Leeds Own: Showcasing some of the undiscovered talents and personalities that makes Leeds the great city we all love!
Leeds City Dweller writer Rachel has been spending a fair bit of time down at Primal Gym recently. James Walker is one of Primal Gym’s characters and personal trainers. Rachel spent some time with James and got to know a bit more about the man behind the beard for Leeds City Dweller Magazine.
Primal Gym, down at New Dock, has been open for just over 6 months now and as one of its clients I can confidently say that it is an amazing addition to Leeds. With its extensive range of equipment and jam packed class timetable there is no wonder Primal has become so popular. Marry this alongside a group of insanely experienced Personal Trainers and you’ve got a recipe for success.
I recently met with one of Primal’s original PTs (and true Yorkshire man) James Walker who, should we say, is quite the character on the gym floor. We chatted all things Primal and I got an insight into the life of the man behind the beard!
Q: Where did you grow up in Leeds?
A: I am from Halton and my family still live over that way, I went to Temple Moor High School and then onto Leeds college of Art and Design.
Q: What were your aspirations when you were younger?
A: I always wanted to be a Fireman, I was very physical so knew I would go into a profession that was as well. At 12 I took up Karate and went on to compete with the British squad, then at 17 I began competing in Thai Boxing and also began training seriously in the gym. With this training under my belt coaching was a route that I could take and I did. I taught Thai Boxing for the Golden Team Gym, and trained at The Beaverworks Nightclub in Hunslet where I still do. Illustration was also something I was very keen on which was why I went to Art College however I found it wasn’t for me so I ended up leaving.
Q: What did you do after college?
A: From college I got into bar work and worked full time at The Cockpit, The Fruit Cupboard which is now Fire, and Norman Bar on Call Lane, I loved the social aspect of being a bar man. From there I got my licence to become a door man and worked at places such as Townhouse, Wire, and Revolution in the Electric Press. Whilst doing these jobs I was still teaching Thai boxing on the side.
Q: What inspired you to become a personal trainer?
A: I got to the point where I was ready for a career change and with my Martial Arts background and my passion to work with people in an area that was physical, whilst having fun, personal training was the ideal option, it’s all about the fun factor for me. Once I got my qualifications I worked at Fitness First for 7 years, then at Virgin and now obviously Primal.
Q: What is it about Primal that inspired you to work there?
A: I met Phill and Darren (the owners of Primal) when I was at Fitness First and I taught Kettlebell classes for them at their first gym, PT Health. I agreed with their vision and ethos so when Primal came on the cards I knew it would be a great match for me. I think that Primal has a fresh outlook to fitness and it is run by people who have years of personal training experience as opposed to people who just want to make money. I was well onboard with Primal before it opened so it was great to have an input and nice to be listened to.
Q: What do you think Primal’s appeal is to its clients?
A: Primal is a gym that puts passion before profit, it is very proactive in encouraging its members to come, it is not interested in having an abundance of customers who just pay for a membership they don’t use. There is also a real sense of community down at the gym, everything is done with an element of fun and there’s also always a bit of healthy competition between the teams. Every client is given a quarterly assessment so their progress can be monitored and advice and training plans can be offered. There are the classes which are great, tough but fun, with a decent variety of options. Then there are the personal training packages which are the best I have ever worked with. They are so thorough with the training and nutritional plans, the progress the clients make is incredible.
Q: What are your future plans career wise?
A: I will be staying with Primal and the plan is to expand. Leeds Dock is the first of many, we want to set up in a number of other cities. I intend to play a central part in this, go out to the new sites, help train the staff, and ultimately spread the Primal way!
Q: When you’re not down at Primal what do you tend to do in your spare time?
A: When I’m not working or doing my boxing training I tend to be either cooking, eating, or watching films. My passion for training is rivalled by my passion for food! I am also an ambassador for Samson Athletics, a fitness and clothing company which my mate Sam Cordingley set up. For that I do blogs and podcasts and help with promotion.
Q: Where is your favourite place to eat in Leeds?
I’d say Rare is my favourite, I am totally into my meat and it doesn’t get much better than there for that. I am currently on a mission to find the best burger in town, I have tried quite a few places and Byron Burgers are quite high up there on the list at the moment. I also like The Reliance, they do a great Sunday dinner.
Q: What do you think of a Leeds as a city?
Well I am Leeds born and bred so obviously I’m a big fan. I think the appeal is that it is big but not too big, it has an easy centre to navigate, and of course we’re a friendly bunch of people!
If you want to catch James down the gym, or are interested in any personal training, head to www.getprimal.co.uk to book your free trial, or pop in for a chat with one of the team. Since I started my Primal journey I have made nothing but improvement in myself and I couldn’t recommend it more!
Cheers James, it was great chatting with you.