Athlete Testimonials

James Nielsen


This is a very deep and personal testimony. It’s a testimony of the good that can lead from the bad. From the broken. I share it, because I know that it will be treated with respect from the family that is CrossFit Colossus.

My wife left me in late-November 2013. I was a faithful husband, but I wasn’t a good husband. I was very deeply unhappy. I was clinically depressed and suffered from chronic anxiety. I had created a world where I was shrouded in secrets, I was up to my eyeballs in debt and I couldn’t be trusted to support my wife. It wasn’t malicious, we still loved each other, but my inability to change – or more accurately – my unwillingness to change, was crippling our relationship and eventually after many years of carrying me and trying to encourage change, she rightly wanted out.

It was only a few months before this that we had found out that we were going to have a baby. We were in the middle of a crisis, but we didn’t know it at that point. It wasn’t necessarily planned, but it was a beautiful surprise. We were going to be parents, something that we had always wanted. My wife was going to be a wonderful mother.

I’m not sure why, no one ever does, but soon after, we had our hearts ripped out. When at nine weeks, during a routine scan, we were told that the baby did not have a heart beat and had likely died a week earlier. It may have been small, but in our hearts, we loved our child. Until this, I thought I knew pain. My perception changed, and so did my wife and I. The pain and grief we felt made it impossible to recover what we now knew was broken. Sadly, we no longer had anything to keep us together. Our relationship and marriage was over, largely because of my mistakes.

To watch the woman I had loved for sixteen years walk out the door for the final time, broke something within me. I hid from the world for the best part of twelve months. Only just managing to put one foot in front of the other in order to get through enough days to not be fired, and to maintain a facade of recovery. I did, however, find enough determination to stop taking anti-depressants the same day she moved out. I went cold turkey. It wasn’t a wise move, and certainly not one that I would recommend, but it allowed me to see myself for who I was and to see what damage I had caused to those around me and to my own life.

I was, in essence, shocked out of my stupor and it scared me to my absolute core. I was morbidly obese at nearly 140 kilos. To look in the mirror, it quite literally, made me cry. I didn’t recognise myself. In my head I was a trim 26 year old, but in reality I was a very fat, very unhappy 36 year old who had just lost the one person that he could rely on. Too much as it turned out. I was alone for the first time in my life and I had no idea what to do.

They were very dark days. I spent a year fighting with myself in my head. Fighting the urge to just give up. It’s a thought that still scares me. I was overwhelmed with guilt and self-pity and it wasn’t helping my health – both physically and mentally.

Years before, on one of my many attempts to find something that I would stick to in order to get fit, I joined a gym and was signed up to a personal trainer. That trainer was a very young, enthusiastic, friendly, and clearly committed, James Thomas. For about six weeks I dutifully went along to our personal training sessions and found them intense, yet rewarding. Unfortunately my commitment wasn’t there, and as hard as Jimmy tried to keep me coming, I quit the gym and stopped seeing him.

It was another year or so later, that I re-joined the same gym, and tried to reconnect with Jimmy who was again very keen to see me succeed. Except this time, through no fault of his, I don’t think I made it past the re-introduction session. However, I do recall, as part of that meeting, Jimmy trying to talk about this new form of workout that he was involved in. I didn’t realise it at the time, but he was talking about CrossFit. I could see the physical benefits it had had for Jimmy, but for me, again I wasn’t committed or motivated, and was only making the effort to appease others. I wasn’t doing it for me and I rejected the idea – saying thanks, but no thanks.

Despite what’s happened, I try not to live my life with regrets, but this is a fork in the road I wish I had stopped at and taken the ‘other path’. I just wasn’t willing to listen and I wasn’t willing to recognise how unhealthy and unhappy I was.

I spent ten years in a fog, lying to myself and to those I loved dearly that I was okay and that I would improve my health. I remember telling my wife throughout this period, that I would be the fittest I’ve ever been by the time I’m thirty. Those goal posts moved to “by the time I’m thirty five”. By the time we separated I was been laughed at because those same goal posts had moved to “by the time I’m forty”. Ten years of denial and regret and I was larger than I had ever been, and was struggling with every facet of my life.

I’m not sure why or when it clicked. Perhaps at the time, due to my pending divorce, I’m really not sure, but in December 2014, I finally realised what the key was. Having been friends with Jimmy on Facebook and seeing his progression from trainer to business owner and hearing on the grapevine the success he was having with CrossFit Colossus, I started researching what CrossFit was really all about. I only knew of one other person that had ever attended a class and that wasn’t even in the state. I quickly realised that it was very different, and I was curious and sensed that it could work for me. What pushed me across the line was because I knew Jimmy, and knew the passion he had for helping those achieve their fitness goals. While I was doing this for me, there was also a part of me that wanted to show Jimmy that I could change, and that his faith in me all those years ago wasn’t wasted.

