Timing, both good and bad, has been a recurring feature of Jordan Drew’s football career; and this year, he has used his time away from the game to fast forward his business career.
This year, the Wynnum Manly Seagulls centre had two key rugby league goals in mind, but when the effects of coronavirus hit and Intrust Super Cup season was cancelled, he was able to instead place more focus on his personal training business JDPT to a point where he has this week opened his own gym.
“At the start of the season, I had some personal goals in terms of footy; of making the Queensland Residents team, I made (the NSW Cup Residents team) when I played in New South Wales,” Drew said.
“And to win the comp was a big one as well, obviously we came second last year, so they were the two big footy goals.
“Business-wise, I was working at Anytime Fitness and I assume I would still be there, I would not have had the chance to go out on my own.
“I am a bit of an individual anyway ... (and to go out on my own) was always my goal, but I probably wouldn’t have had the confidence to leave and actually do my own thing, because it’s a big risk.
“If you go on your own, you have to get your own (members) and they essentially have to leave their own gym to come over, so I probably wouldn’t have left, I probably would have still been there.”
Already providing one-on-one sessions with clients and starting to harness social media to get the word out about his personal training before things completely changed, Drew’s move to becoming his own boss got kick-started when he decided to bring a little bit of fun to people as uncertainty over how COVID-19 would change our daily lives.
As the gyms closed at the end of March, he started to do daily livestreamed workouts for those who wanted to keep fit while staying at home and have a laugh while doing so.
“At the start I wanted to do something to help people out and the first thing I did was the live workouts for free,” Drew said.
“They also gave people the opportunity to see me who hadn’t seen me before and I wasn’t asking anything of them, was just giving them a fitness option because there wasn’t many available at the time.
“I also think it’s super important to do; as we all know, keeping fit and healthy is super important for your mental health, and during these times, it’s even more important because there is so much stress going on.
“The fact that we all need to do it, it doesn’t mean we can’t be having fun with it or trying to make it enjoyable, so I just try and make it as enjoyable as possible.”
From there, his mobile ‘gym’ made house calls for one-on-sessions – “I have always had equipment in my car, I have always been a mobile business so I am always training people at their houses as well” – which led to boot camps that eventually culminated in him finding a home base, a gym called ‘The Nest’ at Wynnum Manly’s junior grounds at Kitchener Park.
“Once the limitations were dropped and I could start training people in person again and start having groups, off the back of that ... it was mainly the boot camps on the weekends that grew pretty quickly.
"But once the other gyms started opening up, I knew I couldn’t compete... there’s weather, there’s time... you can’t be out at certain times with music, I mean the amount of council calls I have had – ridiculous,” Drew said.
“I just realised, if I was fair dinkum about it, I needed to have a gym that I could call my own and ... even though this one is not as flashy as the other ones ... we have something we can call a gym and people can come to and train at all hours of the day.
“The juniors – they offered (their space to me) and the rent was perfect and we moved in straight away.
“It’s super old school, but it’s good. I love the history of it. And because it’s at the juniors, just the connection with the seniors; and I train a lot of kids here who play here at the juniors in my footy programs.
“It just worked out perfectly and so far, touch wood – it’s going really well.”
The opening up of more services and the return of rugby league has meant things are getting busier for Drew, who has also signed on to play with Valleys Roosters in the new Volunteers Cup competition.
Originally from Nanango, Drew had a rapid rugby league rise as a youngster which was included an NRL debut at the age of 18.
“I grew up in Nanango, small town near Kingaroy, I played junior footy there, and when I was 12, I made the Queensland rep team and from there, the Broncos picked me up in the development squads,” Drew said.
“I got a scholarship to Toowoomba Grammar to play rugby union, so I was with the Broncos through my high schooling up until 17 and first year out of school, I played NRL, I played one game for the Broncos when I was 18.
“That was very out of the blue and I don’t think it would happen like this anymore, but the first week I trained with the NRL squad was the first time I played.
“I had a call-up from Anthony Griffin at the time, he said ‘just come on Monday’ and I said ‘for what? Have I won a competition or something?’ and he said ‘no, you are training’.
“I had played like seven under 20s games before that, so anyway I went, trained and he said, ‘you are playing’ and that was it. That was my only NRL game.
“In under 20s I made Junior Kangaroos, Under 20s team of the year, all the rep teams you could and then after 20s I went down to Cronulla because at the time, the Broncos were really strong and I figured there wasn’t any room there and I didn’t want to wait around, so I went down to Cronulla when I was 21 and that was the year they won the competition.”
Here he goes again with his timing – initially in this case, it was poor.
“I actually went there thinking they might be a little bit weaker and there might be a bit more opportunity, but they won the comp and they had a record number of no injuries,” Drew said.
“I think on average, a team would use 28-30 players for the whole year – they got down to 21, that was it. I just couldn’t get in. I was 18th man a couple times, but just couldn’t get in.
“I was down there and couldn’t see a way in, and I thought if I was going to play Cup, I may as well play for a good Cup team and went up to Townsville (Blackhawks).
“That’s where the PT all started because my first year there, I had a lot of concussions and I was ruled out for a season, so during that time off; I started the business and then I came down to Brisbane to play with Wynnum and continued the business and continued playing footy.”
It was while playing for the Blackhawks however that Drew was selected to represent Canada, with the timing of his mother’s birth resulting in his eligibility to play.
“It was the greatest experience of my life, but the fact that we didn’t make the World Cup, because it was a World Cup qualifier, still eats me up to this day because everything about it, just playing for a country all that – I was so disappointed when we didn’t make it,” Drew said.
“My mum was born there, she’s not Canadian, but they were on holiday and she just happened to be born there, so that’s my connection.
“We lost to Jamaica ... they were pretty good, I didn’t think that going in, I didn’t even know they played rugby league.
“It was the best experience, I would happily do that every year if I could – I guess I don’t have that strong connection because my mum is not really Canadian but, all the other boys are and just being around a team where they have that much pride for the jersey is just so good to be a part of.
“I will definitely (play for them again) and we’ll have another crack, because to be a part of the actual World Cup would be the crème de la crème, that would be the best thing you can do I think.”
Drew – who studied primary education and now incorporates fitness classes for children including special needs and all abilities, as well as rugby league clinics for junior players into his schedule – will return to the Seagulls next season and was looking forward to figuring out how to balance his fitness and his football worlds.
“It is a different ball game being a PT at a gym to owning one and running one,” Drew said.
“It will be tough, but I do have staff now which I have never had before which will be a big help, so I am just learning stuff on the fly, so now when I am at footy training they can run the show.
“If it was any other suburb, it wouldn’t work, but because it is Wynnum, (my clients) like the Seagulls here more than the Broncos, and they definitely have an understanding of what I do and who I am and it’s actually really cool, ‘cause they will come to the game and I will see them after the game.
“I don’t know what it’s going to be like now, because I have doubled the people I have met ... it’s cool after the game having kids coming up after the game saying ‘hey Jordan’ and all that, I love that.”