Monday, December 16, 2013
As he made his way down the hallway late one night, Jim Kirwan saw his father standing with his back toward him through a crack in the bedroom door.
That peek was the last time he'd ever see his father alive as he passed away from a massive heart attack just hours later. Kirwan was 20 years old, his father 47.
“He died, in my view, because he didn't exercise,” Kirwan said. “Essentially, no exercise and I believe that was, ultimately, the driving force behind his death.”
Since then, Kirwan, now 58, has made promoting exercise and healthy living his life's mission. Through his newest health initiative, Get America Moving, he's hoping to have a national impact on the promotion of healthy living and exercise. He has launched a start-up website that is centered on initiating exercise and healthy makeover through carefully measured programs and simplistic plans.
“I don't want to sound naïve here when I think that a guy in Mount Pleasant can change the world but if you don't start out with big intentions, you'll never get there,” Kirwan said. “We have, what I call, the inactivity epidemic. The vast majority of Americans don't exercise enough but the problem is, they don't know that. On the exercise front, I've decided I need to make a stand here, make a contribution, shake a few trees.”
To literally get America moving, beginning Jan. 2 Kirwan is offering a free 30-day exercise challenge on www.GetAmericaMoving.com that he hopes will spark a trend toward healthy living. The challenge is made up of instructional videos and comprehensive workout plans that Kirwan says offer step-by-step exercise formulas for all skill and ability levels without gym memberships or extensive equipment. From there, the options are limitless. Participants can take Kirwin's program as far as they want after the trial period. He suggests joining the challenge Jan. 2 to work through it at a similar pace as others, but says anyone interested can get involved at any time.
“It's to challenge, encourage and motivate people to exercise,” Kirwan said. “A lot of people start doing things but they don't give it enough time and they let it fall by the wayside. I will hold their hand. And this is easy. They can do it. I'm trying to get people in the habit of exercise and build the confidence to keep going.”
Kirwan moved from Ireland to America in 2003 with plans of becoming entrenched in the fitness world in the United States. In 2004, he founded TrySports in Mount Pleasant, which has since grown into five-store regional chain for triathlon sporting equipment and training. Kirwan prided himself on TrySports' hands-on community outreach. When his responsibilities evolved from shop founder to business CEO, he knew it was time for a change. Get America Moving now allows him to return to the hands-on approach while maximizing his reach and help people start exercising, get healthy and realize their athletic potential.
“In a sense, I'm taking the same concept that we used with TrySports, getting involved in the community and getting people to try sports, and transplanting it to a much wider and broader theme across the nation,” Kirwan said. “I talk about being on a mission and it sounds funny sometimes, but I really do feel like so strongly about this topic. I see so little happening out there. There's so much confusion and if nobody else is going to do anything, than I'm going to do it.”
His motivation stills burns as strong as it did years ago. He thinks about his father daily and shudders at the thought of the circumstances that cut his life short. He's lost several other friends since then to health-related issues. His dream for Get America Moving is to have a widespread impact on what he deems as a national health crisis, but says if he can transform the lives of even a small population, he says his mission will be a success.