At just 25 years old, Galway man Kevin Russell has already achieved so much. Success as a bodybuilder, winning his category at the Natural Body Building Federation, beating depression which began after he was bullied in school, and starting his own fitness business.
His attitude to fitness and wellbeing is infectious. His passion for his field encompasses many strands, which makes what he has to say all that more interesting.
No matter what stage you are in your fitness, healthy eating or exercise routine, Kevin Russell will soon be giving his tips to Galway Independent readers with a new fortnightly column. Readers will get to benefit from his multiple skills and experiences in fitness, healthy eating and mental health.
The Knocknacarra native believes in having a balance and setting goals. “People should look at having a balance. Incorporating small tricks into your everyday life is a way of making small changes so they eventually become habits. Starting off by going on low carb diets or trying to fit in an hour of cardio training every day is not manageable. Making changes is about making them realistic. Start off slow and you can incorporate more as you go along.”
Kevin’s interest in bodybuilding emerged during his call up to the Connacht Rugby Academy. He was playing rugby since he was eight but at 15 he got the call to join the academy. “That’s where I learnt the technique and forms of different exercises. That’s where my interest in weight training began. Slowly my interest in rugby decreased and my passion for weight training increased.”
He had been training with weights for two years until his interest in bodybuilding was piqued. It began when he wanted to find a goal to work towards in his own daily fitness routine. “Some people work fine without having a goal but I find it can make a big difference towards getting results when you have one in place.”
He discovered the Natural Body Building Federation of Ireland and his goal was to compete in their first competition, held in 2013. He came second in the first year of competing. And last year, he came first in his own category. “I gave myself a target to be ready for it. It worked as it gave my training more purpose. It completely alters your mindset towards training and exercise. Having something small in place can make a monumental difference.”
Kevin recommends putting a timescale in place. “In four weeks, I want to fit into a dress or in five weeks I want to have bigger arms. Put this in place.” But what if time is already a factor?
“Sometimes people are last minute. They only have a certain amount of time to get into a dress or whatever the goal is. While getting a quick fix to achieve a goal could work in the short term, it won’t work long term. It’s not realistic. If you set yourself up for unrealistic goals and you don’t reach them, it knocks your confidence and you question why you would bother carrying on.”
Kevin is getting ready to compete in the Natural Body Building Federation competitions again this year. He is a big believer in the natural way of doing things and his physique is testimony to that.
“I’m very excited about it. I hope I can do as well as last year.” When he arrives in Dublin, he gets settled and gets his tan done. He laughs recalling getting spray tanned but it’s all part of the competition.
Having a role model is good but he doesn’t recommend trying to replicate another person’s physique. “We all react in different ways to exercise and diet so trying to have someone else’s physique is setting yourself up for more disappointment.
“I do think incorporating weight training into your fitness, even a small bit, is highly beneficial in terms of fat loss and for giving a better shape to your body.”
Having been bullied as a teenager, Kevin discovered the benefits exercise has for mental wellbeing. “I suffered from depression as a young teen. Exercise absolutely helped me. It was a great release. I would find I would go to the gym and I could be stressed out, worked up and feeling down. I’d exercise and I’d feel a totally different person afterwards. I’m a completely different person now to back then.”
He places mental health and physical health on the same level of importance. He is also a believer in meditation. “We have to treat our mental health the same way we treat our physical health. Exercise is vital to this.”
While Kevin is passionate about body building, he finds that no matter what stage you are at, “any exercise is positive.”Kevin Russell begins a new fitness column with the Galway Independent next week. Check out Kevin Russell Fitness on Facebook.