‘Life is nothing if not an adventure’

8 years ago today was a massive turning point for me in my life. I was a focused, competitive Irish Dancer, only weeks away from taking to the World Championship stage in Glasgow and up to my eyes in study, focusing on becoming a sports therapist. Eight years ago yesterday, my goal was to complete my personal competitive dance career and then focus on being a sports therapist specializing in dance injury. Eight years ago today, my focus was on surviving! On the 24th January 2010 I was clear and sure of my career path and direction in life. On the 25th of January 2010 I was in intensive care in a hospital in Germany following a car accident. My life had changed.

I won’t go into physical details, I’ve talked about those before, but what I will talk about today is the massive shift in direction my life took. I was told (after 9 surgeries) that had I not been as fit as I was I would never have made the recovery I made. This really struck a chord with me. I was only fit because I loved to dance and had loved it since I was a child, but what about all the kids out there who aren’t dancers or footballers and aren’t really into any kind of sport? How are those kids meant to grow into adults who love to be fit? Who are healthy and happy? Who are confident to take part? Well, RINKA is for them.

Somewhere along the way, amidst surgeries, set backs, triumphs, check-ups and business degrees, the penny dropped with me and a new direction in life became clear. My ‘second chance’ would be spent inspiring young people to love fitness – in their own way, at their own speed and on their own terms. And so RINKA was born. My love for dance is forever alive in the name of the company!

At the core of our classes is our non-competitive, all-inclusive ethos. Our classes aren’t about developing the fastest runner or the next best footballer but are simply about teaching each child that fitness is fun and that they can take part regardless of their skill or ability.

RINKA is about helping kids understand their strengths, figure out what they enjoy and teach them that they matter and are accepted just the way they are. But in truth RINKA did those things for me too. It gave me a new purpose in life, a new direction and a new reason for being. Spending time with kids in class each week humbles me. I believe if adults could see the world through the eyes of children we would all live in a happier place. If we could learn to accept ourselves, and each other, for who we are we could all find a place of greater content.

And then there’s my RINKA team. My RINKA family to be more exact. I have been joined by a group of the most inspiring, loving and creative team of instructors who now teach RINKA classes across the length and breadth of Ireland. These people are my motivation. Their love of what we do and the message we spread is more than reason to continue, it’s reason to conquer! Every child in the country deserves to experience the care, attention and acceptance these wonderful teachers give out each week. Every child in the country deserves to find an athletic outlet that suits their interests and every child in the country deserves to feel good enough exactly as they already are.

And a little note to any of you facing adversity, change or things that are simply out of your control; go with it – you have no idea where it will lead. RINKA was not the path I had in mind for myself eight years ago, but now that I am on it there is no other path I would choose.