Sharon Doherty has turned her life around and now has an award winning gym

Kickboxer fought off depression to win silver medal

A personal trainer from Ratoath is on a mission to create awareness around the importance of looking after your mental health and says that discovering a love for exercise helped her out of a dark place and turn her life around. Sharon Doherty (41) felt like she was being ‘suffocated’ by depression and had no future as she tried to rebuild her life after the demise of her relationship but a decision to attend a kickboxing class was to take her on a path she could never have imagined.

The mother of two has since gone on to win a silver medal in the biggest kickboxing competition in the world and has opened an award-winning gym. Despite her struggles, Sharon is thankful for her experiences as she believes they have made her who she is today. “I had no confidence in myself, no go in life, I was overweight and in a horrible rut.

“I joined a kickboxing club with the kids so I could do something with them, I had never exercised in my life. Not long after taking it up I competed in the biggest competition in the world and I got battered,” she laughs, adding “ I didn’t win that fight but it felt like I did. It was the best feeling in the world because I found a part of myself that I never knew existed. There was no anxiety, no depression. From there I made a goal to fight again but to fight at a lighter weight.

“I started training in the gym and an opportunity came up to go to college to qualify as a personal trainer. I put myself through college raring two kids on my own. I went through hell to get where I am. I scraped my way through it.

“I sat my exams for college and fought in the world kickboxing championships getting a silver medal for Ireland in the same week. I remember standing on the podium and seeing my kids in the crowd and they were looking at me like I was a different person.”


Sharon gives an honest account of her struggles in her blog 

Sharon worked as a personal trainer with her new qualification before opening up her own gym in Ashbourne,

“For two years I was so busy with the gym and with PT clients that I had to give up the kickboxing and I just ignored me.  I had been through so much but I was just throwing it over my shoulder. I hadn’t really dealt with anything and it led to a nervous breakdown. It came to a head last September and I admitted to myself that I needed help and I started to go to counselling. Since then everything has turned around, I’m back kickboxing and I’m going back fighting this year.” 

Sharon decided to share her mental health journey in a blog and was blown away by the feedback she received. Following this, she was asked by a local suicide awareness group to speak at an event.

“When I opened up about my life so many people could relate to it. At first, it was really embarrassing to be so honest. When I was writing my first blog I was absolutely petrified. Soon after Ashbourne Suicide Awareness and Prevention (ASAP) approached me and asked me to give a talk on my experience.

“The number of people that mailed me and walked into the gym to me and stopped me on the street after that was unbelievable. I felt it was my time to express how I felt about things. I give 90 per cent of myself in my posts, I will always be honest. If I can inspire a few people with my words and give them a little bit of hope, that’s my job done.”

The Ashbourne gym owner hopes that her single-minded determination will inspire her children as she explains. 

“They see the work that I put in so I’m hoping that they are going to grow up with a sense of independence and also know it’s ok to fail, you just need to get yourself back up.

“I never thought I’d be where I am today. I left school in sixth year I didn’t have my Leaving Certificate behind me, I was made redundant in a job, then was a stay a home mother. There is so much hope for people and so much hope for women that are on their own with children.

"If I can pull myself out of something like that and achieve what I have achieved anybody can.” 

 Check out Sharon’s blog on