The Guru of Breathing, Jonathan 'Fitness' Jones

This regimen eschews jumping and running for deep-breathing exercises.


Jonathan 'Fitness' Jones

Photo by Pat Mazzera

Who: Jonathan “Fitness” Jones

What: Need help dealing with PMS? Want to burn off fat? Struggle getting good sleep? This 52-year-old has the answers for you. “Breathe to achieve,” Jones says. “Stress. Headaches. Focus and concentration. Cholesterol. I’ve got a breathing technique for everybody.” Jones is the creator of breathing aerobics, a fitness regime centered on deep-breathing techniques. And he promises no running, jogging, or jumping required. He’s also got a DVD out now, The Fat Burning Workout DVD (available on his website The Breathing Guru, who does work out in gyms, is adamant about spreading the benefits of breathing and the impact it can have on wellness.

Where: He does private and corporate trainings, as well as classes at Wise Ways Martial Arts Academy in Oakland. In October, he began holding classes two days a week at the Bellevue Club on the shores of Lake Merritt. He’s been all over, training and teaching, from the Oakland Expo to area temples to sessions with city of Oakland personnel. You can also catch him on radio and television. He offers health tips on the show Protect Your Assets on KNBR and KKSF, and does a segment during a Sunday show on ABC 7.

When: Jones is always game to help incorporate deep breathing. He said there is never a bad time. He sets aside times throughout the day where he invests in his mind and body. In the morning, to get your day right. Before meals, to speed up your metabolism. During breaks at work, to keep you from burnout. Before major tasks, to improve focus. Before bed, to clear the mind and achieve better sleep. “Many people have stress on top of stress on top of stress,” Jones says. “Eventually you reach a breaking point. With my techniques, you can prevent that. If you relieve the stress periodically, you never reach the point where you get to burnout. You can handle the stress you do have and have more energy.”

Why: There was a time in Jones’ life where he was depressed. He had a fitness company, The Body Shop in Oakland, and lost it. His marriage fell apart. He was at rock bottom. He ran across an old friend, Kim Reinheimer. She noticed he looked stressed and he’d packed on the pounds. She offered to show him some deep-breathing exercises to help him. And they worked. Over a couple months, the weight fell off Jones and the stress dissipated. He felt so good that he dove in deeper. Eventually, he was introduced to Chung Am, a Chinese herb doctor and Zen master who’d taught meditation and breathing. He helped Jones understand how breathing influences emotions, energy, motivation, memory. For seven years, Jones toured Buddhist temples and learned all he could about breathing. He got a degree in Buddhist meditation. Noticing how he’d changed his entire body chemistry, he developed a regimen so he could share with others. “It makes me feel like I just got a check for a billion dollars,” Jones said of that moment when he realizes his techniques help people. “They trust in me and do the things I suggest, and to see them improve their quality of life—that’s worth more than money.”

How: Most of Jones’ work is with middle-aged and senior citizens. He also works with athletes and has techniques to benefit young people to aid their fitness levels. But his greatest work is with people in their 40s and up. People who have issues with weight, who suffer from limited mobility, who have high-stress jobs—they tend to really benefit. “You can still do something, even when you’re limited,” he says. Limited by back and knee problems, having accumulated years of stress, and approaching an age where things start to decline, Jones is his own best client.

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