Interviewing Canadian Junior National Powerlifting Champ, Tommy Johnston 

This post was written using a transcript from Tony's September 2023 podcast. It’s been edited for clarity.

Winning gold at home

TONY: Earlier this year, the Sunshine Coast’s own Tommy Johnston won a gold medal at the Canadian Powerlifting Union Nationals in Richmond. That's a major accomplishment, Tommy. What category was that in, and what was the experience like?

TOMMY: So that was in the Junior 105kg weight class. So Junior being 19 to 23, and then 105kg being the 231 pound weight class. The experience was super cool. It was a national level competition, so everyone from all over the country. But it was in the hometown, so it meant a lot to have it there.

TONY: Did you have a bunch of people cheering you on? Did friends and family come out to cheer you on?

TOMMY: Yeah. My parents came out, and it ended up being the first competition they ever came to. So it was pretty special for them to come watch, so that was awesome.

TONY: Do you have a coach that you work with locally? Were they there with you as well?

TOMMY: My coach is from Nanaimo. His name's Colton LaJeunesse, and he was there as well. He was there coaching everybody throughout the week, but also competing himself.

TONY: Oh, cool. So he walks the walk, and talks the talk so to speak.

TOMMY: Absolutely, yeah.

Competing internationally

TONY: Last year, you went to Türkiye to compete in the World Junior Classic Powerlifting Championships. How did it go for you there?

TOMMY: The day had its ups and downs. It was an experience like no other. When you do a local competition, there’s not much travel, and fewer things you have to take into consideration. But competing internationally, there’s hours of flying and different time zones, weight cuts, weight management. Just lifting in a completely different part of the world is a different ballgame.

TONY: Does the travel throw off your schedule? Does it impact your training, and eating, and sleeping?

TOMMY: A little bit, at first. A big factor in adjusting is making sure you're down there a good amount of days in advance. So being down there about a week in advance is what everyone usually sticks to.

TONY: What's the next competition you're training for?

TOMMY: The IPF Junior World Championships, on September 2nd in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

The ins and outs of powerlifting

TONY: How did you initially get into powerlifting?

TOMMY: Years of strength training and finding a sport that revolved around strength on the squat bench and deadlift. Then I signed up for my first meet. There were a couple other people on the coast that were into it before me, so that helped a little bit as well, just to get my foot in the door. Signed up for the first meet, and guess the rest is history.

TONY: Do powerlifters have seasons? Do you ever take a break from training, or is it year-round?

TOMMY: It's for the most part, year-round. It's a continuous goal of just trying to get stronger throughout the year. There's certain periods in your training where you're not trying to push as hard and just taking more time to recover. For example, the first few weeks after a competition, you're usually resting a bit more. But for the most part, you're training pretty hard year-round.

TONY: Do you have a sponsorship for powerlifting? Or is it all paid for by yourself?

TOMMY: It's mainly paid for by yourself. You can get into sponsorship opportunities, but they’re usually private just through yourself. So that's something I haven't gotten into yet, but possibly in the future.

TONY: Do powerlifters compete in World's Strongest Man? Do powerlifters typically go into that sport, or are competitors from all different sports?

TOMMY: Strongman and powerlifting are two separate sports. But there are some high level strongmen that compete at the World's Strongest Man event that were in powerlifting before, and powerlifting just led them into Strongman.

Growing up on the Sunshine Coast, BC

TONY: What was it like growing up on the Sunshine Coast? Are you originally from here?

TOMMY: I was born here. And then shortly after I was born, me and my parents and my sister moved to New Zealand until I was five. Then we moved back, and I've been here since. Growing up here was cool.

TONY: I remember watching you play hockey with my boys. You were a pretty good hockey player as well.

Making Changes at Sluggers Gym  

TONY: You're also the new owner of Sluggers Gym in Gibsons. How did that come about?

TOMMY: I started as a member back in 2015 or 2016. I watched Mel [Sluggers’ previous owner) run the gym and I thought, "Owning a gym would be the coolest thing ever." And then six or seven years down the road, Mel had it for sale and the opportunity came up, and I decided to bite on it.

TONY: How are you looking at putting your own spin on the business?

TOMMY: We're looking at changing the business’ name to give it a bit of a more unique feel for myself and to attract a younger demo, younger kids in high school. Get more young people into the gym and into the fitness industry. And we’re also offering more access for our members as well.

TONY: You just started allowing 24-hour access, right? That just started today, didn't it?

TOMMY: Yeah, that's started just recently.

TONY: With the Sunshine Coast being an older demographic – I think we're the second oldest in BC – have you got anything planned for your, say, more senior members?

TOMMY: Yeah, absolutely. I definitely have a lot of plans to help bring more senior people into the gym and get them more active in the fitness industry as well.

TONY: Awesome. Age-appropriate training and that kind of stuff?

TOMMY: Yeah, absolutely. For sure.
TONY: You've also made some tweaks to the equipment. You were saying that you've got everything you think that people would need now?

TOMMY: Yeah. For the most part, there's a couple of things I definitely want to bring in as well, that aren't there right now that I'm working on. But for the most part, just upgrading some things. Just adding some newer pieces and giving the gym a bit more of a newer feel, and just keeping members a bit surprised every time they come in.

personal trainers

TONY: You've got some trainers that work out of the gym?

TOMMY: Yeah. So there's Mary Shaw and Mikayla Custance, they both run their own personal training companies. And they have a great selection of members that they train in the gym. And they're awesome people, awesome trainers. They're there pretty much every day throughout the week.

TONY: Where can people get updates on the changes you’re making at Sluggers?

TOMMY: Instagram would be the best place to go because we're posting there every day, every week. Lots of updates there, so that'd be the best place to go.

Juggling competition and entrepreneurship

TONY: Shifting gears a little bit, what's taking up more of your time right now? Is it running the business, or is it training for powerlifting competitions?

TOMMY: I would say running the gym. I mean, the training takes up a lot of my time, but as far as in the gym, that training only takes up a certain amount of time to actually do the physical work. But actually building the business, that's taking a lot more of my time. When I'm at the gym, and when I'm at home, and it's just around the clock with that for sure. So, definitely the gym.

Sunshine Coast success story

TONY: Thanks very much for coming on the podcast. It's so good to see a young man like yourself doing well and being a success story for buying a business in BC. I wish you nothing but the best.

TOMMY: Thanks, Tony.

TONY: And anyone interested in stepping up and providing some sponsorship to Tommy Johnston for his powerlifting, can reach out to Tommy on Instagram as well.


If you’re not already working with an agent, call me when you’re ready to buy or sell and I’ll guide you through the busy and competitive real estate market on BC’s BEAUTIFUL Sunshine Coast.

Tony Browton -
Personal Real Estate Corporation
RE/MAX City Realty (Gibsons)
Mobile: 604-418-2695
Email: Click here to email Tony

⚠️ DISCLAIMER: This blogpost is not intended to cause or induce breach of any existing agency agreement.