Originally from North Carolina, James Mills is a part-time fitness instructor and personal trainer here at the J.

James started his fitness career as a professional ballet dancer, having danced with Smuin Ballet (San Francisco), Tulsa Ballet, and Boston Ballet (just to name a few). He’s also a lawyer, having graduated from the University of Florida’s Fredric G. Levin College of Law. We know what you’re thinking: “What can’t James do?”

What brought you out to Denver?

Colorado Ballet first. I danced with them from 2003-2006, then I went to dance in San Francisco, then Florida for grad school, and then my wife found a residency out here (she’s a doctor!)–we met out here.

What’s your fitness specialty?

I’m a Group Ex fitness instructor and a personal trainer. My specialty is helping people optimize their movement patterns.

How did you fall into that specialty?

I had a coach in San Francisco when I started dancing with them, he was a PT, and he had a framework of biomechanics that just made sense to me. He helped me understand that we compensate all the time. And I realized I liked it–I liked teaching that. I liked studying how people overcompensate and how that ultimately leads to injury.

Why the leap from ballet to law?

I unionized Colorado Ballet. I like the rules and the language associated with it, so I didn’t know what I was going to do after I stopped dancing, so I thought “I’ll be a lawyer!” The original goal was to help dancers, people who needed representation and didn’t have it. Now I’ve unionized Portland Ballet Theatre and then I started helping their collective bargaining agreement. I’ve moved away from entrepreneurial law and helping start-ups, and I’m trying to create a more labor law practice with the union.

Why the J?

I was unhappy with all the other gyms I worked at, and I found out I like coaching at a community center. I love having kids running around, I love the pool, the theatre–it was an environment that was different.

What can people expect from you as a personal trainer?

I want people to fall in love with their body again. I want people to be able to move throughout life mindfully, so it’s tough, I want to help people fix compensatory problems that they’ve had for twenty years that they might not even know they have. Humans are like water in electricity. We always go towards the path of least resistance. We will always find the easiest path, and that’s not wrong, but it’s information to inform why we get recurring injuries, why we have pain in certain areas, etc.

Everyone in the world is struggling, we’re struggling against a modern life that doesn’t fit what our DNA tells us to be doing. I want members to feel good again–to feel like they used to. That’s what I enjoy.


Stop by our Fitness & Wellness Center today and say hi to James.

But, don’t let his kind smile fool you–he’ll make you feel the burn at the gym!