ON THE COVER: KATHRYN THOMAS
... says presenter Kathryn Thomas, but for now – with her six-month-old daughter Ellie to consider – she’s only taking roles that are the right fit for her and her family
The TV presenter on getting back to work and encouraging the nation to embrace fitness.
Kathryn Thomas is a selfconfessed fitness fanatic who runs her own wellness bootcamp business, while presenting some of the biggest formats to grace Irish TV screens. Since bungee-jumping on to our screens in 1999 as co-host of youth show Rapid, she has become one of the busiest presenters in Ireland.
The award-winning broadcaster became the face of travel in Ireland with No Frontiers, hosted TV talent show The Voice, and presented weight loss competition Operation Transformation and its celebrity version. She is also a regular stand-in for Ray D’Arcy on RTE Radio One. Taking things in her stride is kind of her calling card so we shouldn’t really be surprised that she loves being a mum for the first time.
Originally from Carlow, the 39-year-old now lives in Dublin with her fiancé, restaurateur Padraig McLaughlin, and their six-month old daughter Ellie. And she says that when it comes to her new baby, it’s a case of so far, so good.
‘Things are going great,’ she says. ‘Ellie is a really good baby, we’re just so lucky, she’s eating and sleeping. I know how lucky we are because I have a couple of friends who’ve had really tough times with babies with colic or they don’t sleep. But so far she’s really chilled out and doing everything she should be.
‘We put her down at 7pm last night and she slept until 7am this morning and that’s sort of standard, she’s been doing that since she was ten weeks old. I know that there are probably mothers out there who won’t want to hear that, and I get that, but it’s the truth. I just know how lucky we are because I know without sleep that things would change completely, but so far so good. I suppose that was why I kind of went back to work a lot sooner than I thought I would. We are totally in love. It’s the kind of experience that, until you go through it, you don’t know what it’s like. I know that’s a cliché but it’s so true.’
One of the things that often bewilders first-time parents is the time vortex that accompanies them. Whatever social life or free time you may have taken for granted before the new arrival, is gone the moment the umbilical cord is cut.
‘Oh no, I know exactly what I did with my time before I had a baby,’ Kathryn says with a smile. ‘I went for lovely dinners and I went out and had cheese and wine and went to the gym and went out with my friends. Padraig said to me the other day when we were on holidays with the baby for the first time that it was “full on”. And I said that really it is just wonderful because I just spend all of my time looking at her and just being in love with her. I couldn’t think of doing anything else.
‘Before Ellie we went to the cinema and went for dinner and the dogs were our babies back then. Now, God love them, they have become second best and they hang out in the garden. Padraig always jokes that he will be next into the garden!’
It was recently announced that Kathryn would host the current series of Ireland’s Fittest Family on RTÉ One having taken over the reins from Mairéad Farrell. It is Kathryn’s first TV gig since having Ellie and she says she was ready to step back into the limelight. Kathryn will be joined by coaches Anna Geary, Davy Fitzgerald, Donncha O’Callaghan and Derval O’Rourke, who all compete against one another as they attempt to mentor their chosen families to success.
An adventurous new set – designed by the team behind stunt experiences for television shows such as The Amazing Race, American Ninja Warrior and The Biggest Loser – will provide plenty of challenges for the competing families.
‘The company called me and said that Mairéad was having her baby and that they were putting together a revamped version of the show. They were coming up with some new and bigger challenges and they wanted the show to look and feel bigger so they have brought in an American company to create bigger stunts. So they talked me though the changes and I’ve always been a fan of the show so for me it felt like the perfect fit. To bring a new angle to it and my personality to it, I was excited to take it on.’
Back in January, Kathryn revealed that, prior to her pregnancy with Ellie, she had experienced two miscarriages in the past three years. And she said it was her desire to start a family that saw her pare back her presenting roster on Irish TV.
‘When the Voice of Ireland finished up I was doing that and Operation Transformation at the same time,’ she recalls. ‘From a workload perspective it was a lot – and I was running my own business with the bootcamps. Back then, myself and Padraig had different priorities in that we wanted to start our own family, which obviously I didn’t speak about at the time. For myself I knew I ➤
“ELLIE IS A REALLY GOOD BABY, WE’RE JUST SO LUCKY, SHE’S SO CHILLED”
needed to put my priorities in order and figure out what was best for us.
