It’s pretty hectic being an inter-county footballer these days. But for Armagh players Blaine Hughes and Jemar Hall, they somehow find the time to run their own business having opened the ‘H&H Performance’ gym in the last few years.
The pair, schoolmates during their days at St Paul’s Bessbrook and teammates when former Armagh players John Rafferty and Martin O’Rourke guided the school to the 2012 MacLarnon Cup title. Both studied BTEC Sport at school and have sport-based degrees.
When the country was in lockdown during the Covid 19 pandemic, Hall and Hughes put their heads together. They began to plan an idea that had been floating around in the back of their minds for some time.
“It all came about over lockdown,” explains Hall, who made his McKenna Cup, league and championship debuts under Kieran McGeeney in 2016, all against Cavan, and has been part of the Armagh panel ever since.
“I was working in Newry Leisure Centre and Blaine was working in the Armagh City Hotel. So, we came together and started to build a business online then to start off with. We started to take online clients and we worked from there.
“Me and Jemar did BTEC Sport in school. Jemar was a year ahead of me but obviously within Armagh we started to have conversations,” added Hughes, a club All-Star winner and Club Intermediate Player of the Year with Carrickcruppen in 2021.
“Jemar had finished a degree in Sports Science. I was just starting my degree in Strength and Conditioning in Setanta College.
“Once we got talking to each other about it, we were both interested in it and come Covid, we thought it was the perfect time to start up when we had plenty of spare time.
“We started it up and we were flying then. We got to a certain point then that with Covid coming to an end that we could set up our own gym for athletes and then still have our online base as well.”
Handling the workload is tougher than a two-man job, however. When duty calls and the pair are off to Callanbridge or the BOX-IT Athletic Grounds for a training session, they have staff that can fill in and keep an eye on their Camlough based gym.
“It’s not too bad because you are your own boss. You can work around times for yourself,” continued Forkhill sharpshooter Hall.
“Preseason is maybe different because you’re doing that wee bit extra. Once the league starts it’s more about recovery and you’re only doing two pitch sessions a week and one gym.
“That means you’re only really out three nights a week and then a game at the weekend. But we have two boys working for us as well. We have Niall Magennis there and Scott Winters, so they help with the classes when we are out at football.
Hughes added, “Once we have our own schedules a couple of weeks prior to what we’re going to be doing, we have a schedule set out between our employees so that makes things a lot easier for us.”
What’s on offer
The gym, the facilities and the expertise of Hall and Hughes are available for people of all ages and fitness abilities. Between classes, PT sessions along with team and individual gym plans, there’s plenty for everyone at the H&H Performance gym.
“We have our general strength classes for men and women. Then we’d have a sweat conditioning class as well for the general population,” added Hall.
“We do our own individual PT work where we’ll take on athletes and the general population too so it’s really for everyone. We take a good few teams in the gym as well through preseason and in season too.
“There is a good combination of people that go to the gym. It’s nice for us to work with different people at different stages of their fitness.
“We have a couple of underage teams that would come to us and then we have a couple of senior teams too, not only from Armagh but a few from down south as well so it’s great to be working with teams at all different levels.”