How Davy Fitzgerald and James Sexton came up with the idea for Ireland's Fittest Family
Davy Fitzgerald sat down for a coffee with James Sexton in 2011 when, between the two of them, the idea for Ireland's Fittest Family was born.
Fitzgerald was the Waterford senior hurling manager back then, just as he is now. Sexton was in the entertainment business back then, just as he is now. Over ten years have passed since that meeting in Shannon and the only thing that has changed, in the mean-time, is that this idea became a reality.
Ten years on, Ireland's Fittest Family is now one of the most popular shows on Irish television.
"I think it was back in 2010 or '11 (that we came up with the idea)" Fitzgerald tells us at the launch of the shows' 10th series.
"We were having a coffee in Shannon one morning and we were talking away.
"James is in the entertainment business and we'd always have been knocking ideas off each other about different things and we said 'Jesus, wouldn't it be great to do a fitness show.'
"We started talking about families and how great it would be if you could do it with your brother or your sister, as a team event," he continued. "And it just went from there."
And to be fair to the Clare duo, what a great idea it was. This writer has first hand experience of the show, having competed in last year's series and I can say hand on heart that, looking back, nothing beats competing with your own family... Unless you've to drag them through the course.
"A week after that conversation, we started writing down ideas," Fitzgerald continues.
"Then I asked a friend of mine in RTE if they could get me a meeting and we went into Bill in RTE, and he said ye've ten or 15 minutes. Two hours later and we were still there. Straight out of the blocks, he loved it. He said this never happens but I love the idea. We met the production company a week later and off we went."
As a coach on the show, Fitzgerald loves the camaraderie of it, he loves the loyalty and the spirit that sees some family members drag the others around the course.
"The biggest thing on fittest family is you've to adapt to the one or two that aren't as good as the first two.
"It's about figuring out how can I get the two fittest to get the next two around as quick as I possibly can. Or how can I get someone who just won't be as strong as the fittest person around. I love it for that reason. How can I get my fittest person to help the dad or mom? That's some craic like."
The 10th season begins this Sunday and, just like last year, Fitzgerald says the finishes are as tight and as tense as ever.
"It was cool conditions for the last few days so it was a bit tougher but most of the events, even down to the final, were down to a second or less. It was crazy."
Davy Fitzgerald pictured in front one of Ireland's Fittest Families' renowned 'ten foot walls.' It's this wall and the speed they clear it that makes or breaks some families' dreams. Londis will sponsor RTÉ's hit TV show for a fourth year in a row, which returns to our screens on Sunday 2nd October for a tenth season.