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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘I love being able to go to the gym to take my mind off the farm’

Before turning to fitness, Grant Neilson was struggling with his mental health after sustaining an injury playing rugby, which left him unable to continue doing the sport he loved, writes farming journalist, Catherina Cunnane.

He started training in the gym to “fill the void” and found it was “a release”.

Now, he is one half of a Scottish farming couple on a mission to encourage those working in agriculture to keep fit.

Grant and Jacalyn Dunlop (article to follow) run a fitness business, G&J Coaching, and have volunteered their services to help agricultural charity, RSABI, as ambassadors, to help promote the benefits of regular exercise to people working in agriculture.

Grant combines working on the family farm, Park Farm, near East Kilbride, with fitness training.


In a series of videos filmed for RSABI, the pair share their top tips, including how farmers can;

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  • Find time to keep fit and healthy;
  • Build looking after themselves into a non-negotiable part of their daily routines.
Mental health and wellbeing

After the pair started training together, the mutual motivation and accountability they offered each other helped drive their fitness careers and has seen them both now become personal trainers.

Talking in their RSABI ambassador videos, Jacalyn and Grant discuss how staying active helps improve their mental well-being and promote routes to fitness that are both relatable and accessible for those working in agriculture.

Grant Neilson, RSABI fitness ambassador, a personal trainer and farmer, commented:

“Fitness has always been a huge thing in my life. I used to play a lot of rugby, and when I had to stop playing rugby, training became a massive thing for me.”

“So, I started training a few times a week in the gym. I love getting fitter, stronger and pushing myself. I love being able to go to the gym to take my mind off work and life on the farm.”

“Physically, being stronger and being fitter helps in day-to-day life. On the mental health side of things, farming is a stressful occupation and can be very frustrating at times.”

“So the release you get from going to the gym and the endorphin rush after a good workout are great. It totally clears your head and feels like it is taking a big weight off your shoulders. It lets you take your mind off pressures on the farm.”


A typical week for him in terms of exercise revolves around four or five sessions a week.

He tries to be “quite disciplined” with sessions, so he creates a plan, with specific details, at the start of each week and “tries to stick to that”.

He continued: “I manage by combining working with fitness by again just being disciplined with my training sessions. If I say I am going to the gym at this point during the day, I try and make a point of going there.”

“As a farmer, you do have very busy periods and busy days, but if you can try and have a look at it in advance and say, right, I could probably squeeze a quick workout in here and there and try to stick to it.”

“My biggest piece of advice would be just not to be too hard on yourself. Do not panic if you do not have two hours or an hour to go to the gym.”

“It is amazing what you can do in 20-30 minutes, a home workout or a workout on the farm. Even if you cannot do that, you might just go out for a run or walk. Give yourself a bit of time to clear your head.”

“It is great as well if you get friends and family around you that want to get involved. Things like that just make a huge difference,” he concluded.

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