‘The bootcamp alone was a full-time job, let alone with Operation Transformation and another show. For me the show has to be the right fit and Fittest Family is the right fit for me so I’m delighted to take it on. They were a very welcoming bunch and Davy, Anna, Derval and Donncha take the winning and losing so seriously. I was delighted to witness that when I got there. It really means a lot to the families but the coaches are equally as competitive and I like that. A lot of the time you can think much of the rivalry is put on for television but when you see Davy going up against Anna in a race, they are passionate about it and that makes the show.’
So what does Kathryn think of the vacant presenting job on RTÉ’s other hit series, Dancing With The Stars?
‘I took myself out of that mix when it was happening two years ago,’ she says. ‘I didn’t audition for it because for me it wasn’t the right time or the right mix. I’m happy with where I am at the moment. It is a great gig and is a huge gig for someone to get. You have to have someone who can stand on stage and deliver that.
‘Do I miss the big, shiny-floor Saturday night show? Yes, but I will get back there. I love the buzz of live TV and the adrenaline that comes with it and I’ve taken a break from it so the time in the near future could be right for me. Operation Transformation is in pre-production for next year and Fittest Families is really exciting.’
Kathryn launched her own keep-fit business, Pure Results Bootcamp, in 2015. The popular programme offers various wellness and fitness retreats and the business has proved extremely successful for the presenter. She has just launched a oneday festival of food and fitness which will take place at Leopardstown Racecourse at the end of the month. And despite her already bulging schedule, Kathryn says she is looking forward to meeting new people and hopefully helping a few people fall in love with exercise.
‘We are hosting a big one-day event on September 30,’ she says. ‘It’s called the KT Fit Fix and is sponsored by Flahavan’s. It’s all about food and fitness but also good craic. ➤
We start the day with an early morning disco and then a breakfast and we’ll have loads of different classes with everything from boxing to kettlebells and yoga.
‘It’s exciting and we have some good exhibitors on board and tickets are flying out the door for that. We have bootcamps until the end of October as well, which is great. People care about their health more now I think but you still need to go out and have your night out. I was always an advocate of that and still am. But for me, it’s about finding balance and taking the intimidation out of exercise and making it fun. So at the event we will hopefully introduce people to classes they may not have tried before and just show people that you don’t have to be fit at all to take part and maybe get inspired.’
Kathryn is on her way out to Kilruddery House, where they are filming the latest episode of Ireland’s Fittest Family, and she admits that the days are long. She could only take on the job thanks to her husband Padraig and, of course, a childminder worth her weight in gold.
‘I wouldn’t say I have loads of help because my sister lives in the States and my brother lives in the Isle of Man,’ she admits. ‘Then my mam is in Carlow so I’m not someone who has family around me at my beck and call. But I have a fantastic childminder and she has been absolutely brilliant. Ellie has also been on set with me too in voice-overs and a whole host of stuff.
‘You have to find a balance that works for you and everyone is different. I was on radio for a couple of weeks and I was only able to do that because I found a good childminder and Ellie has a ball with her. But I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without her and, of course, Padraig is very hands-on as well. It’s very much a team effort.’ TICKETS for the KT Fit Fix cost €99 and are available on pureresultsbootcamp.com
“PEOPLE CARE ABOUT THEIR HEALTH MORE BUT YOU STILL NEED YOUR NIGHT OUT”
Kathryn and her restaurateur fiancé Padraig McLaughlin. Below, their daughter Ellie
Kathryn with team leaders Donncha O’Callaghan, Derval O’Rourke, Anna Geary and Davy Fitzgerald on the set of Ireland’s Fittest Family
Credits Pictures: NAOMI GAFFEY Styling: GRACE CAHILL Make-up: DEARBHLA KEENAN @ Brown Sugar Hair: NORMA JEAN O’REILLY @ Brown Sugar, see brownsugar.ie Shot on location @ Grey Area Studio, Chapelizod, Dublin. Special thanks to the team.