Liam Hennessy - the director of Setanta College.
Dr Liam Hennessy and the team at Setanta College are extending their range of expertise into the field of personal training. The ground-breaking Thurles-based institution have long focused on strength and conditioning, with courses developed and delivered by experts who coach at the highest level, but this latest expansion represents a significant departure.
Indeed, Cappawhite’s Liam Hennessy, who is the director of Setanta College, is eagerly looking forward to next February when his team will welcome a batch of students who have signed up for the Diploma in Personal Training & Strength and Conditioning while in March the institution will feature intakes for a series of undergraduate strength and conditioning courses and, of course, the recently launched Professional Masters in Performance Science.
“Our next big step is to move into general health, fitness, wellness and personal training,” Dr Liam Hennessy, the director of Setanta College, told the Tipperary Star.
“That’s our next programme of development because we feel that there is far more education and CPD (continuous personal development) required in the health and fitness industry,” Dr Hennessy added.
Liam Hennessy’s passion is to help people to realise their potential; he has dedicated his life to that enterprise and his work at Setanta College presents him with the opportunity to share what he has learned. Indeed, the third level institution has proven a staggering success. And, Liam Hennessy is determined that his students will graduate in accordance with the very highest of standards.
“One of the many messages that we are trying to get across is to hasten slowly and that in extremes lay dangers. Many of the practices that go on are quite extreme and invariably wind up in injury or poor outcomes in terms of goals not achieved for the individual. We have a massive issue in the country and in the western world where everybody thinks there is a dramatic fix to being overweight or being unfit and that cycle perpetuates,” Liam Hennessy explained.
“We see a gap there to fill and we intend to fill that with personal training skills and education so that we can bring all that we have learned over the years in sports science and through the practice of sports science into that field.”
The focus on the field of personal training, however, does represent a significant departure for the Setanta College team who were, heretofore, almost exclusively associated with strength and conditioning.
“We will still have that core business of strength, conditioning and coaching in sport. We are going to continue that education programme, but also work on educating personal trainers,” Liam Hennessy revealed.
“It means new programmes,” Hennessy added as the thoughts of the Cappawhite man turned to February and the launch of the Diploma in Personal Training & Strength and Conditioning.
“The first one is launching in February - personal trainer and strength and conditioning. You are taking on both skills - you can work within the sporting area and be very confident of having the skill sets and the competencies for that. And, then you have the non-sporting area where the personal training comes into it,” Liam Hennessy said.
“There is no doubt that the days of the weekend and four or five-week course to get you qualified to do something like this are gone - they are still there, but they are really short changing the people that do those courses. Honestly, you would wonder how it is allowed, but it is allowed because there is no regulation in the industry. That is where we are going to grow.”
Students at Setanta College, of course, benefit from the institution's agile approach whereby all courses can be accessed online, but also feature blocks of lectures and hands-on practical experience.
In early 2017, for instance, the coaching team which will hope to guide the British & Irish Lions to success next summer in New Zealand will visit Thurles while performance directors like Philip Morrow (Saracens RFC) and Des Ryan (Arsenal FC) will feature as guest lecturers.
“In other institutions you do a masters level programme which is set in place and that’s it for five years whereas we are far more flexible. If technologies come out today we will have them tomorrow. So, our students are really at the cutting edge of the technologies in sport and the most current methodologies,” Liam Hennessy explained.
“We also look at those who are at the highest level in their sport and make them are part of our visiting lecturing staff. We seek out those who are working at the highest level currently and who have got their university qualifications. That is in stark contrast to what you normally have in a university or another institution. That’s the kind of pedigree that we look for in a lecturer. Also, the modules that we deliver are very applied. We don’t like sitting in a classroom. We like you to be doing and then you add on all of your lectures. We appeal to a different mind-set,” Liam Hennessy added.
Liam Hennessy, the director of Setanta College, pictured alongside lecturer Michael Fennelly.
Setanta College's Professional Masters in Performance Science was launched earlier this year, but Liam Hennessy and his colleagues are working toward building the profile of this unique course throughout 2017: “we run a masters in performance science which we launched that in September quietly. Now we’re ready to open it into Europe on a large scale and also in the states (United States of America)”.
Graduates from the Professional Masters in Performance Science will be well-placed to examine, review and enhance the performances of teams and individuals. From the sleep quality of athletes to the analytic performance of teams Setanta College has it all covered.
“It’s performance science, it’s that and more; it’s lifestyle, everything. For example I can tell you that our evidence and the evidence that’s there is that if an athlete gets less than seven hours sleep at night he is more at risk of injury, of illness, of under-performing and of not adapting to training. So, we take all the basics and say that it doesn’t matter what training is done and what tactics are adopted if the bottom lines are not attended to,” Liam Hennessy explained.
“You can forget it if you are not getting the optimum (amount of sleep) and you are not getting the benefits as opposed to what you should be doing. Then you add all of those (other factors like hydration and nutrition) and you keep adding. You take all of those aspects that are lifestyle-related and they are blended into modules. Our first module, for example, is advanced conditioning and recovery. Then you have monitoring the athlete, technology and then analysis. And, we make it very, very applied so that it is useful.”
The guiding philosophy at Setanta College revolves around a determination to help the community. in 2017 Liam Hennessy and his staff will also work to focus their energy on sharing what they have learned with the Irish people. Indeed, the institution will soon launch a suite of short courses aimed at educating parents and teachers with regard to subjects like, for example, developing the functional movement of children.
“We will have programmes for parents and teachers who we feel are being neglected in terms of the help they have been given to understand how they can help their children to move better. We are familiar with academic homework that 12 and 13-year-olds come back home with from secondary school, but they should definitely also have home exercise to do. In fairness it’s wrong to be expecting the school to do everything. School is the easiest target when something is not being done in the life of a child or a teenager,” Liam Hennessy said.
“We want to provide support to the parents so that they can be part of the development of their child. That is a focus for us in 2017 - short courses for parents online and half day workshops to give them the practical skills that they need. We believe that the new online programmes will really be effective in helping parents to understand and to give them the skills to help children with simple posture and movement function.
“We have that information and we would like to share that information so that better practices may occur. It can be hard (for parents and teachers) - there is so much information out there that it can seem like noise. People do not know where to go or where to start. What we do is that we take it and we make it simple,” Liam Hennessy explained.
“If, for example, I was to start talking to a mechanic about the car he would talk to me about stuff that I just do not understand, but if he could make it simple and give me the rudiments about it I could then look after the car far better. That’s a kind of analogy for what we do. If we can lift the bonnet a little bit and help the teacher, the parent and the coach who needs to know more to lift the bonnet a little bit to understand what goes on underneath that will help hugely”.
Following the interview with Dr Liam Hennessy the Tipperary Star website features three distinct pieces with the Cappawhite coaching guru of world renown. Click here for 'Doctor’s orders: what GAA clubs can learn from the experience of Irish rugby'. Visit this section of the website for Liam Hennessy's reflections on Pádraig Harrington and drugs in sport and, finally, see here for news on all the latest developments at Setanta College.
If you would like to learn more about Setanta College and the courses on offer at the institution please click here. You can also follow @SetantaCollege on Twitter or like Setantasportscollege on Facebook.