James’ fitness journey began while playing competitive soccer in his teens. During his collegiate years, James spent a great deal of time training, studying, and researching fitness. His investigations led to the publishing of multiple studies in “Physiology Canada” and “The Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology”. After University, James proceeded to apply his knowledge coaching general population clients and competitive athletes. After years in the trenches, James built a thriving coaching business and launched Optimum Performance Training (OPT) in 1999. James became widely known as “OPT”. His astute commentary around fitness and training led him to create the “Big Dawgs Blog” in 2005. The Big Dawgs Blog was a haven for coaches and athletes who loved investigating fitness and it gained huge momentum around the world because of James’ educational training methodologies.James stepped further into the public spotlight through the personal application of his methodologies as he was crowned The Fittest Man on Earth, winning the inaugural Crossfit games in 2007.
Looking to spread his knowledge and create a system around his methodologies, James began coaching athletes remotely and spearheading the individual design programming movement. James believes that individual design programs are the only way that a coach and client can build the relationship and trust necessary to progress a client’s fitness for a lifetime.
Through the rapid growth of OPT and the Big Dawgs Blog, James realized that he needed to share his coaching methodologies on a larger scale. In 2009 in freezing cold Calgary, James kicked off the first live CCP Courses (Coaching Certificate Program). In 2011 James moved to sunny Scottsdale, Arizona to build the next phase of OPT, and OPEX Fitnesswas born. James continues to teach his methodologies through the various courses offered by OPEX Fitness along with keeping a watchful eye on the reincarnation of theBig Dawgs, an athlete specific remote coaching resource.
Ultimate Training Session: Anything that challenges me physically
Favorite Nourishing Meal: Warm meats and vegetables
Carl has dedicated his life to health and fitness. From his teen years, Carl lived at the gym. A 3-time All-Conference football player at Saint Mary’s University where he earned a B.S., Carl was driven by his passion to become the most effective coach possible. This led the U.S. Army veteran to buddy up with world-renowned strength coach Charles Poliquin to complete the PICP and then to complete his Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).
While running the Army fitness program for his battalion and a stint in Afghanistan, Carl was introduced to OPEX Founder James FitzGerald. Sold by the OPEX individual program design approach, Carl went on to open multiple OPEX-licensed gyms before accepting his position as CEO. Today, Carl is an integral part of the growing OPEX engine that is using the OPEX Coaching Certificate Program (CCP) to change the face of fitness by professionalizing the fitness coach.
Kandace is a lifelong fitness enthusiast with a passion for inspiring individuals to whole-heartedly pursue their best self in the gym and in the office. She has spent over 20 years leading brand strategy for some of the largest brands and at some of the best advertising agencies in the world. In 2014 Kandace exited the agency leadership to dedicate her craft to growing fitness brands, she has since held the CMO role at Bodybuilding.com, HYBRID Performance Method, and of course here at OPEX Fitness. Kandace led marketing for us here 2018-2020 and has returned in 2022 more passionate than ever to bring honor to the coaching profession, raise the value of fitness coaching, and enable career longevity for all coaches.
Ultimate Training Session: Some skill play to warm up, a heavyish compound lift, a solid pump, and an aerobic finisher
Favorite Nourishing Meal: My go to breakfast at home 1 whole egg, 4 egg whites, 40g oat bran, 50g frozen berries and a cup of coffee
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Walking in nature with adventurous weimaraner/pet dinosaur and my love.
Coffee Order: Americano with 1 pump sugar free vanilla and sometimes a splash of steamed almond milk.
10 Minute Airbike Score: 110 the last time Carl made me do this.
Health and fitness has always intrigued Meghan. Growing up she danced and played soccer. In high school, while working at Gold’s Gym, she fell in love with fitness, often spending 2+ hours, 6 days a week lifting weights and doing cardio. In 2010 she began coaching and competing in CrossFit.
Meghan also has a passion for business, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Management with a concentration in Entrepreneurship. She went on to be a Product Marketing Manager for a publicly-traded healthcare IT company, where she worked closely with small business owners reselling the software. Later she opened a retail showroom for Lululemon as their Store Manager.
