“I like to talk about myself a lot,” Jason Wimberly laughs through the phone. The celebrity trainer to names like Jane Lynch, Selma Blair, Alysia Reiner, Leila Goldkuhl and Sonoya Mizuno is currently in Los Angeles, running back and forth from his studio, THE WALL Fitness. He’s a constant ball of movement, as evidenced by the quick breaks in his speech while his car phone picks up and his deep-rooted philosophy that movement makes him feel strong and empowered.
Wimberly is preparing for his trip to Denver to perform his signature workout in collaboration with an additional PrideFest performance on Saturday, June 17. On Saturday morning, he’ll be leading a full-body workout at the REBEL Workout before trading in his tennis shoes for something a little more risqué at the Mile High Party Weekend on Saturday night. As an openly gay trainer, Wimberly’s decade-long career has very much been about creating a name and a space for himself in the fitness industry.
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“I always feel like an outsider in the fitness industry in a lot of ways,” Wimberly says, alluding to his appearance. Once dubbed the “Ken Doll of the Fitness World,” Wimberly appeared in his first instructional DVD in booty shorts, lip gloss and false eyelashes. “The industry is inherently heterosexual, filled with these big muscle guys that look a certain way. There’s not a lot of openly gay, flamboyant male trainers.”
Wimberly began his fitness journey as a dancer, when he discovered his aptitude and passion for the practice in a small country line-dancing class in his high school gym class. “The trajectory happened really quickly,” he recalls. “I had never done anything like that before, and suddenly I was in a boarding school for the arts by the time I was fourteen, and I had gone pro in ballet by the time I was seventeen years old.”
Almost immediately into his professional career, though, Wimberly says he lost the passion for dance and began searching for something else. “One of my first directors told me it is essential as an artist to teach what we learn,” he says. “I decided right then and there to teach.”
While his dance trajectory was quick, that of his training career was even quicker. After what he calls an “emotional response” during his first-ever spinning class that he signed up for at the age of 22, Wimberly began taking classes three days a week until he became an instructor at a local 24 Hour Fitness. He was discovered soon after by SoulCycle in 2008, which flew him to New York City and offered him a job at one of the company's only seven studios at the time. It was Wimberly who opened the first Los Angeles-based SoulCycle studios, and he stayed with the company until the opening of first Wimberlean and then THE WALL.
“I’ve taught over 6,000 classes in the last ten years,” Wimberly says proudly. “In fact, I just came from a staff meeting where we talked about what an amazing gift it is to be trusted with people’s time, their money and their bodies. People rely on me to feel good. I always tell my staff that no one is going to remember that exercise, but they’ll remember how you make them feel.”
The concept behind Wimberly’s THE WALL is literally overcoming obstacles, whether physical or mental. “Our dialogue is all about breakthrough, and for me, that’s being true to myself.”
In the early days of his fitness career, Wimberly struggled to find his place in a scene in which nobody seemed to resemble him. While lesbian trainers like Jillian Michaels found success in the industry, he hid his true identity behind baggy clothes, and even went as far as trying steroids to alter his appearance.
“Aggressive women are more accepted [in the fitness industry] than gay men,” Wimberly says. “I can go into a weight room and bench just as much over my head as the next guy. I just may be prettier than him.”
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He adds, “My story was that it didn’t matter what I look like. I had to be strong and carry myself. You have to make your own path.”
Wimberly says he’s not an actor, he’s a trainer, and though he was already coming to Denver as part of his pre-scheduled Mile High Party Weekend performance, he says he loves to teach on the road. As far as his workout at the REBEL Workout, gym-goers can expect a traditional Wimberly experience.
“At THE WALL, we do what’s called the 1-2-3 Stack, which is based on ten minutes of core, twenty minutes of weights and thirty minutes on a spin bike,” Wimberly says. “The REBEL doesn’t have as many bikes as we need, so we’ll work on full-body moves in the cardio portion to get the same caloric burn. And we’ll do high kicks in between.”
Wimberly’s workout will take place Saturday, June 17, at 10 a.m., at the REBEL Workout, 324 South Broadway. The cost of working out with Wimberly is $25 per person, and each guest will receive a FABLETICS goody bag. An RSVP is required, and can be done here.