Council offers unique Derry training opportunity

The fitness suite at Foyle Arena.
The fitness suite at Foyle Arena.

Derry City and Strabane District Council are offering local sports people a unique opportunity to train for 12 weeks as an elite level athlete by enrolling in an introductory Strength and Conditioning Programme at the state of the art facilities in the Foyle Arena.

The concept of Strength and Conditioning (S&C) is still a relatively new but it has revolutionised the way athletes prepare for competition with training tailored to their individual needs. The Programme Co-ordinator is ‘Everybody Active Coach’ at DCSDC, Kevin Gallagher, a former rugby player with London Irish and Ulster who became involved in coaching following his retirement from the game.

Within each sport, every athlete’s needs are different depending on a wide range of factors including age, gender, injury history and skillset and their training needs to be adapted accordingly.

Kevin Gallagher (Programme Co-ordinator)

An accredited UK Strength and Conditioning Coach, he is currently completing a Masters in the subject and has worked with a number of top level sports people including a supervisory role in Eglinton sprinter Jason Smyth’s Paralympic preparations as well as Commonwealth Games and European Championship level athletes.

“If you want to improve your performance as an athlete within a specific sport then strength and conditioning training is the way forward for you,” explained Kevin.

“The thing about fitness classes like spin or boot camps is whether you are a 17 year-old gymnast, a 25 year-old prop forward or a footballer in their 30s, everyone is doing the same training. In an S&C programme, everything is tailored to the needs of the individual, their specific sport and even particular elements of that sport such as improving acceleration or agility.

“Within each sport, every athlete’s needs are different depending on a wide range of factors including age, gender, injury history and skillset and their training needs to be adapted accordingly.”

Athletes must commit to two supervised weekly sessions on the programme where their personalised schedule is monitored and tweaked to maximise their results. While it runs for 12 weeks initially, Kevin is keen to stress that it is introductory and the long terms benefits necessitate a long term commitment to training.

“When you listen to winning athletes at the Olympics they will say it has been the result of four years hard work so it’s a long process,” he noted.

“What this course offers is a 12 week introduction. Athletes will notice improvements but if they want to see the genuine benefits they will need to commit to it in the long term.

“The first thing we do is identify the athlete’s profile and specific needs. We will then design an individual programme which can be changed depending on their progress.”

The personal aspect of the training means classes are restricted to groups of just nine people meaning demand is likely to outstrip supply. An initial screening is available to anyone however and may give athletes the opportunity to judge if the training is for them.

“Everyone will receive a personal report from their screening so if they don’t want to go ahead with the course then that report, detailing their joint mobility, flexibility, dynamic movement, lifting competency and injury history, is theirs to use as they wish with their future training.

“It’s important to emphasise that this is not a general fitness class. The course is being aimed at serious sports people who want to improve their performance in a specific discipline.”

For more information on the Strength and Conditioning Programme at the Foyle Arena contact Kevin Gallagher on 07872423751 or email kevin.gallagher@derrystrabane.com.