Gym and Dinner Date

Two of my favourite things are training and eating so when The Connacht Hotel and Active 24 Fitness asked me if I wanted to come and try out the gym and a postworkout refuel I was like yes, of course! The newly renovated 24 hour gym opened in January (and yes I asked, they do have people coming in at 4am, I don’t who but now you’ve no excuse for missing a session!).

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We booked in for our session on a Saturday afternoon and luckily for us it was relatively empty so we had our pick of machines. First impressions were that it’s lovely and bright but also that the equipment is really good quality and all relatively new. We started off our session with a warm-upin the cardiovascular area. I hopped on the elliptical machine which I love as it doesn’t put pressure on your knees yet you can increase the intensity and incline levels to make your workout as tough as you want. Some of the machines also have wall mounted T.V. screens which was great as the rugby was on.

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I couldn’t resist hoping on the rowing machine next. If you don’t know, I used to be a rower, which is where I developed my love for sport and fitness. Concept II machines are the gold standard brand and the gym had three of these, all in great condition which I was impressed with. Since my boyfriend also used to be a rower (and we actually met by doing rowing pieces side by side in training…awww…we couldn’t help but rekindle the romance and have a little race – thankfully he was feeling rather hungover so I hammered him).

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Next we headed over to the weights section, which can sometimes be fairly intimidating but this was bright, colourful, part of the main gym and really well laid out. Most importantly it has a huge selection of free weights as well as a section with resistance machines. I made up my own little upper body and squat workout and couldn’t really find any fault with the equipment. Later on the weights section got a bit busier and the pros came in – one guy must have been benching every weight in the room as the bar was almost bending.

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The core and stretching area was also well laid out and stocked with an assisted chin-up/dips machine, ab machines, ample medicine balls, exercise balls, mats, light dumbells, kettlebells, step, skipping rope etc. I was able to fit in a quick full body circuit, cool down and stretch. They also had great air conditioning – which is always a plus!

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On our way back to the changing rooms we came across an empty aerobics studio which anyone can use when there’s no classes on and would be great for anyone doing a programme like Kayla Itsines plan where you need a bit of space to work in. There’s also a punchbag in there so you can grab a pair of gloves and let loose after work if needs be…

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Although we didn’t get a chance to use it there’s a 20m pool, jacuzzi, steamroom, sauna etc. which looked great. Something I’ve learned from my rowing days is how to get ready in minimal time after training. It helps when you’re in a huge changing room with ample showers, hairdryers and a hair-straightener which this gym has. For anyone who trains before work this is an essential. I went from sweaty mess to presentable in record time (at lease I think so…someone else said I took ages…).

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After our workout we were starving and thankfully had totally worked off the three course meal we were about to sit down to…I was all up for ordering the healthy option before I went to the gym, but as usual on a weekend I justify can totally justify ordering the not-so healthy option if I’ve been to the gym. Anyways for starters I went for the potted crab and salmon with home baked Guinness brown bread and a fennel salad and Brian went for the chicken wings which were both really gorgeous. For mains I got the sea bass (which I always associate with a holiday in Croatia where we got it on a little tourist both, freshly caught in the sea and barbecued there and then – divine) and Brian got the steak. We also got a bottle of red wine to go with it just because it was a Saturday night and we really pushed ourselves in the gym you know?

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For dessert I got the cheesecake and Brian got the “death by chocolate” – I don’t know why, because we were both feeling pretty full! Our lovely waitress, also called Aisling, recommended the Minty Hot Chocolate made with Creme de Menthe liquor – usually I don’t like alcoholic hot drinks but this was really lovely – I’d definitely go back for it.

The restaurant itself is situated nicely within the hotel, close enough to the lounge/bar area so you can still soak up the atmosphere but far enough away so that you still feel like you’re in a restaurant. We noticed that it caters to a wide range of groups from couples, families with kids, a 70th birthday party and groups of friends. From speaking to other people it’s like a fantastic hotel for families, especially those with kids and it’s only a five minute drive into town.

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As you can see this probably counts for all my ‘cheat days’ until Christmas! But I think that once you eat right about 80% of the time and are consistent in going to the gym or doing your own exercise during the week then the other 20% of the time you can have your treats. If you’re looking for somewhere to train I’d have no problem recommending Active Fitness. The equipment is really good, they have a great selection of classes (think spinning, kettlebells, hot yoga but also karate, tabata, “hard assets”, shredded HIIT, and MMA conditioning which all sound really cool). I find classes are a great motivator and you can chose from morning, mid-day or evening. Also the fact that it’s open 24 hours a day means you’ll never be able to convince yourself it’s too late, or too early, to get a session in!