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Meet Dawn Jane Keogh - the wellness coach on a mission to empower women

Hi, I'm Dawn Jane Keogh AKA Coach DJK, I'm a fully qualified Wellness Coach, Personal Trainer and member of the General Teaching Council. I work with both children and adults worldwide, based in Milan, Italy, I create individual wellness vision programmes, tailored to meet the individual needs of my clients, which allows you to reach your goals in fitness, nutrition, and self-development.

1. What were your ambitions when you were young?

I always wanted to become either a vet, doctor or teacher. Those ambitions inspired me to study hard at school. I also loved dancing and went to my local dance school from a young age, so I also had aspirations of becoming a dancer. Most people sometimes refer to me as ‘the dancer’. Because dancing and sport were a big part of my life as a child, and now as an adult. I often refer to sport and dance as my third baby. It’s the one moment in time, where everything else stops and I am completely present and focused.

I guess my ambitions as a child were to do a job that allowed me to be creative and active whilst helping others.

2. What led you to become a coach?

I graduated from University with a degree in Public Relations and Media, during my studies I also worked at the Ashanti Dance Company in Glasgow. I Choreographed for the Theatre Royal in Glasgow and felt that was what I wanted to do my life, but I still felt a strong pull to become a teacher when teaching my dance students. So, I went on to complete my post-graduate diploma in Primary Education. Combing my teacher training and the numerous courses in nutrition and my training in sport, fitness and dance, I found my passion for teaching, coaching and nurturing others. And low and behold, becoming a Wellness Coach became my career.

3. Tell us about your journey to Milan?

I had just completed my postgraduate diploma in Education and wanted to experience teaching abroad. I came across ACLE online who were looking for tutors to teach English to children in Italy. I have always been drawn to the culture. The food, the language, the films and the books I had read, it was somewhere I wanted to visit. I applied and got accepted.

Each tutor was allocated to different locations in Italy. After intensive training in Sanremo with over 300 different tutors from around the world, we all sat in the hall hearing names and locations being

drawn. My team and I were allocated in Sicily. I couldn’t believe it. I felt like it was destiny. I had always dreamed of going to Sicily. It was a place my grandfather spoke about when he had been in the airforce. I had goosebumps.

My life significantly changed after that. What was meant to be a summer experience resulted in me becoming one of the trainers in Sanremo and me living and working in International schools in Sicily, Scotland, Abu Dhabi and Italy. Until I eventually decided to settle in Milan in 2014. Now 7 years later I have two beautiful children. I am amazed at where life can take us. I have an incredibly supportive Italian partner; a job I adore, and I am back to where it all started, living in Milan.

4. Where did your passion to coach girls and women come from?

My passion to coach girls and women came from my own experiences. I also know from experience that support is essential during certain points in our lives. I couldn’t have gotten through certain moments in my life without the women who passed on their crowns to me. I wouldn’t have had half the opportunities I had received growing up, without the constant support and encouragement from my mum. She believes that everything I put my mind to will be a success and this belief system she has for me, has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I try to pass this on to my own daughter.

Living in Italy, I particularly felt drawn to supporting women. It is a very male-driven society. Where women still do not get paid the same as men. Even though I was a single parent, my male colleagues received a higher wage than I did. I decided there and then that I wanted a job that gave me my independence, and which also made me of service to another human being. I have and would kindly work with male clients. But for whatever reason, my career path has resulted in me supporting, educating and working with females to become whatever their heart desires.

My skills and experience I had developed academically mixed with the experiences of my own life. Found me in a position where I felt my true-life calling was to be of service to young girls and women. But ironically enough the support that I receive from my male partner makes juggling work life and children possible. I am blessed to have a strong companion in my life. I know first-hand the difficulties of being a foreign woman alone, with no family to turn to in moments of difficulty. But it has made me strong as an individual. So, it really has been a sweet and sour experience for me to finally have the stable support system that I have now. And the gratitude that also comes with it. But we had to work hard to achieve this. Two different cultures, languages etc meant we had to work harder to achieve what we have today in our relationship. But it has been well worth it.

5. What has been your career highlight so far?

My career highlight so far has been being able to work with the best mentors and people in my profession, having the opportunity to travel, work in international schools and work on my book. I have always loved to write, and it has resulted in me making many contacts.

I particularly love the continuing professional development I must do, as a result of my career choice. I never stop learning new fitness formations or new educational approaches to use in schools. I love to invest in courses.

6. What challenges have you faced throughout your career and how have you overcome them?

There are always going to be challenges in all areas of our lives. Career challenges have been learning another language and realising exactly what job I wanted. I invested financially in courses, events and marketing and I took up a certified course in Italian at my local library centre. Sometimes it felt I was investing more in what I was getting back.

I had originally completed a degree in Public Relations and Marketing, as I thought being a cool PR chick was what I wanted to do. I worked with some of the biggest agencies in Glasgow, but it didn’t inspire me the way teaching dancing did. I then decided teaching was what I wanted to do. And completed my PGDE in Education. It allowed me to travel the world. But I really missed the physical element that dancing gave me. I worked as a personal trainer for Virgin Active in Milan and excelled in this role. But again, I missed working with children. I overcame my challenges through continually developing myself as a teacher.

Albeit coaching seemed to give me the best of both worlds. It allowed me to educate, motivate and inspire my students, and the satisfaction this role has given me was well worth the amount of investment and time I put into creating my career path. However, I soon realised word of mouth is the best advertising you’re ever going to get.

