Cover Model Body Coach Danielle Hayes
Hi, my name is Danielle Hayes. I am a personal trainer, strength & conditioning coach based in Dublin at The Cover Model Body Personal Training Studio.
I am a National, European and World Powerlifting Champion, with three National records. With having lifted a total of 360kg at bodyweight 80kg in May 2014 at the World Drug Free Powerlifting European Championships, I was fortunate to have been selected and listed as an ‘elite lifter’ with the Irish Drug Free Powerlifting Association.
I also hold a National Referee qualification with this federation, having passed a lengthy written exam and practical exam. I have been competing in Powerlifting since January 2013, and while I have acquired many achievements in the sport over the past two years, my fitness journey began ten years ago, back in 2004, during a period when I was morbidly obese, unfit and unhealthy, both in mind and body.
At the age of 16, I weighed in at a hefty and unhealthy 13st 7lbs and was wearing a size UK 16. It was at this point in my life that I decided I needed to shift the weight. By 20 years old, I had dropped a lot of weight and was wearing a size 8-10 UK. However being uneducated in terms of healthy eating and fitness, I found myself following every fad diet under the sun, becoming obsessed with counting calories and would eat only low fat, low calorie foods. I was also what I refer to as a ‘cardio-bunny’. I never once lifted a dumbbell or thought about ‘building a physique’ through gaining muscle and dropping bodyfat.
What I did do was, I ran for hours each day, to burn more calories than my daily consumption so I could be ‘skinny’ which in hindsight was the worst approach I could have possibly taken. I had lost a lot of weight, but I remained extremely and undoubtedly unhealthy. Instead of my body doing what I had hoped it would, drop bodyfat, it didn’t. I lost a lot of muscle mass. My ideas, like most were flawed! Through my over-obsession with calorie counting and wanting to be a ‘skinny minnie’ I found myself developing bulimia, a very serious eating disorder. I was on a self-destructive path, physically and mentally.
I then turned to CMB founder, Personal Trainer and coach Darragh Hayes for guidance and help. He introduced me to a whole new world of training, health and fitness – he started me on a transformation journey, a journey not based on counting calories and burning off those calories by doing lots of cardio, rather he introduced me to the world of lifting weights and eating clean, healthy, dense, real foods. Under his direct supervision, I underwent a complete life overhaul. I overcame my battle with my eating disorder by developing an in-depth understanding of nutrition, which coincided with developing a much more positive attitude towards food. I began setting goals, lifting weights, setting out on a journey to build a healthy, strong, lean, athletic body. It was at this point of my journey that I found my deep passion and love for all things fitness, nutrition and health related.
I can hear you asking…
What keeps me focused? Why do I do what I do? Why do I love it so much? For me, being in the gym is my sanctuary, my meditation, my way of clearing my mind, my inner peace. When I lift weights, I feel strong, physically and mentally. Challenging my body lifting weights has been the greatest method for discovering the strength of my mind. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I don’t feel like going to the gym. There are always sets that I don’t feel up to finishing. I wouldn’t be human otherwise. There have been times when everyone else in the gym seen me struggle and/or fail, but through perseverance, showing up and by giving my all, I have developed the mental courage to get past failure, train when I don’t feel like I can go on, and discover what I am really made of mentally and physically.
Weight-lifting goes a lot deeper than that for me, however, it gives me something to stand on, something to define myself by. It clarifies who I am in my own mind. ‘I deadlift 170kg. This is what I’m capable of at this moment but I strive to get stronger, leaner, fitter and more knowledgeable. This is who I am. There is no hiding from anyone or lying to yourself about what you can and can’t do. The weight forces you to be honest and self–aware, something which I was not for many years. Even if you are weaker than you thought you were, I can tell you now, there is a satisfaction that comes from knowing where you stand.
Before weight-lifting, most of my days were lived in the grey areas. Weight-lifting is black and white. It has helped me push through the ambiguity and closer to understanding who I am as a person, who Danielle really is. Prior to stepping foot in a gym, my weight battle and eating disorder is what defined me. But not anymore. This type of clarity combined with gradually improving the amount of weight that I can lift has helped my self worth and confidence skyrocket. I know who I am and I am proving that I have and can become better than I was before. “I pulled a 160kg deadlift in my last competition, but 170kg recently in training. That’s 10kg more. I can and will become better. This is proof. What can possibly be more confidence building than direct, indisputable evidence that you are becoming a better human being? Believe me, this concrete proof of my improvement can do more for my confidence than all the positive thoughts in the world!
Investing time in me, in my education, to becoming a personal trainer, improving my health and fitness levels has helped me gain a multitude of things. This includes the resistance to illness, the ability to prevent injury, the confidence in my capabilities and the awareness of my limitations. It has positioned me to make a bigger impact and contribute more value than I could have before commencing my fitness journey. In my case, that means writing various articles, sharing my transformation journey, sharing my experience with all of Ireland on National TV on The Late Late Show, as well as in the independent and with 98fm.
This is one of the biggest benefits of setting out on a fitness journey. It allows you to transform into a better version of yourself, more confident, more self-aware, more mentally and physically strong, so that you can become a better person than you were before! I was taught the tools to build a strong body and mind, and now I feel confident and strong enough to contribute to the world by sharing my story with others.
I want to help others to achieve what they may believe to be impossible. I believe with guidance, hard work, serious grind, dedication, focus and consistency, anyone can achieve great things. My journey isn’t over. The journey never finishes. For me, it has transferred to another ‘chapter’. I am now challenging myself to become better physically and mentally, while at the same time I am excited and enthusiastic about helping and inspiring the people around me.
“Nothing is unattainable. Believe in yourself, believe in the person you can and will be.”
Danielle Hayes CPT
Cover Model Body Strength & Conditioning Coach