Sharon Doherty | My Personal Journey to Changing my Life Through Fitness

by Aug 23, 2017Inspirational

Ok, so where do I start ….. What do I write ……. God, what am I getting myself in for…… Ok here goes.

I’m going to try not write a novel but bear in mind I’ve never had to do a blog before and to be honest I read very little blogs I’m just not the blogging type so I’ve no idea how to start or what to type so I’ll do what I do best and just say it as it is …..and hope for the best!

I’m going to start at the start going back to 2010/2011

My life was fairly different to what it is now and to be honest there’s no point in beating around the bush so I will go a little deep on a personal level to let other people see that there is light at the end of any tunnel no matter how difficult life can be.

It all started when I lost my youngest auntie Jackie , there are no words that can describe what we all went through but we ( I say we as in all her sisters and her nieces ) are a very close family, we always stick together in times of need and we all come through for each other. To see someone so young and someone that was like your older sister fight an illness that affects so many families these days, deteriorate for nearly 2 years and to see her try her best to protect her 3 beautiful children and all of us from seeing her pain was a massive eye-opener for me.

Jackie battled cancer for 2 years and sadly passed away at 45 years of age. This was my first time as an adult experiencing death with someone so close and to see how life can be taken away from us in a split second made me think about my own life, a life that I was so unhappy in. Sadly it took something like this to make me realise I was unhappy. I was in a very unhappy and controlled relationship and because of this, I had no confidence in myself, no go in life, I was overweight and in a horrible rut…. I was in a depression. I suddenly felt like there was just no future for me and couldn’t help but think ‘this is it? this is my life?’

I didn’t want my life to be like this .. I wasn’t happy with the person I was in a relationship with, I was just there , there was no love, nothing.  I was there because of the kids, I actually knew no different. But what I did know is that I didn’t want my life to be the way it was  , so I made the biggest decision of my life and walked away. Just me, my two boys and our clothes . Nothing else.

One big decision lead to so many other amazing decisions.

This was the hardest decision I had to make. Why? Because of my two beautiful boys, I didn’t want to be the person that leaves and goes back 10 times over … I wasn’t doing that to my children so I trusted the decision and walked away. I started fresh, moved house and started a new life. During the next few weeks I gave up smoking (I surprisingly quit easily enough considering I had been smoking for nearly 16 years) and I joined the local kid’s Karate Club Combat Martial Arts, a family run karate club in Ratoath … This is where my life changed!

My Sensei’s Eddie and Catriona Byrne

What can I say? Eddie and Catriona Byrne helped me every step of the way on this journey and believed in me like nobody ever has and when I say, nobody, I mean nobody because I never in my life set a goal for myself! I never wanted to achieve anything so I never gave anybody reason to believe in me, but karate blew me away!I remember only a few months in and I said I wanted to fight the next competition which was the biggest Kickboxing Tournament in the world never mind Ireland…… and so they let me!

I didn’t have to weigh in for the competition as I was 74kg and it was +65kg, little did I know what I was going into never mind up against……… and yep I had 1 fight! A German and I got hammered. I actually didn’t even score I was punching and kicking thin air …. But there is one thing I’ll never forget about that fight and it’s walking off the mats my nose busted and my instructors and club mates all there screaming my name telling me how amazing I was. I didn’t win that fight but by God, it felt like it!

I found who I am, I found what I had been missing my whole life. From that day I swore I’d get my weight down and fight again. I had the buzz going through my blood, I trained and trained and trained … I didn’t work, I was on Social Welfare so while the kids were at school I trained sometimes twice a day…….. actually most times twice a day!

“I didn’t win that fight but by God, it felt like it! I found who I am, I found what I had been missing my whole life. From that day I swore I’d get my weight down and fight again.”

So back to my personal life

I started having a lot more confidence in myself, I was feeling good so I started dating. This was all so new to me after being in two long relationships but it wasn’t for me. I couldn’t get to grips with going out drinking it just wasn’t my thing. I was too into my training so the decision was made and training and changing my lifestyle won! One of the dates I went on said to me, I was that passionate about fitness and training, I should do the course and become a personal trainer. Me being me never listened, but the seed was planted.

A few days later I made a few enquiries and then I heard that the gym I was training in was going to start doing it …. How could I afford €2500?? There was no way I could afford it on the money I was receiving. I was too proud to borrow. I’d never let anyone know I struggled every single week, but I was willing to struggle for the next 9 months, this I wanted too much to let go!

I had what it takes to do this and nothing was going to stop me!!!!! And I let nothing stop me, a monthly payment plan was arranged. I missed bill payments, my tv was knocked off (even writing this is embarrassing but this is what’s happening to so many people daily). I lied to the boys telling them the tv was broken, I remember even lying to my mam so embarrassed that my pipe was knocked off because I couldn’t afford to pay it. There was a few times that I would be searching for euros to get what exactly I don’t know ,but I remember the feeling , times like that I felt at my lowest.

