‘Sweat’ trainer incorporates Korean martial arts

Sweat, La Jolla’s newest elite personal training studio, is pulling no punches in introducing cross-box, a high-energy cross-training workout with a self-defense twist.

“Cross-box training is exclusive to Sweat,” said personal trainer Billy Borja, owner of the new fitness facility at 7509 Draper Ave., Suite A, in La Jolla next to Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza. “We cross-train with boxing, which brings a very high-intensity level that also has the added benefit of teaching you self-defense. Whether their goal is to lose inches or pounds, gain on their vertical leap or shave some time off their 40-yard dash, we’re going to help them achieve that.”

As its name suggests, Sweat is a performance-based, no-nonsense studio that helps athletes and others who are serious about improving their physical health and athletic performance. “I ran with the name Sweat because you’re going to come here and sweat, be challenged, be pushed,” said Borja. “The end result is they’re going to get a great workout.”

Borja has worked in La Jolla for 17 years. He comes from a Korean martial arts background, which is reflected in the methodology of his hybrid, fitness-training regimen.

La Jolla resident Mark Harvey is a convert to Borja’s training methods, which he said offer distinct advantages over more traditional styles. “I belong to other gyms and I run and do yoga,” noted Harvey, “but Billy’s training really focuses on agility, it’s not just strength training. He has a very extensive repertoire of exercises. So every time you come in, it’s something different, really challenging, always fun and interesting. You don’t come in and get bored by doing the same exercises every time.

“He incorporates boxing and weights and agility. I’d never boxed before, and it is a really intense workout, good exercise.”

Like many other personal trainers in La Jolla, Borja cut his teeth years ago working for the Frog fitness chain. Then he ran his own martial arts studio for a dozen years. “After that I segued into fitness and got my own place here,” he said.

Functional training is the operative word for the type of fitness facility Borja operates, which he said employs non-traditional types of exercises geared toward keeping clients to be mobile and functional. He said: “We want our clients to look, feel and perform better, that’s what it comes down to.”

A private, and semi-private training facility, Sweat specializes in strength and conditioning, sports-specific and core training. Though not a boxing or martial arts studio, Sweat nonetheless utilizes kick boxing and mixed martial arts disciplines.

Borja works with people of all ages. He notes seniors are an important segment of his clientele.

He had an older woman come into his studio recently to inquire about the availability of his physical-training services. Borja asked her what her goals were. She replied: “I just want to keep up with my grandchildren.”

Borja’s now working with her, training her to keep her functional, keep her mobile.

Borja specializes in training athletes. “My clientele includes swimmers, football players, tennis players and surfers,” added Borja, but he’s just as comfortable working with seniors to help them maintain and improve their physical capabilities.

Sweat also offers programs catering to elementary, middle and high school youth. With athletes, Borja focuses on using cross-training methods to achieve goal-oriented results to improve their motor function, mechanics and agility, or to help them lose weight or improve their peripheral vision.

Where most people fall short of their expectations in personal training is that they lack intensity in their workouts, which translates into substandard performance yielding less-than-impressive results. “We’re results-oriented,” noted Borja.

In Borja’s view, a fitness instructor needs to be a multi-tasker. They have to be equally skilled at being a good communicator, demonstrator and motivator.

A lot has changed in the fitness industry over time. One big change is that people have less time now than they used to to devote to personal training. Consequently, personal trainers like Borja have been required to adapt.

“One of the big things now is the 30-minute workout,” Borja pointed out. “We live in a society where everybody’s pressed for time. No one has two hours to spend in a health club anymore. So instead, they come in for 30 minutes of workout at a very high-intensity level. They’re able to achieve as much - if not more - than they could in a two-hour workout.”

Borja’s studio boasts high-tech weight-training machinery, as well as dumbbells and plenty of various sizes and shapes of medicine balls, training tools clients can use to build up their core strength and conditioning.

Fitness is a rapidly growing industry throughout the United States. Borja noted there are presently about 27,000 health clubs nationwide. It’s been estimated that, by 2010, more than 100 million people in this country will be active members attending those clubs. “Personal training accounts for a little more than half of the revenue for all the health clubs in America,” pointed out Borja.

There is a lot of competition in the fitness industry in La Jolla, but Borja believes there are plenty of needy clients around for businesses, like his, to cater to. “The competitiveness doesn’t bother me,” he said. “Clients are loyal to their personal trainers. You really establish a relationship, a rapport. We’re here to serve the community of La Jolla.”

Workouts at Sweat are by appointment only between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. For more information, call (858) 4546-SWEAT or visit