Sunday Interview - Dee, the million dollar woman

Dee McCahill pictured outside her Million Dollar Fitness Club at Bond's Hill this week. DER0515MC013
Dee McCahill pictured outside her Million Dollar Fitness Club at Bond's Hill this week. DER0515MC013

Meet Dee McCahill, the woman who says she can change your life, if you want it changed.

Dee runs the popular Million Dollar Fitness Club in an old church at Bonds Hill, Waterside.

And as we meet she wears a T-shirt that carries her motto - I don’t sweat, I sparkle.”

It’s a far cry from London where Dee once lived on the streets for two years.

“I’ve had what you could describe as a colourful life,” said Dee. “But I’ve done lots of different things and had several businesses.”

Dee opened Million Dollar Fitness in 2011 and more recently moved the business to Bond Street.

“I saw the church two years ago when I was driving over the old bridge,” explained Dee. “More recently I saw a ‘To Let’ sign on it and decided to go for a nosey.

“I brought my husband with me and he thought I was nuts. There were no floors or ceiling in the church but I could see the vision.”

In keeping with the church theme Dee has decided to redesign her classes with a religious theme.

Class names now include resurrection, atonement, redemption, revelation, trinity, temperance and armageddon.

And the class flyer has the tagline “All sessions are programmed and designed with TLC by ‘Our Lady of Weight Loss’ aka Dee McCahill.”

“The church was a blank canvas,” said Dee. “There were so many possibilities. Now I have male and female changing rooms and a classroom. It can also be used as a conference centre.”

“Million Dollar is about making you the best version of you that you can be,” said Dee. “You can be a million dollars,” she said. “It’s about bringing out the best in you.”

Dee takes most of the classes herself with help from two members she has trained up.

“I love what I do, this is my family,” she said, “because I enjoy it so much, it is not a chore. As a trainer you have the flexibility to change someone’s life.

“This is not about a quick fix or a transformation. It’s about changing mindsets and giving someone a better future.”

Exercise, Dee says, is just one part of what she does.

“Million Dollar is about lifestyle intervention,” she says.

“The bulk of people I see would have two or more stone to lose.

“I do a lot of coaching and you have to remember that for a lot of people, you are changing 30, maybe 40 years of habits and trying to educate them. Change is never easy, some people adapt quickly and other people need their hand held. Everyone is different.

“I support every single member in whatever their individual needs are, at Million Dollar it’s not really a one size fits all. You come here and you do the training that suits you.”

“There are a number of reasons why people have issues with food and there are all kinds of emotional issues which cause people to over eat,” she said.

“I’ve worked with rape victims, women who have been abused and people who for one reason or another turn to food for comfort. It is about breaking that association and pattern.

“Remember when you were young and you ran to mummy when you cut yourself, she would give you sweets. So now when you have a bad day your first reaction is to turn to food, because that is now your comfort blanket.

“People say you are what you eat but in reality you are what you digest. People are always on the go rushing around like headless chickens, we don’t take the time to eat, the time to look after ourselves.

“In order for us to digest our foods and the nutrients we need to be in a relaxed state.

“If we are not relaxed we don’t absorb the nutrients properly.”

Million Dollar Fitness membership is run by application and before members sign up Dee speaks to individuals about what the centre can offer them.

“The classes are hard, as they last 30 minutes,” she said. “Members are only here for around four hours a week and that’s not an awful big part of the week.

“30 minutes is great for people who have babysitters or who want to come in early in the morning or on their way home from work.

“The first week can be tough because you are using muscles your body has never used before but an epsom salts bath really does the trick!”

Dee also revealed how she completely lost her hearing after a visit to Thailand 15 years ago.

After going swimming while on holiday Dee’s hearing became badly affected when she picked up a parasite.

“The long haul journey home made it worse,” said Dee.

“I’ve now completely lost my hearing and have to wear two hearing aids.

“But I believe that losing my hearing helps me be more empathetic and more understanding, maybe it brought me down a peg or two.”

Dee currently has a waiting list for her platinum membership however members can join up under gold membership.

People get out of this what they put in,” said Dee.

“Sometimes people worry when they come in that they will be the biggest or the unfittest but we are, like a family, everyone supports each other and gets the help they need.”

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