Philly Rising: From archaeologist to fitness studio owner, a look at Noel Davis' journey

Antionette Lee
January 10, 2020 - 6:30 am

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Since the age of 12, Noel Davis had always dreamed of becoming an archaeologist. When that dream came true, the Rutgers University graduate was able to take her love of digging overseas for excavating projects in Italy and England. 

She also worked on significant archaeology projects in Philadelphia, including the Arch Street Project and Digging I95

But about a year into her dream job, things took a wrong turn.  

"So I was rear-ended. And when I was rear-ended it caused me to have lower lumbar bulges, also nerve damages down my legs," she explained. 

The impact from the accident critically injured Davis' petite frame. Chronic pain made the job of excavating impossible for a while; even day-to-day activities like standing and sitting for long periods of time became difficult. 

Eventually, after months of physical therapy, Davis found a doctor who recommended a contrary solution: head to the gym and build up those core muscles. 

Davis said she was skeptical the solution would work but took the doctor's advice. 

"To this day, I didn't have surgery and I just worked on my core and built that strength that I really needed. Once I did that I was like, if I can do that for myself, why not share it with the world?" she said. 

That passion for bones combined with the rehabilitation of her own led Davis to start personal training. Over the years, she has helped clients as spry as 93-years-old improve their ailments through fitness. 

"Whether it was walking issues or strength issues, they rehabilitated themselves. My 86-year-old can lat pull 40 pounds, he can leg press 50 to 60 pounds, and that’s amazing," she said. 

The 27-year-old who recently opened her new gym in Old City says she's looking forward to making healthy living accessible to all.   

Noel Davis
Jay Marable

"I’ve been to preschools, I've been to grade schools, and just seeing kids work out with resistance bands, helping them understand that fitness is important because here in Philadelphia, the obesity rate is more than 40% and I feel like we need to lower it. That’s why I’m so grateful to have a space right now where today, I can say it’s free classes all day, come down. Let's work together as a community to lower that rate, which shouldn't be that high," she said. 

And she still makes time for her love of digging, which she says helps her in her job at Paris Fit.  

"I know where that's located. Alright, now that I know where that's located, I know how to rehabilitate it," she said.  

Davis said in the future, she is also looking forward to offering jobs to young people who need them most. 

"The city can be so violent at times and so harsh at times, I just feel like if I can open doors to give these kids jobs, it will help them stay off the streets. And that's something that I'm very interested in doing in time to come," she added. 

Paris Fit studios offers a variety of more than 60 classes and welcomes people of all fitness levels.