James Fitzgerald is the owner and director of training at OPEX Fitness (formerly OPT), which recently relocated to Scottsdale, Arizona from Calgary, Alberta. The new research and design facility is used to support and upgrade his existing businesses and aid in the development of his clients. OPT has evolved through the years from a personal training and sports performance facility to a multi-national educational and coaching program.
James first was drawn to strength and conditioning as a young competitive athlete. His athletic pursuits in national level soccer in high school and collegiate basketball and junior hockey led him to a career in strength and conditioning. He graduated with honors from The University of Newfoundland with a Bachelors degree in Physical Education and a minor in Biology. He has published research in Physiology Canada, The Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology, and The Journal for Strength and Conditioning Research on muscle fatigue. He began his career as a lab instructor in the university, and then made the switch into practical application.
Over the past eighteen years, James has worked in everything from coaching for private institutions, to corporate wellness in the public sector, to working with Olympic level athletes. He also has entrepreneurial ventures with private and group classes, and works continuously on his education. Over the years he has designed programs for people at various levels of fitness, and has performed in excess of 15,000 assessments and nutritional prescriptions. He is devoted to continuing his education, and approaches all new scientific research with an open mind. Additionally, he has worked hand in hand with a variety of doctors, researching the measurable impact that training protocols have had on adrenal stress index tests, exercise stress tolerance tests, and hematology. His success has not deterred his continual dedication to learning, coaching, educating, and practical implementation. His experience in the field has led him to the questioning of traditional strength and conditioning methodologies.
In 2005 James was introduced to CrossFit. He used his training methodologies to help him win the 2007 CrossFit Games with an individualized training program. At the new facility in Arizona, in addition to the previously mentioned tests, they are now coordinating with leaders in medicine to perform heart rate variability tests, altitude contrast training, and implementing advanced recovery protocols, including a state of the art Cryo sauna. He has also been performing lactate balance point tests, neuromuscular efficiency tests, VO2 max testing, and a variety of other tests to help top “fitness athletes” succeed at their sport and get insight into what will improve their performance. As a coach for many top level CrossFit athletes, he is looking to upgrade the current industry knowledge about strength and conditioning for both coaches and his athletes.
His current business is run through a variety of capacities. He runs a free training blog, which is categorized into multiple levels of fitness. He has also developed a coaching certificate program at OPEX, which offers both online and in-person courses. OPEX also features an onsite testing facility and a remote coaching program that enables people to receive nutritional prescriptions and program designs via the Internet. James’ vision for the future of OPEX is as one of the leading educational and research facilities in the world of strength and conditioning. His onsite testing is being used to both upgrade the current prescription for his athletes and develop a framework for his coaching certificate program.
James’ belief as a strength coach is against conventional strength and conditioning wisdom. He believes that improvements in strength, speed, short term anaerobic power, and long term aerobic power can all be achieved concurrently if coaches have an understanding of how to blend energy system and proper strength protocols.