Aura Leisure was one of a large number of Sport for Business members who featured among the Great Places to Work published yesterday.
Monica McGuirk, who contested the TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Final playing for Meath last season has been working with them since 2012 as a Leisure Attendant, Swim Teacher, Gym Instructor and Lifeguard in Aura Dundalk, Drogheda and Navan.
She then went on to act as Duty Manager in DKIT Spor and was promoted to Operations Manager in Aura Leisure Tullamore and the Aura Holohan Group.
She will now be heading up the Aura Leisure Centre in Drogheda. Monica is a local hero and an inspiration to young girls looking to pursue their passion in sport, health and fitness.
We caught up with Monica on how she has turned her passion into her profession….
How did you come to play Gaelic football?
I was actually playing soccer for my local club Duleek/Bellewstown when some of the girls where playing Gaelic at this time as well and asked me to come along to Gaelic training and so I did and never stopped from there.
Do you think your education in health and fitness and working in the industry has helped you excel at your GAA performance?
Yes hundred percent. Not only am I passionate about playing Gaelic I am also passionate about gym work and all-round physical fitness. I love noting more to be able to go in after a long day of work to jump into a fitness class or go do my gym programme all of which I am fully able to do from the comfort of my own work place. I do think working in the fitness industry has helped me throughout my whole career both work and playing Gaelic football they go hand in hand I feel.
How do you balance being a County GAA player and working a full-time job as the Operations Manager in Aura?
It’s all about planning your week ahead, if you’re not organised it will get on top of you and therefore effect both your work and your performance on the pitch. I feel like I am a very organised person when it comes to my work and playing Gaelic football. I am very luck in the sense I don’t work weekends, so games are not affected by my work, so its all about balancing your week days.
You started out as a leisure attendant in Aura back in 2012 and worked your way up the ranks to Ops Manager. What advice would you give those seeking such progression in their career? Never give up!
It took me a full 6 years to develop myself with Aura to become an operations manager. I was very lucky in the sense I had excellent operations mangers to learn off of throughout these years. You might think 6 year is a very long time, but I learned so much over these years which has stood to me coming into this role as operations manager. I now know what every single persons role in tales on site the cleaner, the Lifeguard, the swim teacher, the Receptionist, the Gym instructor, the Membership advisor and the Duty Manger because I did all these roles which I feel one hundred percent stands to me to be able to run my site to the best of my ability. So if your giving a task no matter how small, take it as a learning element of your development within your career, because I did.
Have you had to adapt your training routine due to work commitments and if so, what changes have you made?
Not particularly, again it reverts back to been organised. With county we train two nights a week on the pitch Tuesday and Fridays. Tuesday night training starts at 8pm therefore I would finish work after 6pm on a Tuesday. Friday night suit be best as I go training on my way home from Tullamore. Then we have gym two nights a week which I am fully able to do from my workplace on my own time. So in terms of changing a routine it did not massively change for me.
Out of everything you have accomplished thus far, what has been your proudest moment and why?
From a team perspective it has to be running out in Croke park two years running on All Ireland final day.
My personal proudest moment so far has to be winning my very first All Star last year. I am particularly proud of this as odds where highly against me, I was nominated with two other senior county goalkeepers both of which got to the senior All Ireland final. I was the only intermediate goalkeeper nominated. So when my name was called out it was a massive shock. As a result of winning this All Star I was the only intermediate player on the All-star team the rest of the team where made up on senior players.
Do you think enough is being done to promote women in sport?
If you asked me this 3 or 4 years ago I would have said absolutely not. But now its starting to get somewhere, things like the 20×20 campaign has help greatly for the woman’s sport. There have been more and more games being broadcasted live on TV each year, social media is doing excellent work trying to promote the game. And all you have to do is look at our All Ireland final day beating yet another record attendance in Croke park with 56,114 people there, that in itself speaks volumes.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would that be?
Never give up on your dreams of becoming what you what to be.