7. If your younger self could see you now, what would she think? What advice would you give her?

She would be proud of the woman that I am. She would advise her to keep believing in herself. To not procrastinate, due to fear of failure. To listen less to the negative opinions of others and to always surround herself with her cheerleaders. The people who cheer in the same arena as her. And that anything is possible when we put our mind to it.

To basically just let go and allow your higher power to do the rest. Because I know from experience that when we run on self-will, things always seem to go Pete Tong. When I let go, sometimes things that I thought were for me, didn’t turn out to be. And the things I was truly destined to do make an appearance. By letting go I made the space for the best stuff to enter. I have only caught on to this at

34 years of age.

8. What advice would you give to a woman who wants to do what you do?

I would support her in any way possible. When I look back at the biggest successes in my working career, there have always been supportive women by my side. I have also been mentored and inspired by many female role models in Wellness Coaching such as Margaret Moore and Christina Hassler.

I would also advise her to get qualified in the areas and to get as much experience as possible, coaching has become a bit peppered lately. There are a lot of courses where you can become a coach. And many people calling themselves ‘coaches. But it’s important to be trained by those who are highly reputable. And often led by the top people in that field.

Also, to find your niche of clients and what superpowers you can offer those clients. You must be actively using your superpowers on a daily basis. And practising what you preach. Don’t get me wrong difficult moments in life may arise, and those will be the experiences that will benefit someone one day. But a coach will have skills and strategies which are more about action as opposed to reaction. Especially when working with children, you must always be an example, no matter what may go on in your life.

9. What is the biggest change that you would like to see for girls and young women?

The biggest change I would like to see for girls and young women is one where they invest more time doing the things they enjoy, and more time enjoying life and everything that it has to offer. Particularly more opportunities for them to achieve their dreams and goals. I would love to see more equality and more women being able to have the opportunity to live financially independent lives without having to depend on their partner's income. I feel this would empower women to leave relationships, which may be otherwise toxic or dangerous for them. Educate and empower a woman financially and there is no stopping her. I think being a self-sufficient and independent woman is a wonderful goal to achieve.

I would also like to see young women have healthier relationships. Where they feel complete and whole on their own. As opposed to staying in a relationship that constantly pushes their boundaries. An Italian friend once told me ‘a relationship is the canella us la mela’ a relationship is the cinnamon on an already whole apple.’

10. What is the best life advice you have ever received?

My grandmother once told me that ‘Life is what you make it’. I was having a self-pity moment when I was in my 20s. I was explaining to her some of the mistakes and regrets that I had made. She was a woman who had got on with life like a warrior, no matter what it had thrown at her. She had raised 6 children in a time when men were the main breadwinners, My grandmother had seen and done it all. She said to me as she sat elegantly on her cream linen couch

‘Dawn Jane, stop being so hard on yourself, when you get to be my age, you’ll want to do it all over again.’ She was basically telling me that life is precious, not to be taken for granted, not to be lived with shame or blame and that it’s never as sweet without the sour.

11. Have you experienced imposter syndrome? If so, how did it impact you and your work?

I spoke to my best friend Lauran about imposter syndrome one day, and the impact that it has on people excelling in their careers and lives. Particularly when comes to the females in my life. I believe there are 5 types. I relate to the Superwoman type; I had this old belief system that I had to do it all and do it all perfect. When my spinning plates act would crash, I would take it as a sign that I was not competent or able to do that skill or ability. And I would avoid and procrastinate from the very thing that would get me moving forward in life.

Now in my 30’s, I don’t avoid it. But I do move at a slower pace. I realised taking smaller steps each day towards my goals, is better than completely avoiding it, due to the critical old debilitating self-talk I use to tell myself. The more I practice this, the easier this practice has become. And the happier I have become in my own life.

12. What advice would you give to women who are suffering from imposter syndrome?

I would advise these women to do several techniques which I use with my clients. One of which is the 'The Coloured Hats' and visualisation of success. By replacing new healthier belief systems with old debilitating one’s, we can create a new dance or script.

13. You are currently working on a new book - tell us about this.

After my daughter was born, I began working on a book about wellness for women. I had always dreamed of being a writer or an author. I would read these incredible books and feel this strong urge to write about my own experience, strength and hope. I made a wonderful contact with a best selling author who I now call my friend. She mentored me a lot at the start and advised me on ways to excel with my book and how to get it out there. I am forever grateful to this lady for her support and belief in me.

I have always loved reading self-help books, and most were published by The Hay House Team, so I decided to get in touch with them. And I’ve been working on my manuscript ever since. It has been a slow process, but an enjoyable and worthwhile one.

I now have a deadline for a manuscript, which is just before my second child is born. My book has been an embryo that has taken years to bloom, and it seems fitting that it will be finished before the arrival of my son.

14. Who inspires you?

My family and the children that I teach inspire me every day. I am also deeply inspired by people who have the strength and courage to turn their lives around after extremely difficult times and circumstances. Such as a close friend who recently battled cancer and a friend who recently got over post-natal depression.

My partner William inspires me to be a better partner, my children inspire me to a better mother, my mother inspires me to be a better daughter, my grandmother inspires me to be a better granddaughter, my siblings inspire me to be a better sister, my nieces and nephew inspire me to be a better aunty and my students and clients inspire me to be a better coach and teacher. Through these relationships, I am inspired to be the best version of myself that I can possibly be. I don’t always get it right. But these are the people who inspire me daily to keep pushing forward and to make the absolute best of my life possible. And be the best version of myself.

You can find Dawn on:

Website -

Instagram –

Facebook –

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