Our Story

OPEX’s mission is to bring honor back to the coaching profession. We believe that coaches are critical to the thread of a community because they strengthen, empower, challenge, and help progress people around them. Coaches have the ability to play a pivotal role in all of society, and that is a big responsibility. OPEX was built to take our beliefs of coaching and help both coaches and clients experience a more fulfilling and impactful life with fitness as the medium of their successes.

OPEX was founded by James FitzGerald. James’ story really began with a brutal injury while he was playing soccer in his teens. In an instant, his athletic career was over and, at the time, so too was his identity. It was through his growth of fitness and health knowledge that he recognized his destiny was to teach coaches how to pursue their own dreams and careers in fitness.

Through his collegiate years, James spent a great deal of time training and investigating fitness. He published multiple studies in “Physiology Canada” as well as “The Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology.” He found a passion through his continued dive into fitness. Those dives lead him to testing all different forms and formats of fitness. James is one of the few coaches who has experienced all that fitness has to offer. From bodybuilding, to aerobics, to swiss ball training, to intense group fitness, James has thrown his hat in the ring. He not only ran studies, he became the study of how fitness affects people’s bodies and minds.

The YMCA was where James originally cut his chops on the workout floor. He built a thriving coaching business by practicing his craft day in and day out. He coached everybody who walked through the doors. Over time, he became the trusted source of fitness progress for over 100 clients. When he recognized that he couldn’t optimize his coaching practice within the walls of the Y, he knew it was time to venture out.

Optimum Performance Training (OPT) was born in 1999 in Calgary, Alberta. OPT was the gym where James began testing numerous fitness methodologies on himself and his clients. It was at OPT where he found CrossFit(R). Needless to say, he found a source of competitive athleticism that he hadn’t felt since his earlier sporting years. Within a short time, he became widely known as “OPT” on the CrossFit.com blog and his astute commentary around fitness and training for the sport led him to creating the “Big Dawgs Blog” in 2005. The Big Dawgs Blog was the haven for coaches and athletes who loved investigating fitness and it gained huge momentum around the world because of James’ educational training methodologies. James trained aggressively enough to be crowned as The Fittest Man On Earth when he won the inaugural CrossFit Games at the Aromas Ranch in 2007.

The Story of OPEX

After James won the CrossFit Games, he was thrust into the public spotlight around the world. He realized that he needed to create a system around his training methodologies so he began coaching athletes remotely using Individual Design Programming. While he loved the sport of CrossFit, he knew that athletes’ training needed to mold around their bodies and essence. Individual Design was the only way that a coach and client could build the relationship and trust necessary to progress their fitness strongly enough for a lifetime of success. At the same time, James realized that he needed to teach his coaching methodologies to other coaches because they lacked the necessary skills to coach clients professionally. In 2009 in freezing cold Calgary, James kicked off the first live CCP Courses of Program Design and Assessment. The first versions of the courses saw James spitting out decades worth of material to coaches that left them “blown up.” From those courses, James realized a few things: he needed to transform the face of fitness, and he needed to refine his coaching system.

The road wasn’t always paved for James and OPT. Because of his divergent views on coaching education and Individual Design, he was forced to blaze his own trail in fitness without the support of CrossFit. In 2011, James and his wife, Leighanne, packed up their lives and moved to sunny Scottsdale, Arizona so that they could build the next phase of OPT. They built outstanding relationships with the fitness and health communities, and they grew the remote coaching and coaching education business year-by-year.

Unfortunately, in 2014, James learned that he couldn’t trademark the coveted OPT, so he went back to the drawing board to decide the next decade for him and his company. From OPT emerged OPEX, and just like with his injury, James was forced to create something new of himself. In 2015, OPEX - now growing with James - decided that it simply could not support a daily training template for athletes anymore. It didn’t align with it’s values of individualized training for everybody. In a bold and empowering moment, OPEX decided to kill the Big Dawgs Blog, and James, yet again, reinvented himself. With each turn came new and exciting challenges.

In 2016, OPEX launched the brick and mortar fitness gyms (#OPEXGyms) that would help all of the coaches that James educated put their principles into practice. Within a short time, OPEX built gyms around the world and got to witness the next crop of Professional Fitness Coaches who would change the face of fitness in their communities globally.

Through many experiences, relationships, ups, and downs, James Fitzgerald has never waivered. He and OPEX are steadfast in their mission to transform the face of fitness one coach and one client at a time. Through James’ and OPEX’s values of #TeachLearnMoveCreate, no longer do coaches need to be looked at as lessor. No longer do clients need to follow a path that isn’t authentic to them. There is a better way to experience life, and James won’t stop until the entire world gets to experience what has impacted his life so intensely. James imparted a belief that became the purpose for OPEX, “Inspire people to live larger lives through fitness.” Those aren’t just words. Those are our core ethos, and they are what built OPEX and the thousands of coaches and clients we’ve had the privilege to work with.

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