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Local trainer looks to community to help in the battle against childhood cancer

Cortez James in running for Mr. Health and Fitness, B+ Foundation

By Tori Wittenbrock
Associate Sports Editor

Local personal trainer Cortez James is currently in the running for Mr. Health and Fitness 2024 and is looking to the Green Bay community to help him along in his journey to raise funding for the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation. Submitted photo

GREEN BAY – Local personal trainer and business owner Cortez James, 41, is currently in the running for Mr. Health and Fitness 2024 with the mission to bring awareness and funding to the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation to battle childhood cancer. 

Through a national platform, supporters can cast their votes as well as monetary donations to push James through to the next round in pursuit of the 2024 Mr. Health and Fitness title.

“This is really all about the B+ Foundation — not me or Peak Performance. This is all for the local community and society as a whole. It’s not just about me winning. It would be cool if Green Bay gets it, but I want them to understand why they are giving their time and money,” said James. 

As the owner of Peak Performance LLC, James said that he has been dedicated to improving the lives of those seeking health and fitness expertise in the Green Bay area for over 14 years. 

“I first started out as an engineer. While I was working in engineering, I got injured by tearing my ACL and I tore my patellar, so I was out of work for a while.” said James. 

“I came back and was rehabbing myself to even better health. I realized that was kind of the path for me and I got really into health and fitness and it just kind of blew up from there.”

James said that his life experiences have greatly influenced who he is today and his priorities as a husband, father and trainer. 

“I came to the U.S. at two years of age from Montego Bay, Jamaica, and ever since then I have only been encouraged to see the good in all things and all people,” said James. 

A family man

After meeting his wife in Milwaukee and working as a personal trainer at Xperience Fitness for three to four years, the couple decided to relocate to the Green Bay area where James continued his work as a trainer for another six to seven years. 

James said that throughout their nine years of marriage, he and his wife have always worked to prioritize the needs of their community over themselves — something they look to teach their seven-year-old son as well. 

“My wife does a lot for the community. She is a social worker for the VA. I am a husband and father, and outside of that, health and fitness is my life,” said James. 

Eventually, Cortez decided to branch out on his own and became the sole owner of Peak Performance LLC, where he has been working for four years out of his location in Green Bay. 

James recently visited Eisenhower Elementary School to talk about the importance of a healthy and fit lifestyle.

Prioritizing the community

Aside from his work and family life, James said that he is constantly looking for ways to positively impact the community through his knowledge and experience with living a healthy lifestyle.  

“I currently visit schools to do fitness promotions and to talk about the importance of health. I just visited Eisenhower Elementary. It was my second year and I was invited back this year to their career fair. That is something I want to keep doing — I believe that is what I feel like I am called to do,” said James. 

James said that the main purpose of all the work he has put into the Mr. Health and Fitness competition has been to not only serve as an inspiration to those around him, but to affect actual change for children and families experiencing the physical, financial and mental hardship of childhood cancer. 

“That’s why this is so important to me. The Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation is so important because there are so many lives being saved through it and it is necessary to represent the Green Bay community,” said James. 

“There are people in different communities who depend on this and I really want to make a difference for these kids. Being a father and husband, I look at my own family. Through my work at Peak Performance I can see how this is helping so many people, but to be able to spread awareness and positivity across the nation through this, I think that is like a win-win.”

How to help

As the competition continues to intensify this week, James said that he is thankful for the support of the entire Green Bay community. 

“This week is so critical for this challenge. I want to continue helping, but I can’t if I don’t make it through,” said James. 

Voting for the finalist round wraps up the evening of Thursday, June 13, as the competition looks to select a winner by July. 

“I didn’t just want to do this as a fitness competition, because that’s not what this is. I think it represents a well-rounded person who does everything they can for their community and believes fully in what they are doing. Muscle Magazine decided to team up with the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation as a charity. This is actually a charity through the foundation as they are attached to the magazine for Mr. Health and Fitness 2024,” said James. 

“That’s the reason behind this all. I figured it was my time to do this. I’ve never done a fitness show or physique show before. This is much more important to me than just that side of it. I do believe in the health and fitness side, so this allows me to put my passions together.” 

People from the local community can help James advance to the next round of the Mr. Health and Fitness competition to support the Green Bay community and the B+ Foundation by making monetary donations or casting free votes through the Mr. Health and Fitness website. 

“Honestly, right now, I can’t believe that there are this many people that want me to win this. I mean, I’m a personal trainer in Green Bay. Outside of Wisconsin, people think of Green Bay and they hear about the Packers and that’s all really popular but no one really knows about all of this that’s going on. I think this is almost hidden, but this is on a national scale. There are so many people now who want to get involved and help out. For me, it’s not even about winning this competition, I just know what I can bring to the community if I do get a chance to win,” said James.  

Making fitness a lifestyle

James said that on a personal level, he has become even more enamored with the power of living a healthy lifestyle through his own fitness journey. 

“Just seeing how much a human being can do is inspiring. I think that humanity is the greatest gift given. To be able to take care of yourself is to be able to take care of others. I’ve seen myself grow mentally and physically. I’ve seen people in my family grow mentally and physically, as well as my clients. If that is working for everyone in my community, why not anywhere else,” said James. 

James said that although his training has been intense, he continues to prioritize the competition because of the good it can do for families across the nation. 

“Right now I do everything I can to go through every endurance challenge. I do crossfit, bodybuilding. I ride my bike and do sprints to burn body fat. My diet goes from low-carb to high-carb every other week so that way I am even. I believe that hypertrophy is the answer to burning fat, through bulking. I make sure that through my diet I am bulking in areas I need to be bulking in and remaining lean in areas that need leanness. I challenge myself to everything,” said James. 

“Everything I teach my clients, I have to know how to do, too.”

Helping the local community has become a true passion for James, and he said he is hoping to be able to continue this work on the national level by advancing through the Mr. Health and Fitness competition. 

“My goal is to make sure that I am not doing just a bodybuilding or fitness competition. There is so much more to me than just lifting weights and things of that nature. I take care of so many people. The people that come in here can then take care of their families because I am showing them that health and fitness is a lifestyle,” said James. 

James said that he is thrilled to know that even attempting this competition has served as an inspiration to his clients and the local community. 

“Through everything I do outside with visiting schools and doing promotions and then being here all day too making sure my clients are doing okay and to be able to still train for a competition through this — I think the mental side of things is so underrated,” said James. 

Since James began the competition, only 60 people were selected for his group out of the multitude who applied nationally.

Though he continues to fluctuate between first, second and third in his group, James said that he believes support from the Green Bay community could push him to No. 1 to advance through to the finals round. 

For more information on James’s progress and Peak Performance, follow @peakperfllc on Facebook. Votes for James can be cast at mrhealthandfit.com/2024/cortez-james

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