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A personal story about building and then leaving Wild Geese

Leaving Dublin hasn't been easy for me, which really caught me by surprise.


In 2019 my wife and agreed to move to her hometown of Dungannon in Tyrone, Northern Ireland.

Our thinking was that the Dublin house market was becoming increasingly untenable so we'd be better out of there.


And we were right.

Since moving,  we bought a house and our kids are flourishing in a way I doubt they would have in Dublin.


But for me it meant leaving behind Wild Geese and the life I had built in it and from it.


Moving towns, even countries, is nothing new to me.

I left home at 19 moving to the English Lake District 

Left there at 23 thinking I wanted a career in Hotel Management, so transferred within the group to a different hotel in the South of England.

Didn't like it there so I left.


Leaving there I flew to Spain, cycled solo across Spain. Went to Andorra to work the Ski Season.  Came to Dublin for the summer which is when I met Paulie at the old Martial Arts Academy. 

Then out to have a family Xmas in Dubai, where I took a job and stayed for a few months.

Left Dubai and flew to Hong Kong where I hung out a bit before going on to Australia.


Australia was home for about a year as met up with an old mate who had taken over a business so we worked together.

Leaving there I meandered back to Dublin via Thailand, Nepal and few other places.


So moving isn't an issue.

Setting up in a new town isn't an issue.


What's different is I never had responsibility, I was always solo.

I never really left anything behind as I was simply working to live. Nothing was permanent. 


In Dublin I still travelled,  Paulie and I went to Cuba, to the Philippines. I went to Europe alot. All to train.

Then I blew my back out, which is where I began to transition from the athlete to the coach.

I was sidelined for almost a full year, so the time I would usually spend training,  I spent reading and studying training. 


And then I met my wife to be.


Paulie and I were training and teaching in the Martial Arts Academy's new location but the club wasn't doing too well.

They shut down suddenly so Paulie and I took it over as Wild Geese Martial Arts.


Then as Ireland dropped into a deep recession,  my wife and I both found ourselves unemployed.

She was pregnant at the time.


Now,  being unemployed was a normal state for me, I picked up work where I needed it. Same with accommodation.

But now I had a pregnant fiancee to look after, not something I was prepared for despite all my adventures and experience.


So Wild Geese had to become my income 


I literally lived in Wild Geese for most of a year just after Son no 1 was born.

We had no money for rent so my wife stayed with her mother so I could build Wild Geese and earn a living. 


And that's what I did. 

Worked all day and rolled out a sleeping bag on a mat every night. I worked the weekend nights as a bouncer for extra cash.

In this year I lived and breathed Wild Geese.

And it paid off.


I was able to rent a house and get my family back together, and also quit the bouncing.


Wild Geese went from strength to strength. 

We created a Kettlebell Sport team named the “Kettleheads” 

Helped numerous Martial artists reach their sporting ambitions, there are National,  European and even World Champions that have come out of our training programmes.


There are the hundreds of regular folk who got fitter, stronger,  more mobile. 

More importantly,  these people grew as much in mind and spirit as they did body.

Some tell me that helped them gain promotions in work, some started their own businesses, some their second businesses.


I trained in Anatomy in Motion,  which meant I could help with injuries.

This supercharged the competitive programmes I created for the athletes and also gave the regular folk an even better training experience.


Wild Geese clients were doing amazing things.


And I was the proudest man alive.


This reputation spread, this is how I ended up working with a local mental health charity, who spurred on the “Mighty Mile” the mile of walking Kettlebell swings.

We raised a lot of money for those guys as well as got several of them into regular exercise. 


I travelled to teach workshops, almost too often.

There came a point where I was with my family on a holiday and as I sat watching my two boys playing with a couple of other kids, I had hardly seen them for a month. 

I'd been either in Wild Geese or away teaching workshops every day for the last 30 days.


This made me pause.

I slowed down.

I stopped teaching workshops, except for 1 or 2 per year.

And I took some days off.


This was good now.

I gained some semblance of a work life balance

Still skewed towards work, but at least I was at home more, I'd worked so hard to create a home, but never spent any time there.


When the time came to move, I didn’t blink.


I offered Seb the position of coach, not to replace me but to for him to take over in his own style.

He accepted and I will always be grateful. 


On relocating to Northern Ireland,  I still worked out of Wild Geese for the first while.

I made the commute 4 days per week, driving 200 miles each time in a round trip. Then I decided this was folly, Seb was more than capable and I should step back. 


So I found a job

My first proper job in around 20 years.


And then Covid happened.


Covid was a blessing in disguise for me.

It forced me to stop, to step back. To chill out.


I had a job that was covid and recession safe. I was in a place of safety and security that I don’t think I'd been in since the Lake District.

I was home with my family more than I'd ever been.


It was genuinely a new experience.


And I am not ashamed to admit, it took some adjusting to, but I liked it.

So I leaned into it. It was like a sabbatical.

The job is fairly easy, it doesn't really stretch me. No one is relying on me to get them out of pain or help them win a world championship.  I found myself relaxed. 

And it was strange but also nice.


It took a while for me to realise that I was missing something.Was it Wild Geese?Was it something else?


I was introduced to Zig Ziglars “Wheel of Life” concept, a way of taking a look at yourself and see what’s maybe causing your feeling of dissatisfaction. There are 7 categories in the wheel: 

Physical 

Intellectual 

Career

Financial 

Social 

Family 

Spirits 


And what I realised was what Wild Geese was to me.

Wild Geese provided my career and finance 

Wild Geese provided my Physical

Wild Geese provided my social 

Wild Geese challenged my intellect.


Which is why I suppose now that the world has opened back up and I’m feeling my energy come back, I am still a little adrift.My Family and Spirit categories are bulletproof, but I train alone, work alone, my career (job and online training) is largely on my own.


In the past this was fine, but I guess I’m no longer who I was. I’m not the world weary martial artist always on the road, I’m a dad, a husband. I’ve become the warrior in the garden (and there’s a lot to do in the garden I bought, the previous owner let it go wild!!!)


So I set up davehedges.net as an online training service and an in person injury management clinic. 

This is great I get to work with people all over the world and still spend time with my family. 


But I do miss the chaos.

I haven't found people of the calibre of Wild Geese people.

Wild Geese people quickly learn that limitations are all in the head, they become exuberant forces of nature 

And I miss that.


Maybe I need to set up a training facility here in Dungannon, another Wild Geese?

But for now I will keep working online.


However I am changing how I work online. 

As much as running the Force of Nature program helped people,  I'm not sure it's how I want to continue. 

So davehedges.net is going to change a little. 

This site will represent me more, and I want to help Wild Geese like people.


People who are ambitious,  determined but maybe a little adrift without clear direction. 

People who have been written off and want to prove to themselves and the world that they're far from it.

People who mean fucking business!!


I position myself the way my best clients have told me they view me. A mentor and coach.


Yeah, I write you an exercise program, yes that's built on a movement assessment so you do move better,  you have less pain and you get fitter.

But where the magic really happens is when I get inside your head.

When you open up and start asking better and better questions.


This is where the magic lies.

This is what made Wild Geese a special place.


It was never the kettlebells, it was always the attitude.


So the online training I will deliver from here on has to be based on attitude. 

So we need to get together to check our attitude against each other.


If my life story has taught me anything its that the Wild Geese mantra of “Attitude is Everything, and Everything is Trainable” is absolutely true.




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