Adam James, the general manager of Toluca Lake Tennis and Fitness Club answers a few of our questions.
1. How did you get your start in the industry?
I was born in the New York City area, and then moved to Hawaii where I grew up doing martial arts and sports. In college I played football at Northwestern University — my fitness mentor was Larry Lilja, the strength and conditioning coach. When I returned to Honolulu, I was hired as the fitness center director of the Outrigger Canoe Club, co-founded by surfacing champion Duke Kahanamoku.
2. What do you like most about working in the industry?
Teaching people about fitness, health and martial arts. It’s amazing to see someone literally transform physically, mentally and even spiritually through fitness.
3. Do you have any hobbies or passions outside of health and fitness?
I am also a filmmaker, writer and actor. My uncle was a very successful producer of Broadway shows and boxing television, and he was the original producer of Man of LaMancha. I studied writing, theater and film at Northwestern and then completed the Advanced Screen Writing Program at the University of Hawaii. As an actor, I had a key supporting role in Under Siege and I’ve performed with Tommy Lee Jones, Andy Garcia, Steven Seagal and Alan Arkin. Recently I played the lead role in the television pilot movie East of West, which I also co-wrote, co-directed and co-produced.
4. As the manager of Toluca Lake Tennis and Fitness Club, what’s the favorite part of your day-to-day?
I greatly enjoy working with the members and staff. Fitness is about people and it’s wonderful to train with members and lead the team. The name Samurai literally means “one who serves” and it is an honor to serve the amazing people at the Toluca Lake Tennis and Fitness Club.
5. You’re the founder of Rainbow Warrior Martial Arts. How did that start?
Rainbow Warrior Martial Arts was founded in 1998. We provide film, writing, seminars and lessons. The name Rainbow Warrior comes from our roots in Hawaii, and it also comes from Native American culture. For us, more important than teaching people punching, kicking or grappling, is teaching people to save the world.
6. You’re also an executive for the National College of Exercise Professionals (NCEP). How did that start?
The NCEP grew out of the original Sports Club Company and Spectrum Clubs. Mike DeMora, the founder of NCEP, was the director of education and I was a fitness manager. We created NCEP to provide cutting-edge curriculum that teaches functional training and athletic performance. Today, we work very closely with elite health club companies and we have certified thousands of trainers.
7. The NCEP-Rainbow Warrior Martial Arts MMA Trainer certification has been endorsed by the U.S. Vets program. Why do you think the program is great for trainers?
We offer the only MMA Trainer program that teaches people to be a strength and conditioning coach for martial arts athletes and also a trainer of MMA. The curriculum is based on the NCEP Functional Training approach and on the martial arts of Leo Fong (Bruce Lee’s close friend and training partner), Gene LeBell and Gokor Chivichyan (World Grappling Champions), the Machado Brothers (pioneers of Brazilian Jiujitsu), and Greg Jackson (a top MMA trainer).
8. What’s something about you not many people know?
I’ve served as a weightlifting instructor for the Hawaii Special Olympics. I greatly enjoy training seniors, kids, those with special needs, athletes — anyone.
9. Who’s your idol, and why do you admire him or her?
Leo Fong has been my close friend and mentor for over 20 years. Leo was born in China but moved to America and grew up in Arkansas in the 1930s and 40s. He became a Golden Gloves and AAU boxing champion, and he is often credited for inspiring Bruce Lee with boxing.
10. As you reside in Hollywood I have to ask: What’s the best movie you’ve seen lately?
I recently saw American Sniper and it is an excellent portrayal of the challenges our servicemen and women face. My father was a Navy officer, my grandfather fought in trenches during WWI, my three uncles were in WWII, my wife is Japanese American, we have numerous family members who were in the 442nd battalion, and my wife’s father was in MIS. The true heroes of the world are those who defend justice.