Naturally drawn to the gym from his teenage years completing high school at Daramalan College, Matt Eikenhout soon found himself at the coalface of Australia’s pace-setter in the health and leisure industry.
But there was a catch. In this position, you can’t keep still. Slow down here and you could get swept away.
Matt’s in top shape as a personal trainer and one of the key people in Canberra-based Viva Leisure, which runs fitness and wellbeing services including the Club Lime brands.
Viva Leisure listed on the Australian Stock Market recently, swiftly raising $20 million, and turning away many eager investors when the public offer was quickly filled.
Most of Matt’s clients are in equally great shape, as are his fellow trainers. They are all as motivated in the daily, grinding regime as he is these days.
“You have up and coming younger trainers in the industry, you are trying to keep up with those guys and girls, and their competitive nature, and it doesn’t get any easier, that’s for sure,” Matt says.
The 33-year-old loves the challenge of keeping pace with Club Lime’s rapid growth.
“Sometimes it is a cyclone, you either jump in, run around in the middle there or you get blown away on the outside, that’s what I always explain to people,” he says.
“You have to prioritise what needs to be done. At the same time, we have a great team who are always supporting our ideas and what we are trying to achieve as well.
“It is not one person doing absolutely everything. We are all quite busy, juggling everything and doing it quite well. It means you have to be on point every day and help each other when needed.”
Matt’s early career began while he was a regular at Canberra Institute of Technology’s gym. He completed his Certificate 3 for fitness training at CIT and, encouraged after a careers night, continued training and started working as a Gym Floor, taking boxing classes and group Circuit classes.
In 2005, he completed a Certificate 4 enabling him to become a full-time personal trainer. Moving to several different gyms to widen his experience, by the end of 2005 he was at Canberra International Sports and Aquatic Centre doing full-time PT sessions.
“I was running my own business there, as a contractor and eventually managing other contractors before Club Lime offered me a full-time position,” he says. “To be honest I was tucking away 60 hours a week comfortably across a number of different sites, doing a bit of travel here and there, it was long days,” he says.
“A personal trainer usually has their first clients around 5-6 am every day, prime time for us, and in the evenings, you find yourself back to back with clients until 7-8 pm. During the day, you would generally train yourself or preferably other trainers, do life administration, business administration and get back into it from 2 pm to 7 or 8 pm with clients,” Matt says.
He was delivering 40 plus sessions a week. “For me I love it. I live it, I breathe it, I’m a pretty energetic person, so the job is perfect for me.
“I’m quite motivated and generally have no issues with talking to people, it was quite easy for me to be with 40 different people in the one week and those sessions would be 45 minutes. It stacks up, it can be mentally exhausting, but at the same time you get used to it,” he says.
“You always have to be switched on, because you have to remember how much they [his clients] can lift, how fast they can run, what they can and cannot do in the gym, injury concerns as well,” he says.
Now Head of Fitness with Club Lime, he is overseeing the roll-out across Canberra and NSW of current and new Hiit Republic facilities, which offer a boutique functional fitness class-based environment. When a new gym opens, or a gym needs equipment it is down to Matt to investigate and organise everything, based on what is going on in the industry.
“Leaving my previous role back in 2012 was a tough decision, but certainly the best decision I have made in my career,” he says.
“Seven years on, I have certainly been given amazing opportunities within Viva Leisure, and get excited about coming to work every day. Each day is different, and the people you work with and meet [the members] along the way are inspiring, and every day still starts off with a 5 am alarm clock and a few coffees to get me through the day.”