"You get a therapy session every time you hit the weights"

This week we chat with Oak Gym owner Darren Donnelly about all things Dundalk

Tia Clarke


Tia Clarke


"You get a therapy session every time you hit the weights"

Darren Donnelly of the Oak Gym, Dundalk

Local bodybuilder Darren Donnelly founded the Oak Gym on Jocelyn Street Dundalk in 2014. The gym is well-known for their body transformation boot camps and personal training services.  

What's your favourite thing about Dundalk?
I love the people. Dundalk people have a certain charm and humor that you won’t find anywhere else.

What would your perfect day in the local area be and why?
It would have to be going to McGeoughs for a steak sandwich followed by the cinema obviously with a large popcorn and sweets.

What would you change about the town?
I would love to see more facilities for our youths around town. We really lack places for young people to hang out in a positive way.

Something, like Grounded in Newry, would be great for young people to chill rather than looming in the car park of Tescos.

What annoys you most about the town?
Something that has always annoyed my about the town is the drinking culture.
Young men getting into a cycle of going from the bookies to the pub. It is a desperate lifestyle.

What plans do you have for the rest of the year?
I have another big 8-week body transformation and 12-week muscle builder planned for the build-up to Christmas.
These will be bigger and better than ever!

I will also be competing in a big bodybuilding competition towards the end of the year.

How would you describe Dundalk people?
I would describe Dundalk people as being very proud of their town and supportive of locals like myself being in business.

Where is the best place in the local area to go for a walk?
I love taking the dogs out to Blackrock! I think the seafront is beautiful and very relaxing.
I often grab a coffee in Belles and gather my thoughts on the beach.

What amenities could Dundalk do with?
I think it’s a waste that the bowling alley and ice rink are dormant. In the right hands, they could really be amazing.
And we need more dog-friendly places. Nearly everyone has a dog, but we have no dog parks! Look at New York they have doggie parks on every corner.

What's your first memory of Dundalk?
It would have to my grandfather and mother taking me to see Santy in the old shopping center.
The Christmas music and eighties-style tinsel decorations everywhere.

What's your favourite Dundalk phrase?
C’mon the town!

What's your favourite Dundalk pub?
I don’t drink so I'll skip that one!

Do you think attitudes towards fitness have changed in recent years?
Yes, I see a huge difference now. With TV programs like Geordie Shore and Love Island being so popular, having a good physique is more trendy than ever before.

For people who might need that bit of encouragement to get started in the gym, what would you say are the benefits of working out regularly?
When you do one of our challenges and realize how easy it is to change your lifestyle. You'll notice how good you feel you will never go back to your old ways. I guarantee you will have more energy and enthusiasm for life in general.

Also, your confidence will be through the roof because you will be a lot more comfortable in your own skin - people will notice that you are glowing and they will compliment you.

Your health will also benefit hugely because all of the processed foods will be gone from your diet and instead you'll be fueling your body with the best nutrients.

I would also tell people that their mental health will be so much better - you get a therapy session every time you hit the weights. In a nutshell, a stronger body equals a stronger mind.