Of knowing Sean O’Malley

Photo from one of Sean's Cardio Coach Facebook pages. Taken when he hiked the Appalachian Trail.

Some eight years ago, I stumbled across an offer for a free Cardio Coach workout produced by Sean O’Malley. At the time, I was constantly looking for a way to improve my workouts. Well, that did it. Before I knew it, I owned all his workouts. (I remember doing a CC volume on the elliptical at the gym once, completely in a zone. It wasn’t until I moved to the cool down that I noticed I was being watched by people wondering what on Earth was motivating me). I continued to buy the workouts until an injury sidelined me in 2006 for longer than it should have.

A couple years ago, I started back up again and turned back to my old friend Sean. There were new workouts that I didn’t own and soon I purchased them all. Volumes 1-8 are now on my iPod, along with remakes of that original one I obtained free and a strength training workout. When I wasn’t working out, I always knew Coach Sean was sitting there in my iPod ready for me to come back and prepared to make me better.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Sean in person. But I knew him from a-far as a dedicated fitness professional. I became involved in discussion boards on his website. All this many years later, I reconnected with many of the folks from those boards on Facebook, including Sean, his sister Colleen and his brother-in-law Jeff. Wonderful people every single one of them — my Cardio Coach family.

It was a shock for me Sunday night to log into Facebook one last time before I went to bed and see a note from Colleen on his Facebook wall. She was announcing Sean’s death. It took my breath away and broke my heart. I woke up very early this morning very sick and I’m sure it wasn’t all grief (I had a busy and wonderful weekend) but off and on all day, I’ve cried for the loss to this world of this wonderful man.

I got to feeling better today and had planned to start a Couch-to-5K training program (with the hopes of signing up for a race by June). I decided there was going to be no better day than today to do it given news of the coach’s death. This one was dedicated to him (as will the rest in my 9-week training program). I took out Volume 5, the one where he asks you if you’re the lion or the gazelle, invoking images of the Serengeti. And, while I was walking for 90 seconds and running for 60 seconds and not following his audio-guided workout, he was always right there in my head when I felt like I just couldn’t run for that one minute (8 times). His words of encouragement meant so much, they pushed me and probably pushed me to go a little harder and faster than I’m prepared to go at this point. I managed to hold back my tears until my cool down, when I listened to the coach’s notes at the end of the workout. Then, I cried (as I have off and on all day).

I don’t know if Sean ever knew how much he touched people or how many people he truly touched. I hope he finds peace where he is now and that he now knows how much he meant to everyone who leaned on him to get through their workouts. He was truly one of a kind and it’s tragic to know he’s no longer with us to keep producing workouts and inspiring people to improve themselves.

One of his coach-isms was “It starts with the heart.” My heart’s in it this time Sean. (There is only do or do not, there is no try – Sean often said this, invoking Yoda. It’s a message he left me about three years ago when I said I was going to TRY to complete a 5K.)

I own a technical shirt with the above “Life according to Cardio Coach” heart on it. I will use it in my training and will wear it, or another CC shirt, for my first run. And I will always be grateful to have found Sean O’Malley and Cardio Coach.

RIP friend (4/12/71 to 3-25-2012).


11 thoughts on “Of knowing Sean O’Malley

  1. Thank you for your thoughts on Sean. Like you, it took my breath away when today, I read about his passing. One of my favorite lines of his is, “Let your heart take the lead…” Today my heart is broken. Coach Sean will be missed by many.

  2. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. I will miss him too, as we all will. What a tragic loss.
    Where did you get your shirt? I would love to have one.
    Thank you for sharing this….

  3. sean you transformed my body, I always stay with you even when im tired. when you asked chasd or be chased my answer is always CHASED. Just knowing that Im going to work out with your DVD, I will have energy that’s how much you inspired me. RIP my coach.

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