Raul Cervantes

Tell me a little about yourself and your background?

My name is Raul Cervantes, being active in sports and fitness has always been part of who I am. It all began when my Dad introduced me to the gym when I was 15 and soon after, I found myself loving the process of challenging my mind and body. Fast forward 10 years to now, I’m 25 and I have my degree in Exercise Science and my NASM personal training certificate. While in school, I helped coach the Kennesaw State University here in Georgia; that was a blast and I give a lot of credit to the Strength & Conditioning Coach, Jim Kiritsy for all the mentoring.

I’ve been a trainer for a little over 2 years. I’m still new to the game and I’m learning something new each day, which goes back to when I was still a teen. I love the challenges and process of this lifestyle.

What aspect of fitness do you enjoy the most?

The fact that I can help others feel better about themselves. All I want from a client (or anybody I can help) is for them to go home, take a good look in the mirror, and love who they are looking at. Fitness is more than just big muscles and protein shakes, it’s mental too. Mental fitness is something not many work on and if I can help one person learn to love themselves, then I’ve won.

How long have you been into fitness?

I started working out at age 15. I took it very serious at age 18. I’m about to turn 25 here soon (August 25th), so you could say I’ve been in fitness for about 10 years.

How did you get into fitness?

My dad introduced me to the weights at an early age. I was 15 and I had a small frame. I’m naturally thin but my body responds well to exercise. When I realized that I was making great progress, I was hooked and did everything I could to be better. I would come home from school each day, get my homework done as fast I could so I could research nutrition and training before it was time to go to the gym. That’s where it all started.

What was a turning point for you to take it seriously?

My turning point, I remember it very clearly. I was sitting at the lunch room at my high school and it was the beginning of my senior year. I was auditing everything that I was doing as far as my working out, nutrition, sleep, habits, everything, and I was honest with myself. I quickly understood that my training was a close to perfect as I could get as I was doing my own research and I had guidance from the weight training class at school.

Nutrition was a different story. That was the one aspect that nobody else could really help me the way I wanted to and my own research was not as great as I had thought. I dedicated most of my free time to figure out how bodybuilders ate and how I could mimic that to help me add more size, since I was 140 lbs. my senior year. It took me about a year of trial and error to get the hang of calories, macros, meal prep, foods that worked best for me etc. I did so much research that when I started my nutrition classes, I knew most of what they were teaching us. My professors had to ask me to stop asking questions in class because I was confusing the class and it was material we didn’t need to know but I wanted to know more.

How has fitness impacted your life?

Fitness has helped me a ton. Starting with helping me find a sport and lifestyle that I love, which lead to helping many people achieve a better way of life.

What words of advice or encouragement would you give to someone starting out or would like to start but doesn’t know where to begin?

My number one piece of advice would be to be extremely patient and to use the internet to help you find what you want. It’s all out there, you just have to go and find it. Everyone has a smartphone; you have information at your fingertips. The problem is that people would rather play video games or watch tv than actually doing real work. If you’re complaining that you’re not making progress and you’re not doing anything to help yourself, you’ve got to really evaluate your priorities and start being honest with yourself. This is a man’s “sport”, you either make it happen or you don’t. Nobody can hold your hand, eat and train for you.

Instagram: (@rcfitness)

Youtube: TeamRCFitness

Trainer at BridgeMill Athletic Club in Canton, GA.

Chandler Jerrico

Tell me a little about yourself and your background?

I am the Founder and CEO of ReBuilt Meals based out of Tampa, FL. I have owned two businesses before this, one being an automotive reconditioning company (Way out of the fitness industry, I know.) and the other being an online fitness marketing company.  I’m a risk taker and I love the thrill of something new and new ventures.  I’m also an extremely (some would say overly) optimistic and positive person.  Life is way too short to live any other way!  I believe fitness has been a HUGE contributor to my successes in my life.

What aspect of fitness do you enjoy the most?

All of it! Such an average answer, right?  I enjoy the “high” I get afterwards, the feeling of accomplishment.  Knowing that I did something new, something I didn’t think I could do.  I pushed my body to a different level and now it’s time to repair and build it back up only to push it further the next time.  It becomes extremely addicting.  This feeling of accomplishment becomes so addicting that I want to feel it all the time, which is why I feel that I am always motivated in every aspect of my life.

How long have you been into fitness?

I have been in the fitness industry for 10 years now!  Time Flies…

How did you get into fitness?

