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Ireland GAA star is forced to close fitness club after insurance premium soars to €20,000

08:25  22 january  2020
08:25  22 january  2020 Source:   independent.ie

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Colm Callanan holding a phone: Heavy lifting: Former Galway Hurling star Colm Callanan had to close his gym. Photo: Andrew Downes © Andrew Downes, xposure Heavy lifting: Former Galway Hurling star Colm Callanan had to close his gym. Photo: Andrew Downes

An All-Ireland winning hurling star has been forced to close down his fitness club after an insurance claim sent his premium soaring to €20,000.

Colm Callanan (37), who retired from the Galway inter-county team last November and took up a coaching position with the squad, had run the thriving Callanan Fitclub in Kinvara with his sister Colleen for the past six years.

The club had about 100 members who took part in group classes and training while receiving advice on nutrition and exercise plans.

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Mr Callanan, who is married with two young children, Ciara (4) and Dan (10 months), also worked with Kinvara GAA club and Foróige as he passed on his lengthy experience in the field to local youth teams.

But he was left reeling in April 2018 when someone using the club lodged a substantial claim against it.

When he tried to renew his policy the following year, the reserve on his insurance meant he was receiving quotes of up to €20,000, when previously he had paid around €1,800.

Mr Callanan said he hit a dead end when he shopped around for a better quote, and now believes there is no competitiveness in the sector any more.

"When you're a small business, you just can't sustain it," he said.

"But there's just too many claims being taken so the insurance companies' attitude is 'that's the figure - take it or leave it'," he said.

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The Kinvara native eventually made the difficult decision to pull the plug on the business around three weeks ago in a move that he said was "devastating".

He told members it was "with great regret" he had to close his doors but that insurance had become too big a problem and the club couldn't sustain things long term. "It was tough enough, all right. There were a lot of tears and people were devastated for themselves and for us. But you just have to face reality and I saw no other way around it," he said.

"It's just mental; it's not a viable business any more and the stress was too much. Every training session, you're thinking that you're just one claim away from the whole thing being pulled down. I don't want to keep going that way."

Mr Callanan said that at a time when obesity levels were spiralling out of control, particularly among youngsters, fitness facilities like his played a vital role in local communities. "We would have done a lot of work with the local GAA club and had youth conditioning classes with good sign-up rates as well," he said.

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"But it's just such a precarious industry now and it's really hard to sustain, especially when you have a wife and young kids."

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