I emailed Jimmy on 15th December 2014, and asked if I could attend a Trial Session. He welcomed me to come along. Looking back, I was very nervous. I was extremely self-conscious of my weight, knowing that the other CrossFitters would be fit and healthy. Jimmy greeted me like an old friend, and immediately made me feel at home. I watched with amazement at the people doing the WOD. Their athleticism and strength was incredible to watch, and no one batted an eye-lid at my size – just smiles at a potential new member checking things out.

Knowing my history and lack of commitment, I was scared that I would run away from CrossFit. I knew that it was most likely now or never. If I didn’t change now, I never would and I would be dead by the time I was forty-five. Both Jimmy and Nico have never pushed me beyond what they knew were my limits. They certainly pushed me to my limits, but never beyond what I was capable of doing. It’s a true testament to their skills and abilities, but also to their commitment to each and every individual that walks through those doors. It’s a relationship whereby, if you are prepared to give it your all, then they will give you all of their time.

Four months have passed and I cannot express how much CrossFit Colossus, and everyone associated with this extraordinary place, has impacted on my life. The community that has been developed by Jimmy and Nico is beyond words. It’s too hard to describe the feeling of what it is to work out, really hard, with a group of like-minded people and to have so much support.

Mine is a long journey, but one I’m already proud of. The achievements I’ve made in just four months is quite incredible. I’ve lost a chunk of weight, and that means the world to me, but it’s the gains in confidence, balance in life, and importantly my mental health that means more. I’ve tried telling Jimmy and Nico how much their support and dedication means to me, but I don’t think they’ll ever know how much they have helped.

I quietly have no doubt that they have saved my life – there really isn’t a way to thank someone for that.

Brett Samms


I have been training CrossFit for over 2 years and have been a good friend and training partner with Jimmy for much of this time. As an athlete and a person Jimmy is someone who I really admire and somebody who is a constant motivation for me. He has always taken the extra time to help me in all aspects of CrossFit. He has a real talent for being able to see what needs to be improved in my training and how to fix it.

In the scheme of things I am still very new to CrossFit, however from this short experience I am able to identify that Jimmy’s coaching ability is of the highest standard. He has been vital in my training as I am always picking his brain on things like nutrition and CrossFit movements. Like I said, Jimmy has a real talent for getting people to move correctly and this is an attribute I truly admire.

Get down to CrossFit Colossus and try a workout, and more importantly get yourself involved into what really is “a beautiful community.”

Sarah Cox


So it’s been three months since I joined Jimmy at Colossus. Still early days but so much can happen in three months…

Being a stay at home mum with a partner who works fifo (fly in, fly out) has its ups and downs, throw in depression and some days really suck. Nutrition and exercise was something I didn’t worry about for myself. I was always “too busy.” I was constantly sick, tired, bloated and had trouble sleeping. Things like kicking the footy with my son were leaving me breathless – and not in a good way. I was very unhappy in life, even though I had my beautiful children and partner there was something else missing. So my Doctor advised I get active and change my eating habits. So that’s when this crazy CrossFit journey started 02/09/2014…

I was extremely nervous driving to my FIRST EVER CrossFit session. I had never been to a gym before and had pretty much no CrossFit/fitness knowledge or experience. However, I knew for ONCE I had to get out of my comfort zone, be a little selfish and do something for ME! Little did I know it would be such a life changing one! (Corny? Yep!)

There was a lot of self doubt…A LOT! But as each session passed I couldn’t believe what my body was achieving. All this was only possible with the continued support from Jimmy and Nico. No matter how many stupid questions I asked, they were there to help offer advice and encourage me. Jimmy and Nico are extremely knowledgeable and experienced in what they do, they are always very focused and understand  each individuals skill level. They themselves motivate me!

The box has such a great positive atmosphere and is extremely welcoming for newbies like myself. I have already made some amazing friendships since starting at Colossus and I have the utmost respect for every single person I train with.

Thank you boys for believing in me even when I couldn’t believe in myself. Thank you for giving me my “happy” back. Also, the physical changes after only three months are amazing and this just makes me want to keep going.

I appreciate your time and patience more than you’ll ever know.

Thank you,

Sarah :)

Phil Diamantis


Jimmy, here is my testimony to you. No great story, I was never over-weight (well maybe a little at school), I never had any health issues, I just liked staying fit. So here is my story into the fitness world and how I have ended up doing CrossFit.

