Q&A with Jimmy Nicholson, Owner of J4 Performance

Jimmy Nicholson // Photo by Lynn Connell

You are a Spirit River native who has come home after being away for many years. What made you decide to come back?
My best friends make the Peace Country my home. I moved away to discover my passion as a coach. During the process, I realized that my many friends mean more to me than anything else. I was finishing school in California when the pandemic began, and my first thought was, I want to be home. Within 24 hours I packed up and raced to Spirit River. I have reconnected with many people in the area, made new friendships that I now cherish, and am grateful to have an opportunity to share my passion with our local communities.

You offer Russian kettlebell programs. What exactly is Russian kettlebell training?
Russian kettlebell training is the gold standard in kettlebell training and a global leader in fitness education. It is quite unique in that it shares similar concepts with Eastern practices, including yoga and mixed martial arts. Once individuals complete two kettlebell foundation classes, they can join a pre-existing team of friends or create a new team. Every session includes working with a partner to build camaraderie among team members. We start simple, and practice doing simple really well until ready to combine what we have learned into really efficient training sessions. We train smart, hard and have fun doing it.

What are the greatest benefits of Russian kettlebell training?
The Russian training system – the “how” behind the “what” – makes it a preferred method for 99% of people, especially beginners, to learn how to train safely. We approach every exercise as a full body exercise. For example, we train barefoot if/when possible to help improve balance. The heels, arches and all 10 toes are important pieces of safer training. Proper barefoot training can also help strengthen the knees, lower back and even the shoulders as we learn how to deeply connect our muscles. When we consider how important balance is as we age, improving foot strength and ankle mobility can potentially save someone from falling.

Where do you provide your services?
We train outdoors as an additional health opportunity to get fresh air and sunlight. I am grateful for my dad helping me convert our backyard into a beautiful outdoor training space where people can feel welcome and at home. I also enjoy travelling to other locations, including people’s homes, to provide people like busy parents with a great experience that saves them travel time and the cost of hiring someone to watch their kids. During the winter and rainy days, we are thankful for the Town Council providing us with the newly renovated Ross Room in Centennial Hall.

You offer breathing and stretching classes. What do they involve?
For 30 minutes, the goal is to focus on breathing deeper and deeper as we move through different stretches to improve one’s ability to be present in managing stress. Overall, it is a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and “escape” from our busy lives. All I ask for is a minimum $5 donation per person, all of which goes to our local FCSS. Last year, we raised just over $500. It would be awesome to exceed $1,000 this year.

What are the advantages of training with you compared to trying to go it alone?
Two-way communication is so powerful to understand one another, build trust and learn how I can best help my clients. I recommend one-on-one training for those who need help rehabbing an injury following physical therapy, dedicated athletes, or someone who wants to learn how to create their own training programs. Otherwise, I encourage people to train with family members or friends because training becomes more fun working with a partner, and it helps motivate individuals to show up consistently when they have a larger support system of people. I strive to over-deliver by encouraging my clients to overuse me as a credible resource for their health and fitness-related needs. After eight years of searching through information, earning an education, and questioning what has been done in the past, I realized I could provide more value for more people by focusing on the bigger picture of human health.

What do your services for student-athletes include?
Our U-12 program is game-based to promote fitness as a fun activity to enjoy with family and friends. We also learn some “FUN”-damentals of strength and conditioning and have discussions about core values like respect, and healthy foundations including hydration. With the U-18 group, fun is still a big part of our training. We introduce proper weightlifting technique plus more advanced variations of power, speed and agility by competing and playing games. Our discussions dive a bit deeper, as I believe it is my duty to transmit what I have learned from past mistakes and successes in order to prepare young women and men for the greatest sport of all: life. I care deeply about all of our student-athletes, and I care even more about the next five, 10 and 50 years of their lives.

In what way do you hope to inspire others?
My main goal is to promote health and fitness as a fun activity to be enjoyed for a lifetime. By doing so, I hope that kids never stop playing, and continue to find their own ways to stay healthy and active after they finish school. For the kids who don’t have the opportunity to play organized sports, and/or perhaps are less interested in gym class, I hope to offer a different experience that engages them more. Even our adult groups are finding different ways to have fun with training, like playing cards, cracking jokes, and some friendly competition. I think and feel that if we can come together to determine more ways that make training and health fun, more people will feel encouraged to find a way that is enjoyable and maintainable for them. We all have an inner child that enjoys playing and having fun!

Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I am a mentor for our local student-athletes who teaches life skills for success after school and a strength coach who helps adults bring out their inner child while improving their overall health.


Phone: (780) 864-7641
E-mail: jimmy@j4performance.net
Web: www.j4performance.net