I felt like a complete failure and I was raised in a very proud family so maybe that’s why I felt like that I’m not sure but I swore I would never be like that again …. and it’s not the not having the money, it was feeling like a complete failure. I was made feel like that for a few years and nobody should ever feel like that about themselves and its truely sad that people go through this every single day.

My boys were always first and still are to this day, I never had much anyway and coming from a controlled relationship especially where finances were a massive control factor I always struggled but this was a harder struggle just without the unhappiness and being controlled….. But nobody knew about my financial struggles (until now that is) and I was so much stronger mentally and emotionally so no matter what came to knock me I was ready to knock it down harder! What made me get through all that was fitness and it wasn’t always going to the gym or to kickboxing, I started to learn how to jog at a steady pace and that to me was a mental clearance.

In the midst of college, I was training for the Irish Open, my weight was gone, I was fighting for a -55kg section and I weighed in at 53kg! I had lost over 20kg in a 2-year period! I lost …… gutted I was gutted, but I fought brilliantly. As always my coaches were amazing, you need to realise I was a woman in her mid 30’s stepping in with 20-year-old women and I was only a blow in …. In the meantime, I passed as a fitness instructor and was offered a job in the gym I trained in. A few weeks later I fought full contact in Galway, my first, and that was a fight probably the best one ever! I lost to the better opponent but by God was that a fight! A couple of months after that I went in for the eliminations for the WKC (World Kickboxing Championships) where I qualified to represent Ireland ….
Now, this was a game changer! I was fighting the worlds and about to sit my exams for my Personal Training Qualification (talk about being stressed, but again my training took that away from me)

“A couple of months after that I went in for the eliminations for the WKC (World Kickboxing Championships) where I qualified to represent Ireland ….Now, this was a game changer!”


October 2015 I fought the world’s.  I represented Ireland with the full Irish team and I was never so proud to be alive!  I’ll cut it short- 2 German lamp posts and me ……. (for those of you who don’t know me I’m 5 ft. and I always get the tall ones) so it went to a round robin and I had to fight both straight after each other. I lost to the tallest one (she was my warm up) and I won the second one! This got me to the final …. Me, I’m in the final of the worlds!!

Fitness Classes Ashbourne , SDF- Sharon Doherty Fitness

The next day I was up …. ahh my nerves were gone I fought and I fought a good fight but I lost. Was I disappointed? That was probably the proudest moment of my transformation! I stood on a podium in 2nd place with the Irish flag across my shoulders holding back tears of happiness ……

What an achievement!

Before I continue I want to just explain how I lost the weight

It all started when I decided to do a 6 week transformation with Absolute Fitness around the same time I started karate, this was all part of my fitness journey ,then after it I got stuck into the online 12 week DTP programme with Kris Gethin. Now I was more into lifting heavy weights, the gym classes didn’t really interest me. But it wasn’t 12 weeks it was 20 months of solid weight training , kickboxing and a diet that consisted of 6 meals a day , chicken , sweet potatoes, broccoli and only egg whites!

No alcohol

No cheat meals

Not even my Christmas dinner !!!

Not 1 bit of balance

I was throwing myself into fitness and weight loss but yet not dealing with any of the mental and emotional stuff that I had walked away from and was still going through ( mentally). Fitness took me away from all that but it didn’t get rid of it until it hit me hard with anxiety attacks …. Regards my diet, well nothing else mattered. I was really in a bubble when I think back now that was without a doubt an eating disorder, that’s what I would call , some may have different opinions and I respect that. When I look back now I went too thin , but I done it to fight and I don’t regret it what I do regret is not knowing how to balance my lifestyle! Like everything as soon as I stopped and my competing was over I fell back into old habits and what happened I put weight back on. This is why balance is so important in your everyday lifestyle …..

My Career

January came and brought the exam results I’d been waiting on. I was convinced I had failed my Personal Training exam as I was convinced I took an exam to be a doctor…… the Anatomy?! Well that’s the way it felt anyway, nobody said I needed to know the whole human anatomy! That was tough but I got through it and then it was a waiting game on the results! Every day I waited. Nothing but lots of white envelopes coming through the post, day in day out, then one-day walking down the stairs there it was in the letter box just dangling, a large brown envelope my stomach sank so afraid to open! I just ripped it and there it was…. I was a Qualified Personal Trainer …… I sobbed! I’m even crying now just remembering that day

“I was a Qualified Personal Trainer …… I sobbed! I’m even crying now just remembering that day” ….

The first person I rang was my mam, my lifeline, without my mam and only my mam I wouldn’t be where I am today! I remember her saying how proud she was of me, everyone that knows me knows that this lady means everything to me and they know what she does for me and my boys and I will be forever grateful ……for that I thank you and I love you.

