About Jim Gourley – Santa Barbara’s Older Adult Fitness Trainer:
I have been a serious student of health and fitness for my whole adult life. I’ve made it my mission to become an expert at self-care to facilitate health promotion. I was first exposed to fitness-type exercise at age 15 with resistance exercise (weight training) and later became an avid fitness runner from my early 20s to 50s. At community college I wanted to become a gerontologist (study aging) and transferred to UCSB as a biology major. I later realized that a lot of “aging” was impacted or caused be chronic disease processes so I switched majors to earn a BA in Health Studies. After taking exercise physiology courses I became fascinated and decided to continue my studies to add an MA in Exercise Science. My first “exercise-related” job (while a graduate student) was as a physical therapy aid and fitness consultant for a physical therapy clinic. I’ve been in the exercise and fitness field ever since. I earned my first professional fitness training certification 3 years after my MA degree and have continued to add many more. I started my full-time professional fitness training practice over 37 years ago, which makes me Santa Barbara’s most experienced fitness trainer. Since 2005 I have partnered exclusively with older adults to improve their fitness, daily-life function and body confidence. I’m so grateful that medical professionals trust me with their patients as I often receive referrals from Doctors and Physical Therapists. I am very fortunate to be a personal cancer survivor. I would not be a “survivor” today without the health/medical knowledge I began accumulating as an undergraduate. At age 40, I personally requested a (new at that time) cancer screening test typically not given to men younger than 65, and the results gave me the opportunity to seek treatment to save my life. Needless to say, I have lots of personal exposure with the medical profession, and my clients tell me I always have good advice regarding using and communicating with their medical professionals. I am strongly committed (I would say passionately so) to constant learning! Accumulating new tools, techniques, skills and viewpoints to help my older adult clients is of immense importance to me, so I regularly attend professional seminars, conferences, workshops and lectures and constantly read new books on exercise, training, nutrition, health promotion and fitness topics.
I was raised in Simi Valley, California. I first fell in love with Santa Barbara at 16 when I was able to drive and take “surf trips” with my high school friends. I moved to Santa Barbara to attend UCSB and have lived in the area ever since. My plan was stay in SB after UCSB, but it hasn’t always been easy, so I’m very grateful to still call SB home. I try to always enjoy & appreciate all the unique charm and beauty SB has to offer in this special location between the mountains and the sea. In my interpersonal life, I have not been particularly “lucky in love” as I’ve been twice married & divorced (perhaps the third time’s …?). As I mentioned in my professional bio above, I am a “cancer survivor” (is there a better term?) which has certainly shaped (perhaps profoundly) who I am today. I am devoted to taking care of myself physically (duh!): I put positive attention and action into my older adult body near-daily with varying amounts of joint-tissue mobility work, resistance exercise and cardiometabolic exercise. I am a fan of morning meditation and deep breathing. I am a student of plant-based eating/cooking with a personal eating pattern which is completely plant-exclusive (vegan). I am a big fan of Michael Greger, MD, and Joel Fuhrman, MD, who are the two undisputed superstars of plant-based nutrition. I have a thirst for knowledge, so no surprise that I enjoy reading – mostly current events, fiction, nutrition and other professional topics. I enjoy watching a bit of Netflix & the Tennis Channel to relax in the evening, but am mindful that too much screen time is not a health promoting activity. An occasional treat for me is enjoying and sharing the elegant pinot noir wines from Burgundy (sadly the science tells us no amount of alcohol is safe – I don’t like that, but it is a fact). My travel (since Covid) has ceased, but I really enjoyed going to Paris and Burgundy in 2015! I do enjoy the music from string musical instruments – especially violin & cello – and follow the superstars on Instagram. At different points in my life, I have been passionate about surfing, tennis and Latin dancing (Tango & Salsa).