Kildare TV presenter Daniella Moyles has experienced the highs of adventure sports, but has also suffered the lows of illness in her career.
Daniella Moyles’s life story is heaving with tales of survival.
She has witnessed a myriad of extreme sporting events, battled a severe dose of a tropical illness, and suffered a variety of afflictions while climbing Kilimanjaro.
A highly intelligent and articulate 24-year-old, she speaks candidly and fluently about her triumphs over adversity.
It was while presenting two series of RTÉ’s Bulletin TV in 2010 and 2011 that she discovered her love of adventure sports.
With fellow host Aidan Power, the Kildare girl travelled to a variety of locations throughout the world to taste high-octane Red Bull events and meet big risk-takers.
She finds it hard to single out one as her personal favourite, but among the highlights was a remarkable diving tournament.
“Switzerland is a beautiful, stunning country: there’s lots of greenery, snow-caps, big mountains and gorgeous lakes,” says Daniella, who now works as a reporter on RTÉ’s The Movie Show, allied to roles as a model, radio presenter and magazine columnist.
“And in this little village, Sisikon, they built a ramp the equivalent of 82 storeys high off the edge of a flat-faced cliff.
“It was the World Dive Championships, so basically they just dived off the edge of this, and the fanciest dive won.
“The dives on their own are impressive enough because they are performing from such a height. They have no safety equipment and they dive — in their Speedos — down into the water.”
One of her own survival tales dates back to the summer of 2008, when, along with her friend, Ruth, she travelled to Thailand for a four-week holiday.
What was intended as fun-filled trip developed into a ‘very serious’ case of dengue fever after a mosquito bite, which caused a nasty reaction in her system.
“This is my survivor story,” sighs Daniella, who lives at her family home in Naas, along with her mother Pauline, father Tony, and brother Richard (20).
“I woke up one morning in Thailand |and had the most intense pain behind my eyes. We had to get a boat journey and for the whole two hours, I was pretty much unconscious.
“I got off the boat and literally slept for about five days because my fever was so high. I went to the hospital over there and to them, getting dengue fever is like getting the ’flu.
“So they just give you Vitamin C and send you home. But, for our immune system to get it, it’s like a fully-fledged attack; it’s crazy.
“My fever broke after five days and I |was getting a flight home to Dublin the |next day.”
Daniella suffered continued hardship upon arrival home, including losing her hair.
“I fainted on the way to the
airport and, when I got there, I got the weirdest rash on the palms of my hands and the soles of my feet,” she adds.
“And, when I got off the plane, this rash had travelled from my hands to my elbows, from my feet to my knees. It was a blood rash.
“We were going home in the car and my mam was frantic, trying to figure out what this rash was. And she was googling what the last stage of dengue fever is, and the last stage is haemorrhaging — and she turned to me and I was having a nose bleed.
“It’s basically where your capillaries start bursting. And she was like: ‘Hospital, right now’.”
The seriousness of her condition was immediately acknowledged by the medics here.
“I got to Naas Hospital, where I stayed for a month, and I was the first person that year to bring dengue fever into the country,” Daniella continues.
“So I had to be reported to the Tropical Medical Bureau and had to be quarantined because I had no white blood cells.
“The hospital staff were like: ‘If anyone comes near you, you are going to get pneumonia, everything that is going.’
“They gave me so much medicine and, because of that, my hair all fell out. I wore a wig for maybe five months, and after I took it off, growing out my hair then took three years.
“It ended up being a hugely traumatic thing.”
She made a complete recovery, though, and tackled a supreme fitness pursuit in November 2011: climbing Kilimanjaro with fellow models Rozanna Purcell, Lynn Kelly and Emily Mackeogh in aid of the Make-A-Wish charity.
She describes it as ‘one of the best things I have ever done’. But there was plenty of |pain, too.
“I got altitude sickness on the third day. It gave me a fright because we still had three days to go. It subsided on day five and then it came back again on day six,” says Daniella.
“The final hike is 12 hours and you start at 12am. It’s a very strange experience. You are on the side of a mountain. You are so high up. The air is thin. You don’t get much sleep. Your appetite is gone. You haven’t washed in five days. You are in the same clothes.
“I got crazy claustrophobia just as I got |to the summit. I got hyperventilation and |this sudden sense of overwhelming anxiety that I just couldn’t get out of there, even if I wanted to.
“I had to sit down for half-an-hour while everyone else went on to try to calm myself.”
She recuperated and reached the top — but there was no euphoric moment at the summit. “It was the biggest anti-climax you could ever imagine,” she recalls.
“I was like: ‘This is it — why did I bother?’ And for a week after, I felt so dreadful, and even for a few months, I was a little bit traumatised.”
Eventually, though, the realisation dawned on her that she had accomplished a mammoth feat.
“You have this light-bulb moment when you are like: ‘I can’t believe I did that — I can’t believe I pushed through feeling that low,’” she says.
“It was the most empowering thing. I am really proud that I did it.”
Going Underground to find a new fitness trail
Welcome to the Underground Fitness System in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin, where throngs of fitness fanatics have recently been engaging in unconventional workouts.
Enormous tyres, sledge-hammers and Indian clubs are among the pieces of equipment used at this fitness centre — an underground car park.
It’s jam-packed several nights per week, with music blaring and sweat pumping.
It’s here where, in 2013, Daniella Moyles is hoping to curb what she aptly describes as her ‘ common/normal’ pattern with regards to fitness.
A member of a gym in Naas, Co Kildare, at times she trains up to five times a week, but she adds: “Sometimes, I will not work out at all — apart from maybe walking to the shop or walking my dog.”
As the new year begins, though, she has renewed vigour to rectify this problem.
“I am going to really try to just get as fit as I can be, just to see if I can do it and to see if I have that level of commitment,” says Daniella.
“It’s a lifestyle change, and that’s kind of the hardest thing to make, I think.
“It’s a diet change, a time commitment.
“It’s going in and doing something that doesn’t make you feel so good straightaway, which is not always delightful when you wake up in the morning.
“For three months, from January until March, I am going to try and train three days a week with Paddy Mackeogh (owner of Underground/Your Fitness).
“I will be targeting specific muscle groups to just see how fit, strong and toned I can get.”
Equally eccentric are Daniella’s fitness goals for 2013.
“One thing I would like to try this year is a sky dive, and maybe, if I love that, I can keep upping the stakes,” she says.
“I would like to do the Hell and Back 10k on January 27 in Kilruddery Estate, Bray, Co Wicklow. It’s meant to be the biggest challenge, but it’s kind of fun.
“You crawl and run around in mud, scale walls, go underneath nets. That’s my cup of tea.
“Also, in Dingle in February, I would love to do the Kerry Walking Festival.
“Kerry is so beautiful and you walk the whole coastline in two days.”
This article appeared in FIT magazine, free with the Irish Independent, every Thursday.