David Smith, AES, Fitness Industry

Name: David Smith

Job title: Co-Founder, Performance & Clinical Director

Company/Organisation: Absolute Health & Performance

How long have you been in the role? The company opened our doors to our first site April 2016.

Give us a brief background on your career to date?

I started my career in the health and fitness space working as a coach at the Australian Institute of Sport, where I worked predominantly with general public on the gym floor, 1:1 and group training, but also assisted in training camps for elite athletes.

After two years at the AIS, I moved to London, where I was working as a Performance Coach at a multi-disciplinary Sports Medicine Centre call Pure Sports Medicine when it opened its flagship centre near the bank of England. The company expanded to 4 sites while I was there and I was promoted to Director of Performance, where I managed a team of Performance Coaches across all our sites, while still spending most of my time client facing.

While in the UK I also worked for 4 seasons as a strength & conditioning coach for top tier rugby union team the Worcester Warriors, as well as some contract work for championship football team Ipswich FC.

After six years in London I moved back to Melbourne, where I started my own training business at a CBD gym and ran it for three years. I then teamed up with a former client of mine from London and developed Absolute Health & Performance, opening our first site in Melbourne CBD April 2016. We specialise in 1 on 1 and small group training and full clinical rehabilitation services and 200sqm training and rehab floor, with a multidisciplinary team comprised of Sports Physicians, Physiotherapists, Osteopaths, Performance Coaches, Exercise Physiologists, Exercise Scientists, Massage Therapists & Dietitians. We now have our second site open in Armadale, and a 3rd which is close to completion.

Despite being a busy business owner, my true passion is working with my clients, and I am still an active practitioner seeing 40+ clients per week, I also regularly provide education seminars to Melbourne corporates, in an area of passion of mine, the importance of activity on mental health and productivity. And when I can fit it in, I try take on student placements from various exercise science degrees through Melbourne for their placements.

What have been the highlights?

I get to work with, learn from, and share ideas with amazing coaches and clinicians every day, and clients truly driven to improve their health and performance or recover from injury. Deciding to take the journey of opening Absolute is the clear highlight!

Not far behind that though is rehabbing and training some Wallaby and All black rugby union stars in my time at the rugby union club in the UK. Big rugby fan!

Any lowlights?

Our 3rd site was supposed to be our second site, but has various delays for over 2 years now which has incredibly stressful and tiring. And of course COVID, just a devastating situation for all of us in this industry, and any industry for that matter!

What are you plans for the next 3-5 years?

Continue to grow Absolute through COVID and beyond with my amazing team, and I also have some research I am involved with which excites me for the future.

If you could name 3 skills, you need for your role what would they be?

Excluding a detailed understanding of clinical and training principles, inclusive of anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, psychology and habit change, which has to be a given, my 3 key skills that I think are most impactful for what we do is:

An eye for detail and planning, empathy and understanding and communication skills adaptable to people from all walks of life.

One piece of advice you would give a student.

The first five years of your career your sole focus in roles you look for should be learning environments, and the chance to interact with as many different people and backgrounds as possible.