Aisling Quinn, daughter of Republic of Ireland soccer legend Niall, told David Hennessy about her new online platform for health and wellness that is proving extremely popular with GAA teams and individuals.
Her father is well known to Irish soccer fans but Niall Quinn’s daughter Aisling has launched Sweat25, an interactive online fitness platform which aims to deliver live, affordable training to and from self-isolation. Aisling, who is qualified in yoga, has been ‘taken aback’ to find that the platform is helping people stay mentally well as well as physically, aided by the connection from taking part in online sessions.
Although it started with Aisling looking to simply get one of her friends back into work, the idea snowballed and although establishing it was very much a reaction to the Covid-19 lockdown, the initiative looks like it could live on past the pandemic.
Aisling told The Irish World: “A friend of mine was out of work, a certified athletic therapist called Conor Murphy, when all the matches were cancelled.
“I have a digital marketing background. I work in two tech start up companies so I’m used to that online world. I kinda knew the tools that were required to put the website together quickly so it was just a bit of an ‘aha’ moment to help him.
“We had this idea and really it started off that I was just setting him up with a website. There was no Sweat25, that’s all it was. Then as I was building the site, it became clear that people like me who are used to playing Gaelic football, used to going to the gym, being active, needed something so we decided to see if we could get some more people and have more instructors and more fitness professionals who were also out of work.”
Aisling plays Gaelic football with Eadestown in Kildare and the platform has attracted a couple of county teams already.
“I play football with a girl who has a physiotherapy clinic that had to close. She came on board and it just grew from there. Together we’ve made it bigger than if they had probably all done it individually. It’s working really well.
“We’ve had the Kildare ladies footballers, the Leitrim ladies as well, my club are training on it every week. It’s been a really good way to keep teams together and trainging together during this period. ”
And Aisling has found allowing people to stay fit and connected has had a positive mental health impact.
“I put out an email last week looking for reviews, to see how we’re doing. It was overwhelmingly positive on the mental wellness side of it which I suppose I was a bit- I wouldn’t say surprised but I was really taken aback by how much it is helping.
“You’re coming together as a little community, you see the same people at class. You say, ‘Hello, how are you getting on?’ There’s a sense we’re all in this together.”
The classes are 25 minutes long and you get the opportunity to work out with your preferred choice of exercise and instructor. They also include beginner classes, over 65s classes.
“I love doing my runs, doing my fitness thing but say you’re making dinner or you’re looking after the kids at home, you can think, ‘Twenty five minutes, I can do that’. Whereas if it was an hour, you would be going, ‘Oh god, I’m not sure, I’ll do it the next day’.
“Twenty five minutes goes very quickly and you have your workout done and you feel great after it.
“It’s not too long. You can commit yourself to that length of time. We have a wellness side to the classes as well so it’s not all just heavy lifts. There is a more holistic option for people as well.
“Some people want to get a sweat on but it can be intimidating if you sign up people are doing jump squats and jumping lunges and all sorts and you’re sort of not ready for that. We have nearly 60 classes a week now. There is definitely something for everyone of every fitness level.”
Could Sweat25 last beyond the virus? “I’ve been asked that and I’m seeing it on feedback forms, ‘I hope you continue with this’. I think because it’s set up now, people know about it which is great. If people stil want it, it could kind of run itself.
“I guess it depends. If the demand is still there, why not? it’s been a lovely thing to do. At the same time I don’t want to be looking too far ahead because I know a lot of people are going through a really tough time at the moment. Right now we’re helping some people, people are loving it, it’s been realy rewarding and if it goes beyond the pandemic, that’s great. But if it doesn’t, we’ve achieved what we set out to achieve.”
Her father Niall played for Arsenal, Manchester City and Sunderland as well as for the Republic of Ireland in both the 1990 and 2002 World Cups.
And Niall has been using the platform himself: “He’s doing a lot of the prehab classes. We all have. I’ve had everybody dragged into it. My family could have fallen off the bandwagon if I wasn’t on top of them all the time. They’ve no choice but they will be very fit.”
Now interim deputy chief executive officer of the FAI Niall Quinn was at Man City when Aisling was born.
“I lived in England until 2003. I was born in Manchester, grew up in Durham. When Dad retired, I moved home and I’ve lived in Co. Kildare ever since. Football has been my sport my whole life since moving back to Ireland, I was no good at soccer.”
Niall Quinn scored a famous equaliser against the Dutch in 1990 and flicked the ball on for Robbie Keane’s famous leveller against the Germans in 2002. However, he hurled with Dublin minors long before either of those famous moments of Irish sporting history.
“We are (a GAA family). I think GAA was Dad’s first love and it was the first place dad took us when we first arrived. He was really interested in getting us involved with the GAA straight away. It’s stood to us. I’ve lifelong friends from there for 17 years now. There’s no getting away from the club. Once you’re in, that’s it. I wouldn’t change it. I’ve moved around. I’ve lived up in Dublin but you always come back to your club.
“Obviously coming from England, I had an English accent so being able to be invovled in that community at that time was amazing.”
“They beat it (her English accent) out of me pretty quickly when I got back here,” she laughs.
“I was nine when he retired. It was part of every weekend, going to matches. Soccer has been a big part of our lives. Sport has in general.”
Aisling says she gets her work ethic and can do attitude from her old man. Aisling has a law degree and has worked with her dad on the tech companies MyShoppa and RankMyVideo.
“Dad and I work together. After I finished college, I went in just to help him in the office with the tech start up he had and I never left. That was three years ago. We’ve worked very closely together since I left college.
“He’s such a brilliant support to me learning the ropes. He has alot of experience and expertise in business.
“I’ve really enjoyed working with him for the last three years, don’t tell him that but I have!”
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