A former gang leader who was shot while conducting a fitness class at Toronto's Christie Pits Park on Saturday morning was targeted, his lawyer believes.

John Struthers, who said he has been representing Alejandro Vivar since 2003, told CBC News in an email his client was released last March and "was absolutely determined to make a good life."

Struthers said the father of two boys began his fitness business "almost immediately" after being released from prison.

On Saturday, a witness told CBC the shooting happened during a Prison Pump boot camp being run by 25/7 Fitness. 

The woman said she was working out beside the alleged shooter and saw him walk up to Vivar and shoot him four or five times. He remains in serious condition but is expected to survive, police say. A second person was hit in the foot by a stray bullet.

christie pits shooting

Toronto Police released this photo of a suspect wanted in a shooting during a fitness class at Christie Pits Park Saturday morning.

In an interview with CBC, Const. Craig Brister confirmed that "one of the victims was leading the fitness class" but did not identify Vivar or the other victim.

On its site, 25/7 Fitness describes Prison Pump as "a penitentiary-inspired workout that prisoners use to get lean and muscular and come out of prison recreated; mentally and physically."

Vivar wrote on the company's website that he "dreamed about" starting something like Prison Pump and 25/7 Fitness about six months before his release. "And now I see it is becoming a reality. This is proof that anything we put our minds to can be accomplished no matter where we come from or what we have been through."

The site also states that in March 2016, "Vivar is released from a federal penitentiary with his Personal Training Specialist certification and gains employment as a personal trainer four days after his release."

Struthers told CBC News that in 2007, Vivar was arrested in a drug-trafficking investigation with nine others and was convicted on gun and drug charges. 

Vivar wrote a prison diary for The Kingston Whig-Standard while serving time at Bath Institution, a medium-security correctional facility just west of Kingston, Ont.

In an entry dated March 30, 2016, he wrote: "I entered prison a gangster, convicted of serious crimes. It was the only lifestyle I knew for as long as I can remember, and my first year in prison was a battle between being a gangster for the rest of my life and recreating myself into something brand new."

Police describe the suspect in Saturday's shooting as black with short cornrows hanging out of a black baseball cap. 

They say he's between 25 and 30 years old, has a thin build and stands about five feet nine inches tall.

Police say he was wearing a black hoodie with a white logo in the centre, black sweat pants with a light logo on the left front hip area, light-coloured running shoes, and dark sunglasses with gold trim on the arms.