Jake Nalepa – Sports Therapy Provided ‘Solid Base’ and ‘Opened Doors’ for Gym Owner and Performance Coach

BSc (Hons) Sports Therapy


Jake Nalepa owns and runs his own studio gym, Excel Fitness Studios, and runs the fitness program at Castleknock Lawn Tennis Club in Dublin.

He is a graduate of Portobello Institute’s BSc (Hons) in Sports Therapy which provided a solid foundation for him to start his own business and go on to gain his MSc in Performance Coaching.

“I had to choose between an MSc in Physiotherapy and Performance Coaching. I chose the latter and feel it was the best decision for me. The degree from Portobello equipped me with all the necessary skills to do well in the MSc,” he said.

His degree provided a solid base for his further studies and career progression. With an ambitious outlook on life and upholding high standards, Jake is proud of what he has achieved so far but still has high aspirations.

I have done and achieved some pretty cool things but the nature of the sport/performance is exactly this – fleeting, so success for me is a constant chase. Some of the qualities that help me achieve my goals are determination, high personal standards and professional curiosity,” he said. 

It was discovering the importance of injury prevention and rehabilitation while he was working that led him to follow his passion with a BSc (Hons) in Sports Therapy at Portobello Institute.

My career path to Sports Therapy came from working on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) circuit with professional tennis players. I had to double up as a strength and conditioning coach and a massage therapist. I got interested in the injury prevention/rehabilitation side of the sport and it led me to Portobello.

“Completing this course allowed me to offer a more comprehensive service to the players I was working with. I also thought it provided another depth to my existing knowledge of strength and conditioning.

“It offered a flexible schedule and was located in Dublin. It allowed me to study and further my professional career at the same time. 

It was a tricky time due to Covid so most of my experience was related to the online lectures, which were very good. We eventually got back into the classroom and Cathal (Brady, tutor) was brilliant at delivering the content in an informative and entertaining way.

If you’re willing to put the effort into your studies, I think Portobello offers a very good course that equips students with practical knowledge to start working in the industry upon graduation. It allowed me to become a sports therapist and provided a very solid base for where I took my career next,” he said.

Jake benefitted from Portobello Institute’s Advanced Entry Route which allowed him to skip the first year of the degree and start at year 2 due to his previous qualifications. This means that he fast-tracked his BSc (Hons) Sports Therapy degree to just two years at Portobello.

I was studying Osteopathic Medicine, I just wasn’t enjoying the course and decided to switch after year two. It felt natural, the course material wasn’t too different so it was a swift switch. It was a smooth transition, I preferred how Portobello was organised and I enjoyed the flexibility.  

It saved me a year of having to repeat course material I was already familiar with. It was great to be able to avail of this. I enjoyed the practicality of the course. I was able to apply the knowledge straight away. 

I am currently finishing a master’s degree in Performance Coaching. I think the next step lies in professional sports at the elite level. Having completed the Sports Therapy degree opened a lot of doors for me,” he said.

Running his own business and essentially working two jobs, Jake has high aspirations for his future and hopes to continue following his passion for sports and performance.

In my opinion, very few things in life compare to the thrill of competing and winning. The margins required to be successful at the elite level are minimal and gaining an edge wherever possible can be the difference. I thought furthering my knowledge in physiology and sports therapy would give me that edge.

“I look after all aspects of training, fitness and performance. My role is difficult to define as I work with different clients – from aspiring athletes to the general population interested in optimising their fitness,” he said. 

Jake shared some insights into a day in his busy life as a gym owner and performance coach.

My day starts at 5:30 AM when two of my cats decide it’s time to get up. I am out the door by 6 AM and I head to my gym where the first appointments start at 6:30 AM.

“I work in my gym until around lunchtime (day-dependent) and I then travel to Castleknock where I spend the afternoon working with the tennis players.

“The odd evening is also taken up by a different club/activity so it’s pretty full on. Most of the skills involve the ability to periodise the workouts, track progress and make the experience enjoyable for all of my clients/athletes,” he said. 

Portobello Institute has a dynamic sports department with a range of top qualifications for the next step in your career.

If you are interested in any of our sports courses or have any questions you can book a consultation call with our expert sports advisor Jason Lester, email [email protected] or call 01 892 0029. 

Read More: Discover Sports Therapy as a Diverse and Rewarding Career Path


Jake Nalepa – Sports Therapy Provided ‘Solid Base’ and ‘Opened Doors’ for Gym Owner and Performance Coach Jake Nalepa – Sports Therapy Provided ‘Solid Base’ and ‘Opened Doors’ for Gym Owner and Performance Coach