with to 95% or above. This was achieved through delivering a programme that was fun, interactive and was child focused. We involved the children in the decisions of when we progressed and how hard we would make the sessions.
A key component of our programmes is to focus on balance, flexibility and co-ordination. Through this we help to improve the children’s physical health and improve their gross motor skills.
Since rolling out our service in January 2017, we have worked with 175 schools nationwide, most of whom have already re-booked for this school year, and that is testament to the service we provide. We are more than happy to provide references from these schools.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Meet our team!
Martin is the founder of School Fitness Ireland. Martin qualified from the BB in Recreation and Leisure Management Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) in 2010. During his time in WIT he developed the Fun And Fitness Programme which Cork Sports Partnership funded while he piloted it in schools across the county.
From 2010 to 2014 he worked as a Youth Project worker for Foroige, whilst still delivering the Fun and Fitness programme, along with various martial arts and sports workshops to schools. In 2016 after returning from travelling to Australia, Martin set up School Fitness Ireland.
While he does not deliver many of the classes any more due to the number of trainers he still enjoys joining coaches on days and ensuring they all deliver classes of the highest standard.
I have always enjoyed fitness and dance having learned ballet and tap dancing as a child. As my career progressed I balanced my life by furthering my dance career into Salsa and Latin American dancing and have now over 12 years experience of teaching Salsa and Zumba dancing as well as 6 years experience of teaching Fitsteps (the Dancing with the stars/Strictly dance fitness programme). Before that I worked as a nurse in a trauma and emergency unit in the UK.
I have been working with School Fitness Ireland for just over a year combining my two experiences of Nursing and Dance by lecturing in Health, Fitness, Sexual Health and Drug and Alcohol abuse to all school ages while also teaching Zumba, Fitsteps and the Fun and Fitness programme.
I love the variety and challenge this work affords me and it allows me to meet and work with children from all ages and backgrounds. I really enjoy seeing their smiling faces when they are enjoying getting fitter or watching their expressions when they are grasping and learning something new.
I currently run my own gym and fitness studio catering for all ages and abilities in Galway, with a special interest in strength and conditioning. Passionate about helping people reach their health and fitness goals. I am the County development officer for Galway ladies football working with both-underage players and senior players. I also volunteer with Foróige.
I love working on the Fun and Fitness program for School Fitness Ireland and watching the kids progress over the length of the course. The emphasis on fun and non competitive exercise and the participation of all kids is what attracted me to work for the business.
Based in Mitchelstown, covering Cork Limerick and Tipperary, I joined the School Fitness Ireland team during their summer camps in 2017, and worked part time with them over the next few months. In the 2018/2019 academic year I started teaching Karate, Boxercise and Fun and Fitness to primary and secondary schools.
I really enjoy when a young person who was nervous of doing a class at the start begins to thrive and develop and realizes that they can be fit without needing to compete.
Based in Limerick, I teach Dance/Zumba and Fitness in the area. My background is in Irish dance, and I’ve been dancing for over 20 years. I’m originally from the US, but moved to Ireland in 2017 to pursue my Masters degree in Irish Dance Performance at the University of Limerick.
I now perform, choreograph, and teach dance on a regular basis. I’ve always been interested in fitness and other dance forms, and am a certified Zumba instructor. I started with School Fitness Ireland in 2019, and have found it very enjoyable. It’s most rewarding when I see kids get excited about dance and fitness, let go of stress, and make small improvements throughout the program.
Based in Clare and covering the Clare/Limerick region. My name is Shane and I am a primary school teacher. I was initially attracted to working for Schools Fitness Ireland because never has the importance of the fundamental movements been more prevalent! Jumping, skipping, hopping, squatting….all essential movements for children that are covered under the Fun & Fitness programme.
I am involved with a lot of GAA teams but what I enjoy most about this line of work is the non-competitive element…all children participate and enjoy the class equally. I always stress at the start of each workout that all one can do is their best. It doesn’t matter how good the person beside us is, what matters is that we give it our all and go home at the end of the day with a smile on our face. Nobody can deny the feel-good factor associated with exercise and enabling the kids to have fun while they workout is my ultimate goal every day!
My name is Katja, my heart is in Slovenia, my soul in Ireland and I think I left my spirit somewhere in Portugal – but it’s catching up with me! I’m educated preschool teacher currently working in a fun sport background only. For the past 5yrs my weekends are mostly entertaining kids all over Ireland and sometimes playing with Lego. I joined School Fitness Ireland in summer’19 and I teach Yoga and Zumba in schools around Galway.
