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Operation transform-nation

Operation transform-nation

Kathryn Thomas has been a near-constant presence on Irish screens of late, but a lengthy summer break is nearing.

However, far from packing her rucksack and taking off on an extreme holiday, as is her usual habit, Kathryn is kick-starting a brand new business venture instead.

Pure Results is a new three-week diet and training experience, designed by a battery of life coaches, trainers, nutritionists and Kathryn herself.

The programme includes a week of bootcamp-style workouts on the West Cork island of Inish Beg. Each participant’s timetable is tailored to suit their age, fitness levels and goals, but is designed to push people to their limits.

The idea came from Kathryn’s own experiences in bootcamps across the U.S. and Europe. At a Spanish bootcamp last year, she lost 10lbs in one week. 

“There was a real mix of women in Spain, who were there for all sorts of reasons,” explains Kathryn.

“Some wanted a kick-start and others were complete fitness freaks. One woman owned a bank in New York and this is how she liked to relax.

“Other women were convinced they couldn’t run or couldn’t work out and they ended up with a phenomenal amount of self-belief after seven days. It was staggering to watch.

“I loved the way I felt after escaping for a week, and staying away from wine and nights out. It’s something I’m passionate about, so when TV land goes quiet in the summer, I thought I might put the downtime to good use.”

And make no mistake, Kathryn will be taking no prisoners during her time in the West Cork idyll!

“Basically, it’s a summer camp for adults where you’ll get your ass kicked,” she smiles. 

“There’s about eight to 10 hours of exercise a day, including three to four hours of intense classes like boxing, circuits, cardio, TRX or aerobics. On the food front, it will be very similar to the detox programme in Spain, which means no wheat, no dairy, no sugar, no alcohol, no caffeine… no craic!”

Actually, Kathryn has taken the ‘craic factor’ into consideration, meaning that it won’t be a week of pure torture for guests.

“What I thought lacked in some of the bootcamp models in the U.S. was a bit of fun, so we’ll be doing a bit of team building and group games,” explains Kathryn. 

“It all sounds a bit ‘kumbayah’ but it’s about breaking the ice, really.” 

Despite a hectic schedule presenting both The Voice Of Ireland and Operation Transformation, developing the business has been a labour of love for the Carlow beauty. 

“The intricacies of setting up a business, from talking to bank managers and finding out about overheads and branding, creating a website… it’s been a massive learning curve. I take my hat off to any woman who has set up a business.”

That said, Kathryn (36), sure knows a thing or two about running a successful business: her media company Aquarius Productions posted profits of €184,000 last year.

Still, TV is a fickle and unpredictable business, so is Pure Results a backup plan in that regard?

“TV is my first priority, 100 per cent. It’s just that instead of going shark diving or travelling, I thought I’d try to be part of something to make people feel better. I’m definitely the kind of person who likes the idea of challenging yourself to do different things.”

In her own life, this unending thirst for challenges has seen Kathryn climb mountains, run marathons and take part in triathlons and Iron Man competitions. But it hasn’t necessarily always been this way.

“When I was in secondary school I wasn’t doing a whole lot of exercise, and I was a bit pudgy,” she confesses.

“I realised I needed to stop eating crap and started playing football and hockey, and I loved it. I took up running at 15 but like most people I stopped working out for an entire year in college while I was sat in the student bar.”

Although her love of fitness kicked back in soon after, Kathryn admits that she is “prone to putting on weight”. And when she started presenting at the age of 19, firstly fronting sports programmes before landing No Frontiers, getting fit for the sake of the cameras was never a real priority. 

“When I look back I didn’t give a s*** how I looked,” she says.

“I was just so happy and privileged to be travelling as part of my work. 

“It’s only four or five years down the line that you catch a picture of yourself in an ill-fitting flowery dress and you think, ‘oh’. But I’m more confident in my body than I was six or seven years ago. It’s like, ‘this is it, I have to work at it’.”

And work at it she does: with the help of her personal trainer Siobhan Byrne at BodyByrne, Kathryn does gruelling weights and cardio sessions several times a week. 

Job done on the circuit training, she also runs with her dogs, Peter and Poppy, and boyfriend Padraig McLoughlin twice a week.

“I’m quite athletic, but I’m a classic pear shape, so problem areas are my arse, hips and thighs… it’s the affliction of all women in the Thomas family.” 

Amid fine-tuning her new venture, Kathryn hasn’t ruled out another major fitness challenge for this year, either.

“I love the adrenalin of a race day,” she smiles. “I think that sort of challenge and adventure is something that everyone should experience at one point in their life.

“Whether it’s setting up a business or running a marathon, or buying a house or having kids, anything that pushes you out of your comfort zone is a good thing.”

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Tanya Sweeney