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Your new life really can begin at 40!

Your new life really can begin at 40!


05 Jul, 2017

You know when they say ‘Life begins at 40’? Well it really can! The idea of starting again and retraining may seem daunting, but think of it as the start of the next phase of your life – an opportunity to do something you really find interesting. Former Royal Marine Brian Cole did just that. Here’s his story …

Year 5 osteopathy student Brian Cole was once in the Royal Marines. He now has three sports injuries clinics and is well on his to way to completing the final year of his degree qualification in osteopathy.

The path to osteopathy

‘There were several reasons why I wanted to undertake further training to become an osteopath at the age of 40,’ says Brian. ‘The main one was that, after 22 years’ service in the Royal Marines, my contract was complete. While in the Marines I represented Great Britain at cross-country skiing, biathlon and athletics. I now wanted a new and rewarding career, which interested me and somehow involved me working with, and around, people and mainly athletes. Being an elite sportsperson myself, I attended weekly visits to physiotherapists and osteopaths to maintain and treat the many injuries I had. During one particular treatment session with an osteopath, we talked about how he became an osteopath, and the ups and downs of osteopathy as a career. I decided that perhaps this was something that I would be able to do.’

Funding and flexibility

‘After much research on the internet I narrowed my choice of courses down to two. I unfortunately did not have the funds to begin a full-time degree course although, remembering that I still had my ELC to use, the College of Osteopaths agreed to accept that and I applied for a place with them. I needed to be able to continue my work within the Marines and somehow study and train to become an osteopath at the same time. The college’s Staffordshire programme of two weekends per month for five years offered me the opportunity to do this. The reviews from past attendees were excellent, so I took the plunge in 2012 and signed up for the course due to start in September. The course will provide me with a degree qualification in osteopathy, which is a requirement to work as an osteopath in professional sport.’

‘I have really enjoyed the structure of the course. The monthly two-weekend practical sessions are an excellent opportunity to meet up with everyone to establish how they are getting on, but most importantly to learn the practical skills.’

Sometimes it’s who you know …

‘You gain qualifications throughout the course. I set myself up as a sports injuries therapist, advertised on local running club websites and began to build my sports injuries clinic. I was then approached by the GB Athletics Team to cover the World 100k Championships in Holland, which I accepted and attended. I learned so much from the World Championships. I was a little worried I might be out of my depth when working with elite athletes who have weekly physiotherapist treatment, but I quickly realised that this was not the case. With my own experience of being an elite athlete, and the techniques I have learned from the course, I felt at home straight away and able to treat the athletes pre-, during and post-race.

‘The feedback I gained from the athletes and management was amazing, and made me realise that I have been trained to a very high standard and am a very good therapist. On my return to the UK I received a call from the head of UK athletes to thank me for the work I did out in Holland and to offer me a place on the Commonwealth Management Team as sports therapist. I treated the commonwealth champion and world champions, who both had injuries, before the race and both gave amazing feedback to me and the management. The England team won gold medals in both the women’s and men’s races, as well as taking gold in the women’s individual, and silver and bronze in the men’s individual races.

‘On my return from the championships I again received a call from the head of England athletics, who thanked me and told me he wanted me to be a permanent part of the England and Great Britain teams.’

Hard work, but worth it

‘Fitting in studying and assignments with a full-time job in the Royal Marines and a family with two young children has been hard work for me, but with the end of the course now fast approaching I can feel a great sense of achievement.

‘My future goal is to set up an osteopathy practice, which is well on the way as I already have three sports therapy clinics. I will keep working with running clubs and with GB Athletics, as this has already got my name about and my reputation seems to be a good one. I’m also working towards creating a unique selling point in the area of osteopathy so I can stand out from the crowd.

‘The course has given me the opportunity to learn about business development, time management and, of course, the hands-on skills needed to become an osteopath. It gives you all the skills you need to be able to go out in the field and practise in this developing area. I really like the fact that most of the instructors are working as osteopaths. With the changes and cutbacks in the NHS and its treatment of non-critical injuries, I see an opportunity for osteopaths to come to the fore. I am looking forward to the new career that has become possible for me thanks to undertaking this fantastic course.

‘My future plans include opening up another clinic, and employing a receptionist and another full-time therapist.

‘If I could give any of my fellow Forces personnel some advice, I would say, get your ELC in place before starting a course and attend a couple of college open days if you can – these usually run throughout the year.’

Find out more

If you are inspired by Brian’s story, you can find out more about the College of Osteopaths here: Take a look at the college’s open day pages at and see when you could go along to find out more. September comes around sooner than you think and you could begin your journey to becoming an osteopath too!

For more information about Brian’s clinics, visit his website:

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