The perfect fit
‘Leaving the military as an able-bodied person is hard enough, let alone being disabled,’ says Jonathan ‘Jonny’ Holloway (pictured), who tells Quest how, since leaving the Army following life-changing injuries, he has forged an all-action career in the fitness sector …
‘I joined the Army in 2009. It was something that I’d always wanted to do,’ says Jonny, who from a young age always had the desire to serve his country. He joined the Royal Armoured Corps and was progressing well, without a thought for a career outside of his military life, when tragedy struck. In 2014 he was involved in a conflict while serving in Afghanistan, which resulted in him sustaining severe injuries that led to him losing his left leg, the vision in his right eye as well as head injuries.
After spending a month in Birmingham Hospital, Jonny was transferred for a period of rehabilitation to Headley Court rehabilitation centre, where he remained until 2016. Then, in 2017, Jonny reluctantly decided to look to pastures new outside the MoD. ‘I’d never planned on leaving the Army, so it was a shock when I had to do so,’ says Jonny, who was now facing uncharted territory as he inched towards civvy street.
After pondering his future, Jonny started working with young people in schools, who recognised the natural leadership and motivational qualities in him. His first role was as a behaviour mentor, seeing him work closely with young people with behavioural issues, establishing discipline and structure in their lives. Following that, Jonny progressed to work for a military-style fitness company called Commando Joe’s, which uses sport and physical training as a vehicle to help school pupils with team- and character-building.
From his work leading physical training sessions in schools, it was clear to Jonny that his future lay in the health and fitness sector. Having had friends who worked as personal trainers, Jonny started to get more involved in this area and started to find that his skill-set lent itself well to the fitness sector. ‘I started working closely with PTs, and got more and more involved with planning and delivering sessions. I got deeper and deeper into training others, when I suddenly realised that if I wanted to go further, I was missing something important: a personal training qualification!’
This led Jonny to embark on a level 3 Personal Training qualification with Study Active, an ELCAS Approved Provider and one of the UK’s leading providers of personal training qualifications. It was clear to Jonny from the start that he had made the right choice: ‘There is a really good support network. If I have any questions, I know there is someone there to help me, and the quality of materials is perfect.’ Jonny is also quick to point out how vital it was to be able to use his ELC: ‘I had my Enhanced Learning Credits to use, so it was great that my first-choice provider, Study Active, was able to accept them to fund my course.’
Jonny is already putting his new-found knowledge to good use by continuing his physical training work in schools, however he now also has aspirations to work with adults, especially those who have suffered injuries similar to his own.
‘I’ve noticed a clear demand for civilians who want to take part in military-style fitness,’ says Jonny, who feels that civilian clients would benefit from his experience with military fitness. ‘It’s rewarding for me as I naturally like to instruct,’ he says. ‘People really enjoy the military approach and it’s something I feel I could deliver to help people meet their fitness goals – especially those who are dealing with disabilities like my own.’
Jonny is now on a mission to inspire others who wish to follow his example, to overcome disabilities and injuries to go on to work in the fitness sector. ‘If you have a determined attitude you can achieve anything you want,’ he says. ‘If it’s what you want to do, then 100% go for it!’
Distance learning update: stay on course to qualified PT status
Despite the current COVID-19 pandemic, it’s business as usual for fitness careers training provider Study Active, which has said it will remain open, with innovative methods in place to allow you to study 100% online from home:
- online learning system available 24/7, as usual
- student support team available 8am to 10pm, seven days a week, as usual
- key sections of practical workshops have been recorded and are available as webinars
- innovative ways introduced to enable you to take theory exams at home
- video recordings of practical assessments now acceptable
- option to retrospectively attend practical workshops once gyms reopen
- no time limits and ongoing access.