Strong Friend James Crossley: Gladiator, Strongman and Pioneer

The Master Goal Setter

I met James in 2012 on a nutrition course and we got chatting about our respective careers and how we worked with our clients. I didn't even realise he was Hunter from Gladiators at the time! 

James has a successful business in West London which I have watched grow from afar.  

His #Fitat40 campaign is fantastic. It's really inspiring the way he helps people to keep pushing the boundaries of your strength and fitness at any age, especially considering how many people give up their pursuit of fitness after a certain point.

James's aim to get people moving no matter what age they are mirrors my own philosophies and many of the topics I have been writing about on Strong Words. 

Check out his story below and find out what took him on his journey.

Grace xx


Tell me about yourself

I started weights at 12 years old after watching Rocky 1,2 and 3 in a 6 hour bonanza.

At 14 I did my first bodybuilding competition: Teenage Mr York.

I was spotted by Gladiators, via a magazine article in Bodybuilding Monthly after winning Junior Mr England at 19. I competed in Gladiators for 8 years, finally winning the Ultimate Gladiator title in 2000.

I have done all sorts of physical challenges throughout the years from marathons, triathlons, mountaineering and strongman.

I qualified as a trainer at 19 then took pretty much every different bolt or qualification I could over the last 20 years.

Competing in different sports has been the best way to learn about how to train and change the body.


Tell me about your business

My main job is a Landlord, I rent out houses around London so my days can be very free or very busy.

As far as fitness goes, I mainly write for magazines, currently doing regular articles for Men’s Health, The Telegraph and Cycling World.

I also supply trainers to several gyms in London, finding the ideal trainer for the clients' location and needs.

I am also currently pushing #fitat40. This is a campaign to help educate over 40s on how to form good habits to stay fit and healthy when juggling a busy work and family lifestyle.

The over 40 body is very different form our younger 20-30s model. We often see mobility and flexibility issues as well as postural problems. Muscle starts to disappear and body fat goes up.

I am looking at implementing timesaving, simple, sustainable habits and workouts rather than a quick fix transformation that will often rebound.

What do you like most about working in this industry?

I enjoy seeing sustainable, life changing transformations. I am a big fan of setting challenges and goals.

Tell me about your favourite Success Story at work?

I trained my brothers boss, an office manager who was mid 40s, terrible posture, very overweight and had a bad knee injury.

Within 12 weeks, we completely turned him around, he was literally unrecognisable. His knee cleared up, posture straightened and he lost loads of body fat.

I gave him to one of my trainers and now, at 46, he has competed in his first triathlon and came 2nd in his age category. He is very goal orientated so we just kept coming up with new targets.


What was the hardest challenge you faced while on Gladiators?

I dislocated my shoulder 6 times during Gladiators and it’s been a constant issue.

Back then they would take me aside and just jab me with pain killers so I could carry on then deal with it later.

I even dislocated it during the first event of the Gladiators Vs Gladiators show. We did a guest slot when SKY brought back Gladiators. I hadn't been training for months and they gave me a week’s notice so really wasn't in great physical condition.

During rehearsal I popped my shoulder and tore my pec. I asked them to jab me and they just freaked out - "Medical science has moved on since you last did this show".

In the end, I had to pull out of the wall and hang tough as couldn't lift either arm - I ended up on

the duel and just growled and screamed at their gladiator like a madman. I think he pretty much jumped off because I certainly had no power to hit him.


Who’s your inspiration in your industry?

Growing up I was inspired by Arnold Schwarzenegger, I wanted to be Junior Mr Universe. I tried to match him by age as I was growing up.

The goal for me was to be the same weight and have the same arms size as my age. At 19, I was 19 stone with a 19 inch arm and actually qualified for Junior Mr Universe.

That’s when I got picked for Gladiators so didn't get to compete.


Where do you train and what is your usual regimen?

I train at Bounce gym in Wimbledon Park, a great facility and really close to where I live.

I also use the Foundry in Vauxhall, they have an incredible set up. I do strongman sessions with the trainers. Plus Genesis gym in Wembley which is well equipped for serious strongman with Atlas stones up to 150kg.

I train heavy 4-5 days a week depending how I feel. I also do a few YIN yoga classes a week to improve my flexibility.

I compete in Strongman and recently won England’s Strongest Master.


Any advice to people wanting to start their fitness journey?

Don't try and be a master of everything. I see trainers that do everything.

It’s like a business card that says model/actor/musician/juggler?!

Be great at two or three things and people will take you more seriously and you will find you will have a better business.

I do fat loss, muscle gain and strength - that’s it. Anything else like post natal, rehab, elderly, I just refer.


What mantra do you live by?

Fail to prepare prepare to fail


Where’s your favourite place to eat in London?

I love Shochu Lounge Charlotte Street for Japanese , Roxie in Fulham for steak and Lupos in Earlsfield for brunch.


Where can people find you online?

Instagram: @mrjamescrossley

Twitter: @mrjamescrossley