The rise of health and fitness fanaticism has seen fitness boot camps spring up in communities across Ireland. No other boot camp embodies the success of this trend as much as Paulie’s Bootcamp in Carlow town. Not only is it an example of the desire around the country for people to become healthier; but it is a shining example of how one group of people, with a strong leader, can make a lasting difference in their own lives and the lives of people in their community.

Bootcamp participants doing leg exercises on floor. Photo credit: Author's own.

Bootcamp participants doing leg exercises on floor. Photo credit: Author’s own.

Yesterday, the man behind it all, Paul Ward, embarked on the challenge of a 24 hour boot camp to raise money for three local causes. Another well-known Carlovian came out to help him kick it off. Kathryn Thomas, host of The Voice of Ireland, Operation Transformation and (the job that made her the envy of any wanderlust-filled, Emerald-islander) No Frontiers, was up early to start the first session of boot camp with a bang. Or in this case: with a BOOM.

Paul Ward and Kathryn Thomas on exercise bikes. Photo credit: author's own.

Paul Ward and Kathryn Thomas on exercise bikes. Photo credit: author’s own.

Paulie’s Bootcamp has become the “Home of the BOOM” (see radio documentary below) in the locality. Paul describes “the boom” as the feeling of exhilaration and power we experience when we push ourselves beyond our comfort zones to achieve something we never thought was possible before.

No stranger to fitness herself, Kathryn Thomas was front and centre at the opening session. Along with hosting Ireland’s flagship fitness programme, Operation Transformation; Kathryn is the founder of Pure Results, a fitness and wellbeing camp on Inish Beg Island off the Cork coast.

Pure Results runs for six weeks in the summertime and offers a weeklong residential programme for its clients, that includes a variety of fitness classes, as well as onsite nutritionists and life coaches.


Images of Pure Results exercise activities on Inish Beg Island. Photo Credit: Instagram girlcrewhq

This is the second annual 24 hour boot camp that Paul has undertaken. This year it will raise funds for three great causes: Éist Cancer Care, Carlow; Mental Health Carlow; and Histiocytosis X Journey for Shan.

Events like this instil a renewed sense of faith in our national community as people turn out in droves to support the fundraiser. Many of those coming along to the event are regular boot camp members who have taken their own individual journeys of improving their physical and mental health.

Paul has been a motivational leader for his club members; going above and beyond his scheduled class sessions to make sure that those involved feel supported and spurred on to achieve their goals. This is evident in the turnout at the fundraiser and the sense of camaraderie among the participants.

Paul leads the session as 24 hour bootcamp fundraiser kicks off. Photo also featuring Kathryn Thomas and bootcamp members. Photo credit: author's own.

Paul leads the session as 24 hour bootcamp fundraiser kicks off. Photo also featuring Kathryn Thomas and bootcamp members. Photo credit: author’s own.

Those who have committed to a few classes (some are joining Paul for the full 24 hours!) can be found in the recovery space in between sessions. People gather here to keep fuelled up on the plentiful food and snacks that supporters have generously donated.

Paul himself shows no signs of fatigue as he passes the 12-hour mark and they head into the night with rounds of The Chicken Dance in between squats and lunges. The 24 hour boot camp an example of the resilience and kindness of Irish people. It also demonstrates the positive change in exercise and healthy lifestyle habits. It is important to acknowledge that, despite worrying statistics about our nation’s health both mental and physical, we are making strides to improve our wellbeing. And we are doing it together.

You can listen to a short radio documentary on Paulie’s Boot Camp below. 

Title: “Home of the Boom” Produced by Patricia Madden for Griff FM.