James Crossley yoga in Bali

Fabulous Fitness over 40


James Crossley, aka Hunter the Gladiator, is on a mission to help those over 40 achieve their best fitness yet… he shares his top tips and tells us about his life in Earlsfield…

Main image: James Crossley doing yoga in Bali.

As we get older, it can be so much harder to keep fit and fight fat. But at 43, James Crossley is testament that it can be done. Admittedly, he has quite a head start, having been a professional bodybuilder, and a fitness trainer for 20 years. But, he says, it was only when he discovered yoga that he realised what all-round wellbeing really meant. And, at first, it didn’t come easily.

“I would be a sweatbox in Vinyasa classes, gasping for breath,” says James. “I really notice this with men and some athletes that if they are really stiff, it’s a very difficult practice. Once I looked at yoga as a priority rather than a novelty and used the right props to help such as a block and a band my body really started to change. You genuinely experience less pain, better movement patterns and vastly improved range of motion. I will never be super flexible in certain positions, but the physical and mental benefits have been huge.”

Until that point, it had all been about the muscle. Says James, who was headhunted by the hit ITV show Gladiators and had a nine-year-run in the series: “When I joined, I was fresh off a bodybuilding stage and really lacked the athleticism for the events. I initially started yoga to help me improve on The Wall. I dipped in and out of different styles over the years dependant on what I was training for. I would say I started to prioritise yoga four years ago after retiring from competitive strongman. It was time to start to nourish the body rather than crush it.”


Pictured left: James Crossley, photographed by SNH FOTO. Pictured right: James as Hunter in the 90’s.

During the first lockdown, James decided to share his love for yoga and qualify as a yoga teacher. He taught through live streaming classes at @sadhana_live and also shared the benefits of gong baths, where you are immersed in the sound waves and vibrations from a gong, which can help with stress and improve mood.

So, if you’re new to yoga, what do you need to know? “That there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach and much is dependent on factors such as body type and bone set up,” he says. “I have had a lot of previous injuries and been very stiff so props like a block and band are a perfect solution and made me enjoy the practice much more.”

He adds that as we age, posture can slump, the core can weaken, and hip flexors get tight – Yin yoga, which is slower and more meditative, is a great practice to help as you age.

James lives in Earlsfield with his girlfriend and his two dogs. He loves the area and has lived there for 20 years. His favourite places? “For breakfast it’s Lupos – amazing healthy dishes and the best coffee. Restaurant- wise, I like Ciullosteria in Balham for Italian and Tagine for a taste of Morocco. As for fitness, I built a gym in my garden (Hunter’s gym!) for lockdown which has been a lifesaver. Otherwise, the gym I use locally is called Bounce – great equipment, and super helpful staff.

” I love the walk from Putney Bridge to Hammersmith all by the river. But my dogs’ favourite place is Wimbledon Common!”

Tips for fitness over 40

1. Find activities you enjoy The best workout in the world is the one you stick to. If you enjoy it then it’s much easier to keep going back.

2. Set goals. Essential if you want to make a real change. Make it high stakes for you.

3. Consistency This really is the key to results, erratic exercise and lifestyle will not get results. Keep things consistent 80% of the time.

4. Create accountability Meeting a friend for a walk or a game of tennis is a great way to stop the “I can’t be bothered” voice you might get if training alone.

5. Prioritise your health Make your healthy lifestyle and exercise times a priority – you only get one body.

Read more of James’ tips:


Martine McCutcheon 

Michel Roux Jr. 

Bear Grylls