Meet the Trainers

Training is our Passion – Meet the Trainers

Our trainers are committed to helping you exceed your potential and reach your goals.


Professor Ryan McGillivray, Head Instructor – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

“No matter your goals and ambitions, Jiu Jitsu will help you achieve them all”

Ryan was born on Vancouver Island in 1986. He quickly learned that sports and athletics would be the path his life would always follow. His childhood and teenage years were spent playing AAA baseball, AAA hockey and lacrosse. His determination to win and competitive edge made it possible to excel in any sport he tried. After having suffered a compressed spine at the age of 16, his athletic future was greatly in question.

After two years of safe recovery, the doctors said he could play sports again. Because his opportunity to make a career out of his previous sports was taken away; he was forced to look for a new path to go down. After spending a day with Jason MacDonald and his training team, he accidentally walked into a career in MMA. With the same will to succeed and focus, he had a chance to put some wins together. After 7 years, Ryan finished his career with a record of 12-6-1. In a tough competition, he was one of 14 in 4000 who tried out, who made it on to season 13 of The Ultimate Fighter. After being invited by Greg Jackson to join his camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico, his career began to take off. With such great training and coaches in ABQ, Ryan made some great improvements to his game and was ready to return to the UFC. Unfortunately, due to many concussions all throughout his sports career, one more became too many. After being diagnosed with second impact syndrome, he was no longer medically allowed to continue fighting.

One of Ryan’s motto’s in Jiu Jitsu became very true in his life after his MMA career; “When one door closes, another will always present itself”. With his travels to Albuquerque, Ryan met Professor Roberto Alencar and the Gracie Barra New Mexico team. This was the start of his newest passion that he is living and trying to spread every day to as many as possible. Ryan’s Jiu Jitsu career is definitely a unique one for several reasons. Through much of his MMA career, he did not have a coach and was forced to learn the ground aspect on his own. A little more than halfway through his 7 year career, Ryan first put on a Jiu Jitsu gi. After just 4 months of training, Ryan was awarded his Blue belt in Brazil. He was able to compete once as a blue belt in the California open in 2012, earning gold in his division and a silver in the open weight division. After another 6 short months, Ryan was presented with his purple belt. As this was near the end of his MMA career, he was able to compete a lot more as a purple belt. Ryan was able to win American Nationals 2 years in a row, as well as two silver medals in open weight, won the Las Vegas open, third place in open weight, and finally capped off with a bronze at world championships. After making a statement as the third best purple belt in the superheavyweight division, he was awarded his brown belt after just two years of training in a gi. Ryan is currently a black belt under Professor Roberto “Tussa” Alencar. His passion and dedication to Jiu Jitsu and Gracie Barra is apparent every day in coaching and training.

Gracie Barra Edmonton Lineage
Carlos Gracie Sr. -> Carlos Gracie Jr -> Roberto Alencar -> Ryan McGillivray

“My goals in Jiu Jitsu are strictly as an instructor. Of course I love to compete and will always strive to
better myself every day, however, my goals that are closest to my heart are the goals I have for my students. I look forward to the day that one of my students becomes a world champion, as well as having the great privilege to promote my first black belt”.


Kris Kucher, Kickboxing Instructor

I have found more happiness in spreading knowledge and the experience I have been lucky enough in life to find.

Meet the Trainers - Kris

I was born April 22 1988 in Edmonton Alberta and have called Edmonton home ever since. I was very lucky to have the opportunity to start martial arts at a very young age. At the age of four I began training in Tae Kwon Do and was fortunate to have a great coaching staff and surrounding friends. I received my 1st degree black belt at the age of twelve and became a 3rd degree black belt by the age of 17.

Throughout this time training I was incredibly lucky and was given the chance to train with some of the most respected coaches and martial artists in the world, as well as compete at the highest international levels. Through the years of Tae Kwon Do I was able to pick up immense amounts of information, techniques, styles, and experience in life and really learn from some amazing people. As well as Tae Kwon Do I wrestled in junior high and high school which was a great experience and allowed me to open my eyes to the benefits of all different martial arts, styles, as well as different ways of learning and conditioning.

After high school I branched out and began training in MMA. I got extremely lucky and the first gym I went to check out I met Ryan who took a real liking to beating me up and showing me the ropes (Literally). He motivated me and showed me how much the sport had to offer both physically and mentally, as well showed me I couldn’t rely on one base and really needed to expand my horizons. At this point I was completely consumed and couldn’t get enough. This gave me the opportunity to train with some of the best athletes not only in Canada but the world along with some incredible coaches. I have always felt knowledge is power, and was able to gain more knowledge in this time of life than I ever expected. I am so thankful and lucky to have met and become involved with the McGillivary family, they have given me vast amounts of knowledge and the ability to teach and impart as much of it as I can. I began teaching at Gracie Barra Edmonton when it first opened downtown and had some great times helping get the gym going turning it from a car shop to an MMA gym.

After a couple years of teaching and moving the gym to a new location I was diagnosed with a brain disease and would spend the next few years in the hospital and personal care. After a few close calls, a last-ditch effort to repair things paid off and I was able to begin my road to recovery. As always Ryan and Kevin came through for me and opened the doors to allow me to have a home to come back to as well as begin putting things back together and getting my health back. After a few months of conditioning and retraining technique I was given a second chance at running a class and doing my favorite thing in teaching. As much success as I had as an athlete I have always done better as a coach and have found more happiness in spreading knowledge and the experience I have been lucky enough in life to find.

The rest of the story has yet to be written but so far I have been extremely lucky and blessed in life and look forward to sharing all the experience I can with anyone who wants to learn and have a great time.


Michael Ljevaja

NAIT Personal Training Program, PICP Level 2 Certified Trainer, Biosignature Practitioner

My passion in life is fitness and I believe in practicing what I preach.

Meet The Trainer
I graduated from the Personal Fitness Training program at NAIT in 1999, and have continued my commitment to education by attending numerous seminars and internships with experts such as Charles Poliquin (strength, nutrition, supplementation, fat loss, muscle gain), Pierre Roy (explosive strength), Dr. Suzanne Mack (nutrition, detoxification, fat loss, supplementation), Dr. James LaValle (metabolism, hormones), Mark Schauss (effects of environmental toxicity on health, supplementation), Jeanette Bessinger (nutrition), and Milos Sarcev (muscle gain, supplementation).

I have gained ample experience in the fitness industry working with a broad range of clients from pro athletes (Jay Bouwmeester, Dion Phaneuf), Olympic gold medalists (Kevin Martin curling team), to clients who have never been to a gym before.

I specialize in fat loss and muscle gain. Clients come to me for results. My passion, experience, attention to detail, exercise selection with correct form and a motivated client equals results. I look forward to assisting you to better health and fitness.

Mike Ljevaja has been my personal trainer since 2001. I noticed positive results almost immediately. Our teams win/loss record prior to starting with Mike was about 80% every year. The season Mike and I started together our teams win/loss went up to 87%. In the last 11 years our win/loss record has been as high as 91% and never worse than 85%. I can definitely thank a lot of our teams, and my successes to Mike Ljevaja's training.

Kevin Martin - 2010 Olympic Gold Medalist


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Contact Michael by cell phone at 780-445-9269 or email to start training.