‘ROUND the shoulders, core tight and squeeze that butt’ are words that anyone who was ever trained with Michelle O’Brien will be familiar with.
But to just call Michelle a personal trainer or instructor would be doing her an injustice.
She is far more than that and to describe her as an inspirational lady is not an exaggeration.
Like everyone who is into looking after herself, both mentally and physically, Michelle’s journey had to start somewhere and in her case it was a series of tragedies that has inspired her as she now inspires others.
Whilst physical fitness is what you train with Michelle for, she is far more interested in your mental health and the name of her gym, Mindset Fitness, says it all.
When she opened, with the gym being located at St Vincent’s GAA Club, Michelle put a lot of thought into what name she was going to call it and when Mindset Fitness was suggested she knew it was right.
For Michelle the mind is as important as the body to be fit. To sit and listen to Michelle talk about her passion to help people is infectious.
Quickly it becomes obvious that this is not about money for Michelle, it’s about helping people to better themselves, be it mentally or physically.
That passion to do so comes from her own life experiences and she has had her fair share of tragedy over the years.
Go back a number of years and like anyone else Michelle loved going out and having a few drinks. Nothing out of the ordinary there, as you could put the vast majority of the country into that category.
Then a few events changed her life forever, the first was the tragic death of her brother, William, who died from a heart attack.
According to Michelle he would have liked to socialise like anyone else, but was probably not the best to take care of himself with eating habits etc, and thus his lifestyle would have played its part in his untimely passing.
“When my brother died my world fell apart,” said Michelle, “but it wasn’t just me, it was my whole family whose world was unravelled. But we didn’t really talk about it as much as we should have. Instead we all tried to be strong for each other, but now I know we were just hiding our grief from each other.
“I was asking myself questions like, ‘Was I there enough?, Did I do enough for William?’
“Then I was made redundant from my job as well and it felt like my whole world was caving in.
“But I was going to the gym a bit and it started to become my place. The place where I went to escape everything, where I could forget my troubles and just work out.
“I started to enjoy my time there and it started to become something that I wanted to get more and more involved in. I started down the road of personal training almost by accident.
“When I was training people started asking me for bits of advice and I was enjoying it so I started to do the necessary qualifications and it wasn’t long before I was working in a gym as a personal trainer.
“It was, and still is, something I really love doing. But even with all this my family was still grieving for my brother and then tragedy struck us again.”
Three years after William passed away, his twin brother also died.
According to Michelle he has been finding it difficult to cope with William’s death and became very depressed and sadly died by suicide.
As the family were trying to cope with this, sadly just 11 weeks later their mother passed away.
But the gym and training was Michelle’s release through all this grief, which you don’t ever get over, but learn to cope with.
All this heartache has made Michelle even more determined to help others and in the last year she undertook a counselling course at CIT to further enhance her ability to help people who come to her gym.
“Some of the time people come to escape their troubles or just their day-to-day life. I tell them that when they come through the door to forget whatever is bothering them and just try and relax while they are here.
“Sometimes just listening to them is important and the counselling course has helped me in that regard. It has helped me become a better listener and to recognise that it’s not always the obvious that is on someone’s mind.
“Exercising is a great way to de-stress and people leave after the classes or PT sessions feeling much better about themselves.
“I don’t weigh people or anything like that. For me it’s all about resistance training and working the whole body and at your own pace. I keep an eye on people in the classes and if I think they can be pushed a bit further then I will encourage them to do so.
“For those that say age is a barrier I totally disagree, whether you are nine or 90 you and train to the level you are at and it will be benefical to you.”
Michelle Fitzgerald is one of the people that attends classes and does PT with Michelle O’Brien.
Speaking about her experience she said: “I saw on Facebook that Michelle (O’Brien) had opened the gym and about a year or so ago I started going to her classes and doing personal training.
“Right now I couldn’t tell you what I weigh but I do know that with her help I have dropped from roughly a size 14 to a 10 through toning up. She is brilliant to train with and you get so much more than just sessions.
“She is constantly in touch to make sure you are eating right and helping to motivate you for the next challenge. Without Michelle (O’Brien’s) help I know I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Michelle O’Brien has currently got a number of people on a fat loss programme, which is being done through a combination of training, healthy eating, sleep and repeat.
“I am doing this with a number of people, where they have two PT sessions a week, as well as diet advice etc. But I also deal with women going through the menopause, which can be a dramatic time in the lifes of many.
“Looking after your health at this time, to me, is crucial and can help women to cope. But I truly believe that being active and conscious of what you eat benefits everybody no matter what stage of your life you are at.
“I love training and I love to help others and through all that has happened to me over the years I believe I have found what I was meant to do, so it’s ‘round the shoulders, core tight and squeeze that butt’ for me for a long as I can do it,” concluded Michelle.
To contact Michelle search for Mindset Fitness on Facebook or just call into the gym at St Vincent’s GAA Club, you won’t regret it.