Looking at Jesse Bruce today, the handsome, buff co-owner of Alpha Obstacle Training in Toronto and Kinesiology graduate of University of Guelph-Humber, it’s hard to imagine that he came from a “dark, troubled past”, and survived to tell about it.
In fact, it’s Jesse’s “if I can do it anyone can” message of hope that this 24-time obstacle course race winner loves to share with Guelph-Humber students when he returns to his alma mater as a popular guest speaker.
“I was that skinny kid with low self esteem who avoided mirrors because I didn’t like what I saw,” says Jesse. “I got into a lot of bad trouble and ended up in a group homes, rehab and even jail. I even struggled with addictions. Then I discovered lifting weights, which made me feel better and I grew stronger. My whole body began to change and then my attitude changed. When my friends saw the changes, they started coming to the gym with me. I realized that if you go to the gym and stay consistent with what you are doing, you will see changes and exercise becomes fun. That’s when I realized I wanted to do this for a living.”
Jesse overcame many hurdles to go to college. At age 27, he enrolled in Niagara College and earned a diploma in Fitness and Health Promotion. Wanting to further his studies, Jesse bridged into the Kinesiology program at University of Guelph-Humber. “I was driven to succeed and found that Humber offered me what I needed to make it happen,” says Jesse. He also earned his personal training certification through the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology (CSEP) and began training fellow students at Humber.
In 2013, Jesse says Humber gave him the help he needed to start his own company when he was one of the winners of The Friendly Pitch Competition, a Dragon’s Den style competition at Humber whereby students pitch their business ideas to judges, with a live audience looking on. “I am proud to say I won the competition and $5,000 which I used to buy a van and equipment to set up an obstacle course. My first was called Time for War Fitness which was the slogan for my life; the war against the things we all struggle with in life and have to overcome and how I was able to wage war against my demons and come out victorious. In 2012, Jesse signed up for his first Warrior Dash at Horseshoe Valley and finished in first place.
“I then teamed up with a business partner who owns the 4,000 square foot facility with 23 acres including a beach volleyball pit and soccer dome and together we opened Alpha Obstacle Training. I believe there’s no better fitness regime than obstacle course training which can increase strength, shed fat and improve cardiovascular output. We have climbing ropes, inverted walls and offer obstacle style strength and conditioning."
Jesse is often seen around the Humber College campus helping organize events. “Jesse helps us organize our 5K run and we are working with him to host an obstacle event race at Humber,” says Brad Corcoran, Professor/Program Coordinator, Fitness and Health Promotion. “Jesse is an extraordinary student who continues to give back to the college community. He hosts a number of Humber College Fitness and Health Promotion students and University of Guelph-Humber Kinesiology students as interns as well as being a popular guest speaker. Jesse motivates others to succeed."
"I never gave up hope and I held on to the belief that I could go to school, and I could start my own company. The word ‘alpha’ in the company name also refers to the beginning point where someone decides to change. Obstacle refers to the training itself, but also to someone’s ability to knock down barriers or obstacles that are standing in their way. I enjoy motivating students and clients to overcome obstacles and struggles. If I can do it, anyone can!”