02 May Spotlight of the month – Ian McKeown
I have been hunting Ian and his expertise down since the blog started over two years ago!
Ian and I played hockey for the same University and when I met my husband a few years after Uni it turned out he also knew Ian from playing Ulster U21 hockey together.
I am so happy to hear about his interesting job which to be fair, I never realised existed! We saw Ian and his wife Kristie at his brother Gareth’s (who is also a PT at my gym, David Lloyd Belfast. Small world!) wedding.
Ian and Kristie are such a talented duo!
Name Ian McKeown
Occupation Head of Athletic Development at Port Adelaide FC
Location Adelaide, South Australia
In a few lines tell us a bit about yourself, work, family, lifestyle etc.
I have the incredible fortune of working in the Australian Football League (AFL) – probably one of the most exciting and athletically impressive sports in the world for Port Adelaide FC. My role is wide ranging but basically it is to be responsible for the physical performance of the playing group, leading our team of strength and conditioning (S&C) coaches towards coaching and developing this playing group into the most athletic squad in the world. I still play a relatively large role in academia, supervising PhD and Honours candidates at the club, co-authoring papers and being expert advisor for many research groups around the world.
I moved to Australia almost 8 years ago now. I first came over to coach and complete my PhD at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra. Before this I worked in the Sports Institute of Northern Ireland as a strength and conditioning coach for around 5 years. I met my wife Kristie at the AIS – Kristie is a S&C coach and sports science coordinator for Cycling Australia’s Olympic Track program, we got married 4 years ago and live happily in Adelaide with our 2 pups, Frankie and Joey.
Life for us revolves around sport with our roles taking us all over Australia and the world at certain times of the year. At home, life includes relaxing with a wine, enjoying good food, training hard, continual learning and reading, and of course, playing with the pups.
Can you tell us a bit about your sporting / fitness/ wellbeing background?
Like most young people I was in to everything as a kid however I really enjoyed rugby, cricket and hockey at school. Going on to play hockey internationally and cricket at provincial level.
My role now means I am very active throughout the day being part of several training sessions with the team during the day. Staying healthy and fit is very important from a physical and mental wellbeing point of view for me.
I have to train hard at least every other day to reset my mind and body, I do go through phases but I consistently will do anything from a really good stretch or mobility session right through to a heavy lifting session or a few hours on the bike through the beautiful Adelaide Hills.
What do you enjoy most about what you do now?
Where do I start?!, I have the best “job”. I get to work with some of the best athletes in the world and in my biased opinion some very good humans too. When all is said and done I love coaching and helping people get better. I get to do this everyday, with a very demanding group across a wide range of environments. I look forward to arriving at the club every day and am very aware how special this is.
We do some really cool stuff and we only get to do this because of the fantastic buy-in and support the playing group gives the program we run.
How do you stay on track with your fitness goals? (diet, training with someone etc)
We try and eat as well as possible and do enjoy the occasional blow out. Diet for me is about making good decisions and being balanced about your attitude towards food.
In terms of fitness goals, I want to move exceptionally well and be very technically proficient in the environment in which I work everyday, there are always plenty of people around a football club who want to train hard or play something so training buddies isn’t an issue.
How important is nutrition to you?
I certainly feel the difference when I do eat well compared to when I let things go. This is from a mental and physical point of view. Being disciplined all the time can be hard and a cheat meal every so often is a welcome thing, however preparation and a bit of planning goes a long way to keeping nutrition on point (or close to). Even a sniff of ice cream and it’s game over, back to square one for me.
What is your favourite activity to do outside of sport/fitness?
At the minute I love heading to the beach. We live 20 minutes from the McLaren Vale in my opinion one of the best places in the world to relax and enjoy a great bottle of red. It’s right on the coast with some of the best food to accompany any wine. I am a voracious reader too, I love to sit down and read, anything from a crime thriller through to ancient philosophy and meditation.
Where was the last place you holidayed?
Last year Kristie and I spent 2 weeks in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. After a busy year of AFL and Olympic travel we spent the days relaxing, drinking coffee, reading and trying to fit in with the locals. We both love NYC, being able to explore and live at our own pace is a great way to experience New York as anyone who has been certainly knows, you can swept up in the bustling, adrenaline-fueled craziness of the place.
Do you have any advice for your younger self?
This is always a really tough one for me. I think we are only where we are today because of the trials and tribulations we stumble through in earlier years. However, I’d probably say be strong and stay true to yourself, don’t worry about what anyone else thinks, do what you think is right, and be brave!
If you had to choose one cheat meal what would it be?
I’d either go with a classic cheeseburger or a really good freshly made pizza followed by way too much ice cream. I have an addiction to Connoisseur Murray River Salted Caramel. Unfortunately I don’t think this is available back home, my folks have hunted everywhere for it, I got them addicted on their last trip down under.
Thank you Ian!
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