Operation Transformation continues at Mungret St Paul's
By Cian O'Connell
People walking and talking is becoming a familiar sight every Monday in Mungret. Operation Transformation has captured the imagination and Mungret St Paul’s GAA Club continue to serve their community impressively.
Significant crowds are gathering for a stroll at the GAA complex in Mungret with Kevin O’Hagan delighted that young and old are enjoying the initiative.
“Operation Transformation are the guidelines we are using; in the last few years at the start of January we would have got them back walking at the very least,” O’Hagan explains. “It is a family and community type thing so they can bring the dog or whatever with them.”
A spirit has been created with new friendships forged between existing club members and even those with no previous affiliation to Mungret St Paul’s.
“I would know everyone in the club and a lot of the people I don't know coming to it,” O’Hagan admits. “We pushed that before on Facebook so people would have seen us promoting health and wellbeing on Facebook just to see what is coming up.
“We have a weekly notes going out to club members so those would be club members, but you would find on Facebook that people tag each other and that is where we are getting the extras.”
That in excess of 100 have participated in most of the sessions thus far in 2018 illustrates how interested people are.
“We started on January 8, we had 150 or so the first night, give or take five or six here or there,” O’Hagan says.
“We have been averaging 100 after that. One side of it is the walk, just to get people going. We are building up to 'Men on the move' starting in February and 'Women on the move' in late February. It is just about getting people down to the club, to see what we have with our facilities and hopefully they will move into that.
“The other side of the Operation Transformation is we have 44 doing a weight loss type of thing. In that you weigh in the first day and every week.
“They are in a Whatsapp group with a nutritionist and two strength and conditioning people. So the Whatsapp group is to ask advice and the nutritionist will do plans for them all if they want to do diet plans.”
O’Hagan is adamant about the benefits of this simple, but wonderfully effective approach with upcoming events helping to sharpen and focus minds. “They train on their own,” O’Hagan adds.
“The third week we got their blood pressure taken, the fourth Monday we had 20 minutes of a warm up with a strength and conditioning coach, she was doing stretches and a warm-up. The strength and conditioning coach can give them a warm up if they want to use it to work off. It could be 15 or 20 minutes a night, four days a week, skipping, sit ups, things like that.
“She sends that out on the Tuesday for the rest of the week so it is up to themselves if they want to do it. That is geared towards 'Men on the move' they will slip into a programme for 12 weeks. That is outside Operation Transformation, but Operation Transformation is supposed to get them into the idea that they want to do it and they will do it.
“Then we have 'Women on the move' which starts three weeks after that on a Thursday night. The Operation Transformation will still continue for eight weeks, we finish ours on March 5 and we will do a thing called Sunday strolls. We go on a Sunday morning for a walk; we have different routes. We have a 3k, a 6k, a 7.5k, 9k, and a 10k for that.”
There is a charitable aspect to the project also. “Our GAA club is advertised as a Community Centre even though the GAA club own it or whatever, the name of it is Mungret St Paul's Community Centre, it is very community based,” O’Hagan comments.
“You don't have to be a member to come down. What we do look for is if you are doing the weigh-in you pay 10 euro once off and whoever loses the most percentage of body weight, not bodyweight, picks the charity that money goes to. Every week it is two euro into a box, some do, some don't, we don't monitor that.
“We are up at around 750 euro in four weeks for charity and we hope to hit around 1,500 euro for charity and the winner of the weight loss thing will decide what charity it goes to.”
O’Hagan acknowledges the work carried out by the local council in Limerick recently which has greatly assisted Mungret St Paul’s efforts.
“In the last number of years we are fortunate that the council has really improved our routes that side of Limerick,” O’Hagan states.
“We have a lovely lit up route which is very safe, road crossings are pedestrianised crossings, we have beautiful lighting and our parking in the GAA club is big enough to accommodate people to start. Really what we have are perfect routes for a walk. We have plenty of people coming from outside our community, from different parts of Limerick and from the satellite towns around Limerick because the route is so safe. That is what we are getting.”
Senior citizens and teenagers are amongst the group and it provides an important social outlet for many according to O’Hagan.
“We have a couple of senior people, who are on their own coming, just because they heard about it. They are meeting new people and by the following Monday they have a new friend. If they meet someone on the route they can go walk with them.
“They may not stay with them, they may move in with other groups on the route. We push the fluorescent jackets so we are very visible and people are asking 'who are all these people walking on a Monday?' We are getting a couple of new members like that.
“We have a 6k and a 10k on the third weekend in May, you can either walk or run that. We would be hoping to keep them going until then. What will happen after that during the summer we will take a break from the walking side of it we will still have various things going on in the club with fitness and training kids.
“When children's parents come to drop them to training they have a couple of different routes they can go to walk for that hour. It is what we are encouraging them to do, drop the kids and car, go for a walk, come back pick up the young lad or young girl.
“This year we might get more of that with the new community park built that has a 1k walk in it. That is our next push for the summer.” Mungret St Paul’s work continues on and off the field of play in Limerick.