Conall Ó Giolláin – Ex Dublin hurling star, type one diabetic

I have always been crazy about sport. Since the time I could walk my dad put a hurl in my hand setting things in motion.

As a kid mam called me her Duracell bunny on account of my constant ball chasing. I am now 21 years old and for 19 of those years I have been a type one diabetic. The combination of my love for being active and having a metabolic condition like diabetes lead to an interest in science and biological functioning at a molecular and physiological level. From there I found the gym.

Having grown up with diabetes I had developed a better understanding of the body than most of the guys my age and so I made some serious gains compared to my friends from the time we first encountered physical development in the GAA, at about fourteen years old. I applied my knowledge of biology to improve my physical performance through training and diet, and as a result of the gains I was making and the amount of time I was spending in the gym I was considered to be about as gymsavvy as they come in the GAA community. But this was a serious misconception. GAA gym training as a whole was pretty old school until recently I was considered ”good” in the gym because I could lift a big load, but there was no form. Nobody cared that the squats I was doing were the reason my back gave way thirty minutes into a game, or that my technique on the bench was the reason I had no mobility in my shoulders, we just thought that moving as much weight as possible in whatever way possible was how the gym worked.

This continued for years until tragedy struck. I was diagnosed with diabetic neuropathy in my right arm almost exactly a year ago. A ”freak case” the doctor described it as, for a number of reasons. I was told it should never have happened and that I didn’t deserve it because of the work i had put into maintaining my health and fitness from the time i was a child. But life goes on, and after a few months of feeling sorry for myself for having to leave my beloved hurling behind, I was back living in the gym. Once again I was lifting heavy with a small range of motion and relatively poor form, unaware of the fact that the constant aches and pains in my back, shoulders, hips and ankles were caused by
the very thing I thought would cure them.

At this stage my sister had been training at the Crossfit 536 gym for some time, and between herself and her boyfriend, Coach Marcus, they convinced me to come down and give it a go. I remember thinking to myself that I have access to two gyms already, why would I need another? But I gave it a try anyway. That first session was coached by Marcus and we worked on push press for strength with a serious condition piece that followed. I thought I knew how to workout… I thought I knew intensity…. but not like this. I walked into the gym that night thinking I was experienced, thinking I was fit. As it turns out I didn’t even know what fitness was before I found Crossfit 536. I was hooked. One session and I was completely sold.

From that point on the coaches have been helping me to make progress that I didn’t even know I needed to make. My flexibility has improved from a squat that barely reached the 90 degree mark to ass to grass. My deadlift, though it still is a work in progress, doesn’t hurt my back anymore (something multiple trips to many Physio’s couldn’t do) and my body weight gymnastic skills (from handstand push ups to ring dips) are barely comparable to previous levels which i had once considered decent. The coaches in the crossfit 536 gym have a blend between them that pushes you in every way possible. They are without a doubt experts in the field of functional movement. They seem to know better than me when I should load more weight on or take it off, they can isolate a problem area almost instantly from simply observing your movements and more importantly have all the tools and knowledge necessary to improve you and help you achieve your goals.

I realize now having written this that I’m screwed… I could never go back to training in a Ben Dunne gym. I would never be able to learn and improve and push myself to the same degree as I have in the short time I have spent with the guys at Crossfit 536 Blackrock. I am a Crossfit newbie… but I cannot wait to see how far I can go with help of Marcus, Peter, Andy, Adam and Albert, who are truly phenomenal coaches, because god knows I couldn’t get the same results without them.