Getting back to my little weight issue at high school, not that I gave it much thought at the time and not that I have ever forgotten about it either, but grade 9 we had a pinch test. I don’t know if they still do these (you wouldn’t think so), but if they don’t they should. The pinch test told me I was obese, I think it was more to do with my height than my weight as I was only 5ft high. Not that it really matters, but having a brother that didn’t have to do anything for his physique (bastard, ripped as he was) motivated me at the end of high school to start doing something about this.

Now, like any other young start up in the 80’s the best way to do this was to hit the gym. For the next 20 years that’s where I stayed doing the same old routines whilst also dabbling in swimming, cycling, rock climbing, surfing, footy and what ever else I could find to keep me fit. Not that any of this really got me that strong or that ripped (but I probably thought it did).

So anyway along came my gorgeous wife followed by eventually 3 crazy but beautiful little boys, and a 7-day business, located an hour from Hobart. Slowly, one by one my sporting habits dropped off until eventually there was very minimal for nearly 2 years. Working 7 days, at a location an hour from Hobart didn’t leave me with many choices when it came to exercise. If I was lucky I would exercise twice a week. I managed to get myself involved in a local Boot Camp and for the next 3 years I found this the best thing for me as far as overall fitness and strength.

Then along came Jimmy and CrossFit Colossus. How did I know this was for me? I didn’t, but I thought I should give it a go as Colossus comes from the Greeks meaning: Something Big. Not that I’m big, but I’m Greek. From the first session I was hooked, especially after seeing women doing muscle-ups and handstand push-ups. Here is me working out all this time thinking, “yeah I’m pretty strong, I’m pretty fit. No man, that’s strong I thought to myself, I want to do that shit.”

Then I was hooked. I couldn’t wait to see the next day’s WOD was, always checking what your closest rivals score, never wanting to miss a workout, training twice a day, going to bed thinking about it, waking up in the night thinking about it. Man this shit is addictive! I don’t know why and don’t even care; it’s just addictive (the wife doesn’t quite get it yet).

Everyone, no matter which CrossFit Box they are from are always pumped for someone else’s achievements. No special thanks to anyone, you all rock, apart from you Jimmy for bringing the Box to the Eastern Shore of Hobart and helping me reach my goals with your awesome routines. Also to Drummond Williamson, not that I know him that well, but it was awesome to do the 2012 CrossFit Open Games at the CF42’s Box to see gyms getting together and helping each other out instead of worrying about there own back pocket. When I read ‘has CrossFit changed your life?’ I thought it was all a bit of a joke, but I don’t think I would have written all this if it hadn’t in some way. Thanks Jimmy, love your work, bring it on!

Rebecca Parremore


A lot of testimonies on gym and weight loss websites claim the same things, that that particular product or gym had changed or turned someone’s life around, some even claiming that their lives have been saved.  Well this testimony won’t be any different; however I have medical proof that James has literally pulled me from a fog that was my own mind.

I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH) in late 2007, IIH is also known as Pseudotumour Cerebri, which translates to false tumour of the brain. In a nutshell it is the over production of cerebral fluid which causes too much pressure on the brain and optic nerve. It’s a common belief that being overweight is the main contributing factor for this disorder. So weight loss, drug therapy and scheduled lumbar punctures are the main treatments offered.

Being proactive I joined a gym and signed up for the Sure Slim well eating program in hopes of being able to control symptoms and lessen any permanent damage caused. Even with all my good intentions I eventually became bored and cancelled my gym membership and very quickly became tired of strict eating schedule from Sure Slim. With the symptoms of IIH becoming more frequent and debilitating normal everyday life became a struggle; not being able to remember simple things or recall words for everyday use is scary for a person who’s in their early 20’s.

So after spending a year being poked and prodded, and with normal drug therapy not being able to rein in the symptoms I was prescribed Reductil (a miracle weight-loss drug, recently taken off the Australian market for being unsafe) and told I had to lose weight or lose my eye sight. I looked into joining the gym again but didn’t get around to it. I didn’t take anything seriously until the lumbar punctures were required every 3 to 4 months and my slight weight loss wasn’t alleviating the symptoms.

In March of 2010 I resigned with the gym where I was assigned to a personal trainer, James Thomas. Looking at this guy I assumed he would be like the previous trainer not interested in anything but getting to his next client or leaving for the day, boy was I wrong. James wanted to know exactly what was wrong with me, all aspects of the disorder be it symptoms or restrictions on what I could do training wise. Being who he is, James decided to test my comfort zone in the complimentary training session I was given. Unfortunately he didn’t count on me getting exceptionally dizzy and needing to stop half way through. My blood pressure was higher than it should have been, this being another symptom of IIH.

