The reality of raising six kids and running a business: ‘We all had to pull together'

‘Set up a plan for yourself, set alarm 10 minutes earlier.’ Cathy Soraghan of ‘Women on the run’ makes it sound so easy. But the newly crowned Personal Trainer of the Year (at the Nutramino Health and Fitness awards 2019) hasn’t had it easy.

Along her own road to success, she developed a heart condition while raising six kids and experiencing a painful leg injury at the same time as going through a difficult breakup.

But she remains resolutely optimistic. We sat down with her to discuss how she managed to juggle it all and come out on top.

“I’ve always been passionate about wellness. It was instilled in me at a young age. I was really into GAA and I loved the outdoors. I got a health scare in my 20s and I knew that even with this passion, I needed to make sure I remained fit and healthy.

I started incorporating everyday exercises. I saw an opportunity. I was a teacher and I loved the idea of teaching others how to get well. I’m a big believer in preventative medicine. I like the idea of helping people before they get sick”


Life with six kids wasn’t easy.


Image: Cathy Soraghan


Cathy started her training and worked off-campus at Westwood fitness club. She said the initial set up was tough going. “My son was five and my daughter was just three and they would ask me, 'Mummy, what are we doing today?' I also became a mum to four other children – the youngest was two and a half around that time. People thought I couldn’t juggle it all but I managed.

There was a creche on-site and a Montessori too so I’d dash up and down to check on them while I worked with my clients. I could relate to those mums who didn’t feel they had the time to work on their fitness. I feel very strongly that if you make it easier for them, they will come and enjoy the facilities.

Related: Working Mums: Give up the guilt and enjoy the time you have with your kids!


Life with six kids wasn’t easy. We had a motto in our house ‘First one up gets the matching socks’ I said to them, right guys, I need your help. I can’t go out at 5.20am to clients and come home and drive you all everywhere without your help. I think it taught them good skills for life.

I told them, if you help me, we will have time to do the fun things like camping and hiking. We all had to pull together".

Cathy went on to set up Women on the Run (because with six children to raise, she was always on the run) her innovative fitness studio in Co Dublin – to help busy individuals manage their diet and fitness training plans.

She now works with well-known names such as Daniel Day-Lewis, Pierce Brosnan’s business partner Beau St.Clair, Lisa Stansfield, and has trained over 30,000 clients over the past three decades.


Earlier this year, Cathy was named Personal Trainer of the Year at the Nutramino Health and Fitness awards which recognises outstanding contributions and innovation from Ireland’s top health and fitness professionals.


“I couldn’t believe it when I won the Nutramino competition. I felt I was too old, too shy. One of the judges said to me that he could tell I didn’t expect to win. He told me that I’d won because I’d demonstrated that I really cared about my clients and their success. It is a dogged determination. Now the market is drowning in Personal Trainers so anyone thinking of doing it should focus on the science behind food and how your body works. I think this is still a great untapped area.

There are dangerous messages out there like how they can have a bikini body in four weeks. It is dangerous and the disappointment when they fail makes them feel even worse. You are never going to outrun a bad diet. But with the right education how you can clean it up, you can start seeing it.

Stress is another area that interests me a lot when it comes to staying healthy. This is something I try to instil in my kids. Parents need to reduce stress levels. They never seem to rest for long enough. Share the load – don’t take on everything yourself.

I remember as a young mother although I was rushing and racing, when I spent time with the children, playing and being part of their world, I found myself slowing down. We need to tap back into that and stop checking our phone every three minutes.

As for my top tips for fitness, I’d say set aside a plan. If you can’t leave to go to a class or the gym, use furniture in the kitchen, go up the stairs and down. Work against your own body weight.

Do a pilates class on Youtube. I even do a lot of virtual PT work to show clients some moves they can do at home or even in the car in traffic. We are all so busy these days. We have to slow down and ask ourselves what is really the most important thing; Health and family. Let’s try to remember that".

Feature Image: Unsplash


Read more: Raising kids: 10 things you didn't think you'd ever Google

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