My Personal Journey to Hell and Back

Posted by Jason Ferruggia

success-and-failure-sign-300x224Maybe you screwed up last year. You showed signs of weakness or lost your way.

Maybe it was your fault or maybe it wasn’t.

Maybe your dad died or you got fired or divorced.

Thing is, none of that matters now. You don’t have to forget any of the hardships you endured but you do need to leave them behind you.

Sitting around thinking about what was or what could have been does no one any good.

When my step dad, Ed, died a few years ago it seemed like all I could do for the next few weeks was sit around in a deep depression.

I was emotionally crippled until one day my mom told me that, “Ed would never want to see you like this. Life is for the living. Unfortunately, as harsh as it sounds, Ed is gone and isn’t coming back. But you’re here and need to keep living your life. That’s what he would want.”

The next day I got back to Hustlemania, set some new goals and started pursuing them with relentless aggression.

I still keep a picture of Ed next to my bed and look at it every morning. But the sadness is gone. It has to be. Any negative emotion you harbor, be it sadness, jealousy or anger, will only take you further away from living the life you truly want.

Trust me, I know. I had some minor anger issues for many years when I was a lot younger due to certain childhood circumstances. All it ever did was hold me back in life.

Nowadays the anger is gone. Sure, I’m still human and something could piss me off once in a blue moon, but it will take a hell of a lot more than it used to. And in the rare case that it happens I’m over it in literally two minutes.

Because of that I’m happier, healthier and more successful.

2012 is here. It’s a brand new year. It’s a chance to do things your way, to take control of your life, to achieve new goals and live on your own terms.

We all screw up. We all have obstacles to overcome. And no one is lucky enough to escape some sort of tragedy or death in the family that has a deep effect on us.

But we have to keep moving forward. It’s the only choice.

I spent years of my life living in the past. Missing “the good old days” or wishing I had done this or that, full of regret. I can tell you from experience that it’s no way to live.

From the Outhouse to the Penthouse & Back Again

In 1994 I made $200 a week training people.

By 1996 I finally had an athlete to train. But just one.

In 2001 I was booked around the clock, had close to a hundred athletes per day in my training facility and was making more money than I ever dreamed of.

In 2006, after more than a decade running a very successful six figure training business I was told that the building my gym was in was being sold and that we had six months to find a new location. After searching desperately, hiring a lawyer, going through zoning board meetings, and a whole bunch of other nonsense, six months came and went, and I was forced to close down.

It was one of the darkest hours of my life and I owe a great debt of gratitude to Dave Tate and Alwyn Cosgrove for helping me get through it. Luckily my friend, John Alvino, opened his place a few weeks later and we were able to transition a lot of people over there and keep Renegade alive.

However, I had taken a hit. More than half of my clients couldn’t make the drive. Even though my income was cut by 50% I still kept spending money like MC Hammer.

Dinner at Nobu? Call the crew, it’s on me.

Vegas for the weekend? Get the penthouse suite.

Since I no longer had the twelve hour a day commitment of running Renegade on my own I decided to move into New York City for a while. It was something I always wanted to do and seemed like it would be a nice break.

Seven months later, after going out to five star restaurants, bars, clubs and lounges six to seven nights a week I was out of cash… and by out of cash I mean completely broke. You party like a rock star with reckless abandon for 10-12 years straight and it will eventually catch up with you.

I was young and dumb and have no excuses. When younger friends of mine start making good money I always pull them aside and tell them my story and to not be like me.

About this time in 2006 there was an average of ten bucks in my pocket on any given day, just enough to buy gas and bagels. In one of the most humiliating moments of my life I had to call my mom and ask if I could move into her spare room for a while.

Talk about depressed….

How I Turned it All Around

Six years later I’m residing on the beach in Santa Monica, California, running multiple successful businesses, have one of the most visited blogs in all of strength and conditioning, am helping hundreds of thousands of people, doing what I want, the way I want and literally loving every waking second of my existence. My life could honestly not be any better.

Now before some of you tell me to go fuck myself, let me assure you that I only share this with you for no other reason than the fact that I believe, in my little pea brain, that it proves anything is possible.

I have no special skills. I do nothing exceptionally well, naturally. I was a D+ to C- student, at best and got under 900 on my SAT’s. In other words I’m far from the smartest guy in the room.

I’m also easily distracted, have a short attention span and, for many years of my life, always looked at the glass as half empty.

On top of that I had zero self confidence as a kid.

That’s why I got into strength training. That’s probably why many of us do. I was sick of being smaller and weaker than everyone else and the threat of being pummeled into oblivion constantly looming over my head.

Over the course of many years I not only got bigger and stronger but I developed the self confidence to know that I could do anything I wanted in life. I went from doubting everything I ever did to knowing, without question, that I could dominate.

The strength I gained in the weight room was so much more than physical. It changed me mentally and emotionally and made me the man I am today. It transformed me into someone who isn’t afraid to take on any challenge and knows that victory is the only possible outcome.

