I believe that by committing to a philosophy of life long education and personal development, you too can have a rewarding career that makes you feel like you “never worked a day in your life."
Owner, Down Under Corporate Fitness
I’m Mike James, an Aussie with over 30 years of international experience working in the Fitness Industry. I was born in Alice Springs, right near the famous Uluru/Ayers Rock, (pictured above,) one of the worlds most recognizable natural landmarks, and sacred to the Anangu, the Aboriginal people of the area .
I have always been a big believer in education. Over the journey I have earned numerous graduate diplomas in areas as diverse as Massage Therapy, Medical Exercise, Radio and Voice production, IHRSA Club Management, Project Management (GWU) and a Master’s Degree in Writing from Johns Hopkins University (MA JHU)
My continual quest for knowledge and personal development has enabled me to pursue a wide variety of roles and career paths in this exciting, dynamic and ever changing fitness industry. Together with Managing Corporate Fitness Centers in Australia and the United States, I have experience as a Massage Therapist, Freelance Writer, speaker and voice over artist.
It all began for me in the late 1970’s. While studying for my undergraduate degree in Applied Science I worked at various fitness clubs, owned my own fitness consultancy and did everything from clean pools, spas and saunas to freelance as a very uncoordinated aerobics instructor!!
Later in my career I became a licensed CPR instructor for the Australian National Heart Foundation, and a certified Spin and Boxacise instructor.
Here's a brief summary of what I have been up to for the past 30 years.
1983 - I graduated with a degree in Applied Science (Physical Education) from Victoria University in Melbourne Australia. While studying and working at various commercial fitness centers I was recruited by GJ Coles and coy ltd (a large Aussie retail group) who were establishing Corporate Fitness Centers for their employees throughout Australia.
1985 - Appointed Manger of the new GJ Coles Employee Fitness Center in Adelaide, South Australia. Over the next 2 years we won many awards for fitness and health promotion in the work place, including the "Life Be In it Southern Region Corporate Cup". I was also fortunate enough to win the "Don Leitch memorial trophy for Health Promotion" awarded by the Life Be In It organization
1988 - Moved back to Melbourne to oversee the move of the newly merged Coles Myer ltd fitness centers from central Melbourne, to the Companies new Headquarters in suburban Toorak.
1989 - Promoted to National Manager of Coles Myer Fitness Centers, overseeing Corporate Fitness Centers throughout Australia. While this was a very prestigious appointment, I didn’t let the proverbial grass grow under my feet.
I continued to pursue my passion for knowledge and personal development by acting as fitness consultant to the Australian Academy of Boxing and various other sporting groups. I also earned a post graduate diploma in Clinical Massage and gained invaluable experience as a massage therapist for chiropractic and physical therapy clinics around Melbourne.
1993 - the World Bank Group came calling. After numerous interviews and a lottttttt of soul searching !!! I left my native land down under to manage the World Bank’s new, fledgling, Corporate Fitness Center in Washington DC.
This was a life changing decision. Despite the heart ache of leaving friend s and loved ones it has been a decision I have never regretted .
When friends ask the question do you miss Australia. ? My standard answer is "Only every day !!"
But , there have been many highlights during my time with the World Bank.
1997 - Managed the design and construction of a new 11,000 sq ft Fitness Center at the International Finance Corporation, Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC.
1998 - (MA) Masters in Writing from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, A View from Down under. I continue to pursue my passion for writing by contributing freelance articles for a number of fitness related magazines in Australia, the United States, Canada, Great Britain and South Africa. I have also had short stories published in Anthologies in the USA and Australia.
2003 - Project Manager for the design and reconstruction 4,000 sq. ft. expansion of the main World Bank Fitness Center.
2003 - 2004 - Diploma in Radio and Voice production at Columbia school of Broadcasting.
2005 - Script writing and Voice over for World Bank Health Services Department "Fit on the Trip" CD Rohm Video runner up in the prestigious "Nova Awards for Work-site Health Promotion" awarded by Fitness Management Magazine in 2007.
2007 - 2008 - Implemented Fitness Center Service Goals and Action Plan.. a hybrid of Management systems used by organizations as diverse as the Sydney Swans football club, Ritz Carlton and Disney corporation. This system has been a big factor in the success of the World Bank fitness Centers. The 2011 annual staff survey of Fitness center members showed an approval rate of 95% from nearly 2000 respondents.
2007 - 2008 - Designed the CRAP system. A very successful communication vehicle for Fitness Center operational issues.
2009 - Author of Pictorial book, "The World bank Volunteer Fitness Instructor Program, Celebrating 25 years of Inspiration, Perspiration and Motivation."
2010 - 2011 - Project Manager for the design and construction of a new 24,000 sq. ft. facility in the World Bank Main complex. The facility opened in December of 2011.
Today the World Bank Fitness Center offers its’ over 3,800 members one of the largest Corporate Fitness programs in North America with 3 fully equipped facilities and a Group exercise program of over 60 classes per week.
As a regular participant in the IHRSA "Ask the Industry leader" section of their website I have produced a number of videos replies to frequently asked questions. These and a number of other videos can be viewed on YouTube by searching aussiemikejames
I have also been an official Speaker at a number of International Fitness Conventions ( International Health Racquetball and Squash Association(IHRSA), Athletic Business, and Club Industry) on Management and Customer Service.
My hope is that by sharing some of my experiences, published articles ,and videos I can act as a resource to help both newcomers and experienced hands in the Fitness Industry. These articles and videos address some of the practical, nitty gritty challenges Fitness Center managers and employees face on a daily basis.
I believe that by committing to a philosophy of continual life long education and personal development you too can have a rewarding career that makes you feel that you “never worked a day in your life”