Hello I’m Grainne McGarvey and welcome to my column which spots local hidden gems from the world of beauty, health, fashion, tourism and hospitality. I will have my ear to the ground (quite literally) to keep you up to date about the new or interesting products and services from our neck of the woods. If you know one – get in touch on twitter @grainnemcgarvey or at www.pulseprni.com
G Spots! A Busy Mum That Packs a Punch
Now we’ve reached the last week of January, how many of you have noticed a reduction in the numbers at your gym? The New Year is often viewed as an opportunity to get fit, but it’s often hard to keep the momentum going into February. Once the novelty wears off, so does the memory of Christmas calories you wanted to burn off.
One local woman is an inspiration for gym faders everywhere, as she has used her passion for a unique sport as an opportunity to get fit…and see the world when doing it.
Una Quinn is a busy mum from South Armagh, now living in Belfast and she began training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (bjj) in 2011. Back then she was the only female in her club Team Torres, which has teams in Newry, Belfast and Derry.
Since then the sport has grown and there are now three other women training with her regularly.
If you aren’t too familiar with bjj, in simple terms it’s grappling on the ground – a little like judo or submission wrestling. Una likes to think of jiu-jitsu as a test of intellect over strength, who can pick which move quicker? When you’re evenly matched, the quickest thinker will win.
Don’t be fooled that it is simply mind over matter, as the reality is you have to be a well honed athlete and Una puts in the groundwork to make sure she is match ready. She trains four or five sessions of bjj a week and also around two strength sessions.
It is fair to say that the reputation of fighters can often be off-putting, but Una says it’s not an accurate representation of the sport – bjj creates stable, disciplined thinkers. You are taught to respect your teammates, your club and for yourself.
She gets to travel to England or across Europe to fight other women who are the same weight and belt as her. She’s just back from a fight in Portugal and at the end of last year spent several weeks training in Brazil.
Having a full time job, a husband and a two year old does make things challenging for this plucky mum, but she argues that when you want something badly enough you make it work. “I prioritise”, she said and “I focus on training, work and family – I just don’t get time to do other things like watching TV or nights out, but I don’t feel like I am missing out.”
I can vouch for that, as I’ve known Una for 15 years and she lives life to the full. She is not only a great advocate for her sport, but also is a great support to me – often jokingly threatening to ‘beat up’ men that weren’t too nice to me over the years. Sometimes we go training in the gym, and under all that fighting gear is a hint of fake tan and perfectly manicured nails – well, she is my best friend after all!