Bernie Dolan (58), her son James Cuddy (32), and daughters Lisa Cuddy (25) and Emma Cuddy (21) are coached by Anna Geary and will appear on episode three of the TV series on Sunday, November 14th.
Personal trainer Lisa, who is a former employee of Fullbody Workhouse and now runs her own business in Roscommon town, says the family had been encouraged to put their names forward for the show a number of times in the past.
“People had said it to all of us at different points in passing and we had always just laughed it off…that was until my brother James entered us into the show without telling us,” Lisa said.
Ireland’s Fittest Family producers then contacted the Cuddys via Zoom and that’s when the family knew things were getting serious!
“We were invited to do a fitness test which we recorded at home and then after that they wanted to chat to us again on Zoom and that’s when we realised something might actually come of this!
“After that they (producers) asked us to get a medical screening done and send on our clothes sizes…and then one day I was on the way into work and James had sent me a WhatsApp voice message he had been sent, saying we were going to be on the show,” Lisa said.
That was back in June of this year and the filming for the show took place from mid-July to August.
“It was a great experience, very cool. It’s all very surreal when you’re up there and you meet all the coaches. You see one thing on the television but when you’re actually in it you realise there are around twelve cameras on you and you become very conscious of your breathing and facial expressions during exercise,” Lisa laughed.
“It’s all well and good when you’re alone in the gym working out but when there’s a GoPro camera on your head it’s like ‘Oh-oh I can’t make those faces anymore!”
Lisa said the family really benefitted from the expertise and motivation on offer from their coach, former Cork camogie star, Anna Geary.
“Anna was great. It was a good match given all that Anna had done in terms of women in sport recently. We only found out the night before our first day out. We got a text that night to tell us she was our coach. We met her and got on well with her so we were happy,” Lisa said.
While James has been into fitness for a number of years and was a member of the Reserve Defence Forces, Bernie Dolan and her daughters are relative newcomers.
“James was our leader and the coach of our team. When we were training for the show, he was the one driving us on,” Lisa said.
“Mum (Bernie) was relatively new to fitness. She started doing triathlons about eight or nine years ago and that’s when she really got into it. She’s done a half Ironman event and is doing the Cork Ironman next summer.
“Myself and Emma are much newer to fitness. I only started going to the gym three years ago…so if someone told me I’d be running my own personal training business and appearing on Ireland’s Fittest Family I wouldn’t have believed them! I started training Emma when I became qualified. Before that we would have done ballet for a number of years”.
The Cuddys have received great support from their family and friends including dad Seamus Cuddy and daughters/sisters Rachel and Michelle.
“We’re a little bit different from some of the GAA-mad families you would see on the show and also the fact that we are three females and one male. We are the only family of that make-up in this year’s competition. They kept telling us the other teams would underestimate us!” Lisa added.
Training for the programme was tough and involved a number of trips up Sliabh Bawn and some eye-catching drills around the county.
“You’re pretty much guaranteed to come up against a wall and a ramp at some stage so you have to work out a strategy for that – who’s first and last over the wall, for example,” Lisa explained.
“We also practiced ‘hanging tough’ in the weeks leading up to the show so I’m sure people in Roscommon would have seen us hanging off goalposts and hiking up Sliabh Bawn with about 30kgs on our backs and hanging off the pull-up bars up there!”
“James tortured us but we did put in a lot of training and really enjoyed the experience. You can’t plan and train for everything though and when you’re doing it in front of the cameras the unexpected can happen…as I’m sure you’ll see next Sunday week!”
The Cuddys make their ‘Ireland’s Fittest Family’ bow at 6.30 pm on Sunday, November 14th on RTÉ One.
*The Cuddys wish to thank the following for their help and support ahead of Ireland’s Fittest Family: the Mullally brothers in Roscommon Tyre Centre for the loan of training tyres; Vincent Collins for the bales of hay; Cathal Dineen and everyone at Fullbody Workhouse for use of the cryo spa and facility; George in Baysports for the use of the facility; and Joan Moore’s Therapy Rooms.