With this background, Meghan also became the manager and head coach of her CrossFit gym. Feeling inadequate when it came to the science of personalized coaching, she enrolled in the OPEX Coaching Certificate Program (CCP). After regionals 2012, James asked her to move to Arizona as an onsite athlete and offered her a job.
When Meghan arrived, only three people worked for OPT (now OPEX). Working with James as a coach and athlete, she knew more coaches needed CCP and offered her skills in marketing. She launched the first coach’s toolkit download and interest in CCP grew, and from that point forward she began advising coaches on OPEX Education. After competing in 5 regionals and the 2015 CrossFit Games, she retired as an OPEX athlete and now fully dedicates her time getting OPEX Education into the hands of every coach and gym owner on the planet.
Ultimate Training Session: Volume, 2-3 hours. Volume of resistance training + mixed map 7 with low rest or long slow hike in the sun
Favorite Nourishing Meal: Anything seasonal and locally grown with fish
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Tough call between relaxing at the ocean or lake, or hiking/walking in nature
Coffee Order: Herbal tea, please. I rarely drink coffee, but when I do it's a non-dairy latte
10 Minute Airbike Score: Prefer to keep my testers under 3 minutes! It’s probably been 4 year since I’ve done it - 125ish?
Georgia moved from Australia to the United States in 2014 after completing her degree in International Studies. Uprooting her life gave her the confidence to pursue her passion for fitness, and she quickly found herself coaching and managing a CrossFit gym. In the search for further education she discovered OPEX, and within a few months of undertaking the CCP program knew it was a movement that she needed to be a part of.
Georgia is humbled to now have the opportunity to help other coaches find fulfilling careers through OPEX. Between coaching at OPEX North Scottsdale, connecting with new CCP candidates, and helping spread the OPEX mission, she is committed to restoring honor to the fitness industry, one coach at a time.
Ultimate Training Session: BJJ and some heavy deadlifts
Favorite Nourishing Meal: Mum’s roast lamb and veggies
Steve Sizer is OPEX’s Full Stack Web Developer and is responsible for building and maintaining the OPEX Membership Site, our digital education platform. He currently lives and works in the United Kingdom and balances his off-hour work schedule with a strong appreciation for coffee. When Steve is not connecting with the OPEX Team he can be found out traveling and walking his cockapoo named Rory.
Ultimate Training Session: The 90 Minute OPEX Test
Favorite Nourishing Meal: Steak with roasted sprouts and sweet potato
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Hiking with his dog and golf
Emma Robertson is OPEX’s Content Specialist. Originally from Scotland Emma has lived in five different countries, but now resides full time in Phoenix, Arizona. As a former BBC Producer/Director she is responsible for the production of OPEX’s digital courses. With a history of running marathons, Emma still enjoys tapping into the runner’s high through mixed aerobic circuits. In her free time, Emma can be found either moonlighting as a Life Coach or happily turning the pages of a new book.
Janice Hardwick was born in Illinois and raised in Wisconsin. Growing up she was a competitive ice skater as well as a Latin ballroom dancer for more than 12 years. She has lived in six states and is now proud to call Arizona home. Janice is an integral part of the OPEX family and brings her bilingual talents to the role of Coach Advocate. In her free time, she enjoys baking, putting a clean spin on traditional comfort foods, and spending time with her family.
Ultimate Training Session: D.A.N ; Dance As Needed
Favorite Nourishing Meal: Poke
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Evening walks with my family.
Leah Putz was born in Florida but has spent most of her life in Arizona between Prescott and Phoenix. By the age of 11, Leah was a black belt in karate and competed frequently alongside her two other black belt holding sisters. Her life now revolves around health and fitness. Before joining OPEX Leah was a nutritional coach and personal trainer. She now is our Customer Coordinator, ensuring all OPEX coaches receive the quality education that OPEX has become known for. Her free time is spent with her family and her two furry friends.
Ultimate Training Session: Leg day baby!
