Get Wilder Fitness, high school coaching job draws James Wilder Jr. off the football field

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

‘Get Wilder’ is about to become more than a hashtag.

James Wilder Jr. will be the head trainer at his family’s self-named gym, Get Wilder Fitness, and run game coordinator for Plant High School in Tampa Bay, Florida. The 28-year-old was considering other avenues for generating income due to the uncertainty of a CFL season in 2020 created by the coronavirus crisis.

“I’m a CFL player and it’s starting to get tough. I dedicated my life to the CFL and they turn around and tell us we can’t get paid by the Canadian government. I didn’t want to retire, but it’s what I have to do for my family,” Wilder Jr. told 3DownNation.

“I hope the CFL season still goes on, but it doesn’t look like it. Communication is way too slow. Financially I don’t see how it can happen. They’re going to cut the salaries in half, most likely prorate them and it doesn’t make sense for a lot of Americans.”

While Wilder Jr. was in Houston leading peaceful protests following the senseless murder of George Floyd, he was working on options away from the football field. There was a group of people discussing buying property and building a workout facility in Tampa Bay and wanted Wilder Sr. and Wilder Jr. to be the faces of it.

During the first Zoom meeting to discuss ideas regarding size, equipment, the turf field, trainers, and the name for the gym, Wilder Jr. proposed “Get Wilder” and it was an instant hit. The Wilder name is well known and respected in Tampa Bay, especially because his father starred as a running back with the Buccaneers from 1981-1989, earning Pro Bowl status in 1984.

“My dad’s name is big in Tampa and I followed the foot steps to keep the name ringing. It’s going to be lit each morning to wake up, see a big poster of Get Wilder and impacting the community. I have a lot of tread on the tires, but it’s a decision I have to make right now,” Wilder Jr. said.

“The door isn’t closed for the future, but no matter what happens this season, I won’t be playing. It sucks and hurts that I have to sit out from football, but I’m excited for a new journey and what’s going to be taking care of my family forever.”

Meanwhile, Wilder Jr. discussed his coaching aspirations with former Plant High School head coach Robert Weiner, currently the co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of Toledo. Weiner advised the Panthers legend to reach out to the coaching staff and it resulted in a job offer.

“Coaching and training was what I was going to do after I retire one day anyway. I’m blessed, you usually have to find things and now the contract is signed. I’m going to Tampa this weekend and starting from there,” Wilder Jr. said.

“As of right now, they need my full commitment. The same with me being the run game coordinator at Plant High School, they really want to use my expertise. I gave them my commitment for the 2020 season.”

There was speculation about Wilder Jr. joining the WWE after a tryout last year, however, he wants to focus on coaching and training in Tampa Bay for the time being.

“The last terms [the WWE] left me on was the door is always open to come back when I want to. That was after the tryout last year and I haven’t reached back out to them. The new training facility and coaching is going to take all my time for now,” Wilder Jr. said.

Tampa Bay is home and feels like it for Wilder Jr. It’s where he grew up and lived until he chose to accept a scholarship from Florida State University among many other major programs. Following his NCAA career, Wilder Jr. had stints with the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills in the NFL. In 2017 he signed with the Toronto Argonauts and quickly rose to stardom in the CFL.

“Maybe in 2021 I could have the business secure and sneak away for six months to play in the CFL. I could see that happening. If I were to return I would want to play for Montreal,” Wilder Jr. said.

“When I’m in Tampa, I’m networking and connecting with great people. I’m stress-free when I’m in Tampa, when I’m there I won’t have a need for anything. I have a newborn due in August. I’m going to be a new dad, a new trainer and a new coach.”

Get Wilder, Tampa Bay.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.