Acne.  Acne got me into fitness.  I was 15 years old, I had bad skin, and was willing to try anything to get rid of the acne.  I read a few articles online about how diet plays a huge role in hormones and can cause acne.  The day after I read the article, I threw away ALL the food in my house that wasn’t a whole food.  When I say whole food, I mean everything that didn’t have to be made in a factory and wrapped, was tossed out. From there, I started eating a lot of veggies, lean meats, and sweet potatoes (my favorite go-to for carbs).  My acne started clearing up a little but not completely, so I then read more articles explaining that exercise is great for balancing hormones.  Shortly after, my dad purchased a Bowflex and taught me the building blocks of working out in our garage.  From that day forward, my acne cleared and I obsessed over fitness every day since.

What was a turning point for you to take it seriously?

I honestly don’t think I had a single turning point.  There have been 6 month strides where I am 100% dedicated and focused on nothing but fitness and my health, and then I also go through points where I am a little more loose on my diet and exercising.  Fitness is a journey and a lifestyle, but don’t forget to enjoy other things in your life. It’s all about balance. I follow the 80/20 rule, stay strict 80% of the time and 20% you can do what you want.  Just remember that it’s your only body you have to live in, so treat it right and with respect.

How has fitness impacted your life?

It taught me discipline. This rule of discipline carries over to my business, my relationships, and my personal growth.  Without discipline and structure, my life would be a mess. It’s taught me how to set goals, stay on track, and follow through. Fitness will forever be a part of my life, no matter what obstacle stands in my way.

What words of advice or encouragement would you give to someone starting out or would like to start but doesn’t know where to begin?

Make time and START!  Take action NOW.  There will never be that perfect opportunity, that perfect moment, or perfect day with the perfect amount of time.  If it’s important to you, you will make time.

Another thing is start small.  You don’t have to have everything laid out perfectly.  Start with small walks, take away some bad food but not all of it, and slowly make adjustments each week to be better and better.

There is a saying I tell everyone when they start their fitness journey.  “If you throw a frog in a pot full of boiling water, it will jump out.  But if you put a frog in the pot with water before turning on the heat, it’ll stay in.”  Basically, if you are eating bad, not working out and then on Monday you decide to go do a hardcore workout, eat 100% clean, do your cardio, and flat out go crazy overload with everything from the start, then you’ll say “screw this, this sucks”.  So make small adjustments into the lifestyle because this is not a quick fix to lose some weight.  This is something that you’ll be doing for the rest of your life, as you should.

Chandler Jerrico (@chandler_jerrico)

Founder and CEO of Rebuilt Meals (@rebuilt_meals), based in Tampa, FL

Wes Gresham

Tell me a little about yourself and your background?

I have a BS in Exercise and Sports Science. I was a track athlete at UGA, an amateur boxer for several years, and I have completed two Ironman triathlons. I have been personal training for 10 years as a boxing coach, strength coach, sports rehabilitation, and sport specific training. I have an ACE certification, as well as an ACE sport specific training certification.

What aspect of fitness do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy all aspects of fitness, but I go through spells where I like some areas of fitness over others in different seasons of life. I primarily enjoy boxing and endurance training, however currently the strength training aspect has been my biggest focus on achieving goals to get stronger.

How long have you been into fitness?

I have been into fitness ever since I was intrigued how the body could change under conditioned stimuli since the 8th grade, 16 years ago

How has fitness impacted your life?

Fitness has impacted my life immensely. It is my life, my passion, and my career. I enjoy not only what it does for me physically but also mentally and emotionally. I am a much more positive and level headed person when I have had time to get some workout in. However, I thoroughly enjoy coaching and helping people achieve their goals, whether it pertains to sports or simple weight loss goals. Everyone’s goals are different and it is fun to take on the journey with someone as they learn and grow.

What words of advice or encouragement would you like to give to someone who is just starting out or would like to start but doesn’t know where to begin?

Consistency is key, no matter what your goal is. Things don’t happen overnight but over time, and persistence will pay off. To me, a goal without a plan is a wish, so there needs to be a method to the madness that lays the structure and foundation for achieving your goals. Working out and training your body is not even half of it, the proper nutrition exponentially increases the rate one can achieve their own goals. No excuses. Get after it!

Wes Gresham (@wesgresham)

Co-owner of Omni Fight Club John’s Creek in John’s Creek, GA (@ofcjohnscreek)

Trainer at Strength and Strike Fitness in Athens, GA (@strengthandstrikefitness)

My Story

Tell me a little about yourself and your background?