Favorite Nourishing Meal: Toss up between tacos and sushi
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Hiking with husband and dogs
Coffee Order: Decaf iced tea (boring I know)
10 Minute Airbike Score: N/A (Don’t get any ideas @ Sam Smith)
Jacob was always an active kid. He played baseball as far back as he can remember, skateboarded for the better part of junior and high school (and still cruises on the longboard), and found diving in high school. While calisthenics were always a part of his routine, almost as far back as baseball, serious weight training didn’t come into the picture until later on in high school, but it wasn’t until college when he really began to mature in the gym. Now he lifts for longevity, and to support his new hobby of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
When he’s not in the gym or on the mat (and even sometimes still) he’s got a camera in his hand and he’s documenting life. His eye for capturing moments that amaze and inspire has helped him greatly in his role at OPEX, where he’s constantly looking to make OPEX and its mission as enticing as possible. Through photography, videography, graphic design and copy writing, Jacob ensures that OPEX sparkles in every way.
Ultimate Training Session: Toes-to-Bar and Double Unders
Favorite Nourishing Meal: All-you-can-eat Sushi
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Walking aimlessly with his camera
Scott Logan joins the OPEX team remotely from Dallas, Texas as a Digital Strategist. He brings with him a double major in English and Political Science from SMU along with an obsession for politics and learning new things. In his free time, he can be found cooking, reading, playing video games, and investing. Hubscott once ate an entire pan of enchiladas but justifies his indulgences with a consistent exercise routine.
Ultimate Training Session: Carrying/picking up heavy things. Gotta get those big traps
Favorite Nourishing Meal: Chicken, jasmine rice, broccoli. But really, it’s about the sauces
Coaching Education Advisor | Social Media Community Manager
Clelia Stefanini grew up in an active and musical household. Her father exposed her to resistance training (globo gym style) and her mother introduced her to figure skating and percussive dance. Clelia was a competitive figure skater from 4-16, then spent 4 years dancing in a touring performance company, Rhythm In Shoes.
In her early 20’s, Clelia became involved with CrossFit. After moving to Nashville, TN in 2015, she worked 5.5 years as a Head Coach and the Operations Manager of an affiliate. After getting her L2, she called up Big Dawgs and began her remote coaching relationship with Sam Smith. In 2019, she began her CCP studies (holla back to V2!) and graduated with extreme excitement.
Now Clelia is building her remote ID business, enjoys traveling and exploring National Parks with her husband, Eric, and is so excited to be a part of the OPEX HQ team!
Ultimate Training Session: Olympic Weightlifting work followed by MAP 8-6 (mixed or cyclical) then a cool down walk outside.
Favorite Nourishing Meal: Local/seasonal greens and veggies, rice, with lean grass-fed beef!
Favorite Outdoor Activity:Anything in the warm sunshine ☀️ Hiking relaxing, swimming… I crave star damage.
Coffee Order: Don’t hate… I don’t drink coffee but I’m seriously considering starting.
10 Minute Airbike Score: Oh my… I’m not sure! More recently my Coach (Sam Smith) programmed a 100 AB cals for time, I did that in around 7:30. So, I’m guesstimating 115-120ish?
Christine was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland and moved to sunny Arizona in 2019. Growing up playing soccer and lacrosse, fitness has always been a part of her life. She is excited to bring her background of athletics and fitness to the OPEX marketing team. In her free time, you can find Christine playing with her dogs, golfing, and traveling.
There isn’t a sport that Henry hasn’t played, from football and volleyball to triathlons and ironmans, he’s done it all. But he quickly learned that to gain an edge on the field, there would have to be even more commitment, off the field. So Henry started hitting the gym and that’s when he found functional fitness. In 2014, Henry qualified for the Latin American CrossFit Regionals and again in 2015 as part of Team Aggressive.
Henry has transitioned to the role of coach and pursues further education in every aspect of fitness possible. Henry is the OPEX Gyms Coaching Instructor, responsible for making sure that every coach inside of an OPEX Gym is giving each client the best experience possible. Henry also coaches numerous high-level athletes online in his role as a Big Dawgs Coach and in person at his gym, Aggressive Fitness in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Ultimate Training Session: Anything with Power Cleans and Bench Press
Favorite Nourishing Meal: Beef chili, veggies, brown rice