South Roscommon farmers move on up the fitness charts

The ‘Fit Farmers’ programme in south Roscommon has proved such a big hit that part two of the fitness initiative will be embarked on for six weeks directly after the current offering.

Laura Tully who organised the course and who is institute nurse and health centre co-ordinator at Athlone Institute of Technology, will host a grand finale to celebrate the farmers’ success in the local hall at Moore on February 22.

The farmers are hugely benefiting from their new fitness regime, according to Laura who has planned and delivered community health and well-being programmes in the area for the past three years on a voluntary basis.


“While weight loss isn’t the primary goal of all participants, the losses so far have been astounding,” said Laura.

As well as achieving both weight and measurement losses, the farmers have dramatically improved their fitness and flexibility levels. Heart health is boosted; diabetes and cancer risks are lower; sleep quality has improved; and the endorphins are high which means moods are boosted and people are happier.

The fit farmers programme was introduced in south Roscommon in early January. The programme specifically designed for farmers is the first of its kind in the country, delivered by Dr. Diane Cooper who is a clinical exercise physiologist with a PhD in health and weight loss, and John Bolton, fitness instructor.

Together Diane and John run ‘True Fitness’ which specialises in functional training; weight loss; fitness testing; and sporting performance. “John and Diane’s extensive experience, attention to detail and science-based approach to training means the farmers are in the most capable and expert hands available,” Laura said.

The purpose of the programme is to improve health, fitness and wellness and combat the impact that ageing has on the body and health as much as possible. The unique part of the course is the health workshops where farmers are taught in very simple and practical terms everything needed to know to achieve long-term health and wellness.

As part of the programme, the farmers undertake exercise and stretching training sessions; nutrition talks; and a variety of health education workshops that are completely specific to their role.

Farmers also receive weekly meal plans and advice; home-based exercise sessions; personalised assessments; exercise advice for injuries and clinical conditions they might have; and plenty of support and motivation from the team.

Daily motivational messages

Laura is in constant contact with the farmers via a WhatsApp group. Daily motivational messages inspire the farmers to continue to strive towards their goals and they are invited to go walking twice a week at the local GAA club. Some of the farmers have even begun to attend a local Pilates class weekly.

“Some of the comments from our farmers are remarkable given that it is only week five of the programme,” Laura said. “They are telling me how much they enjoyed the course. They won’t mind me sharing some of their recent messages.”


“I love the course. Working at home, farming is very solitary and I am out of practice at making conversation. I am pleased that my fitness will improve with this course and feel my confidence is boosting every week.”

“This is a new lease of life for me.”

“I have never been happier in my life; no-one can understand unless they can experience the feeling.”

“I am learning a lot about nutrition. I am realising that simple swaps can make a big difference. This was the push we needed.”

This is a great opportunity on our doorstep; I wouldn’t have time to go to a gym or travel to a town for these sessions. The whole family are on board which makes it easier.

“I lost 3kg in my first week just by understanding my food more and making better choices. I am out walking with Laura and building up my distance and speed as the weeks go on. Diane is very easy to listen to and delivers the education at a practical level which makes sense.”