Strong Friend Richie Byrne: Pro Footballer, proud dad & PT
Fun-loving and yet hard as nails
I met Richie at Gymbox in Holborn when I first started out in the city as a personal trainer in 2011. We both started about the same time and got on really well as we have similar training styles - we love using weights and both come from a sports background.
Having been a professional footballer, Richie understands that hard work equals results but also manages to find the joy in life wherever he is. This goes a long way to explain his success as a trainer - he goes very hard but is super down to earth and always makes sure you can have a laugh.
I have so much respect for Richie for what he has achieved in the industry and we have learnt a lot from one another. He has built his post-professional sports career where so many have faltered and is a truly proud dad to his son.
Strong Friends seem to stick together - Richie is currently studying his masters in Strength & Conditioning alongside my other Strong Friend and Coach, Andy Pilides.
Richie is the gym manager at Gymbox so anyone living or working in the Holborn area should absolutely get in touch with him for a session! You won't regret it.
Tell me about yourself
Well, I am currently one of the old form of PTs in Gymbox, Holborn having been here almost 7 years now.
I came into the training business after a 10 year football career that had many highlights, most notably playing for Ireland and playing against Atletico Madrid who had the likes of Kun Agüero and Diego Forlán.
A serious hamstring avulsion, followed by lower back issues brought an end to my career, which was the catalyst to my transition to PT.
My trainer, John Connor, who owns the ISI in Dublin, was a huge influence in making my decision to become a trainer. Every pre-season I would travel home to Dublin and train at the gym which made me realise I needed more strength training in my life.
I am currently undertaking a masters degree in Strength & Conditioning to advance my knowledge and understanding which will help me work with athletes of all levels and bring effective training to improve results.
Day to day, I work in Gymbox in Holborn where I train many people with office jobs and some students. My age ranges vary due to the diverse demographics in the city centre.
On weekends I coach football for Roehampton Rangers in the Barnes area.
I have also set up a Strongman class on Saturday mornings for the parents and players which we are adding to all the time and having great success with.
My ambitions are high, but I feel it's better to tell people when they have achieved.
What is the best part of being in the fitness industry?
My favourite thing about working in this business is the fact that I get to change people's minds as well as their body. When they change physically it gives them a sense of empowerment that can't be achieved any other way.
Do you have a favourite success story with a client?
My favourite success story at work is from a client called Louise who was a student who lived a very unhealthy lifestyle at the time. I approached Louise and over the course of six months we changed her lifestyle and built muscle while losing fat which was a catalyst to major changes in her life.
Louise found a new job, changed her relationship and subsequently was offered a dream job with a sport marketing company which has many rewards for her.
What are some challenges that you face?
My main challenges would be the everyday mental and physical struggle to remain fit after retiring from professional football due to injury. The feeling of not being able to do what you once could is very difficult to accept and is all a part of the aging process.
Who is your inspiration in the industry?
I have many inspirations in this industry, many being peers, also many prominent fitness trainers, but the people who inspire me most are athletes who are mentally strong enough to do whatever it takes to stay at the top, regardless of what is being said or what is happening around them.
What does your training regime look like?
I train usually in my home gym, Gymbox Holborn. My regime at the minute is total body workouts working with 8-12 reps and minimal recovery, with some varying cardio sprints at the end of my workouts.
When I was about 13 I had to chose between football and boxing. I decided to pursue football which led me to becoming a full time footballer which was way beyond my wildest dreams when I began playing.
After my hamstring injury I began to use the gym regularly for the first time in my life. I soon learned how beneficial weight training is to not only athletes but everybody. That was the spark that ignited my fitness career.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in their fitness journey?
Advice I would recommend is whatever you decide to do, maintain regularity and increase the difficulty as much as possible. Add some changes every 3-6 weeks and keep the body changing.
Do you have a favourite quote or mantra?
"Never give a sucker a break" - Jimmy Nichol. My ex coach who played for Man U.
Where is your favourite place to eat in London?
Favourite food place is probably the Diner in Covent Garden.
Where can people find you online?