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Plot twists should never get in the way of following your dreams

16/11/20 (5 Minute Read)

View Author Info: BodyConnect Fitness 

About The Author: BodyConnect Fitness

Maeve FitzGerald is an award winning actor who has recently taken her lifelong passion for fitness and turned it into a new career path. It hasn’t been a straight road to this point, but Maeve is loving her new career and helping her clients feel re-invigorated after each and every session. From treading the boards to training the hoards, Maeve is here to remind you that nothing is guaranteed in life and that we need to attack life in order to live a full and happy life.

“Don’t worry about impostor syndrome” our tutor Lorcan said to us, doing his best to allay the fears of sixteen hopeful PT’s-to-be, about to step into the professional world of fitness, “It’ll be there no matter what you do in life so just embrace it.”

The setting; Image Fitness Training, and the main character (in my own head, that is); Me, a 36 year old actor who had been making a living out of being an impostor for the past 14 years. At this stage it came easy to me. This was a different feeling though, like stepping off a cliff into the unknown, except this time not into a dark theatre but into the bright lights of a gym filled with prospective and expectant clients.

As far back as I can remember, fitness has always been a huge passion of mine. There has never been a time since I turned 18 that I have not been either in the gym, at Bikram yoga or training for some event or other. I recall looking with envy at gym instructors thinking “They get PAID to be in here!” The gym has always been my happy place, my escape, my go-to zone to work things out, my reminder of my strength and focus. When you work mainly in theatre, keeping relatively fit, flexible and agile are part of the job spec so working out has always run parallel to each gig. Lines have been recited quietly on countless cross trainers and the best character ideas have often come while pounding away on the treadmill.

The idea of fulfilling a dream to become a personal trainer and fitness instructor was first borne out of a challenging time in my life. At age 32, after many tests I was diagnosed with early stage cervical cancer. During the long uncertain period where my treatment was being decided on, I would retreat to the gym to have a chance to think, process and grow stronger. Being able to squat heavier than last week was a comforting reminder that my body had not in fact let me down. I was strong, I was brave, and I was ready for whatever lay ahead. I vowed two things to myself. Firstly, that no matter what treatment I had to undergo I would be in the best physical condition possible so I would recover quickly. Secondly- that if I got through this in one piece I would try and help other people achieve their own fitness goals.

I was one of the very lucky ones. My surgery was minimally invasive, I could still have a family naturally and no chemotherapy or radiotherapy was necessary. I rested up for five weeks and by the sixth week I was back in the gym. My body bounced back and I have not looked back since.

I went back to theatre work quickly and one job rolled into the other. Every time I’d get an offer, I’d say to myself ‘I’ll start on a PT course after this show’. Work begat work, months became years until I finally bit the bullet. I knew it was time to honour that promise to myself. I asked around in various gyms about courses and I decided on Image Fitness Training in Swords. I set aside the four months necessary to complete the course. Things were going smoothly, I was in rehearsals for a fantastic show, the course was starting the day after the show closed, life was great, what could possibly go wrong? Enter stage left a global pandemic. Rehearsals stopped and bit by bit the cast and crew realised that the show would not go ahead, nor could most of the other shows that were programmed for the year. After processing this news, my mind immediately shot to my PT course. Would that be cancelled too?

Image Fitness were not willing to lie down without a fight. They resourcefully created a method of blended learning- we had twelve weeks of theory modules online followed by a five-week concentrated period of practical work in the gym facility. To say that studying during Lockdown 1 saved my sanity is an understatement. To have assignments, lectures and instruction videos to focus on during those few uncertain months gave me, and the rest of my classmates, a structure and a framework and kept our eyes and minds firmly set on the goal of qualifying as the best PTs and fitness instructors we could be. Luckily, Covid restrictions were lifted during the five week practical period (a brief glimmer of sunlight in the gloom) and we enjoyed our time in the facility learning how to teach classes, how to coach clients and all the delightful ins and outs that PT training entails.

Which brings me back to that excited and nervous bunch sitting in our classroom being told not to worry about impostor syndrome. It is advice I have taken with me since that day as I have navigated the infancy of my PT business BodyConnect Fitness. With each new client I learn something new about the body, the industry and myself. Each client’s needs require effort and research which builds confidence and trust each session. It is rewarding beyond measure to see a client’s progress, their strength and efficiency increasing, their confidence growing and their day to day life getting that little bit easier because they took that time out to focus on themselves. I have been teaching group Zoom classes also during Lockdown 2.0 and have been finding my stride as a teacher. I have discovered that I currently instruct via a combination of 90s music and bad jokes. And many, many jump lunges.

Maintaining theatre and fitness will be a balancing act but the only way to improve your balance is with practise! I am ready to let my two passions go hand in hand and hopefully stroll into the sunset together, excited for what the future can bring.

If this year has taught us anything it’s that nothing is certain. If you have a passion that you are putting off pursuing because it’s ‘not the right time’ put your fears aside and take that first step. Don’t put your dreams off. As the classic Baz Luhrmann film Strictly Ballroom told us- ‘A Life Lived In Fear Is A Life Half Lived’. Go for it and keep looking forwards. And do your burpees!

 

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Click HERE to get in touch with Maeve today!