‘Shurr, Orla, you’ll have a go at anything!’
My brother Pádraig famously said that to me in Cairo in 1996 as I attempted to polish up my near-extinct flute playing skills for a ‘jam’ in a local bar. I was horrendously insulted at the time (Pá, of course, is a talented musician). But now I think, ‘You know what, he was right!’. I will have a go at most things and am definitely not afraid to get things wrong and ask questions. I know what I know and I know what I don’t know, but I try to stay open minded, to listen, to learn and to not check Facebook obsessively.
My life in the fitness industry has been an ever-evolving journey. Following my degree in Physical Education from the University of Limerick, Ireland, I started my career as a PE teacher before moving to the UK to complete my studies with a Masters in Sport and Exercise Science. Over the following years I worked in education and academia in the field of sport science and sports psychology before moving to Sydney, where I completed my studies and qualifications in personal training.
Here, I gained valuable experience working with a number of group training businesses before stepping out on my own. Over the years I have trained hundreds of people, many of whom are now close friends. The relationship between trainer and client is crucial, sometimes souls are laid bare during a workout! So, I take great care to listen to my clients, watch them exercise and then help them set to goals and achieve them.
In terms of my own exercise interests, in a previous life I was a team sports player. I played hockey and camogie (a Gaelic game) and tried my hand at a myriad of other sports. I swam everyday of the summer months in Ireland – in a non-heated outdoor pool I might add!
Since my late twenties, I’ve been a runner. I love it. Don’t get me wrong, I often hate when the running shoes and sofa are staring at me at the same time. (Pick me!) Or it’s cold, I’m grumpy, its hilly, too fast – but then I love it. I love challenging myself, I love having time to myself, I love the science of it, I love the camaraderie, I LOVE seeing clients complete their first 5km and I love watching my children run. I’ve run 5kms, 10kms, half marathons, marathons and ultramarathons – on road and on trail. That feeling of achievement when you cross that line is addictive.
I hail from a big, beautiful family in Ireland and miss them everyday. Here in Sydney I am pinch-myself lucky to have my Dean, Liam, Alana and Luke to make me smile even when not getting fit.