Seamus Keane, a fitness trainer at Hanuman Health Club and co-founder of Wild Atlantic Vacations, talks to IrishCentral about the beauty of wellness retreats to the West of Ireland. 

This July IrishCentral pays tribute to the International Irish who are breaking the mold, smashing glass ceilings, and emerging as the next generation of global thinkers and leaders. 

Today, we speak to Seamus Keane, a fitness trainer at Hanuman Health Club and co-founder of Wild Atlantic Vacations, about how he made a massive transition from a career on Wall Street to running wellness retreats in the west of Ireland. 

A native of Louisburgh, County Mayo, Keane moved to New York in 2014. 

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How did you start out in your career?

I graduated from NUI Galway with a degree in Finance so when I came to New York first, I worked on Wall Street but I packed that in after twelve months and set the ball rolling to be a fitness coach by attaining certifications and training people in Central Park to get started. 

What spurred your decision to move to the US?

After finishing college, myself and three of my closest friends came to New York for adventure, to travel, have a bit of craic and gain some new experiences. 

What is your favorite career moment to date?

Helping my great friend and mentor Eoghan O Kelly to open his dream Health Club space in Manhattan, a facility to fit with his philosophy of blending traditional and non-traditional strength training with movement-based practices. 

They say nothing worthwhile comes easy and after months of toiling and hard work, it was opened in August of last year.  

What do you believe was the secret to your success?

Having a clear goal and taking consistent daily action. Ideas are a dime a dozen, everybody has them, but what separates those who get it done and those who don’t is not talent or ability, but persistent action.

We overestimate what we can do in one day but we underestimate what we get done in a month or six months or a year. 

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Seamus works as a personal fitness trainer at a gym space in Manhattan called Hanuman Health Club.

Seamus works as a personal fitness trainer at a gym space in Manhattan called Hanuman Health Club.

How did the idea for a retreat to Ireland come about? 

The gym space offers wellness retreats to the West of Ireland, which is a chance for members in New York to come to Ireland and put the natural movement learned into practice on the rugged Wild Atlantic Way. 

Who would you recommend the retreat to? Are there any restrictions? 

It's an opportunity to experience another way of life, a more relaxed existence that isn't always about going somewhere like city life is. There are no restrictions but generally, the retreats appeal to people who value a healthy lifestyle and experiences over material possessions. 

How do people react to the Irish scenery? 

Coming from New York City, a go-go place with such hustle and bustle, and being transported into a scene of such beauty, the people are awestruck. The things I took for granted growing up in Ireland (sea breeze, green fields, hilly countryside) they see as being so unique and special. 

How often do you run the retreats?

We have already run a number of successful retreats from the New York gym space in 2018 and again in 2019. We have now set up the Wild Atlantic Vacations Tour Company and aim to build on this momentum in the coming twelve months with retreats in line for Spring, Summer, and Autumn. 

What does a general day on the retreat look like? 

Attendees start their day off with an invigorating exercise session, followed by a local excursion (hikes, trail runs, boat trips) on the Wild Atlantic Way. Their evening winds down with the option of peaceful yoga or an intimate traditional music session at one of the local pubs for that real, authentic, experience that they will not get with other tour companies.  

How are you looking to expand these? 

Now we are expanding this concept through the Wild Atlantic Vacations Tour Company and are working hard on adding a Mayo base to the itinerary. Following this, the next step will be to expand our offerings to more of the West of Ireland along the Wild Atlantic Way.

We also want to open our reach to visitors from all over the world who share an interest in health and wellness so it's not limited to members from the gym space in Manhattan.

Do you consider being Irish as part of your personal brand?

Definitely. I’m very lucky to be able to get up in the morning and do something that I love doing and work alongside the best of people in New York.

And even luckier to come from the West of Ireland and be able to call Louisburgh home, the best place in the world! Anybody I meet, I tell them how great Ireland is and thankfully, I get to go home a lot so can get the best of both places. 

Who are the Irish people you admire the most, one from history and one from today?

From history, Alex Higgins. Hunter S Thompson once said, "Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming 'Wow! What a Ride!'"

Higgins definitely lived that! 

From today, my Dad has been the biggest influence without a doubt. He makes home "home" and is always at the end of the phone for a good story, a philosophic line or a Hail Mary!

What has been your worst day on the job that you’d rather forget and did you learn anything from it?

I’ll re-phrase that a little and say “most challenging” and that is anytime trying something new, something slightly out of the comfort zone. Whether that’s trying out a new exercise program, teaching to a new group of students or pitching a business idea, there’s always that fear that it can go horribly wrong.

But that’s where growth occurs too, so it’s very important that we challenge ourselves daily! 

What has been the hardest thing about living in the US as an Irish person?

To be fair things are good here for an Irish person. The Irish community is massive and really look out for each other.

The usual challenges of visas/renting a place are definitely unsettling but if life was all roses then we wouldn’t appreciate the good times as much.

Also, if there was an express service that delivered John Durkan’s freshly baked brown bread across the Atlantic then I would be golden!

How does a normal day start out for you?

Seamus takes regular trips upstate to the Catskills. Here he is putting his cold shower skills to good use!

Seamus takes regular trips upstate to the Catskills. Here he is putting his cold shower skills to good use!

A normal day begins at 5.40 am and the first thing I do is have a freezing cold shower!

Apart from the well-documented health benefits this has, it helps to wake me up, get out of my comfort zone and do something I don’t want to do so the mundane tasks of the rest of the day are a lot easier.

This is followed by a nice cup of hot coffee.

Weekends then is a time to get out of the city and go hiking upstate or to the Catskills. 

Using five words, describe what is needed by somebody starting out in your industry?

A genuine care for others.

What is your favorite Irish brand?

Kelly’s of Newport Black Pudding, magic stuff!

Once you get off the plane in Ireland, what is the first thing you look forward to doing the most?

Being greeted at arrivals by my sister Caroline, then driving to the beach and jumping into the Irish Sea ... rain, hail or shine, it’s the best cure for jetlag. 

What is your favorite place in Ireland?

Easy. The kitchen table in Louisburgh, where many a chicken was eaten and a bit of craic had!

Find out more about Wild Atlantic Vacations here. 

This July, IrishCentral pays tribute to the International Irish who are breaking the mold, smashing glass ceilings, and emerging as the next generation of global thinkers and leaders. You can follow IrishCentral’s International Irish throughout by using the hashtag #InternationalIrish or by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn. 

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Seamus with a group of American visitors on one of their retreats to Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. Seamus Keane.