Changing Minds, Changing Bodies at The Changing Room


Published: 04/29/2013

by Duane Wells


Take one look at John Dunlea and you’d hardly imagine there was a time when he wasn’t the paragon of fitness he is today. Though he is presently an avid devotee of working out and promoting a healthy lifestyle through his unique personal training space, The Changing Room, Dunlea was not to the fitness craze born. Described as “bookish” during his formative years in Ireland, the guru of good feelings went on to a career working in artist management and cultural event organization before discovering the benefits of working out much later in life.

“I was by no means a jock or sporty kid,” Dunlea says in his still discernible Irish brogue. “At age 30 I realized I had to do something to slow the relentless march of time and  fight the downward drag of gravity, our eternal foe. I turned from a life of boozing and partying to the road of health. I joined a gym and to my immense surprise, I loved it. It started to fill me with confidence and energy. In a short space of time, I became ‘that guy,’ the newly converted now encouraging everyone to work out.”

Dunlea decided to make a career out of it, a move he jokingly admits gave him “a professional cover for being annoying.” Shortly after his body-morphing epiphany, he moved to Barcelona, the land of beautiful bodies, where he earned a Master's degree in personal training. Not long thereafter, he found himself bound for La La Land, which he describes as the “international capital of feeling good.” However, that was not to be where his story ended.

Bored with the repetitive nature of working out in traditional gyms in L.A., Dunlea went in search of something to break up the monotony—and he found it the day he “discovered the Byzantine world of Crossfit” in Hollywood. The combination of constantly varied workouts done at high intensity and the emphasis put on strength training, gymnastics and connection with your own body was a winning one for Dunlea. Converted yet again, he signed up to become a certified Crossfit trainer, a process he completed in March 2011.

With his conversion now complete, Dunlea has begun the next phase in his fitness evolution by opening The Changing Room , TCR, which you might call a temple to his new discovery. “I wanted to create a space which would reflect my personality, where I could create the experience I want my clients to have,” Dunlea says of his new training  space. “I also wanted to make a training space that had actual space, not filled with machines but rather with space for people to move, jump and sweat. Unlike so many gyms, there are no machines at TCR. The exercise programs I elaborate encourage you to connect with and use your body.”

“Essentially, it comes down to you, some weight and your will,” Dunlea explains as he scans the spartan training environment he has created. “I want to train people to be better humans—better at what they have to do outside the gym. There are no props and distractions here. So there are no televisions. No posters of improbably muscular women. No magazines telling you how bad a person you are for not being thin. It is a unique place where you can meet yourself and then see that the version of yourself [that you see] is not fixed. It can be altered and improved. I help you to do just that.”

Are you ready for the change?


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