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Moving up a Gear-y Ireland's Fittest Family coach Anna Geary says show is positive influence for girls

Ireland's Fittest Family coach urges people to 'be confident, be positive and be healthy'

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Anna Geary

Anna Geary

Anna Geary

Ireland's Fittest Family coach Anna Geary believes that the entertainment show is doing so much more than offering isolated viewers an hour of entertainment every Sunday night.

The 33-year-old Cork woman believes it is the ideal show for families to get stuck into and for little girls at home watching to see strong powerful females competing with the men.

"The teenage girls and the mums are always the surprise packages on this show and I love that…but we need to acknowledge that women can do just as well as men.

"I'd love to get to the stage where you are talking about their achievements without using the words 'for a girl' at the end of the sentence. It doesn't happen a lot but with Ireland's Fittest Family it certainly does.

"Twitter lit up in the first Sundays of the year as the girls and the mums were the stars of the show. They were part of families that were beating other families that had grown men as the kids.

"On paper you look at them and you think 'they are going to win' but the beauty of this show is it isn't about having big muscles and lean physiques.

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Anna Geary on Ireland’s Fittest Family

Anna Geary on Ireland’s Fittest Family

Anna Geary on Ireland’s Fittest Family

"Sometimes the 60-year-old dad can last longer on events than the well-built sons. It's fascinating how the results have panned out overall but there is definitely huge sea change in attitudes towards women in shows like this.

"And because it is on at 6.30pm on a Sunday night you have young girls at home watching thinking they can be great too.

"It was never my intention when I got into Ireland's Fittest Family but I do think we have broken down some stereotypes and it is a brilliant thing.

Speaking of muscles and lean physiques, Anna has long been a role model for women all over Ireland thanks to her years as a Cork camogie star, a finalist in Dancing with the Stars and, more recently, a huge hit on Instagram.

"I'm not sure 'body positivity' is the right message because it can be misconstrued. It should be about 'body acceptance'. Being thin doesn't mean fit. That's a fact.

"It annoys me so much when people mix those too up. And you don't have to be thin to be happy either. That's another misconception.

"I'll never be 5ft 11in and thin. I can be muscular and strong and I'm stuck at 5ft 5in for ever," she laughs. "Love yourself but be healthy. If you are a size 6 or a 22 just make sure you are happy.

"Be confident. Be positive. And be healthy.

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Anna Geary shows off her toned physique.

Anna Geary shows off her toned physique.

Anna Geary shows off her toned physique.

"I was at my skinniest ahead of the wedding and at the end of Dancing with the Stars. But years of playing wing back for Cork has given me a muscular frame. I know that and I am happy with that.

"I have times when I'm not happy about the way I look and some parts of my body but it is important to not get stuck. Fix it.

"The same goes for lads too by the way. Have you seen the GAA jerseys these days? They don't offer much leeway for anything other than thin and muscular physiques.

"When I started out you would be wearing a jersey that if you ticked it out of your skirt it would be below your knees. And the sleeves were long and baggy. But now they are unforgiving and it adds to the pressure to look good.

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Anna Geary on Dancing With The Stars

Anna Geary on Dancing With The Stars

Anna Geary on Dancing With The Stars

"I think the pandemic has given us all a chance to re-evaluate ourselves and our priorities. I talk about this on my Instagram all the time and it's incredible the amount of messages I get; from women of all ages and sizes worried about little things about themselves. Be healthy and happy no matter what you look like."

Anyone watching last week's dramatic instalment of IFF will know that Anna was anything but happy when The Doyles slipped out of the competition. "I still don't want to talk about it," she agonized.

"They were so close but the other team pipped them.

"I only have team left in the competition so I will be going all out to get them into the semi finals.

Competitive

"Derval is lovely. We get on great. But she is super competitive and she has all her families still in the competition. So it's getting a bit ridiculous," she giggles.

"Davy got his last family through and myself and Donncha are on this Sunday with our last rolls of the dice."

Recorded last year in between lockdowns Anna knows the result but is determined to keep tonight's winners and losers a secret.

"All I will say is that if you thought last week's episode was insane you ain't seen nothing yet.

"I watch it every week and even though I know how it ends I still find myself behind the couch watching it or pacing in and out of the room.

"My husband has to keep telling me to relax and sit down.

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Anna on her wedding day

Anna on her wedding day

Anna on her wedding day

"This year was slightly different in that we couldn't get up close and personal to the families for obvious reasons and you were conscious of spending a lot of time with them so you have to make the most of the training sessions and the pep talks.

"I needed to know if I had to be shouting encouragement or remaining calm.

"Davy is the shouter but there were times on Bog Bath for example when I knew I just needed to keep my mouth shut to support my team.

"In all honesty if I was on the show competing I would need a Davy way more than an Anna. I definitely would not operate at 100 per cent without someone shouting at me," she laughed.

Don't miss all the action from tonight's second quarter-final of Ireland's Fittest Family on RTÉ One at 6.30pm.

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