Dublin Health and Fitness Expert John O’Connell Helps His Clients Achieve Remarkable Results
John O’Connell proclaims, “Eat more and exercise less. I want to get people away from the negative associations of diet and exercise.”
John O’Connell, founder and owner of SF Fitness Camps in Dublin, has established himself as one of Ireland’s leading health and fitness experts by helping his clients achieve goals they thought were impossible to accomplish. With an extensive background as a personal trainer in a wide variety of gyms, he has trained thousands of clients and has developed many advanced training programs. He holds a Certificate in Exercise and Health Studies and a Diploma in Neuro-Muscular Therapy and Sports Massage. He is a licensed Neuro-Linguistics Programming (NLP) Master Practitioner and Life Coach. Additionally, he is a Level 2 Internationally Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach through the Poliquin International Certification Program (PICP) and one of Ireland’s few Bio Signature Modulation Practitioners.
O’Connell began his fitness camps in 2006 as corporate fitness camps in a large office building. By 2009 he had moved his training location to an outdoor environment which expanded his potential client reach. Currently, over one-hundred clients participate in his program on a regular basis. He says, “We work with people that want to achieve more and get more out of life. Not just purely focusing on weight loss or fat loss. Weight loss and fat loss are actually side effects of the type of training that we do. I like to work with people that want to achieve more than just lose weight. Sure, they will achieve that, but we want people to blast past limitations and do more with their life. Set themselves targets that they may not have thought they could have accomplished in the past. For example, three of our members are training to run a marathon in Greenland in October when the temperatures will be somewhere around -20 degrees Celsius. Our members also set targets for themselves in other areas and aspects of their lives. We use the fitness and the strength they develop with us and the energy and health they develop with us as a tool to improve the rest of their lives.”
A number of years ago O’Connell experienced a severe injury while playing rugby and was not able to walk when it initially happened. He sought out the expertise of a chiropractor who was able to help him with the pain, but not the rehabilitation. This prompted him to begin to research what exercises he could do that would help strengthen the area of his back that had been injured. During his research he found a college that offered a program that enabled him to work while attending college to study this subject matter. The course work did not seem like work to him at all and he excelled in the program which created a passion within him to continue to learn more. As a result he was able to obtain a Certificate in Exercise and Health Studies and a Diploma in Neuro-Muscular Therapy and Sports Massage. When O’Connell designs training programs they are based on his knowledge and experience in neuro-muscular therapy. He makes sure he is helping people correct their imbalances and posture and make sure the program supports their body rather than breaks it down. He has done a number of internships with some of the top strength and conditioning coaches in the industry as well as the top nutritional coaches. He is a level 2 Strength and Conditioning Coach certified through the prestigious Poliquin International Certification Program (PICP). The PICP was first designed to internationally recognize strength coaches who demonstrate the knowledge and skills to effectively train athletes worldwide. It now takes distinction in giving strength coaches and personal trainers the highest quality of education. The program provides coaches and trainers with unsurpassed skills in teaching methodology, client assessments and program design.
O’Connell attributes his success to learning and applying what he has learned. He states, “I’ve traveled the world learning from the best in the fitness industry. I’ve sought out who is already doing what I want to do and who is getting the best results out there. I contact those individuals, do internships with them, I buy their books and programs.” O’Connell continues, “The only reason I do what I do is because of the results that our members get. I couldn’t work with someone who wasn’t willing to make the changes necessary to get results. I appreciate that there is a change process, but if someone clearly doesn’t want to change certain aspects of their lifestyle, I could not work with them. I want to grow my business because I want to help more and more people. The results we get really drives the business through testimonials and word of mouth.” O’Connell also does online marketing and social media marketing and focuses on relationship building by engaging subscribers to his website or social media sources.
O’Connell runs SF Fitness Camp sessions on a four week program and everyone must begin at the same time. He currently conducts his fitness camps in three different locations. On the first day they will take people through a movement assessment. He says, “We have a series of movements that we take people through. It really feels like an actual workout for the individuals doing it, but we are actually watching how their bodies are moving, where their restrictions may lie, in what exercises they are weak and what areas of the body are weak.” From that assessment O’Connell can determine which exercises at the camp as well as at home can best help his client improve their mobility and strength the fastest. He is able to tailor the program to suit the specific individual. Because most of his class is made up of long term members, he can focus much of his attention on the new members of the class in the first few days.
Regarding his program, he says, “If someone is new to our program they will definitely realize our style of training is quite different. We want to educate people on how to move more and we want them to master their own body weight. That in itself will be a huge achievement for someone. We help people recognize how massive their improvements have been after just a short period of time. That is true encouragement and inspiration to them. Our members see other members running marathons and climbing mountains and it inspires them to do something big in their own life. We help people see that they have a lot more physical capabilities than they generally might believe starting off.”
