Coping mechanisms


I am a 31 year old female from Dublin, Ireland and diagnosed with dyspraxia as a child.  When I was a child, the occupational therapy and primary movement therapy I received greatly improved my fine motor skills.  My gross motor skills improved too but not as dramatically as my fine motor skills.

As an adult, while I still might have the odd struggle with buttoning a shirt for work, doing up the buttons on bed clothes or keeping my shoelaces tied, it’s the gross motor skills that are the prominent issue.

I can’t drive, cycle, play the likes of tennis, rollerblade etc.  I swim but I can’t move both arms and legs above the water at the same time. In April this year I started working with my personal trainer, Ronan Murphy who is also the owner of the gym,Toned Fit.  It’s been the most beneficial thing I have ever done, in more ways than one.

“What I would say to anyone with dyspraxia who is interested in personal training but nervous about it, is that it’s a case of trial and error about finding the right trainer for you.”

I was certain it would be yet another failure as I had tried and failed at personal training five times previously. I was quite happy living my unhealthy lifestyle and not being very active in terms of exercise.  Then I found out that I have osteoarthritis and will need a knee replacement in the future, and I wanted to give personal training one last go for the sole purposes of strengthening the knee and quad muscles.

I wasn’t expecting all of the other benefits that have come with it. From my very first session at Toned Fit, I got the sense that this would finally be the gym and the personal trainer that would work for me.

Ronan seemed very open to learning about dyspraxia and immediately accepted that there are certain exercises that are very difficult to grasp.

He used a lot of humour (and still does in every session) and that made me feel a lot more comfortable.

For the first three sessions I had to take breaks after every 4/5 reps in a movement.

It was also about this time that I was beginning to realize that there was a huge improvement in my mood, my sleep pattern and my confidence levels.

I was starting to notice that I was so much happier within myself.  Having self confidence and anxiety issues goes hand in hand with having dyspraxia.

I still remember Ronan saying to me in my first personal training session that it is addictive, and, as I sat on a mat trying to catch my breath, I thought that he was absolutely insane.

It was in about week four or five that I realised he was, of course, absolutely right.  I was hooked and moved past and beyond the point at which I usually quit something.

As the weeks have gone on, it’s changed me completely.  Not just physically, but also my gross motor skills, concentration skills and multitasking skills have come on in leaps and bounds.

The natural emotional effect of all of those improvements is to become a lot happier within yourself.  I find I am calmer, happier and a lot more energetic.

I train with Ronan every Wednesday.  I find that as soon as I leave on a Wednesday evening I am counting down the days until it’s Wednesday again.

It’s become such an integral part of my routine, I couldn’t imagine not doing it.  I do solo training sessions too but it’s the personal training sessions that give me the most benefits.

Now we are at week 20 and the sessions are getting much tougher.  That goes for both myself and Ronan, I would imagine!

But instead of it giving my self confidence a knock, it’s actually giving it a boost.

Knowing that I am still sticking it out even though it’s getting harder is great, but Ronan is so patient that it’s hard to do anything but stay motivated.

I was asked by a few people to start a blog about documenting my personal training journey with dyspraxia so I set up a Facebook page called Personal Training with Dyspraxia and it’s gotten unexpectedly positive feedback which has only served to further improve my mood.  Ronan is working on that with me too, which goes above and beyond his duties as my personal trainer.

What I would say to anyone with dyspraxia who is interested in personal training but nervous about it, is that it’s a case of trial and error about finding the right trainer for you.

It’s a case of sixth time lucky for me, and what a difference it has made to my life.

You can follow Sophie’s personal training journey at

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  1. Well done Sophie. Really enjoyed your article and as a friend who knows you I will say it again I’m very proud of you and well done sharing your journey. Suzanne

  2. Thank you Sophie , my son has dysprixia he is 9 ,your article makes the future look so much brighter,with you being a legal secretary and personal training.Wishing you every happiness for your future.

  3. I’m so grateful to you Sophie that you wrote this article, it is so real and honest. It makes perfect sense to me as a grown woman with Dyspraxia and also parenting a son and daughter with Dyspraxia. I find it is trial and error with everything we embrace and tailoring our lifestyle to suit our needs. Thank you for been so brave, sharing your ups and downs and for raising awareness of Dyspraxia, very much s hidden disabilities to the outside world but not to us that experience it every minute of everyday. Xx

  4. Yeah balance and co ordination of following routines is hard in a class I find . A bit embarrassing when the teacher comes up to you and tries to show you how to do it. I hate it when they do that lol. If you learn on your own times and space so you remember the routines it becomes a bit easier after a while. Following videos helped my dyspraxia. Most people don’t know what dyspraxia is. Its annoying .


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Sophie Goldsbury
Sophie is a legal secretary and lives in Dublin, Ireland. She was diagnosed with dyspraxia in childhood.
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