I managed to stay focused on the gym for a few months on my own and then I started to hear the people who were telling me that I couldn’t keep attending the gym as much as I was and that I was being unrealistic with what I was trying to achieve. To keep me motivated we decided that Personal Training was the way to go, however a condition was set by James that I would still attend the gym to work out by myself. Personal training and attending to do my own routine devised to push me whilst James was not supervising was working, I began to drop weight and symptoms started to ease – even started to lower the medication I was on. Then James left me, he went overseas for a few months on an adventure.

He arranged for another trainer to take over my PT sessions, but eventually those sessions stopped and I started going along to group training that had been offered. I gained back weight that I had lost and a little extra along the way. My trips to the Neurologist whilst under the guidance of James were getting better, things were looking up, but at this particular visit in his absence, to say that my Neurologist was not impressed may be an understatement. I was told to increase my medication to the original dosage and that if I hadn’t turned things around by my next visit my Neurologist would have me evaluated for possible Lapband surgery. LAPBAND SURGERY.

As you can imagine this was devastating as I was always told I “wasn’t that big”, sorry people but that wasn’t quite true. I had cancelled my membership at the gym and my attendance to the group training became sporadic, and I began to accept the fact I would be having invasive surgery to control something that I should have been able to do myself with the resources I had.

One afternoon out of the blue I received a phone call, I recognised the voice and wondered why he was contacting me; I was told he wasn’t returning to the gym and I was no longer a member there. James invited me back to the gym to have a chat. It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that I started training with James again.

James had always been different in his approach to training, but on his return from his holidays he introduced proper weight training to our sessions and we strayed from the traditional exercises prescribed in the “personal training manual”. Each and every training session became harder than last and I started to believe that I was going backwards again, even with reassurance from James that my fitness was improving – little did I know that I was now doing James’ personal version of CrossFit.

It wasn’t until May 23rd 2011 that I was introduced properly to a CrossFit WOD, it was a benchmark work out known as Fran, a very modified version but Fran. She was a shock to the system. By this time I had been doing light versions of CrossFit workouts. Along with these workouts and correct nutritional advice from James I began to drop weight and saw encouraging changes in my abilities.

My next appointment to the Neurologist had come around very quickly; I must admit that I was worried. I had a certain weight I had to reach and my weight though it had gone down substantially it hadn’t reached the level required.  When I was called, I was surprised by my Neurologists reaction and praise for my weight loss and general outlook for my situation. As usual we discussed my diet, how I was feeling with my weight loss and if I my symptoms where still increasing like the last visit. Gladly I had not noticed symptoms in months, and discussion fell to exercise.

I began to tell the story of how I was trying out a different type of training and prepared myself to explain CrossFit how I knew it to be, however to my surprise; she knew all about it and was impressed. I wasn’t weighed; given the types of exercise CrossFit incorporates my fat weight loss would have been negated by new muscle mass. During this visit to my Neurologist, it was confirmed that I did not require any further drug therapy, lumbar punctures or an evaluation for surgery.  My next required appointment was for a year, to watch for any relapse of symptoms. The last thing my Neurologist said to me was “I’m not sure what was happening in your life the last time I saw you but I’m glad it’s changed.”

With good news from my Neurologist, James wanted me to start taking training seriously and wanted it all to be CrossFit based, so he invited me to watch him work out at CrossFit 42 South. I arrived and I was surprised that people of all different fitness and skill levels were there all comfortable with each other and their own abilities. Meeting Drummond, James’ coach, was an experience; he just has a vibe about him. I sat and watched, though I was encouraged to join in multiple times. I was intrigued by the lack of negativity, the entire concept CrossFit is based on support and positive reinforcement with no exaggeration of your abilities, just straight talk be it from your coach or your training buddies.

I’ve been doing CrossFit with James for 6 months now, I’ve not missed one of our sessions and if you were to ask do I still believe that CrossFit is a ‘cult’, I would answer yes I do. Do I still find it incredibly unnerving that everyone is so supportive and positive; the answer would be yes I do. You just have to understand that in saying that, the people who do CrossFit are different, like James. They strive each and every day to excel in all aspects of their lives; they want to share with everyone what they do, how they approach life and their knowledge of how your body really works. This attitude and the passion that is held by James is contagious verging on deathly infectious; once you’ve started there will be no going back.

And to end on a corny note, I am thankful that I met James that he is who he is and that he is now able to share his passion through CrossFit Colossus. I am fortunate to have him in my life and consider him to be a close friend not just a coach; it’s scary to think where I would be without him.

james@crossfitcolossus.com.au  0400 255 351 | Unit 1/10 Electra Place, Mornington, TAS, 7018

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