O’Connell says regarding his overall mission, “SF Fitness is about inspiring people to be more, do more, and get more out of life through feeding and nourishing the body and restoring strength and mobility. Our aim is to make our members feel like they can accomplish anything they choose.” He goes on to elaborate, “I want to work with people that want to do something remarkable. Something more than just lose weight and tone up. I want to work with people who want to blast past limitations. I want to see an attitude that says, ‘I can do more, I can change my behavior, I can achieve things I never thought I could.’ For example, I have a member, in her mid fifties, who had a hip replacement last year and is now planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro this coming January.” This is the highest mountain in Africa at 5,895 meters or 19,341 feet above sea level. According to O’Connell, “She began with strengthening her hips and getting them mobile again and built up her confidence in the strength she was able to recover after the hip replacement. She then progressed to lifting heavier weights because she has to condition her body and get stronger in order to climb the mountain.” This client originally came to O’Connell just so she could become more mobile with her new hip. O’Connell says, “This is just an example of how our members become inspired and want to push themselves to do things they never thought possible before.”
O’Connell’s mantra is, “Eat more and exercise less.” He says, “I want to get people away from the negative associations of diet and exercise. Things like sacrifice, deprivation, restriction, low energy and hard work are usually the things that keep people from joining a program. I work first on nourishing and feeding the body, getting our clients to eat more nutritious food. Eating the proper foods immediately increases energy levels, helps them feel better, and decreases hunger and cravings. They then feel like they can make this a life-long habit. It becomes something easy to do. People can feed their bodies healthy and nutritious food, never feel hungry, and lose weight at the same time. People also think they need to spend hours and hours exercising. The truth is, they don’t. Twenty minutes of proper training can be much more beneficial than a one hour walk. Cardio is just one component of fitness. To me, the most important components are strength and mobility.”
O’Connell has worked with many professional athletes during his years in sports massage to get them back in game day condition. Because professional athletes depend on their physical condition for their livelihood, it was O’Connell’s responsibility to get them back on the field as quickly as possible. If he didn’t get results with them, they would not be able to play or they would continuously get injured. That experience has made him very results conscious which he applies to his current fitness program.
As an NLP Life Coach by profession, O’Connell’s wife also is involved the business. She has been instrumental in helping to develop the training which helps many members of SF Fitness break through mindset challenges that may be stopping them from achieving their goals and from being as successful as they desire. She does a lot of work related to the psychology, mindset, and attitude side of the business. Her talent and contribution has brought a strong component to the business and helps create a well-rounded approach to the entire health and fitness process.
O’Connell expresses, “I sincerely care about our members and believe in them. Too many people lack self-belief and that really pains me to see this. Many people ask me, ‘John, do you think I can achieve this goal, or climb this mountain, or complete this marathon?’ My response to them is, ‘Do you believe you can do it?’ That’s the more important question. All I want is for our members to become happier within themselves and to do more of the things that make them happy. Seeing my training and nutrition programs transform people’s lives and seeing people do some remarkable things with their new found fitness and health inspires me a huge amount. People need to know that making lifestyle changes doesn’t have to be hard and they shouldn’t have to sacrifice or deprive themselves. But, when you find the right system you can achieve more than you realize.”
O’Connell has appeared on the RTE Television Network as well as on TV3. He was the fitness presenter on a television program called “How Healthy are You?“ He also ran an eight week television session “Start Again in 2010” which aired on “The Afternoon Show.” Additionally he has been a featured guest on various other television and radio programs including 4FM, Spin 103.8, FM 104 and others. He is a bestselling author as the result of being a contributing author to two bestselling books, Total Body Breakthrough and The Fit Formula. He has also been quoted in various newspapers including the Irish Independent and the Sunday Tribune as well as being featured in Image Magazine numerous times. He has worked with the Leinster Rugby Team who are the current European Rugby Champions, the Dublin GAA Team, and the New Zeeland Rugby Team. Additionally, he has worked with the Irish Police Force as a trainer to their fitness instructors. He has worked on a consulting basis for a special program with SPAR, one of the largest merchandise suppliers in the world. He has completed numerous courses in Neuro Linguistic Programming and is currently in the process of opening a permanent indoor training facility to augment his currently running programs. Because of his contribution to his industry and his outstanding business success, he is being featured as one of the World Fitness Elite in The Independent in the UK and in USA Today in America. Additional information about O’Connell and his business can be found at www.sffitnesscamps.com.
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