Damien Kelly – Fitness Studio Owner & Exercise Scientist
Posted September 1, 2017, by Jenny Sakr
Canberra local, Damien, had a love for all things sport and fitness ever since he could remember, with dreams of winning gold for Australia or making it big in NRL. He's now one of the most sought-after trainers in Sydney, an author, app developer, and owner of two Damien Kelly Fitness Studios.
“I want people to love exercise, enjoy the feeling of true health and look forward to turning up to my studios.”
How long have you been in fitness?
I started Little Athletics when I was five and I've been doing 'fitnessy' things ever since. I started coaching kids 21 years ago and in the industry proper in 2000.
What did you study to get into fitness/exercise science?
I initially studied a Diploma in Fitness which taught me the ‘how’ but I still didn't know the ‘why’. So I enrolled in Bachelor of Exercise Science to fill in the gaps. Now I know everything!
What did you want to be when you were younger?
As a young man growing up in Canberra, I dreamed of becoming a sports star. An Olympic 100m Gold was in my sights. Then a spot on the wing for the Mighty Dragons. Unfortunately, when I shattered my knee, that dream was shattered too.
What was your first job?
When I first started working in fitness, I was living in Wollongong and travelled two hours in the early morning to train one client in Sydney. I would then sleep in my car until my next appointment in the evening! Luckily, my client base quickly grew and I was able to move closer to my work.
When did you first know you wanted to pursue this career path?
My early life was spent on athletics tracks, football fields, tennis courts – anywhere that I could play sports. So, I was always certain that I would work in the fitness and health industry. I want people to love exercise, enjoy the feeling of true health and look forward to turning up to my studios.
Explain a typical day at work
It’s still dark when my alarm goes off, then I make my way to my studio to train the early risers. I will then train my loyal PT clients before heading to a local cafe for breakfast and some emails. After this, I’ll workout with my team and take them through some training and development. In the afternoon, I’ll work on future opportunities, such as new business and app development. My favourite way to unwind after all this is telling dad jokes and eating dinner with my kids.
What’s the most interesting thing that’s happened to you in your career?
One of the most interesting periods in my career was during my role as Fitness Writer for Body+Soul magazine (News Limited Sunday papers). Having your voice, thoughts and expertise heard by six million people every week was so cool. It was a dream gig that lasted 10 years and drew lots of interest from many Australians, every week. This opportunity allowed me to launch my brand and open my studios.
Name the best and worst parts of your job
I get to transform lives so drastically for the better; some of my clients still train with me after 20 years! On the flipside, my alarm clock never quite gets easier but this is nothing a strong coffee doesn’t help.
What’s the most important career tip someone has given you?
Your learning never stops. This industry is ever evolving. You need to constantly seek information and be a sponge for new education.
What do you wish someone had told you before starting in fitness?
You can’t have an “off” or bad day in fitness. It’s all about giving the best client experience, no matter what. If you are feeling tired or stressed, put on a happy face and get on with it.
Where do people have to start to work as in fitness and what is a standard salary package?
You need to gain experience first. Surround yourself with people who know more. Casual work is often your launching pad, with the ability to retain clients and members the main success rating. You'll be taking one on one sessions and groups. Having the ability to do more than one role will increase your value to a business.
Name a career highlight
Recently, Damien Kelly Fitness Studios was contracted to run the inaugural Commonwealth Bank Staff Wellness Centre in Sydney City. This was a highly competitive and prized opportunity for reputable fitness institutions from all over Sydney. To say the least, it was incredibly satisfying and validating to be chosen.
What’s next for you?
See career highlight! Exciting times lie ahead for my team and I.
Tell us a little bit more about Damien Kelly outside the fitness studio…
I am the proud father of my sports mad little ones, Finley and Venus. On the weekends, you can find us perched on the hill at Jubilee Oval supporting our beloved St George Dragons.
Keen to get into the field of fitness? Check out our range of Fitness courses and enquire today!
Jenny found her way with words while interning during uni, since, she's produced articles on it all – from hair and beauty to homewares, travel, career advice and study tips. On a weekend you're most likely to find her lining up for a table at the latest cafe or restaurant.