Like most of us, Craig Kelly loves the health and fitness industry and thrives on helping as many people as he possibly can. If you asked most people who ever came into his circle, they would agree that his experiences and achievements are truly inspiring. There is obviously more to this man than just his passion for health and fitness. He has come a long way, this is his story told by his wife Debbie.

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Craig, Bear and Deb Kelly.

Craig Kelly is a 42 year old male, who has been involved in the fitness industry for over 2o years in various roles, including gym instructor, personal trainer, personal trainer supervisor, gym floor manager, club manager, cluster manager, full time lecturer, practicing clinical nutritionist, presenter and consultant.

I met Craig whilst working with him in a Health Club in Sydney. Working alongside of him was a great experience, as he is one of the most knowledgeable people I have ever met. He constantly had his head stuck in text books and is always up-to-date on the latest research from here and overseas. He is so passionate about the health and fitness industry and lives by the adage that you can never know enough. Craig loves to share his knowledge with his client base in which he has built a very special rapport with, and many of them simply adore working with him.

In 1992, Craig was a national level motorcycle racer (road racing) in the 250 GP class. At an event at Oran Park, Sydney that year Craig was in a major accident, which shattered his left shoulder and left him unconscious. When he awoke, he had no feeling from his torso down, so he was rushed to hospital and, although the feeling returned to his legs during that journey, he did undergo a full shoulder reconstruction.

After the accident, Craig had a 16 week lay off from racing and it was then that he made the decision to watch what he ate, as a means of avoiding an increase in his racing weight. It was during this time that Craig developed anorexia nervosa, the starvation based eating disorder.

Craig’s weight began at 79kg but it soon deteriorated to just 49kg.  Craig, who was living with his mother, grandmother and brother at the time, was asked to leave home (due to them not being able to see him continue to starve himself to death) and Craig moved in with his loving father and his (life saving) other Mum to be Cathy.

It was this turn in events, Craig moving in with his loving Dad and Cathy that Craig’s life changed for the better. Cathy had experiences previously in her life with knowing someone who suffered with Anorexia Nervosa and Cathy confronted Craig suggesting he really needed help, support, and intervention.Craig broke down and agreed to getting assistance. It was truly at this moment that Craig’s life changed, thank you so much Cathy. Craig’s legacy was about to begin, and it is only thanks to the support, love and care of his amazing family that this has been possible.

Craig was later checked into an eating disorder clinic in Sydney, where he was officially diagnosed with anorexia. Craig was the only male in the clinic with 13 females and although he hated it there, he refused to let them send him to a psychiatric hospital. Craig ended up checking himself out, with the ambition to treat himself with his families support. He tried to get better on his own accord, but he soon found himself regurgitating upto 12 times or more a day. He wasn’t improving! He was now suffering with bulimia nervosa.

A turning point did arrive, when he decided to educate himself about anatomy and its “brother in arms” physiology. Through extensive reading and researching Craig managed to rehabilitate himself both mentally and physically. He began a regimented training regime daily and began eating a well balanced eating plan consisting of high protein, and essential fats predominately with quality carbohydrates close to nature. Finally, he was on the path to recovery.

On Anzac Day in 1995, Craig returned to Eastern Creek raceway, strong, fit and healthy. But it turned out to be his last hoorah. Despite placing in the top 5, Craig realised he had lost the “win or crash” attitude he relied on before the accident, and so he retired the racing leathers.

His newfound love came in the form of weight training. During his recovery from anorexia he had seen extreme physical changes and loved the challenge of training. With all he had read and learned about, Craig decided he wanted to become involved in competitive body building. Armed with his typical “give it your all” attitude, Craig embarked on becoming the best body builder he could be. His unconditional belief in intense training led him to his training partner, John Buckpitt, the number 2 ranked national heavyweight champion at the time.

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Craig with his Grandmother.

In 1999 as he was preparing to compete as a light heavyweight bodybuilder, Craig’s mentor and best friend passed away: this was his 77 year old Grandmother. She had a fall, where she broke her hip and the post surgery complications, coupled with her ongoing battle against cancer, eventually overcame her. This devastating experience motivated Craig to learn more about bone disease, falls prevention, osteoporosis and resistance exercise.

In 2001 Craig was in preparation for the upcoming 2002 International 5 Star event in February of that year. During his heavy training preparation he started to experience severe pain in his shoulder and also power loss down his arm and into his hand. Loss of sleep, due to this now extreme pain, was frustrating and made it difficult for him to concentrate on his training, but he soldiered on. In the dieting phase of his preparation, Craig found the pain extreme; however he remained focused and managed to place 3rd in a very close contest.

When he returned to Sydney, Craig consulted his neuro-sugeon and was told that he had spinal compression at C3/4, C4/5, C5/6 and C7/T1. However C5/6 was causing the severe loss of movement in the arm and immediate surgery was required otherwise the nerve may die, and a real chance that he could lose movement in his left arm.  So on May 22nd 2002 Craig underwent a 9 hour operation, where bone was from his hip and placed in his neck, as long with 2 titanium plates, 4 rods and 16 screws. This procedure alleviated the compression.

After 3 days in hospital Craig returned home. He had to wear a full neck brace and was limping badly due to the bone graft from the hip, but his excellent level of health had him up and walking before anyone expected. It was but a mere 2 weeks later and Craig was lifting light weights at home and walking every morning. Craig’s fitness level had been declared one of the key reasons for his raped recovery.

Just 1 month after surgery, Craig returned to the neuro-surgeon, who confirmed that Craig would need further surgery to correct the problem at C4/5 but commended him on his impressive self-rehabilitation.

Craig rehabilitated himself using the knowledge he had gained over the many years of study. It took Craig just 6 weeks after his surgery, for him to be back training in the gym, and although he had lost a substantial amount of weight, he was adamant he would compete as a body builder again.

In June 2003, Craig’s surgeon was astounded at how well he had recovered, and again agreed that being fit and healthy, and having the right attitude contributes to a fast and effective recuperation.

Unfortunately, Craig has since had more spinal surgery due to being diagnosed with a degenerative disease of the spine, but still he is determined to continue training and helping educate others about health and fitness and its amazing life benefits.

Craig’s personal and professional aim is to help people believe in themselves and adopt the attitude that nothing is too hard to accomplish. He would love to be remembered as a good bloke who loves his line of work and the people who aligned their faith in him. Craig has the sole aim of helping others build their very best bodies, and have the skills and tools to keep it for life, to simply add life to their years and years to their life.

I feel so very proud to know this man and to have worked alongside of him. I love him dearly. He is my husband, my best friend and my guiding light. Thank you Craigus, you’re the best!

Debbie Kelly