By Caitlin Gaudreau
“You can’t be afraid to fail”, “You can accomplish anything you set your mind to”, “I’ve seen the impossible happen”, “Seize your moment”; these are small samplings of motivational phrases that pour from Paul James in a regular conversation. With such amazing positivity, it’s no wonder he found his way into the MoveForward Fitness family! But I went ahead and asked him about his journey anyway.
Thomas Lyonette was the main factor that drew Paul to MoveForward Fitness as a trainer. Tom believes an excellent service should educate and empower the clients, which is exactly how Paul views his own training style. He felt Tom possessed leadership qualities that resonated with him, and which he wanted to both work with, and further develop for himself. Paul has been a personal trainer for over 5 years now, and confidently declared that he has never once looked back from his decision to jump in with both feet and make personal training his career. When he made that decision, he was working in a role at a marketing firm that simply wasn’t what he had envisioned for himself. He was on the hunt for something more meaningful.
He describes using the gym during that time as his motivation and his "place of peace" while managing his mental health; like everyone else, he had moments of difficulty and stress during a time of uncertainty. Paul would visit his local gym for daily workouts, and instilled a training regime for himself that best suited his need of managing stress while hitting his fitness goals. “I worked hard, typically leaving the gym fatigued, but at the same time empowered because it was the level I was pushing to that made regular life seem easier and less resistant.” If you know Paul, or get to speak with him, you’ll know he’ll take a moment (or two) to see how you’re doing or simply to say hello. This is what led him to meet the local gym manager, who continued to offer him a position as a trainer until he eventually accepted. “He first approached me because I was cleaning up my weights and those of other gym members, and he wanted to thank me. I simply told him that this was my place of peace, and it needed to be clean for it to be peaceful.” Upon having this conversation, it became quite clear where Paul wanted to take his career and where his passion had brought him.
Not wanting to waste another minute doing something he wasn’t passionate about, he decided to channel his desire to help others into personal training. Paul had thoughts of attending teachers’ college prior to this seemingly rash decision, but you know he’s exactly where he is meant to be when you see Paul in action. Being bilingual in both French and English, Paul uses his teaching skills to demonstrate key concepts in easy-to-understand ways. He’s creative with his program planning, and truly passionate about helping his clients understand coordination and the way their bodies are meant to move. If one thing stands out about him, it’s that Paul truly appreciates being able to interact with people and make meaningful connections through something that he is truly passionate about—the results are magical.
Becoming a trainer didn’t happen overnight, however. There were hurdles Paul needed to overcome, but one of the biggest was finding his “why” before he could be the trainer he is today. From a young age, Paul always dreamt of playing in the NHL. “I assumed these hockey players just made careers on their talent alone; I didn’t know about all the specific training that could have enhanced my abilities.” But the “what could have been” mindset didn’t stick with this personal trainer. Instead, he took a step back and looked at the bigger picture: Where do all athletes, including NHLers, start? With fitness and mindset shaping; by moving your body to be stronger, faster, more capable. He saw he had the potential to help someone realize their dreams; to encourage others to reach bigger goals and get to higher places than he has himself. This was the “why” he was looking for, and this is what motivates him to bring his A-game to every session. In return, his clients give plenty back. Paul has learned that truly anything is possible from them. He’s helped people recover from injuries, surgeries, and overcome countless disadvantages, even when some people said it couldn’t be done. Through them, he’s learned how resilient people really are.
When asked how MoveForward Fitness impacted his life, he had nothing but positive reviews. He saw MoveForward as a means to access opportunities: to grow as a trainer; to learn from fellow trainers; to meet new people and connect; and to help someone change their life for the better. He loves that it’s a gateway for people who need the type of help he can provide as a trainer, and that it’s a community everyone needs right now. It’s been a hard time for everyone, so being able to connect even during lockdowns has been huge. Paul admitted that sometimes routine training can turn into a crying or venting session, and that’s okay! We have all been missing human connection recently; we are all going through the same pandemic. Paul brings compassion to all of his clients: “If you need a shoulder, I’ve got one.”
If you’ve never been to one of Paul’s classes or sessions, I highly recommend attending one to experience the sheer energy he brings! And fear not; having fun and building confidence are his number one goals while he’s teaching! So whether you are brand new to fitness, experiencing pain, or at the top of your game, Paul will make you feel right at home as he empowers you to take back control of your body and your life.
“Positive thoughts create positive actions, leading to positive outcomes.” That’s the Paul James way—helping you MoveForward!