A few weeks later I was offered the management position in Platinum Physique and I remember my boss asking me “what can I bring here?” That’s when I introduced the 6 Week Body Transformation! I had another trainer with me doing classes I didn’t have the experience just yet but that lasted only a few months and then I was on my own! How was I going to do this? …

Nerves set in, it took me a week and that was it … I was let loose! I trained people the way I train. They loved it I loved it … I was making a name for myself. I finally felt like this is what I was meant to do, I had found my niche. My classes got bigger, the knowledge and experience I gained was by far …..AMAZING! I loved seeing how I helped people, especially women I could relate to 90% of them that walked through the door! I wasn’t just that trainer who went to collage …. I’ve transformed my lifestyle. I’ve actually transformed my Life ….

“I wasn’t just that trainer who went to college …. I’ve transformed my lifestyle. I’ve actually transformed my Life.”

But I was exhausted, and stuff that I hadn’t dealt with on a personal level started creeping back in. I let stuff get to me and I let people get to me which along with working God knows how many hours and being a single parent brought on a lot of hidden stress, I always endured some mental abuse but sure that didn’t bother me until one night I remember, I had a bath and was just about to climb into bed, pulling the covers over and bang …. My heart, my chest was closing in I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was having a heart attack, I was emotionless but filled with fear all at the same time and all I could think of was my 2 boys in bed who are everything to me.

It finally stopped after about 10 minutes but yet it felt like hours. I went to bed and didn’t sleep a wink, tossing, turning, little flutters in my chest and throat … a horrible fear! It was my first time experiencing an anxiety attack. Within 3 weeks I had experienced 5 of these attacks and I remember telling one of my closest friends Lorraine, she said to go the doctor so I did! In the waiting room I had another attack thinking to myself he’s going to think I’m making this up …when I went in I explained what I was going through personally as I then knew it wasn’t my work load, it was my personal life, so I had to take action with certain things…. which that week I decided to do …….

SDF-Sharon Doherty Fitness 2016

So after a year of managing and successfully running the 6 Week Body Transformations, I heard of a small unit available to rent in the heart of Ashbourne town so I decided to take the plunge and go for it! It was a massive risk… It was leaving a management position in the best commercial gym in Ashbourne! But I took it!

I opened SDF, what a decision it was and what a roller-coaster it has been! I opened the doors to my very own fitness studio on the 4th of September 2016. This has been one of the best but toughest years, tough in a totally different way. Working for yourself is tough mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting….. Would I change it? Not in a million years! This is my passion.

Now I would be lying if I said It didn’t take its toll on me… because it did. My diet went out the window, my training went out the window, I had no motivation, I had no interest in myself but yet I train people on a daily basis and I motivate them to be the best they can be but yet totally neglect myself ….. that took a lot out of me. A day came where I realised I had fallen back into old habits. I then realised I didn’t have much free time for me, I hadn’t kick boxed since I started the 6 Week Body Transformation Programme so my training and fitness went out the window… sort of! I thought to myself ‘how do I take control of my life again juggling a busy studio and bringing up 2 boys that are at an age where they need me more at 10 and 13 …. AND also get my training in and lose weight, tone up, feel mentally emotionally and physically in a good place. How do I do all this without having a nervous breakdown??’

I know …I change my mindset, change my way of thinking. Re-programme!! So I booked a life coach, she is no ordinary life coach! Sharon is my trainer’s wife. I never got to mention my trainer Dave Hancock from Hybrid Elite, I get to Dave when I can, sometimes once or twice a week sometimes its once every 3 weeks …. Depends on work and life and have been for over a year …. He’s my trainer /counsellor in one …. he’s a good one …. Old school …Gentleman with a bit of a military streak if you get me …… takes no shit but has compassion.

So I’ve changed my mindset. My mindset has changed my life at this moment in time with the help of his amazing wife …… This blew me away and I’ll continue to see her for life coaching along with some business coaching. I’m hitting 40 and anything that’s going to better me I’m up for ….!

Fitness Classes Ashbourne , SDF- Sharon Doherty Fitness

And on that note, many amazing people have walked through the doors of SDF and as of August 2017 not even 1 year after opening I’m expanding to a much bigger and better unit. This all happened within 2 weeks of changing my mind-set and coming to peace and accepting a lot of personal issues that I’ve let hang over me when they don’t belong with me anymore …

And that guys is my journey to SDF, my life has changed, my children’s life has changed all because of a decision I made …… And that decision was to join a karate club. I hope that I can inspire even one person to do something that they love and don’t be afraid to take risks!
Shar xx





Looking to sign up for unlimited classes or interested in Personal Training?

Send us a message and we'll get right back and get you started on your own fitness journey!

+353 (87) 126 8714

Unit 11, Ashbourne Industrial Estate, Ashbourne, Meath


+353 (87) 948 1981


Unit 11, Ashbourne Industrial Estate, Ashbourne, Meath





Looking to sign up for unlimited classes or interested in Personal Training?

Send us a message and we'll get right back and get you started on your own fitness journey!

+353 (87) 126 8714

Unit 11, Ashbourne Industrial Estate, Ashbourne, Meath


© 2019 SDF- Sharon Doherty Fitness.


Design | Anndan Media




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