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Trainer to the Stars, Sunday Mirror

Top Irish fitness guru Pat Henry on working out with Hollywood's hunks, Deirdre O'Donovan

WHEN the biggest Hollywood stars are in town and want to work out, Pat Henry is the man they call.

Pat, 52, from Dublin, managed Hollywood's top gym in the 1980s but came back to open his own premises on the city's Lower Pembroke Street 15 years ago.

The dad-of -two has worked and worked out with Arnie Schw arz-enneger, Bruce Springsteen, Ellen Barkin and Matt Dillon.

Now everybody who's anybody calls on the fitness expert to keep them in shape.

Pat said: "I was working as a yoga teacher when I started training in 1973 for the novice Mr Ireland contest, or something like that.

"I sold my guitars and everything else to get out to the States to train with Vince Gironda who had worked with all the Hollywood stars since the 1940s, including Marilyn Monroe."

Over the years Pat had read about him being the best trainer in the business. He headed out for three months with friend Tony Quinn who had been training for the senior Mr Ireland contest.

"We got on extremely well with Vince and we both ended up winning our contests," said Pat.

"Vince was very much into the philosophy of training and he invented the Atkins diet in the 1940s. That is so popular now people such as Gerri Halliwell swear by it.

"He would teach you more in a day than you would learn in most year-long courses.

"I learned a lot from him and when I came back to Ireland I had the great advantage of having great knowledge."

Pat continued teaching yoga and did courses to improve his fitness knowledge but headed back to Hollywood in 1985.

He said: "The day after I arrived I called into Vince's studio and was offered a job as the manager.

"My first client was Helen Mirren then Brad Davis from Midnight Express. Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone and Victoria Principal were there - everybody that was everybody was in that very small gym.

"And Schwarzenegger was there too. We first met him in 1973.

"I remember meeting him and he hadn't a penny. He was driving a beat-up Volkswagen and was getting ready to enter the Mr Olympia contest.

"He was the biggest man I had ever seen in my whole life - a monster.

"We were looking at him when he came into the changing area and my mouth just dropped with amazement - I had never seen anybody like him.

"He came over to us and said, 'Make sure you don't look at me in the changing area'.

"He thought we were gay - but I was just mesmerised by this monster.

"So we explained to him that we had just come over from Ireland to train with Vince and after about an hour he loosened up towards us.

"Up to that point it was a bit tricky.

"He had a very clever mind and achieved what he wanted to achieve.

"He said, 'Some day I'm going to be the biggest box-office star in the world, I'm going to win the Mr Olympia seven times and I'm going to marry royalty'.

"We all laughed at him in the gym but he did all those things."

Vince died last year but he played a big part in Pat's life.

Pat said: "He wanted me to take the place over permanently because he wanted to retire, but I didn't really want to do that.

"Because my family were in Ireland I just wanted to stay for a year and then come back and open my own place.

"When I came back from Hollywood a lot of the people and stars I had trained recommended me to others they knew were coming over to Ireland.

"I also get calls to go over and train people in America, be it a business person or whatever.

"It's all friendship and referral based. People get to know people and they recommend them."

But Pat's gym is not only aimed at the stars - he welcomes everyone.

He said: "When I came back from Hollywood to open up my own gym I aimed at a market that could hold both business people and secretaries and people who worked in the area.

"So I aimed at a specific market because I didn't want a big place that wouldn't have any personal attention.

I WANTED to make sure that I could give everyone a very good level of individual attention.

"It's not very big but we do give you better attention than anywhere else and we also have a better knowledge of the training."

But Pat is definitely not starstruck - he has no problem telling stars where they are going wrong with their fitness training and he isn't afraid of hurting egos.

He said: "I don't close the gym for anybody - they train with everybody else here.

"When stars come over to Ireland they think that people here don't know what they are doing.

"So they are quite surprised then when they meet someone who knows more than they think they even know and we surprise them by giving them incredible workouts.

"I've had people like Ellen Barkin and Julia Ormond who train with guys in America.

"I wouldn't know how the American trainers work them but I know that many of them wouldn't train the stars properly.

"This is because in America the trainers are very careful not to hurt egos.

"When I worked in America I had a major star come in to me.

He had been training with this other guy who had been telling him he was in fantastic shape.

"But I couldn't see it at all - in fact he was in terrible shape.

"My policy is that I'm going to be honest so I worked this guy out and he nearly died after it.

"He was in bits because he thought he had trained hard.

"He realised that this other guy was just coasting him along because of him being a star and he was very careful of not hurting the egos.

"But I don't go that route.

"When people come in to me here I say, 'Look I will do everything I can to get you in shape, I'm telling you what to do, if you don't do it, please go off and annoy somebody else because I haven't the patience for it.

"And they respect that and they respect your honesty and they know then that you have great knowledge."

But of all the famous people Pat has trained with, who is his favourite?

He said: "I worked with Michael Flatley, Gabriel Byrne, Ellen Barkin, Christine Ricci, Carole King.

"But I have fallen in love with Ellen Barkin - she is a very nice person.

"My wife Marie fell in love with Gabriel Byrne so I think that was fair.

"But Ellen Barkin was the sexiest person I ever trained, from a star point of view.

"And when Julia Ormond walked in I have never heard the gym go so quiet - she has a stunning figure.

"It was the same when Matt Dillon walked in - we had the same reaction from the ladies.

"He actually left his hotel room key here - I did think about raffling it - but I didn't."

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