J Forrest Conway is a proud Midwesterner, founder of Gymnasium and its Strength & Movement programs. Friends call him Josh.
Strength & Movement have been life anchors since he started weight lifting and running at 15. Team sports gave way to running (first love), cycling, and rowing. Glory days accomplishments include:
He trained hard and competed for 10 years. But the high-performance path is a short one and like most athletes, it ended in multiple breakdowns. After every imaginable form of passive and active therapy failed to fix him, Josh abandoned athletics and shifted to a 12 year study of traditional and modern martial arts, yoga, and tai chi. He just wanted to keep active, but he learned how to do something he didn’t know was missing: how to move.
But this path was also incomplete. He lost strength. His injuries didn’t really go away, and in fact came back. The specialized disciplines developed new ones. His horizon of ability shrank. What to do? He dedicated himself to years of learning, experimenting, and carving a new way. His goal was to balance the Strength of his high-output athletic days with the grace and mastery of his Movement path. Not to just lump a bunch of exercise approaches together, but to seamlessly blend a universally useful athletic and therapeutic path.
He emerged moving better, more powerfully, more effortlessly than his athletic or martial self. He stopped being plagued by injury or hindered by growing weakness. He spent less time “training” and more time enjoying the fruits of his ability. He grew so inspired that he ditched his job and dedicated his life to cultivating and sharing what he’d created. Gymnasium Strength & Movement is not his business, it’s his path.
Though Josh’s movement life is now dedicated to coaching, not competing, he’s still managed a couple feats:
He does pullups with KBs on his feet, pushups with sandbags on his back, and has been an injury-free ninja since 2005. He strongly believes that if you need a daily regimen of self-care and a team of massage therapists and clinicians to keep you on your feet, you are probably doing it wrong. He’s honored to present another way.
In addition to being Head Coach at Gymnasium, he conducts workshops and clinics, speaks, writes, works with sport medicine practitioners, and apprentices coaches in his Strength & Movement programs.
Jessica grew up in an active family: camping, skiing, and hiking. Her father practiced martial arts and while other kids were goofing off, she and her brother were learning to punch and kick through sheetrock in the basement with Dad!
Jessica developed a love for Kettlebells and Yoga at about the same time. She loved the strength that the Kettlebells provided and the sensation of peace of body and mind she found in Yoga. Jessica holds a 200-hr Yoga Alliance Teaching Certificate, is OKC certified, and is a Strength & Movement coach at Gymnasium. In the other half of her life she is an artist and registered Art Therapist and has done a lot of work helping people with developmental disabilities.
Jessica coaches group, small group, and private sessions and teaches Yoga at Gymnasium. And if you are fortunate enough to share a workout with him, Jessica’s husband can be seen leaping exuberantly through the group space from time to time (though not when Yoga is in session)!
Deanna D’Amore is a true hometown gal–born and raised in Newton! After ten years of competitive cheerleading, Deanna turned to weightlifting and treadmills to keep in shape, until her boredom turned her off. She wholly embraced the primal lifestyle, which emphasizes eating and moving naturally, functionally and enjoyably (it also comes with a sweet tattoo, too!). She left the gym scene and started a home-based bodyweight practice and boxing.
Her big a-ha came when she decided to not just coach, but exclusively follow Gymnasium’s Strength & Movement path. She found that not only did her body finally change in all the ways she’d originally started exercising to achieve, but that as her love of the movements grew, so did her mastery and self confidence. With her own life enriched, she’s now passionate about helping others find their way.
Deanna is NASM certified, an OKC Kettlebell Coach, and an adept of natural approaches to all forms of self-care: diet, skin, and hair. She’s also a hair stylist and daycare provider. She’s definitely the person you want to have with you if you’re ever stranded on a desert island (with your kids) and want to look, feel, and move your best.
Deanna coaches group, small group, and private sessions as a Strength & Movement Coach at Gymnasium.
Anna Shum’s first love affair was with barbell squats, thanks to a front desk job at a gym during high school where she learned to lift free weights. According to Anna, this spurred an affinity for “picking up heavy stuff”. Which naturally led her to kettlebells. She initially liked their portability and workout efficiency, but over time kettlebells helped reshape the way she teaches and moves.
She sees movement from a joint and structural integrity perspective rather than muscles in isolation. Anna defected to Gymnasium after years of training at big box gyms. She holds certifications from NASM-cpt, RKC, Z-health R-phase, and CST. We’re so glad that she now happily calls our “little slice of G-love and community under CVS” home. Anna holds a master’s degree in Health Communications while keeping it real at Gymnasium.
Anna coaches private sessions as a Strength & Movement Coach at Gymnasium.
Marlon began as a success story at Gymnasium. He walked in the door after a tough appointment with his doctor that ended with an ultimatum: turn it around or start medication. He took the challenge to heart.
He began our Clean Eating program began training Strength & Movement 2-3x a week. He lost nearly 30 lbs, built strength, power and stamina, and a capacity for movement he hadn’t had before. He felt more alive, more inspired, and ready for more life. He found a passion for movement and undertook another challenge: to begin the path to become a coach for others.
Marlon is a Lebenkünstler (artist of life) of the first degree. He’s a martial artist with years of training in judo and kung fu, which he also teaches. He loves the outdoors: running, fishing, gardening, chicken raising, and survival training. He’s a highly trained fine artist and one-time star drummer for a metal band from LA. He’s designed monsters for video games, done web design for huge corporations, painted masterworks, and performed caricature art for tourists. His personal network truly spans every walk of life.
And he is as strong as he is creative: the only person in Gymnasium who can squat every other person at Gymnasium.
Marlon is and OKC Kettlebell Coach, and Strength & Movement coach who runs group, small group sessions at Gymnasium.
When Everett is not swinging a bell or practicing martial arts, he is turning a compost pile. As a sustainability professional focused on urban composting and agriculture, Everett works to change the way people think about waste and food. Everett believes that in order to create a sustainable world, we need to become sustainable individuals–that means we need to develop resiliency and efficiency in all aspects of our lives. Enter Gymnasium.
Everett sees Strength & Movement training as a crucial way for people to realign their bodies and minds; to become aware of and change the systems in which we live. For Everett, Gymnasium is a place to train for healthy, empowered, sustainable lives.
A man on a mission, and he swings a mean KB. Folks connect with his creative and intellectual take on teaching and putting movement into bodies that spend all their time in their heads.