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How an Irishman ended up opening a gym in Canada…

I’m Fergus, founder of UV and here’s my story… 

I grew up in Cork and I’ve been involved in sports all my life and there aren’t many sports that I haven’t tried; everything from hurling and Gaelic football to soccer, rock climbing, eventing, show jumping and golf; I love to be active and can always be relied upon to bring high energy and lots of humour to any situation (however I can’t guarantee the quality of my jokes!).  

My journey into owning gyms was anything but planned! My father was a very succesful hotel manager and I had my first job in the summer that I turned 14, packing used bottles outside of the bar.  Because of that everyone assumed that I would go into hotels. 

The hotel had a gym but I wasn’t allowed to use it that summer so I had to wait until the following (1996) to be allowed to start working out.  I spent that summer in the gym almost every day.  

I developed a lot of self esteem and confidence from making my body stronger and healthier.  I’ve been in love with fitness ever since.   The only regret that I have is that I didn’t train the way that I do today from day one and start when I was much younger. 

By the time that I finished my (Bachelors in Business) degree in 2005 I had 10 years of experience in almost every job in hotels (pot wash, cleaning rooms, waiter, glass collector, barman and porter) and had spent more time partying that I’m willing to admit.  Despite always being on the go I kept playing football and working out constantly.   

You’d think that going into the fitness industry should have been my focus all along but, even though owning a gym was a childhood dream, I went into corporate banking which brought me to Dublin and eventually England.   

In 2008 I moved to Manchester and a few months later I started doing CrossFit.  My first workout was Cindy and it was the day before my 27th birthday.   

I fell in love with how much more effective I was finding the workouts and how I was able to get more from 30-45 minute workouts than I previously got from 1-2 hour workouts – I was hooked! 

When I moved to England I stopped playing football for a team, however CrossFit gave me a new sport to compete in and become addicted to!  

I also found a community of like minded people, from all sorts of backgrounds, with one thing in common; they wanted to workout and enjoy life.  I can’t express how much this helped moving to another country where you knew absolutely no-one!

Being in banking during the recession was tough.  Seeing colleagues getting fired and offices being closed was a scary experience and you never got used to the stress of knowing that your job wasn’t secure. 

It did however lead me to taking over a portfolio in our Birmingham office in 2009.  It was in Birmingham that I met Mike, Ben and Carl.  in 2010 Ben had started Birmingham Functional Fitness and (over a dinner at Nando’s) asked Mike, Carl and I to get involved in what would become Second City CrossFit. 

Second City CrossFit started in a 1,500 sq ft facility and by 2013 had moved to it’s current 8,500 sq ft unit.  SCCF today is unrecognisable from what we started and, considering what we’re currently working on, will be taking another huge leap forward in the next 12 months!

By 2012 my, non-banking life, was as close to perfect as I could imagine.  I had great friends, I owned a gym, I was playing golf at least once a week, I lived in a gorgeous apartment, I went out partying regularly and I could walk to work!  I actually felt like I was ready to buy a home (and do some adulting) but then the recession kicked me in the teeth and our Birmingham office was closed.  I was given a simple choice; redundancy in the middle of the worst recession of my lifetime or moving the portfolio and myself to the London office.  

When I moved to London I started training at CrossFit Central London where I met Balazs and Rich.  After a throw away comment from Rich about opening a gym, the three of us decided to have a serious look at it and then after an exhausting search (actually 3 locations that we turned down went on to become gyms) we finally found a location for CrossFit Blackfriars (you won’t be surprised to hear that most of our meeting were held in Nando’s!). 

A few months before we opened Blackfriars I met my now wife, Jolina.  I don’t know if it was during the first (or fourth) bottle of wine on our first date, but I knew right away that she was the girl for me. 

Actually the weekend that we opened Blackfriars was the same weekend that SCCF’s second location opened and Jolina moved in.  It was a VERY busy weekend! 

When it was time for Jolina to move back to Canada, even though it broke my heart to not be in Blackfriars everyday, I decided to chase her half way across the world. 

I’d make a massive decision to move to Canada for my dream girl so I decided to leave banking (retire?) and have my dream job too.  

This led to UV opening in July 2016 and the rest, as the say, is history…



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