[#Pep-partner spotlight series] meet jonny holland

At PepTalk we are privileged to work with a group of experts that align with the values and philosophies of PepTalk and our programs. These experts are our Pep Partners and are a vital part of both our on-line and on-site programs.

As part of our Spotlight series, I meet up with our partners to learn a bit more about them, their area of expertise and what's current in their area of wellbeing.

Second under the spotlight is Jonny Holland. Jonny is a former professional rugby player with Munster. Having had to retire at 25, due to a hamstring injury, he completed his post graduate diploma in Applied Sports & Exercise Nutrition and set-up his own business specialising in nutritional and physical fitness coaching and education.

So Jonny, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a former professional rugby player with Munster rugby, turned performance nutritionist. I retired from rugby due to a career ending hamstring injury 3 years ago. I played with Munster from underage through the academy and a college degree and eventually signed a senior contract. A few months before my unexpected retirement I had started a post grad in Sports and Exercise Nutrition so I went head first into that when I retired.

I had to navigate the working world for a year before I became self-employed and have been self-employed for the last two years. I’m still coaching rugby with the Cork Con senior team where I was playing while involved with Munster. I’m working with Cork senior hurlers and footballers as their performance nutritionist but I also work with individuals that want to develop better habits and structure around their everyday life to lose weight, build strength and muscle mass or become healthier with better energy. I do nutritional and motivational talks in a corporate setting and also with clubs, schools, colleges and other organisations.

I also do some media work. I’ve been writing with RTE for close to a year now and have been involved with TG4 for some Pro14 games.

I was always into my nutrition and questioning what we should be doing as athletes. I was an out half and not the biggest player so I had to work on my size and strength quite a bit which nutrition is a big part of. I always thought I’d like to work with something nutrition based if/when rugby wasn’t an option and have forged a business from it so it’s a win-win.

I have a busy lifestyle so I would rely on family (I’m a triplet so we’d all be quite close) and my girlfriend from time to time. Most of the time I just need their patience because of my lack of availability!

Guinness PRO12, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 2/4/2016 Leinster vs Munster Munster’s Jonny Holland Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

What would you say has been the biggest challenge in your career?

Probably retiring and not knowing what was going to come next. I didn’t want to have to give up the game when things were finally starting to go right for me so it was definitely a challenge. There was a lot of unknown and I never thought I would be self-employed so it’s led me down a funny path but I think I dealt with it as well as I could and I’m all the better for it now.

Setting up your own business is challenging. Nobody really coaches you through it, not for me anyway. I probably like to find my own path too so I did less talking about it and just went in different directions and learned on the go. I did a Commerce degree but it doesn’t set you up for being self-employed. It definitely takes a bit of getting used to but I enjoy the challenge and I’ve definitely found my rhythm with it.

Something that I’ve had to learn is that people don’t take their nutrition or exercise as seriously as professional athletes, and that’s perfectly fine. Learning to have more compassion and get out into the working world has helped me a lot.

Jonny in action at a PepTalk Client Workshop

Working with elite sporting organisations and corporate organisations now, where do you see the role of wellbeing in the world of work going?

Wellbeing can’t be understated. Most companies and sporting organisations are learning more and more about health and wellbeing, some are moving faster than others. From a sporting point of view, nutrition is something that’s still becoming a full-time role, depending on what level you’re talking about and which sport. It is still certainly ahead of the mental side of the game which is the side of sport that is growing rapidly and there’s more importance being placed on the person, in theory anyway. The players welfare organisations are doing more for the players now so it’s definitely heading in the right direction.

In terms of the corporate world, there are a few leaders that know that employees who can use an on-site gym or gym partner, have healthy options in vending machines and canteens and are generally happier going into work will stay with the company for longer and be more productive in their day to day. I’ve seen first-hand that by looking after the employees’ health and wellbeing there is a better atmosphere and overall environment for the employee. For the company it definitely boosts company performance and contributes to cost savings in the training new recruits.

I’d love to see companies with onsite nutritionists, mental health support, proper eating facilities and an area to exercise. It might be easier for the larger multinationals and I understand that you won’t be able to afford this in every company but there are ways around it with wellbeing partners and at least having connections that they can use to improve the working experience for everyone.

At PepTalk HQ, we love a good recommendation - is there anything that you are reading or listening to at the moment that you would recommend?

  • It’s not a current one but Matthew Walker’s book ‘Why We Sleep’ is an eye opener for health, productivity, mental wellbeing and so on. You can check him out <here>

  • The Tim Ferris Show is an excellent podcast where Tim interviews the leaders in all different fields. I recently listened to Lebron James speaking about sleep and recovery but the two latest ones were actually about psychedelics. These experts could be academic, actors, sportspeople, entrepreneurs. It’s really good. Listen to Tims podcast series <here>

  • In terms of nutrition I listen to Danny Lennon on his Sigma Nutrition podcast. You can check out the podcast series <here>

What would you say are the most common misconceptions about your world [nutrition world]?

It’s ‘on or off’. It would frustrate me when people separate their habits between when they are ‘on’ or ‘off’. It isn’t so much a light switch that turns on or off. It’s more like a dimmer switch that you can dial up or down depending on your priorities. Some weeks you will have more free time and can prioritise exercise or cooking. Other weeks you might be under more pressure and have to grab food on the go so it won’t be perfect. In saying that there are so many healthy options while you’re on the go now that a healthy balance can still be achieved.

What’s your one wellbeing tip for busy professionals?

Consistency is much more important than the perfect plan. Organisation ahead of time will help to keep you exercising and eating well but have a contingency plan for when that goes out the window. Have some go to shops or restaurants where you can still get a healthy meal, if you have a call that can be done on the move then you can walk and talk. It doesn’t have to be homemade chicken and broccoli and exercise done under a barbell.

Want to see/hear more from Jonny?

Jonny features in PepTalk online programs and also runs onsite physical and nutritional sessions with PepTalk clients.

Talk to any of the client success team today!

You can also follow him on social media : @jonnyholland10

Aishling jennings

operations overlord @ PepTalk

Let's make work better …

At PepTalk, engagement is at the heart of all our wellbeing platform. Our platform is about energy, passion and fun while being grounded in key business outcomes.

To find out more about this area and our wider PepTalk offering book a demonstration at www.peptalk.ie or email james@peptalk.ie

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