I absolutely love kids and see their faces sparking with joy when we dance or strech makes me very fortunate.
Living in Clare, I am currently in my 1 st year studying Counselling and Psychotherapy with ICHAS in Limerick. I am a 200HR trained yoga teacher with specialty training in Yoga for Trauma. I am also a certified KAY, Kidding Around Yoga, kids yoga teacher.
I am passionate about helping young people learn about the importance of taking care of their mental health.
Children love doing yoga poses through story-telling and I incorporate dance and games in classes to help them learn along the way.
Living in Cork and I am currently attending Cork Institute of Technology studying Recreation and Leisure Management, in my final year. I have gym instruction and fitness qualifications. This is an area I have a keen interest in.
I am also working with School Fitness Ireland and I am very enthusiastic working to get all kids involved and helping them excel and improve their fitness levels in a fun and enjoyable way.
Based in Tipperary and working in the surrounding counties too. Qualified Personal Trainer/Fitness Instructor. My main sport is, and has always been, Gymnastics, which I was a member of the Irish squad for many years. I joined the School Fitness Ireland team in September 2019 and I am teaching Gymnastics, Boxercise and Fun and Fitness classes.
I am loving seeing the huge progression that the children are making within the space of a few weeks in each programme. It is a fantastic method of getting kids active in a non-competitive and fun way.
I first came to yoga at 18 years of age in an effort to improve flexibility and posture. I soon discovered the benefits of yoga far extend beyond the physical, and after 10 years of practice, I travelled to India to take my first 200hr YTT in 2012 and then completed a further 300hrs of training in Ireland. My background in drama has greatly informed how I teach yoga. I find the most enjoyable and accessible way for kids to practice yoga is through the use of story and sound. As a result, children’s creativity and imaginations are nurtured alongside the numerous health benefits of physical movement.
What I love most about teaching kids yoga is that all children can participate regardless of their physical abilities. As the competitive element is not present in the yoga classroom, children are free to enjoy moving their bodies in interesting and fun ways in a space where everyone is equal. This develops self esteem and positive body image so children feel happy and confident in the skin they’re in!
Living in Cork, I am currently in my second year of studying Food Marketing and Entrepreneurship in UCC.
I joined School Fitnesses Ireland in October 2019 and what I love the most is seeing school kids of all ages being able to develop gymnastics skills after only a few classes, and seeing how much they enjoy it. I love coaching gymnastics and I am delighted to be able to coach children in schools, so they can benefit from the many advantages of gymnastics such as strength, flexibility, confidence and coordination.
I have been a gymnastics coach at Vortex since 2016 and I have a great passion for gymnastics. I have won All Ireland gymnastics competitions and enjoy doing gymnastics as a hobby with the UCC club.
My name is Damien. I am based in Athlone in the heart of Ireland. I qualified in 2018 with a BSc in Sports Science with Exercise Physiology from the Athlone Institute of Technology. I have worked on various Fundamental Movement Skills Projects across Westmeath, Roscommon, and Laois.
This along with my passion for creating a healthier lifestyle for children attracted me to School Fitness Ireland. To be able to teach children that exercise can be fun and the long term health benefits. My background is in Football where I am a youth Football coach in Athlone and also work on FAI Camps. I am also big into my fitness and an avid road runner having completed the Dublin Marathon twice.
My name is Dean and I have been training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu since 2007, I compete at National and International level. I’m am Owner/ Head Coach at Shapeshifters BJJ academy and currently head kids Coach and coordinator at SBG D24.
I have furthered my education on body mechanics and understanding of training programs, nutrition and recovery. I have a PFI cert in Gym instruction and completed a 2 year internship with the Irish Strength Institute (ISI).
However my main passion is teaching Kids. As a parent myself I understand the importance and benefits of teaching exercise in a fun and safe environment. I have worked with children from preschools all the way up to adults and have designed programs to adapt to a child’s needs when needed. My main focus is to help children to have a good and fun relationship with exercise. It’s is a absolute joy to teach kids and this is the reason I became part of the SFI team.
My name is David Russell and I teach yoga and meditation. I enjoy teaching children as they’ve great energy and I enjoy making yoga fun for them. It’s great to be able to tell a story through the yoga poses and being able to incorporate breathing exercises into a class.
This helps children enjoy exercising while doing yoga and helps calm them through their breathing. Also introducing children to relaxation at an early age gives them life skills to deal with their stress and anxiety as they get older.
Teaching children to acknowledge how they feel from a young age helps them have more kindness and compassion for themselves and others.