Andy Dooley: Living Life With Arms Wide Open
When Andy Dooley realized early in adulthood that his role in life would be to help others, there were people close to him offering advice that he didn’t particularly want to hear.
As a man of deep faith, he could answer his calling to the ministry and follow the lead of both of his parents to become a pastor. Or, he could take his own devotion to fitness and a healthy lifestyle and build a business to show others the way.
The consensus was that he would have to choose one or the other; he couldn’t do both.
To that, Dooley ultimately said, “Why not?”
Why not, indeed. The 37-year-old Dooley, a married father of three, operates a successful and growing fitness business as a nationally recognized personal trainer while also serving as a licensed youth pastor at a church in his adopted home of Ventura, Calif.
“It’s like a perfect marriage,” Dooley said. “It helps create balance.”
A healthy mind, body, and spirit has aided Dooley in reaching great heights in the fitness industry. Since 2016 he has served as the face of ReebokONE, the athletic apparel company’s online gathering spot for fitness professionals. He created a personal website to inspire people to “Be you, Do you.” It features a blog and a podcast devoted to faith, family, fitness, and fashion under the brand “Doo Work.”
As the face of ReebokONE, Dooley makes appearances and takes part in a social media campaign. He had a one-year exclusivity deal with Reebok, but has since been able to create relationships with other fitness apparel companies. And it all happened by chance.
“One of my clients told me about the contest and told me I should try out,” Dooley said. “I sent in my photos and a 140-character message [on why he should be selected.] Hundreds of people signed up for it, and I received an e-mail saying that I made the top 12. At first, I thought it was fake. But it wasn’t, and the next step was to submit a two-minute video about what it is like to be a personal trainer.
“I incorporated everything I was about. The majority of people who entered were cross trainers, and because that was only a small part of what I do, I wasn’t sure if I had a chance. The next thing you know I’m voted into the top four.”
Reebok flew Dooley and the other finalists to Boston, where they met with the celebrity judges and competed against each other by training, developing a business plan and taking part in photo and video shoots. Two months later, at a conference in Arizona, Dooley was announced as the winner.
Dooley said winning the competition proved to be a major boost for his business.
“It went from having clientele but having to hustle, to having to turn people away,” he said. “That’s why I’m expanding my online business. You can do all the hard work up front, and then, instead of spending an hour with a client you can be using that time to build your business.”
Dooley’s intense interest in fitness was the result of personal hardship. He was a junior in high school when his dad was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. His dad’s disease progressed, resulting in two kidney transplants and numerous other ailments. Dooley decided that he needed to educate himself about fitness and nutrition in order to avoid a similar fate.
When Dooley enrolled at Wittenberg University in Ohio, where he played football, he paid strict attention to what he put into his body, knowing that bad choices that were the result of not being educated on the subject contributed to his dad’s illness. Dooley also pored over every fitness magazine he could find and became an avid weightlifter.
“My dad didn’t let me lift weights in high school,” Dooley said. “Just calisthenics. But it actually made me really strong; wiry strong. So, when I did hit the weights, and I came back home after my freshman year, people thought I was on steroids.”
Dooley committed to becoming a full-time ISSA certified personal trainer in 2007 after dabbling in the industry for a few years. His first client was former Major League all-star outfielder David Justice. Dooley’s clientele also included members of the San Diego Chargers. He originally operated his business out of a friend’s gym, but he eventually came to the realization that fitness can take place “anywhere.”
“So, I started to train people in their homes or at the park,” Dooley said. “One of my clients came to me and said she wanted to get in better shape before she got pregnant. She ended up losing 60 pounds in six months. Her story ended up being featured in Train magazine. Weight Watchers asked her how she lost the weight, and they ended up offering her a job. It was really cool to see how her life changed.”
The same can be said for Dooley—a little motivation can lead to big life change.