James Anderson, whose success is rooted in his own second chance has made a career out of helping others finally achieve their fitness goals

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James Anderson overcame addiction to establish his own successful personal training company. He’s now a Personal Trainer certified with the National Academy of Sports Medicine and a Certified Corrective Exercise Specialist. He says, “To live the life I wanted—with my background—I would have to build it.” (Photography by Benjamin Margalit)

By Bill Yurgen

The website address is JamesAndersonAmbition.com. His promotional items read that way, too. A brief conversation confirms the hyperbole: This man is all about overcoming obstacles and setting goals, achieving them, then moving on to conquer the next goal. These traits—and the power of the human mind—make it all happen. 

It’s About Goals
James Anderson, if anything, is ambitious. And that sense of ambition is infectious as he makes the goals of every new client “his” goals. 

So far, he hasn’t missed achieving a client goal. People flock to James because they’ve heard about his ability to motivate clients to achieve their fitness goals. He taps his temple and explains: 

“The mindset is more important than the physical act of exercise. That’s why most people fail. I address both, and together we can build lasting results. Virtually everyone who approaches me for training has attempted to lose weight and get fit in the past. Often they have made multiple attempts and used a variety of methods. I like to think that I offer these people a second chance to achieve their goals. Those goals will vary depending on their circumstances and desire. I train people young and old, overweight and underweight, men and women from every demographic you can imagine.” 

Sounds like your average pitch for a personal trainer doesn’t it?

Focus, Dedication, Grit
But here’s where James is decidedly different than the typical trainer. Unlike many with degrees in metabolic chemistry or physical education working the latest methods, James possesses his own impressive set of credentials. He combines a bit of edge with a large dose of psychology that brings out the desire to not only hit your own goal, but to help James achieve his goal for you.  

James has that effect. His manner is soft spoken and encouraging, not demanding. He understands temptation. He understands the temptation to skip a workout or to cheat on a meal. You want to follow the program because very quickly you begin seeing results you never thought you would see. And you follow because you don’t want to disappoint this man who believes in you so much that you come to believe in yourself, too. 


In the process, you may find you have not only surpassed your goals, but found yourself stretching well beyond your self-imposed limits, doing things you never believed yourself capable of.

James helps improve self-esteem and instills a sense of focus, dedication and grit.

Understanding Temptation
So how does James understand and inspire so well? 

He was a drug addict. 

One who sold drugs to support his habit, along with some other unsavory acts. When you hear about youth drug addiction, many people think of children from disadvantaged families. Not James. He came from a good family, but got mixed up with the wrong crowd as a freshman in high school. Smoking weed and drinking soon led to Percocets and opioids. By his junior year, James was in a 12-step program treading water in a failed attempt to stay clean. 

By James’ graduation, he was drinking again. He moved out from his home and had rationalized in the way addicts lie to themselves that he was “too young” to say he would never do drugs again. By the following October, he was arrested and charged with trafficking marijuana.

Thus began his death spiral in and out of jail and into harder drugs, like Oxycodone and heroin. One night he found himself in withdrawal waiting for a dealer to bring him his fix. He was in East Akron and finally realized that he was going to die if he couldn’t fight the temptations and overcome his addiction. He decided to check himself into the Glenbeigh Drug Treatment Center in Rock Creek on October13, 2013.

His clean date is October 14, 2013. 

Lessons Learned
“When I got out, I had nothing. I no longer owned a car. I had lost my driver’s license and I had a felony conviction. I worked some odd jobs in order to survive until the owner of a local restaurant took the time to listen to my story after blowing me off in a previous interview. I got the job,” James recalled. 

“I learned the importance of resisting temptation. I also learned the importance of kindness and second chances.”

The Definition of Ambition
“I had begun weight training and bodybuilding,” James continued. 

“Soon I began to earn additional income as a trainer. I got my certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a Personal Trainer and I am a Certified Corrective Exercise Specialist. I realized in order to live the life I wanted—with my background—I would have to build it. I have my driver’s license back and a thriving business where I train and offer dietary advice to individuals and small groups, in home and online.” 

“My ambition got me through the challenges. To me, ambition is the hunger for personal growth and the willingness to do the work necessary to get where you want to be in mind, body and spirit.”

James unabashedly tells his story both to inspire others and to celebrate this personal triumph.

Celebrating Five Years Clean
James’ five-year anniversary of being clean is coming up on October 14, 2018. He plans on celebrating it on the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania with his girlfriend Morgan after a five-day climb. As one of James client’s put it, 

“The climb is such a great metaphor for James’ journey. He no longer looks down; he is looking up. I’ve never met a man with more heart.”

Here are a few of James’ clients:

Lance Chatkin – President/Owner Tri-American Steel Resources

  • One-hour training, one-on-one 
  • 4 times per week
  • 18 months with James
  • Back Story: 20+ trainers in 30 gyms over 20 years with minimal results. With James, dropped from 200 pounds to 160 with increased muscle mass.
  • Lance’s thoughts: “James worked out a diet plan I can stick with for life. He is extremely caring and understanding with each and every client. I get compliments every single day.”


Melissa Lucas – Medical Assistant

  • One-hour training, one-on-one
  • Started one time per week then two times per week
  • 2.5 years with James
  • Back Story: Did not see results with other trainers. Went on diet and went from 180 pounds down to 150—and hit a wall. After working with James is down to 120 pounds.
  • Melissa’s thoughts: “I don’t even have the words. I’ve just been blown away with the results. I now have muscle definition instead of pain. I always struggled with self-esteem but no longer.”


Erica Chalmers – Business Assistant

  • Both half-hour and one-hour Training, one-on-one 
  • Started twice Weekly then went to four times per week
  • One year with James
  • Back Story: Was taking care of others instead of herself. Went from 235 pounds to 165 and from a 18/20 dress size to an 8/9.
  • Erica’s thoughts: “After my first session, I knew I could do this. James wants you to be the best you that you can be. His approach really works to motivate and inspire. It’s just amazing how great I feel.”


For more information you can visit the website James built for himself at JamesAndersonAmbition.com or call James for a personal consultation at 234-380-2330.