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”

Coach Ryan jiu jitsu

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”.


Professor James Harnish

Gracie Barra trainer

James was born and raised on the East Coast in the small town of Truro, NS Canada. In his early childhood days, he played baseball for a few years then got into racing Moto-Cross competitively till he was about 16 years old. In his late teens, he wanted to get into Martial Arts to learn how to defend himself but he did not make his way to one until he was in his early to mid-20s. That is when he found Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu!

He thought he wanted to get into MMA so he joined the local kickboxing/Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club, MarMac Athletics, at the age of 24. He tried a couple of kickboxing classes but figured he should start from the ground up and that is when he found Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu! At the time there were only No-Gi classes and from his first-class he was hooked. He decided to focus all his energy into getting better at Jiu-Jitsu. He trained at MarMac for about a year and a half but then the Jiu-Jitsu program fizzled out. He was left without a place to train, that’s when he found Gracie Barra Truro. There, he trained from white to brown belt under professor Chris Hughes.
Unfortunately, after James got his brown belt the school where he was training at had to close its doors so he was again left without a place to train and also without a mentor because he wanted to stay loyal to GB. His good friend and teammate, Ryan Ritcy, had previously introduced James to Professor Flavio Almeida who eventually took him under his wing as his student which he was very grateful for. Thankfully the Jiu-Jitsu program started back up at MarMac Athletics but MarMac was not affiliated with GB. The owner of MarMac respected the fact that James was loyal to Gracie Barra, their methods and their philosophies. James was able to stay loyal to GB and continue his journey to pursue his own personal goals/dreams and also to further his development as a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner as well as an instructor.
James’s competitive mindset from Moto-Cross helped him greatly when he decided to start competing in local Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments which he did very well in, always finding his way onto the podium. James then wanted to test himself further by traveling and competing internationally at the IBJJF events such as Worlds, No-Gi Worlds, Worlds Masters, No-Gi Pan Ams, Montreal Open and Toronto Open where he did not find much success until he was a Brown Belt and won Gold in his weight division and Silver in the absolute at the IBJJF Toronto Open in 2016 and also at the Montreal Open where he took silver in his weight division, then at No-Gi Pan Ams in New York City where he took bronze in his weight division in 2017.
James’s passion for Jiu-Jitsu runs deep and he knew when he started teaching from a blue belt that Jiu-Jitsu was what he wanted to pursue, Jiu-Jitsu has changed his life in so many ways and he wants to help change peoples lives through Jiu-Jitsu, just like it has helped him change his!


Professor Michael Hay

BJJ coach Mike

My name is Michael Hay , a black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu under professor Ryan Mcgivillray. I have been training in BJJ for approximately 8 years originally planning to prepare for mma I fell in love with jiu jitsu training and competition using it as a driving force for personal growth, later using my discipline in jiu jitsu to follow my dreams and fight professionally having 5 first round submission victory’s and multiple submission of the night awards. While still following my own personal goals I love teaching and sharing my techniques in jiu jitsu, I thoroughly enjoy and embrace everything the “jiu jitsu lifestyle” has to offer and hope to share it with as many others as possible.




Lyle Jackson

My name is Lyle Jackson.  I began training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Gracie Barra Edmonton in 2013, and I’m currently a purple belt under Professor Ryan McGillivray.  I began training BJJ because I wanted something to keep me active, but needed to find something that could keep my interest.  Being an MMA fan, I was fascinated with the capabilities of BJJ, so I knew that I would be able to stay interested and enjoy it long term.  I was hooked after my first class, and was always looking forward to the next one.  I began helping with kids classes shortly after starting because my son started training as well, and it was a great bonding experience. In 2016 I left a fifteen year career in EMS.  I was able to begin teaching the Tiny Champion program which I have been teaching since. This year I also began teaching GB 1 classes, and have also been teaching children at a local day care center.









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.