Do you have to be a gym junkie to love working at 24 Hour Fitness? 24Life asked Jessica Kelley, senior director, HR and Organizational Transformation, about what it takes to flourish in fitness and more. The mom of three shares her advice for getting started on any goal and tuning your work-life balance.
24Life: Tell us about your role and how you started.
Jessica Kelley: My team works on how we attract and select talent from outside the company: what compels them to join us, all the way through their career with us and the experience they have as team members. This encompasses talent acquisition, talent management, engagement, learning and development, and internal communications, as well. These are the foundational components of our 24 Hour Fitness culture.
I’ve always had a passion for leadership development. Like many people, I went into a master’s program because I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. I fell upon some great mentors and colleagues who really pushed me in the direction of human resources and understanding how you can enable a business through education and development of people—which ultimately helps them enjoy their lives and jobs more. [After graduation], I started my career in the grocery industry at Safeway and worked in a variety of roles there in the talent development space, where I oversaw some of their retail leadership development programs. [Then I transitioned to] HR business partner, getting more generalist experience working across the merchandising group.
I got called by a recruiter for an opportunity at 24 Hour Fitness in talent development. Here, I’ve had the opportunity to try on a lot of hats and play in a lot of different spaces, which has allowed me to exercise my creativity and build really strong partnerships within the organization. Ultimately, that has led me to the role that I have now.
24Life: Were you always into fitness?
JK: No. I wouldn’t say that I was always into fitness. Actually, in my first interview at 24 Hour Fitness, the chief human resources officer at the time asked me, “What’s your personal passion for fitness?” And I thought to myself, Oh, shoot. I’m not going to get this job.
Safeway was a primary sponsor of the Nike Women’s Marathon, so that was one of my first experiences with fitness. It’s a pretty exclusive race to be able to run, and it’s lottery-based, [which meant] a certain number [of spots] were earmarked for Safeway employees. That was my first experience training for a half marathon. Many people have that experience when they’re growing up; I really didn’t. So I learned as an adult how to run and pace yourself, and things that just weren’t natural to me. Just learning the discipline of that was really eye-opening later in life. I think it’s a good analogy for learning to pace yourself in a lot of avenues of your life, providing long-term value and not burning out.
24Life: Has your relationship with health and fitness changed since joining 24 Hour Fitness?
JK: [I appreciate the perspective that] it does take a lot, and it is challenging to stay committed to those fitness goals. I’ve had the experience of becoming a mother. I think fitness has really enabled me to have time for post-pregnancy recovery and getting to know my body again, feeling like I’m getting back to a weight that I’m comfortable with. Pregnancy can be really challenging from that perspective, and that’s the place where being at 24 Hour Fitness and having the opportunity for personal training—someone to really guide you—has been so helpful.
24Life: How do you think about work-life balance as a mother of three with tremendous responsibility at 24 Hour Fitness and factoring in your health, other relationships and hobbies?
JK: It’s not easy. Nobody has the silver bullet, and I think it has to start with being honest with yourself and understanding your underlying motivations for what you choose to do with your time. For me, that means remaining really connected to my husband, remaining transparent about what I feel like I need emotionally, and that may correlate to what I need physically in terms of time for myself and for staying in touch with some of my deepest friendships.
It’s [a question of] finding those natural times where you’ll have those opportunities [for balance]. I’m still learning when you are commuting and working full time and have kids at home, it’s important to give yourself a lot of grace to do it at your own pace and say no to some things. Balance is a challenging word, in that respect. [It’s more like] staying in tune with what you need, prioritizing yourself in the midst of also being and holding so many other roles in your life, making sure that self-care gets to have a place in that.
One of my favorite quotes is, “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.” For those of us who are achievers by nature, it’s so easy to just add the plates, but then your effectiveness and your satisfaction with your life typically correlates [negatively]. I’d rather do a few things really well than try to be everything for everybody.
24Life: What advice would you have for someone just starting their fitness journey at 24 Hour Fitness?
JK: I think it’s about being kind to yourself. I tend to be one of those people where it’s all or nothing. So I’m preaching to myself here, but I think it’s really about the long game and being focused on the net results over a long period of time versus beating yourself up over a smaller goal that you didn’t meet.
I know I need accountability to get it done and to prioritize myself. So it’s helpful to have a trainer or a friend that you might go to a class with—whatever it might be—and finding those people that are in your corner to remind you to prioritize yourself. It’s human nature that we’ll put ourselves last. But if you didn’t do what you were hoping you would do, next week’s a new week and you’ll always have that opportunity to start again.
Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday.
The entire “Hamilton” soundtrack on repeat constantly.
Food you can’t live without.
Humboldt Fog cheese and Raincoast Crisp crackers together. My favorite snack.
Quick reset for stress and overwhelm.
Calling my best friend.
Les Mills BODYPUMP.
“You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.”
Photo credit: Cynthia Dela Cruz, 24 Hour Fitness