Achieve your health and fitness goals with the help of a personal trainer

Posted on: 10th March, 2014

Category: News

Contributor: West Cork People

Like many people, Mark Hilliard of Finish Line Fitness, had an unhealthy lifestyle until he hit thirty and realised things had to change. He talks to West Cork People about how he went from a couch potato to a marathon runner in less than a year and how he now helps his clients to achieve what seems the impossible.

What was the turning point in changing your lifestyle?

I remember distinctly the morning it hit me how unfit I was. It was a Sunday and I was attempting to kick a ball around the backgarden with my son Conor. As was usual for a Sunday morning I had a bit of a hangover and, as a smoker, I was soon out of breath – my three-year-old was running rings around me. I was only 31 and decided that something had to change, so I started to go for a little run around the block on Saturday mornings. I got up at 5am so nobody would see me suffering!


From such a modest start, how did you go to running marathons in under a year?

The block loop was only 2.6 miles and within a few weeks I was getting faster and started running with other people. A few months later I was at a family wedding when my brother, Bob, already a seasoned marathon runner, dared me to run a marathon and to finish faster than him. With that motivation I pushed myself and when I was 32 I entered my first marathon in Longford. I had only reached 18 miles previously so when I passed the 20-mile mark I got quite emotional. I felt very daunted but kept going and did indeed beat Bob!


Did this inspire you to become a fitness instructor?

I am a plasterer by trade and while out running one Thursday, which I would never have had time to do before, I was worrying about having no work lined up. I started thinking about what I was going do and I realised I’d love to run for a living; from then I began studying to be a fitness instructor. I love working with people and helping clients who want to change their life take that first step on the fitness ladder is fantastic. From my own experience I understand how daunting the gym can be when you are out of shape but I also know how quickly you can see huge improvements.


How do you go about helping people get fit and lose weight?

I coach in the gym at Ahamilla GAA Sports Complex in Clonakilty, which is a great gym for one-on-one sessions. I first do a free consultation to find out what personal goals clients want to achieve. They might want to drop a dress size, are recovering from surgery or looking to improve an aspect of fitness for field sports. I see clients of all ages and we need to establish that person’s current level to start improving from there. As ultra-runner Keith Whyte says ‘The only way to define your limits is to go beyond them’. My job is to help you do that.

During that first consultation people vocalise what they have been thinking and that’s the first step; think it, say it, do it, that’s the process.

We then start on personalised hour-long gym sessions of resistance training, finishing with cardio. Resistance training is very important for improving strength, tone and overall fitness; women in particular worry that this type of training will make them look like bodybuilders but it doesn’t, it just gives you great tone.

For runners, resistance training is beneficial, improving posture and strength, which to a stronger and more efficient running style. The body can get used to the rhythm of long-distance running and is no longer being pushed so you won’t see any improvements until you stretch it in another way. However, it is very important to do lift weight correctly, poor technique can limit your joint mobility or cause injuries.


Are you still running marathons?

I am, but as well as running them, I am a registered Athletics Ireland course measurer and have designed and measured the routes for the Clonakilty Waterfront and Back2Back Marathons and many of the 5k and 10ks around West Cork.

I’m busy planning the next Keith Whyte Waterfront Ultra Marathon in Courtmacsherry for July 19. This will be its second year and the day now includes an 18 miler and 10k so that more people can get involved in the brilliant atmosphere.

I’m involved in setting up clubs like the Clonakilty Road Runners, I train running groups such as the Ballineen FitforFun and I coach the under 9s rugby team in Clonakilty so I’m always on the go!

As well as providing fitness coaching, Mark is available for training running groups or teams. You can contact him on 086 608 2569 or at

Latest News Articles:

Clonakilty Fairtrade Fortnight celebrates 15 years
€44 million to improve Cork roads
Clonakilty Access Group AGM hears of many frustrations and challenges for people with disabilities in the town
Schull student scoops top invention award at BT Young Scientist
Schull Garda Station wins ‘Leading Light in Road Safety’ award from Road Safety Authority
Go quackers at the 2018 West Cork Bird Race
Bandon in danger of losing its youth café
Local professionals invited to Anam Cara information pack launch
Bandon Transport and Public Realm Enhancement Plan shortlisted for Irish Planning Awards
Christmas on the beat

Join us on Facebook

Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
... See MoreSee Less

20th February, 2018  ·  

Did you know..... ... See MoreSee Less

Main course

17th February, 2018  ·  

Check out this new upbeat indie-folk track Edges, released today from Inni-K with a video by Myles O'Reilly. Inni-K will be performing at Levis’, Ballydehob on Saturday 24th February, with support from Sam Clague.
... See MoreSee Less

16th February, 2018  ·  

Vikings talk in Clonakilty!

“The Viking Gold and Silver Hoards from County Cork” is the topic of the next Dúchas Clonakilty Heritage lecture on Thursday 22nd at the Parish Centre starting at 8pm.

It will be delivered by John Sheehan, senior lecturer in the Archaeology Department, UCC and a former member of the Heritage Council and the Board of the National Museum of Ireland.

The Vikings were an important presence in Ireland for over two centuries. As well as inflicting great terror they were also responsible for introducing urbanism and new economic systems to the country.

In this talk the focus will be on the economy, looking at the gold and silver hoards that were buried in Co. Cork. It will also explore how these hoards were discovered, what happened to them, and where they are now!
... See MoreSee Less

15th February, 2018  ·  

Bandon Toastmasters is a club that helps people overcome Glossophobia, a fear of public speaking. The club is holding a night of inspirational and motivational speakers on February 22 that is a must for anybody wishing to overcome this phobia.
Tickets can be purchased either on the club's facebook page or through eventbrite.
... See MoreSee Less

13th February, 2018  ·  

Jump to: