Next up in our ‘Friends of The Happy Pear’ interview series is Dan Sweeney, owner of Dan Sweeney Health and Fitness gym (Co. Cork), and just an all-round cool dude.

In January of this year, Dan and his team set about revolutionising the fitness industry in Ireland, by creating a gym that was not about having the perfect pecs, but instead about having fun in a relaxed and friendly environment.   Following its initial success, Dan then expanded the gym in April, to include an on-site café, The Pallet Café, which offers healthy food and delicious coffee every day. The guys have also recently launched a mobile coffee dock, so keep your eyes peeled for tasty treats in a location near you!   We love Dan’s lighthearted attitude to life and we were super thrilled to visit him and the gang at their gym recently. We asked Dan all about his healthy lifestyle, his favourite foods and what health means to him.

So, Dan, tell us about your morning routine?

The morning is my favourite part of the day. My morning routine is pretty consistent. I wake at 4am and head to work out at 4.45am, before starting work at 6am. I grab a big bowl of pimped-up porridge from our café, here in the gym, which warms the belly and sets me up for the day. I then get right to opening the laptop, answering emails and planning our social media.

What is your favourite meal of the day?

Always breakfast! As soon as the workout is done, I’m running right to that big bowl of porridge. Made with almond milk, I usually top it with peanut butter, blueberries, strawberries, our own granola and superfood jam. Pop a soya latte next to it and the morning is rolling.

What is your daily exercise routine?

I workout for 45-60 minutes everyday at 4.45am. I would usually have a number of cool dudes joining me each morning and would leave it up to them as to what type of workout they would like to do. This could consist of weights, bodyweight exercise, HIIT or a mix of everything.

What is your advice for staying motivated when it comes to exercising and keeping fit?

Take one day at a time and have fun! I think too many people chase that perfect body and want it right away. By focusing on making small changes part of your daily routine, you are more inclined to stick to it and enjoy it. Making exercise fun or enjoyable is our number one goal in the gym and I feel it is what has got our clients coming back for more.

If you had to recommend one exercise to people, what would it be?

I am going to have to bring some of my last answer into this! The one exercise I would recommend is one that you enjoy. I could sit here and recommend lots of different things but if you do not enjoy it, you will not do it. The best exercise for you is the one you will continue to do, even on days that you do not want to!

Do you get the chance to cook much and what is your favourite meal to cook?

Being honest (because my wife will read this!), I don’t cook as much as I would like to! Since expanding the gym in January and recently having a new baby boy, Freddie, spare time is few and far between. It is something I spent a lot of time doing in the past and I miss it. When I cooked a lot, my favourite thing to make was Butternut Squash and Chickpea Curry. Major brownie points after that one!

How do you take care of your mental health?

I think the people I have around me in my life keep me healthy. I have an amazing family and work team that give me so much love, joy and happiness, that it quickly takes away any stresses I may feel from time to time. I feel we all have those people that we instantly benefit from as soon as we enter the same room. Those people are like gold dust.  

How much sleep do you get?

This is a tricky one! When asked that question by a client, I would always recommend getting seven to eight hours per night. However, I personally get around five hours per night; waking at 4am, having gone to bed at 10.30/11pm. I believe that each of us has a different sleep requirement and can adjust accordingly. I would feel like I missed the entire morning if I slept until 8am!

Is eating healthily important to you?

Of course, but I won’t allow it to restrict me. I have always looked after my nutrition and made an effort to keep on track. In the beginning, I was extremely strict, which resulted in me missing out on family events. However, I have totally changed my mindframe these past two to three years. I feel everyone would see the benefits of improving their nutrition if they just gave it a go. I see and feel the benefits every day.

What are your top three health and fitness tips?

Health is a word with such a broad meaning. When we hear “health and fitness” we automatically think of a gym. I like to think of it differently. My top three tips are:

  1. Laugh each and every single day. This will release all the worries you may have and fill your soul with joy.
  2. Exercise and eat clever each and every single day. This will keep you young, both on the inside and outside!
  3. Love each and every single day. Give love to those close to you and to those who may not expect it. Leave something behind that you can be proud of.

Now for our quick fire round of questions! Where we grill our guests on a variety of topics to get to know them a little more!..

Our Happy Pear Happy Hummus or Sweet Beet Hummus?

This is an easy one for me. Sweet Beet Hummus! On some delicious bread, topped with avocado!

Who is your biggest inspiration?

My parents. I try to make them proud everyday!

What is your coffee order?

Ooh depending on the day… Americano or Soya Latte.

If you were a fruit or vegetable what would you be?

An aubergine!

Our Happy Pear Country Veg soup or Tomato Red Pepper and Basil Soup?

Tomato Red Pepper and Basil Soup for me!

Do you have a nickname?

No, not really. Some of my friends call me Sween! My wife has a few names for me alright, which I think I share with a lot of other married men!

What is the one thing you can’t live without?

Laughter. I would explode!

Where is your favourite place on earth?

Home. Other than home? New York!

What is your greatest fear?

Existing, rather than living life.

Our Happy Pear Tiffin Bar, Raw Energy Bar or Chia Mulberry Bar?

Chia Mulberry Bar mmmm.

What are you working on right now to better yourself?

My patience!

What are some words of wisdom that you follow?

At 80 years of age, sitting in your rocking chair, what will you wish you had done?
Thanks so much for taking the time to have a chat with us Dan! If you would like to keep up with what Dan and the guys are up to, then make sure to check out their Instagram pages @dansweeneyhf and @thepallet_cafe. The guys also vlog their often hilarious antics for their YouTube channel, Dan Sweeney Health and Fitness, so head over there for some more feel-good fun!   For more information on the classes available at Dan’s gym, check out dansweeneyhealthandfitness.ie