That, and that alone, is why I think everyone should do some form of strength training. Until you experience it for yourself you may think it’s all just an act in vanity or silly nonsense, but when you see the change it can make in people like me and the thousands of others I’ve worked with you realize that it’s probably the single greatest thing a person can do for themselves.

Armed with the self confidence the iron bestowed upon me I set out to make some serious changes. The only thing I had going for me naturally was an inhuman work ethic and a burning desire to get better.

I knew there were things I didn’t like about myself and I wanted to change them. I had to get focused and more disciplined… so I did just that.

When I was sitting alone rotting in my mom’s spare bedroom I had a dream of moving to Southern California. I hate cold weather and I hate driving. I wanted to live on the beach in a town where I rarely had to drive anywhere. So setting the goal of living on the beach in Santa Monica was pretty much a no brainer.

Instead of wishing or asking the universe or whatever they do in the Secret I decided that I would make it happen by working my ass off, surrounding myself with the right people and creating a routine of daily success habits.

I set specific goals, gave myself a deadline and promised myself that I would not fail.

Everyone Needs a Support Team

Along the way I got a lot of help and great advice from my friends Craig Ballantyne, Alwyn Cosgrove and Dave Tate. Those three guys have made a huge impact on my career and I would never have achieved the level of success I have in life without them.

My mom was also always there for me in ways I couldn’t even begin to count.

Over the last four and a half years I couldn’t have done a third of what I’ve done without the love and support of the best girl in the world, my partner in crime, business and life, Jen Grasso.

I’m not sure the word “take” is even a part of her vocabulary. She only knows “give,” and asks nothing in return. I couldn’t be more blessed or grateful to have her in my life.

We all need a support system. No one can do it alone. In fact, social support is one of the biggest benefits of The Renegade Strength Club and is why the members achieve their goals faster than those who try to take the solo route.

Cut the Dead Weight

I cut out all the deadbeats in my life and now associate only with positive thinking, hard working winners.

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve known someone or even if they are related to you. If they’re a negative force they’re gone. You need to cut them loose, no matter how hard that may be. I did it. All the other successful people in the world did it. You have to do it.

Shit talkers… gone.

Complainers… gone.

Depressed or depressing people… gone.

Jealous people… gone.

Pessimistic people… gone.

People who are forever broke… gone.

People who doubt your dreams… gone.

People who say, “It must be nice”… gone.

People who always put a negative spin on everything… gone.

People who use the phrases, “I hope,” “I’ll try,” “Hopefully”… gone.

People with a major aversion to risk taking… gone.

Who you spend time and associate with is literally one of the most important decisions you can ever make. You become the sum of the people you surround yourself with.

Any negativity that is around you will, over time, seep into your brain and change the way you look at things and decrease your chances of success.

This, I promise you.

Want to lift heavier weights? Train with stronger people.

Want to make more money? Spend time with rich people.

Want to be a better person? Spend time with good, positive people who are void of jealousy, hatred and bitterness.

It’s a very simple formula yet so many people overlook it.

When you are positive and in the right mind state good things just seem to happen. Opportunities present themselves that wouldn’t otherwise.

That may sound like some weird, existential hokey bullshit but it’s 100% true.

If you’re staying in a job you hate simply for the benefits you need to start spending more time with more successful people. Insurance costs about $400-$500 a month. Do you really think your happiness is worth that? Do you really think that if it honestly meant that much to you that you wouldn’t somehow find a way to make that money back?

Work where you want to work.

Live where you want to live.

Do what you want to do.

Not taking a risk is often the biggest risk you can take and will lead to a lifetime of regrets.

What I did to achieve success is nothing. There are people who truly had to endure real hardship and struggles and have gone on to be some of the most successful people on the planet.

Get Your Mind Right

I always thought that rah-rah success talk was corny and clichéd. I downplayed the importance of goal setting and mindset. Because of that nothing in my life was as good as it could have been. Not my training, not my business, not my relationships… nothing.

So as corny or clichéd as you may think it sounds I want everyone to start off the year knowing that literally anything is possible. There is nothing you can’t do if you get your head right and are willing to work your ass off.

But it’s not just working hard. There a plenty of people who do that. It’s all about working smart.

I will be back later in the week with a bullet point checklist of essential steps for world domination, guaranteed to make 2012 your best year ever.

In the meantime remember this-

I’ve had no self confidence.

I’ve been depressed.

I’ve been pessimistic.

I’ve been broke.

I’ve been surrounded with negative people and told I’ll never make it or that I’m a dream believer (I am) and am wasting my time.

I’ve been down and out.

I have no special skills and am far from the smartest, strongest or best looking guy in the world.

If I can find happiness and success you definitely can too.

PS. If you liked this post I’d appreciate you sharing it with anyone you know who might get something out of it.