Strength and conditioning coach Gary Wallace: I could hit up to 30,000 steps in one day when working with the Northern Ireland football team

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Gary Wallace, founder of CORE Kids and strength and conditioning coach with NI senior men's football team

Gail Bell

Up and at it - what is your morning routine?

On a typical morning, I rise around 5.30am and make my bed (first task done for the day), then drink a glass of water with a pinch of salt as it helps to rehydrate. I will do some strength training for three-to-five minutes while I brew coffee, after which I review my gratitude journal and goals. Most mornings, I read and then visualise/meditate for five-to-10 minutes.


What might you eat in a typical working day for...Breakfast?

Ordinarily, I would do intermittent fasting for 16 hours, from 8pm-12 pm daily, and so would skip breakfast. When training for Iron Man Cork, though, I need my fuel throughout the day – typically, some porridge, fruit and nuts, sprinkled with a bit of turmeric.


Scrambled eggs and toast, spinach, tomato and a splash of salsa.

Evening meal?

I like vegetarian dishes like chickpea curry or sweet potato curry.


Is nutrition important to you – do you take health supplements?

Yes, nutrition is important and I like to experiment with different nutritional lifestyles - fasting, vegan, high-protein etc. Supplement-wise, I sometimes take multi-vitamins and protein powder, but try to get most of my energy through natural food.


Ever been on a diet – if so, how did it go?

I once tried a strict 12-week bodybuilding programme - I got great results but it had a negative effect on my sleep, mood and energy. I don't really like the word 'diet'; many people have a negative association with it. Find something that will give you enough energy for what you are doing daily - including training - and, if you are getting results and could happily continue for the rest of your life, then you are winning.


Weekend treat?

I enjoy an Indian takeaway and usually opt for the vegetarian side dishes – I have smaller portions but a variety of flavours on my plate.


How do you keep physically and mentally fit?

For physical fitness, I just aim to move every day - that could be the gym, bike, swimming or running. I don't play any sport at the minute, but I love entering events just to try and push my body and mind. The last event was a 30km mountain race across seven peaks in Donegal. My morning routine and a few personal development study groups I am involved with have helped increase my awareness and keep me mentally fit.


Best tip for everyday fitness?

Just move every day - set yourself a mini challenge to move for 15 minutes every day for 30 days. That could be a walk, light jog, or home workout routine.


Were you a fan of schools sports/PE or do you have a memory from those days that you would rather forget?

I loved school sports but I know many people had a negative experience, so this is one of the main reasons I set up my company, CORE Kids. Our mission is to inspire millions of people to live happy, healthy, more fulfilling lives. We do this by providing fun, positive physical activity experiences, including PE, so children want to keep active for the rest of their lives.


Teetotal or tipple?

Tipple - a few pints of Guinness always go down a treat.


Stairs or lift?

I would have to say the stairs. When I work with teams, including my role with the Northern Ireland Senior Men's football team as their strength and conditioning coach, I always take the stairs in the hotels. I could hit up to 30,000 steps in one day when working with a team.


What book are you currently reading?

The Power of Awareness and Conversations with God, both by Neville Goddard.


Best Netflix?

The F1 series, Drive to Survive.


Most surprising thing you've learned about yourself over the pandemic?

I have learnt that anything is possible and to always serve people. All of our business was done face-to-face pre-pandemic. It was time to rethink. We didn't panic and we decided to give back. On our Facebook page, we consecutively delivered PE and family workout sessions for free for 101 days. We started before Joe Wicks who had a few more followers than us to spread the word, but it was great to see so many people using social media channels to stay active.


Any new skills or hobbies?

Open water swimming. I was training for my first Iron Man and my swimming wasn't the strongest. Since the pools were closed, it was into the open water - something that I now love to do regularly.


How do you relax?

I like to meditate or run. I love sticking on the running shoes and just going for a gentle-paced run around the Gortin Glens, stopping from time-to-time and standing still. In a busy world, just stopping for a few minutes or even seconds may be all the relaxation we need.


What are your goals for 2022?

I would like to enter a few more events, something extreme, over several days. For CORE Kids, I'd like 2022 to be our best year for summer camps - we're aiming to have over 60 summer camps, nationwide. I would also like our programmes in most schools here and a few in the Republic.


What time do you get to bed and do you think you get enough sleep?

I'm in bed at about 11pm but, at the moment, I probably don't get enough sleep. To make up for this, I have started introducing naps into my daily routine.


Biggest gripe?

Not getting to bed early enough - we could all use more sleep...


Have your priorities in life or perspectives changed?

Massively. I feel that everything we want is at our feet and we just need to be prepared to go out and get it. Take action and hold on to the faith that your goal will come, especially when you've hit your first hurdle. I believe and work on this every day. It's not easy but it's achievable.


Has coronavirus changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

I believe that we are here to enjoy life and should do our best not to stress over the small stuff and things over which we have no control.

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