I’m A College Dropout

I've never been one to just accept what I'm told I should do, can do, or can't do.

Especially when I know what's right for me. 6 months was enough for me to realise college wasn't for me.

I wasn't particularly confident or sure about what I needed to do next. I just knew the "traditional" path didn't work for me.

I got a job.

And I joined a gym. I was skinny and weak, so I joined the gym to get bigger, I thought if I was bigger, it would end the pain of feeling insignificant through school.

But something else happened. I noticed myself getting stronger, physically and mentally, week by week. I found confidence, self-confidence. This had a profound impact on how I saw myself and what I believed I could do with my life.


I started playing rugby and then hurt my back, badly. I remember that night, literally having to crawl to get to the toilet.

I was told by a specialist the only exercise I could do was a 10 min walk twice a week.

Getting stronger in the gym had changed my life, and now I was told I couldn't go.

I refused to accept one person’s opinion or that there was only one way. So I set out to find answers. In a strange full-circle turn of events, it turned out the answer was to go back to college and study the human body - anatomy & physiology, then Neuromuscular Therapy.

I applied everything I learned to my own lifestyle to help myself.

And it worked.

And that circle continued to loop back around. I started working in gyms so I could help others, which was almost 20 years ago.

And then I got hurt, again.


I was knocked off a moped, sent bouncing and skidding down the road, carted off in an ambulance, and told the only thing that saved me from more severe damage was my physical fitness.

Having said that I had almighty whiplash, moved like a robot for months, struggled with shoulder, neck, and back issues for years. Yet again, the first therapist I went to told me to stop exercising.


At this point, I was 100% convinced that exercise is one of the most beneficial things we can do for our health (mental & physical) and longevity.

Yet still, there were "professionals" telling me to stop exercising when I felt pain.

The injuries from that accident drove me to seek out experts all around the world. Not just in fitness but in all aspects of mental and physical health. I've been all over Europe, the UK, and the US to find answers, to find better ways.

Ways to exercise even when things hurt.

Ways to empower instead of disempowering ourselves and others.

Ways to live a healthy lifestyle without extreme diets or exercise

And I've applied those answers and ways to myself and countless others.


I’ve undertaken numerous fitness challenges over the years. But I didn’t do these in spite of my injuries, I did them BECAUSE of them.

I love opening doors to other possibilities

I love seeing people’s self-confidence grow & grow

I love seeing life-changing shifts in those I work with.

I love when people tell me I’ve helped them get their life back.

But recently...I've not been embodying that myself.

Over the past 2 years, I've been in survival mode, trying to keep my business afloat, adapting to multiple challenges. Struggling with anxiety about the future.

And I’ve been distracted, felt lost.

Forgot what truly drives me.

What I'm passionate about.

I've lost sight that the knowledge I've gained over the years was given to me by others and it's my duty to share these gifts with those who need it. I’ve basically been hiding.

So instead of feeling worried, doubtful, exhausted, and fearful

I’m making a shift to feel excited, brave, assured, and confident

Easier said than done, but nothing happens until something happens. And instead of just waiting to feel better I’m going to follow my passion for helping others.

I'm on a mission to put these gifts, my life's work into one, all-encompassing programme and help transform the lives of those who need it.

About the Author John O'C

John O'Connell is the owner of SF Fitness & Health Centre. He started working in the fitness industry in 2002 after suffering a back injury. He has worked with many professional organisations including Leinster Rugby, An Garda Siochana, New Zealand Rugby, Dublin GAA, Spar and CBRE. He has also appeared muliple times on both RTE & TV3 as a health & fitness expert. John is the co-author of 2 international best selling books - Total Body Breakthroughs and The Fit Formula.

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