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World at his feet
02November/2017

World at his feet

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WORDS ERIN RIETDYK | IMAGE RICKI VALE

Jesse Kelly was working a full-time office job in engineering survey and design in Coffs Harbour, NSW, when he decided to opt out of his ‘unsatisfying’ lifestyle and channel his love for exercise into pursuing his goals in the fitness industry. Managing his own business had been his dream since the age of 16 when he first began training and working in his local gym.

“I scraped everything I had ever saved together to come on board as a part owner and director, as well as a personal trainer, in one of the most iconic gyms in Australia,” he says.

“I haven’t looked back since. My hobby is now my career and this is where my heart lays.”

That iconic gym is no less than one of the most successful gym chains in arguably one of the most competitive markets in the country, Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast, a transition that Jesse says proved difficult.

“Moving to the Gold Coast was hard, as the fitness industry is so competitive here,” he says.

“Building a whole new client base in a new area where nobody knew me was hard, especially when I decided to comp-prep for my very first IFBB physique show while trying to do all this.

“Luckily, I had the full support of my fiancée, Tania, and some amazing support from Optimum Nutrition and my good friend and coach Chris William from Lmtlss training to help make the ‘journey to the stage’ process a little easier, and to keep me motivated.”

Jesse says training with Chris made connecting with like-minded people on the Gold Coast much easier.

“It’s great to work with other trainers and share ideas to help maximise our knowledge base, allowing us to give clients the best possible outcome,” he says.

Keeping healthy and active has been his life from an early age. Jesse participated in any sort of physical activity that involved getting him “out and about”. He quickly developed an interest in personal training and loves nothing more than helping people transform their lives.

“I have always been someone who loved helping people achieve their goals,” he says. “The more people I helped, the more my passion grew.”

Even when he began full-time employment, Jesse continued to train clients before and after work and says it continues to motivate him today.

“Seeing a change in my clients is the reason I do what I do,” he says. “The feeling of actually being the reason someone is now living a happier and healthier life is amazing each and every time.

“To watch someone grow into a confident, proud, and happy person is such a rewarding process, and each time I see it, I draw motivation out of it. It is what makes me love what I do.”

Motivation comes in all different forms; for Jesse, it’s his absolute passion for the industry. He believes his clients motivate and push him as much as he does them and says he enjoys the challenge of constantly creating new ways to get the best out of them.

“The fitness industry is ever-changing, so your approach has to be evolving to keep up with the demand,” he says.

“I have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge into the workings of the human body, how to push it to its limits and break through boundaries. I use myself as the test subject for new training techniques before then passing them on to my clients.

On those days when motivation does not come straight away, he reminds himself of the rewarding feeling each client’s transformation and newfound confidence, and his hard work, brings him.

“Each transformation is motivating to me in its own way, not just the physical, but the mental transformation,” he says.

“I find accountability to someone other than myself is a huge factor in getting the motivation on days that it just isn’t there. I have a coach and this works very well for me.”

Jesse enjoys surfing, skating, boxing, and Muay Thai, but says that his heart lies in training and preparing for bodybuilding competitions.

“When trying to sculpt and build muscle, particularly when training for IFBB, I will focus on one muscle group at a time,” he says. “I mix my rep range up and incorporate eccentric and static lifts to keep my body guessing and developing accordingly.”

With hard work and dedication, he believes “a strong mind will lead to and create a strong body”.

“My life today is about balance and flexibility. I can now work to my client’s needs as well as my own.”

Jesse attributes a lot of his knowledge and success to World Gym Australia owners Nathan James, Jon Davie, and Mike Nysten, from whom he gained guidance on how to manage his gym under the iconic franchise. While he admits that any investment has an element of risk, he says he had a level of confidence because of the reputation and calibre of the team working within the brand.

“Due to the high success of the other World Gyms that have opened around Australia, it was clear to me that the directors have extensive knowledge of the fitness industry from years of experience and had great business strategies to fuel their success,” he says.

“The Gold Coast is the absolute mecca of fitness and being the World Gym franchise, I knew it was a pretty safe bet.

He also did his research before taking the leap into a new business and trained in a World Gym each time he visited the Gold Coast. There were also sacrifices — giving up and selling luxuries he had at the time, which included downgrading his car.

“Honestly, I bit off a big part of life all at once,” he says. “Staying in my office job as long as I could to keep the finances available to be able to afford this venture and having to travel back and forth each weekend to help with developments on the gym prior to opening — it was an overwhelming few months!”

Yet this is often what is required when you aim high, so he says the lesson is to work hard, believe in yourself, and life will give you what you put into it.

“Always back yourself and focus on what it is that you want to achieve,” he says. “If you believe you can achieve your goals, then you will.

“Knowledge is the key to progression in the fitness industry, and my aim is to educate my clients as well as train them.”

There are also those high-profile stars that the World Gym franchise is known for attracting. Jesse says they come to the gym to train and not be interrupted just like anyone else.

“We do our best to let them do their thing and if they want to chat, they will approach us,” he says.

“The last time ‘The Rock’ visited the Gold Coast we weren't quite open, but he did train at World Gym Burleigh and Ashmore, which caused quite a lot of excitement. If he was to ever return it would be great to get him into Surfers to show us a thing or two.

“I would also love to get local legend and Greek God Chris Hemsworth in for a session. From what I have seen, he trains hard and surfs quite well too!”

World Gym Surfers Paradise has had great success in a short period of time, although the 29-year-old says there is something new to learn every day and that he will never stop learning from his clients.

“Knowledge is power in the fitness industry,” he says. “You can never learn too much and you will never know it all no matter how much you try.

“It is ever-evolving, with new research and studies. You can never become complacent with what you know otherwise you risk getting left behind.”  

To encourage others who may also want to invest big and make large sacrifices to pursue their dream, Jesse has just a few words of advice.

“Follow your passion!” he says. “My hobby is also my job, and it can be yours too. If you love what you do, then the boundaries are limitless. Aim high and never give up!”

His words of inspiration have also gone a long way in helping men and women wanting to succeed in becoming active and staying in shape. Jesse has some simple steps to get started.

“The key is creating a sustainable, healthier way of life,” he says. “An enjoyable but healthy diet is the biggest element to staying in shape; from there, an exercise program or simply being more active during the day can be enough to see and maintain changes.

“As frustrating as it may be, slow progress is sustainable progress.”

Jesse’s own training regime gives justification to his level of success in his personal training; he believes the human mind and body have much more potential than we give it credit for.

For Jesse, sustaining a balance in his busy lifestyle is achieved by remaining focused, driven, and pushing himself beyond his limitations. He keeps his training regime simple, but with highly efficient results.

“I like to hit the gym before training my clients,” he says, “as I feel this puts me in a great mind frame and my energy levels through the roof. I also like to make sure I have eaten a few meals beforehand — I view it like putting fuel in your car before you drive it.”

It is just the beginning for Jesse, who is the youngest World Gym business owner in the country with the opening of his gym in the heart of Surfers Paradise.

“This has really allowed me to appreciate what it took me to get there,” he says. “It emphasised the outcomes of consistency and hard work — it had finally paid off.

“This is something I am extremely honoured to be part of.” 

On a personal level, Jesse aims to return to the stage at the Arnold Classic and pursue his dream of getting his Pro card in IFBB physique.

“Competing gives me the opportunity to see the fitness industry in a different light,” he says. “It has driven me to throw even more into what I do and seek my true full potential.”

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