IT took more than two decades, but Letterkenny man David Nangle is where he always wanted to be: on stage.
In his youth, David (40) had ambitions to be a gym instructor but opted to go to college to study teaching. For the past fifteen years he has been a teacher at GEMS Cambridge International School in Abu Dhabi. But the gym bug never left him and last month he took to the stage for the first time at the Dubai Muscle Show – the Middle East’s largest fitness event.
“I finally did it. I got up on stage and entered my first physique show. I enjoyed it some much that I plan to do it all again next March,” he said.
Speaking to the Donegal News from his home in the United Arab Emirates he thanked his girl-friend, Heather, his clients and teaching colleagues for their help and encouragement.
People decide to enter a physique contest for a variety of reasons but, as a qualified online personal trainer, David said it gave him inspiration as well as access to the world’s best and latest expert advice and training tips.
He’s come a long way from taking work experience placement at the swimming pool while a student in St Eunan’s College so that he could use their gym facilities!
“That’s where it all started for me but I didn’t really take it seriously until I was probably in my late twenties.
“I used to play football for Ballyraine Schoolboys. Paddy Harte was our manager, but I always enjoyed working out in the gym. However, the spark which gave me self belief wasn’t lit until much later when someone told me I had the ability to be really lean,” he explained.
“The competition was a ‘win win’ for me. I wanted to challenge myself – to see if I could do it – while it also allows me to impart the knowledge picked up on the day,” he said.
In the days leading up to the competition, he cut back on his carbohydrate and water intake in preparation for the 173 to 175cm category.
“You train hard for sixteen weeks and by the time it came to get on stage there were no nerves. It was brilliant,” he said.
“The physique competition is the most natural of all the disciplines within body building and, while I can’t speak for anyone else, it doesn’t involve any steroid use,” he added.
A qualified online personal trainer, David creates eight-week healthy eating and exercise programme for his online clients.
“I’m a certified fitness and body pump trainer. People come to me about nutrition and workout plans and I create personalised programmes for them,” he said.
His clients come from all parts of the world, have various levels of fitness and range in age from their teens to the over 70s.
“It’s a myth to say that you can’t take certain foods if you’re on a diet. It’s all about being sensible and knowing a little bit more about what you are eating.
“I went to national school (Woodland) with one of my clients, who now lives in Norway, and we were able to put together a plan. It was great to be able to help out someone who I hadn’t seen in the best part of twenty-five years
“Another client, a lady, felt she was too old at fifty-nine to get in shape but it’s never too late to do a bit of exercise,” he said.
Like David, his parents Tommy and Goretti – who live in Castleshanaghan – were both teachers. His father was an English teacher at St Eunan’s College while his mother, who is also retired, taught junior infants in Clady, Co Tyrone.
“I managed to get home during the summer but I’ll spend Christmas out here. There’s a vibrant Irish community in the UAE,” he said.
David is currently going through a bulking phase – which involves eating up to 5,200 calories a day – before preparations start next month ahead of his next competition.
“It takes 14 to 16 weeks to prepare for an event. A healthy mind is a healthy body and even after the worst day at school, I find all is good with the world after a work-out in the gym. It keeps me stable. It’s my therapy,” he said.
What advice does he have for people who are thinking about taking up a gym membership or including a new pair of running/walking shoes on their Christmas shopping lists?
“It’s never too late to start. Little and often – that’s my motto. A half-hour daily workout, with a steady heart rate, together with watching your diet can make a massive difference to your health.
“Enjoy your Christmas and get into shape in 2022. Make it your New Year’s resolution,” he said.
If you think you are ready to make that leap in life, send David a message to @dnangle.fitness or FB David Nangle.