An afternoon with one of the GTA’s most sought-after fitness gurus
Monika gives group fitness a go with Coach J leading the way
As I was driving to Thornhill, I was thinking I do not enjoy group classes. To be frank, I am a solo worker-outer. I like to run alone, walk up and down my neighbour’s 135 stairs alone (times 10) and do my yoga alone.
My competitive sports history was also predominantly in individual sports such as track and cross-country.
So as I pull up to the very new and clean facilities on Disera Drive, I am not looking forward to this session with Coach J.
He greets me and is warm and friendly. Every body type is represented in the room, and you can tell that Coach J is there to help us all — and suddenly I want to please him too.
We rotate between the rowing machines made by WaterRower. What’s unique about them is that they replicate or simulate the sensation of rowing through water with actual water in the front drum (and it’s the same machine used in the show House of Cards).
Four minutes on the rowing machine and already my competitive instincts have kicked in. Coach J fuels the competitive nature in the room with quips like, “You’re not gonna let her (the woman in pink shorts next to me) beat you, are you, Monika?” And she does. Then we’re on to the floor with alternating kettle bells, weights and ab exercises. Coach J inspires us with quotes like “More reps, more wine!” And I like him even more.
That likability and inspirational manner seems to play a big part in why he has such a loyal following.
Coach J was born in Toronto, but grew up in Vaughan. Sports and fitness were always an integral part of his life. After high school, he moved to California for postsecondary and ended up playing college ball for three years. Once he returned to Toronto, he decided to pursue a career in personal training.
“After many years in the industry, I felt a burning need to branch out and experiment with something new and exciting. My group training philosophy and methods [F.I.T. Circuit and newly F.I.T. Row programs] evolved from that point, and I’m here where I am today because I listened to my heart,” he says.
And he’s certainly done well. Some of his classes are even waitlisted.
I can’t wait to get back to the other side of the room and have another go on the rowing machines. Once again the women on either side of me beat me … handily. This is so not cool.
Although I am competitive, Coach J strives to help you achieve a workout tailored around your own needs, no matter your personal fitness level.
Coach J’s group training is easily adapted for those stepping through the doors of his studio for the first time or those who have been training there for years.
One week later my abs are still aching, but I want more. Most of all? I want a rematch with Miss Pink Shorts.
Monika participates in the group class at Coach J’s studio STUDIO: Coach J Fitness Studio ADDRESS: 10 Disera Dr., Suite 230, Thornhill PRICE: $20/class