Our latest student story features Sinead Sheahan, a graduate of our MSc in Performance Coaching and owner of Sinead Sheahan Fitness. 

Below, Sinead provides an insight into her educational background, her coaching journey and plans for the future. 

A Sporting Foundation

Having played sport from a young age, a natural progression for Sinead was to study a Bachelor’s Degree in Health & Leisure. This started her journey into coaching. 

“In 3rd and 4th year of college, I specialised in adapted physical activity (APA) which focuses on adapting exercise for people with disabilities. Even though this was my specialist area, which I loved, my true passion was in high performance. I always kept my toe in the door of athletic performance during college.

This continued involvement in athletic performance was in the form of working in the gym, teaching group classes and working under the guidance of Joe O’Connor (currently working with the Limerick senior hurling team and previously with the Clare senior hurlers) and Rosie Daniels (lecturer and Irish high jump athlete). “We developed testing protocols and tested teams and individual athletes”, she notes. 

The foundational knowledge and experience gained throughout these years led Sinéad to another significant step in her coaching journey. 

“After college, I started my own business teaching classes and personal training. Year on year my business grew – I continued my education and qualified as a cardiac rehabilitation specialist. I opened my own gym in 2020 and started working with teams as an S&C. Here, I trained all age groups from under 14 to senior men in physical athletic development. This was the start of my career with teams and long term athletic development.”

As her career continued to progress, Sinead began to think about further education in the industry through the pursuit of a master’s degree. 

“In this industry, I believe continuous education and professional development is so important. And since I started working with teams, I felt it was time to improve my knowledge in coaching for performance. I started the MSc in Performance Coaching in 2021. Since then, I have worked with Setanta as a performance coach and have worked with Tipperary u-14 hurlers, Galway u-16 hurlers and the Connacht female inter-pro rugby 7s. These were all great experiences that I have learned from.”

Sinead Sheahan Fitness

Sinead also provides an insight into her approach with clients in the gym. 

“I started my business in 2015 and opened the gym in 2020. My gym is a private studio with limited members, PT clients and classes. The core value of the gym is quality over quantity – quality coaching and a quality space to train for all ages and abilities.

I definitely have a philosophy of health first when training any client. Mental and physical health are both very important for the client to thrive and reach their goal. I always make an effort to really get to know my clients with the hope of earning their trust and gain full honesty from them.”

Studying with Setanta

With such a busy schedule, Sinead outlines how she approached this balancing act, with the flexibility of the MSc in Performance Coaching a positive. 

“Being a business owner, a mom and a student, I was definitely anxious over trying to find time to do it all but once I started and got into a routine it was very manageable! There were a few late nights but mostly a few hours a week was usually enough to get me through each module.”

There was one area through the programme that provided her with the most intrigue, with plans to study even more in-depth in the future. 

There were a number of areas throughout the programme that stood out for Sinead, including the residential week, networking with fellow students and a growing interest in youth development.

“I have learned so much but what sticks out in my head is maturation and its role in youth athletic development. Young athletes, growth spurs and load monitoring! This was one of my favourite topics and something I’d like to study further in detail.

The residential weeks were a highlight, without a doubt. Mainly meeting the likes of Dr Liam Hennessy, Prof. Ian Jeffreys and Des Ryan along with our MSc Co-Ordinator Joe Warne. They were a world of knowledge! Also meeting everyone in our MSc group and networking with them was great.”

Advice for Fellow Coaches and Looking to the Future

From her experience in performance and personal training settings, Sinead outlines the value of relationship building. 

“Being a coach with the knowledge of how to get from A to B is only one aspect of being a good coach. 

Building relationships with your clients/athletes, other coaches and backroom teams is where a good coach becomes a great coach. Gaining trust and respect promotes honest communication between everyone.”

As for her future coaching plans, Sinead aims to delve further into research around maturation and youth athletic development, with the hope of also entering into the lecturing and academic side of the industry. 

The next intake for the MSc in Performance Coaching is March 2024, you can learn more about the programme here.