Interview With South African Competitor and Coach Kelly Dessington

1450791_10151686155301286_918178800_nI completed my PICP level 1 & 2 in February ’12 but was already familiar with the Poliquin principles, programming and training techniques and I guess in a way I am very much a product of the Poliquin system. My coach had already started doing Poliquin courses in 2006 so these were automatically incorporated into my training. When the time came to get certified there was no question as to which courses I would do.

 2. What other certifications and education do you hold in regards to your profession?

I am currently studying for the Exercise Nutrition certification via Precision Nutrition and would like to do the BioSignature course this year, plus there are a couple of others on my to do list for 2013. The majority of my education has been a more hands on; years of being trained and training, trying every programme I could find, experimenting with a variety of nutrition plans and supplement protocols. It certainly helps to have first hand experience, now, working with clients, I can honestly say ‘I know how it feels’!

3. When did you start training in figure contests and how many have you done? What was your placing’s in those shows and do you have any in the future?

I competed in my first show in September ’12 and started ‘training for a show’ about 10 weeks before that.  My training, for the most part, has been largely focused on strength as opposed to aesthetics and that together with a good diet meant I was carrying a fair amount of lean mass even before I even thought about entering. The biggest challenge was to get lean enough in a short amount of time (I dropped from about 11% to 6% bf) which proved to be pretty exhausting and of course being my first show prep, I had no idea how my body would respond so I didn’t know for sure that I would step on stage until about two days before the show!

643914_392980870801828_2054588795_nI had only planned to compete in one show, which I chose because it was one of only two larger shows in SA every year, and I placed first in Figure.  There was a provincial qualifier in Cape Town a week later, and I decided at the last minute to enter that as well. I placed first in Toned Figure and qualified to compete for South Africa a couple of weeks later but work commitments meant I wasn’t able to compete at SA’s.

As far as any plans for competing this year go, the ‘season’ starts again in March, but the larger competitions aren’t until June so while I may compete again I am looking at doing something else which is more in line with my general training goals…

4. Have you moved into modeling? Or have you kept your focus on the sport side of the industry?

Nope, apart from the odd photo shoot to promote the gym and personal training I can’t say I have. So I guess its safe to say my focus has once again returned to good old fashioned strength training. I really enjoy lifting heavy and would much rather chase a PB than a BF%, plus this is exactly the kind of training that built my body so I really don’t see why they can’t go hand in hand.

5. You come from a professional background what made you trade it in for the pursuit of fitness and health as a career?

Yeah, I spent about 7 years in London, working in the IT industry. As much as I loved what I did, I guess I never did quite fit the mould. I’d developed such a passion for training over a number of years leading up to this decision; having seen such huge improvement in myself.  Once I started getting requests for help from other people, the coaching side developed naturally. Having experienced the positive changes that lifting had effected in my life, the idea of being able to share this with others, especially women, teach them that they don’t have to starve themselves and spend hours on a treadmill to have a fabulous body, seemed like a natural route to pursue.

1382002_10151644499661286_1284916107_n6. What are your current business goals and how would you describe yourself as a coach and trainer?

I opened a strength and conditioning facility in Cape Town together with my husband in February last year so all my focus is on making this a success. Strength and conditioning facilities are not exactly mainstream in SA so it’s proving as much about education as anything else, although we are seeing a shift towards smaller more personal facilities as people begin to realize the value of smaller, more personal training environments.

I’ve also seen demand for online consulting so I have started to offer this service to clients that aren’t based in Cape Town and want to focus on developing this over the next couple of months. As a trainer/coach, I’ve tried everything so I know when I ask a client to do something, exactly what it feels like and just as importantly, I know how and when to push. I prefer the encouraging, patient approach to the drill sergeant, so you’ll never find me yelling!

My time spent in the corporate world mean I have an understanding of the challenges faced by those working long hours and having to travel, but want to adopt or maintain a healthy lifestyle and the need to educate these clients, to enable them to make good decisions under less than perfect conditions.

7. Do you see yourself branching out in South Africa, working with up and coming figure and fitness competitors in the future and or athletes?

Of course I am keen to work with both fitness competitors and athletes because generally speaking, both these groups of people are prepared to work hard, which always makes my job a pleasure… but if I had to choose, it would be to work with younger athletes because I believe that this is where you can make a real difference.

995234_10151706882851286_1264287867_n8. You currently live in Cape Town South Africa, so how is SA in regards to personal training and the private coaching industry?

SA is probably about 8 years behind the US or UK as far as the fitness industry is concerned. It can be frustrating at times, because the service we provide is undervalued which also means that people working in the industry, no matter how passionate they are about what they do, are not always in a position to keep up to date with the latest information. It also means that a lot of institutions which run excellent training programs and are very successful in the US and UK haven’t yet crossed into the South African market.

9. What are three goals you have for yourself during the next 12 months?

Obviously, to grow the gym and myself as a trainer and coach! I am still very new to the business and I have a lot to learn. Plus I have a PN certification exam to pass.

I’m currently working on strength and want to up my PR’s for squats, deadlifts and weighted chin ups.

I was never really into any competitive sports when I was younger but after competing last year I guess I have a taste for it and I’m looking at my options for this year. One of which would of course be to compete in figure, the second I am keen to try is powerlifting and thirdly, well, let’s just keep it under wraps for now.

I have plans to run a women’s lifting course in the next couple of months, in an attempt to get more ladies under the bar in Cape Town.

10. Tell us a little about where you coach and is there a way to get in contact with you for consultations or training?

Progressive Edge is a personal training facility, focused on Strength and Conditioning training and based in Cape Town. I can be contacted via email

Categories: Athlete Interviews

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5 replies

  1. Reblogged this on girlcancrush and commented:
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  1. Testimonial: Kelly Dessington « DEREK WOODSKE

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