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Former Lord of the Dance star launches fitness programme

By Annie Driver

Birmingham-born Megan Kerrigan, a three-time World Champion Irish Dancer and former lead dancer in Lord of the Dance has set up her own online personal training fitness programmes specifically tailored for Irish dancers, Move with Meg.

Megan’s Personalised Performance Enhancement launched last week in time for Irish dancers to complete individualised sixweek programmes in time for the World Championships at Easter.

“The dancers send over videos of a hard shoe dance and a soft shoe dance and, from a personal training perspective, I assess the weaknesses of their Irish dance and create a six-week home training programme for them to do three times a week alongside their regular dance classes to improve their performance ability.

“I know it works as I have used this approach with my local Irish dancing clients and their dancing and competitive results have improved.

“This is for ANY Irish dancer ANYWHERE in the world who is committed to giving themselves every opportunity to be the best that they can possibly be, mostly young competitors who use social media every day so I use social media to give dancers content, keep them up to date with what I am doing Irish dancing and training wise and to try to encourage dancers to make positive changes.

“Technology has made the world a smaller place and has allowed people like me to spread my passion and love for Irish dancing and fitness further afield.”

She looked back on her own career: “I began Irish dancing at the age of 7 at the Glendarragh School at the Emerald Club twice weekly. Aidan Comerford was the main schoolteacher and my mum had danced for him growing up in Small Heath. She was delighted that we could be taught by the same teacher.

“Unfortunately, the travel to Birmingham became too much for the teachers of the school and they closed their Birmingham class, passing their dancers over to the Kenny Academy that was based at the Irish Centre in Digbeth.

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Megan with Michael Flatley.

“I danced under Michael Kenny and Rose O’Brien/Kenny (originally from Galway) competitively from then until I was 18 years old.

“I won major titles including the All Irelands, The Great Britain, The British Nationals and The All Scotland Championships.

“I won the World Championships for the first time in Glasgow in 2007 when I was aged 15 and went on to win a further two world titles before retiring from competition at 18.

“I auditioned for Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance at Pineapple Studios in London, with hundreds of other excited Irish dancers from near and far, and was chosen as one of the dancers to perform alongside Michael himself on his 2010 Return of The Lord of the Dance comeback tour of the UK and Germany. I toured with Lord of the Dance and other Irish dance shows for seven years including a residency at The London Palladium with Michael’s Lord of the Dance – Dangerous Games.

“The highlight throughout all of my professional career was performing lead Bad Girl alongside Michael himself on Broadway.”

Megan says her inspiration has always been local dancers in Birmingham and Coventry: “The older girls in my class were all hard working and committed. Dancing alongside them I was always encouraged to try to be a bit more like them.

“Rebecca Purnell was four years older than me and was an amazing dancer, she came third at the World Championships and I remember looking at her on the podium thinking she was GOD.

“Ciara Sexton, in Coventry, is to this day is one of the best Irish dancers I have ever seen, and I always made sure to watch her at competitions.

“She won the World Championships on numerous occasions, and was the main Bad Girl lead when I first joined Lord of the Dance.

Megan in action with the high profile show.

“Not only was Ciara an incredible Irish dancer, and still is, she has time for everyone and went out of her way on numerous occasions throughout competition and touring life to make sure that I was okay, and we became really good friends.

“She is successful still within Irish dancing and continues to break barriers and make Irish dancing more current with her differing projects.”

After her competitive career ended Megan went to Birmingham City University and earned a degree in Criminology and Security and, during a summer break, qualified as a personal trainer, the foundation for her Move with Meg programme.

“I hung up my touring shoes a couple of years ago to stay close to home after being away for seven years on tour and fulfil a dream and get that degree.

“After years of daily physical activity, my body did not like slowing down and so I began working hard in the gym as much as possible and realised that this was another passion of mine. During my first summer off university, I became a Personal Trainer on an intensive six-week course and began working at a local private gym in Dickens Heath.

“I am now working at Tri Wellness, a Health and Wellness facility in Earlswood whose main focus is the benefits of physical activity for mental health.

“Everything I learnt I linked to how it could help Irish dance performance, and this is how Move with Meg was born, personal training for Irish dance.

“I work with local dancers that come to train with me at the clinic and travel to lots of different schools around the UK and Ireland. I have even worked on fitness training in America.

“In the run up to the Irish Dancing World Championships, and throughout the summer, I run fitness camps for the dancers from the Midlands in a studio in Digbeth, not too far from the Irish Centre where I danced for so many years.

“As a community, we are working hard to get people to see Irish dancing as a sport.

“Competitive and professional Irish dancers are athletes, training 5-6 days a week to achieve their goals and to be the best that they can be.

“Understandably, many people do not care for the make-up and the tan and the wigs and the bling and the dresses and all that comes with competitive Irish dance, and personally I don’t like that side of it too much either.

“I wish that when I was competing, I’d had the opportunity to work with a strength and conditioning coach that understood my body and what I need to get from it for dancing.

“We had the option to work with trainers, but they did not understand us and our sport, making it difficult to get the most out of the sessions.”

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