I’m an Engineering Tech for Toyota, but I’ve done a little of everything over the years. I’ve gone from building armor plates for military trucks to making microchips. I’ve interned in a recording studio and co-owned a record label. I also did some background acting for a year. If it’s building things and being creative, I want to do it. I love learning new things and exploring what else is out there.

Fun fact #1: I hung out with Slash from Guns ‘n Roses for Super Bowl XLIII…well, Slash, his wife, his kids and a bunch of other families.

Fun fact #2: I talked to Mos Def while I was interning at the recording studio. He said “You have any ice cream?” and I said “Yup, in the freezer”. A very deep conversation was had and lives were changed forever.

What aspect of fitness do you enjoy the most?

What I love about fitness is that you get out what you put into it. If you stay dedicated and work hard, you’ll be rewarded for it. If you don’t want to work hard, you’ll be rewarded for that too (though you may not like the end results). You are your own sculptor. You can shape your body into anything you want it to look like. No one else can do that for you but you, and there’s a lot beauty and power in that.

There’s so much room to be creative, to be you. You don’t have to be a bodybuilder. You can do cycling, swimming, yoga, and so much more. If you like more than one, you can combine them. No one will stop you, I promise. There are virtually no limits to what you can do except for the limits you put on yourself.

I love prepping like I’m going to compete in bodybuilding, but I don’t actually compete. I just love the challenge that it brings. The discipline and focus it requires during prep really pushes you to see how badly you want it. However, I do obstacle course races. I love the adrenaline kick when I’m bursting though the obstacles and the sense of accomplishment when I cross the finish line.

I still do Bikram yoga from time to time and currently I take a boxing/cardio class for cardio because I hate running (and yet I do obstacle course races). I’ve been looking into CrossFit and powerlifting too, because it’s a new challenge. I’ll let you know how that goes.

How long have you been into fitness?

It really depends on how technical you want to be. I played basketball and wrestled in high school; but if you want to be technical, then you can say I kept the seats warm. I played around with the weights we had in the basement but I wouldn’t really call that lifting weights. I didn’t get into lifting seriously until I went to college and it’s been nonstop ever since.

How did you get into fitness?

My older brother got me into fitness. He started lifting in high school and he used to be all about Muscle and Fitness magazines. One summer, he came home from college and started taking me to the gym. I learned my basic foundation for weight training from him and I took that knowledge with me to college.

What was a turning point for you to take it seriously?

I was an overweight kid. I wasn’t obese, but I was 5’3” and 152 pounds at fifteen years old. I only remember because that was my wrestling weight. It was easy to hide my weight with oversized clothes. I think all overweight kids learned that trick.

My turning point would be when I went to college. It was a chance for me to make a change. I knew I didn’t want to be overweight anymore and if I didn’t do anything about it, then nothing was ever going to change. I would always be that overweight kid with the oversized clothes, admiring stores like Express but knowing I’d never fit their clothes. I’d work out every day and then run up to the twenty first floor where I lived.

How has fitness impacted your life?

Fitness has helped me in so many ways. It’s helped me build a lot of self-confidence and self-love. It’s helped given me the courage to be able to jump into new adventures that I used to always be afraid to try. More importantly though, it’s taught me that this is who I am; these are my strengths and my weakness, and I’m okay with all of them. I can be anything and everything I want to be.

It’s taught me that even though I’m not as tall as other people are, I can still do a lot of the same things they can…and if I can’t, I can find another way around. Because I was shorter and had to work harder, it’s taught me to be humble after I’ve reached my fitness goals; but it has also taught me to have empathy towards those who have just started their own fitness journey.

It’s taught me focus and discipline. If I want something, I’m going to have to work hard for it. I’m going to have to keep my sights on it and push myself, mentally and physically. Other people can help me, but it all comes down to me putting in the work.

What words of advice or encouragement would you like to give to someone who is just starting out or would like to start but doesn’t know where to begin?

Keep your ego at home. Know that it’s okay to not know your way around the gym and not know what every bench or machine is for. There is no shame in that. There’s no shame in asking for help from someone. For every jackass that brushes you off for being a beginner, I promise you there are at least ten people who have no problem showing you and giving you help (but be respectful that they’re working out).

If you can afford to, find a personal trainer. Find one that you can connect to; if you can’t find one with the first try, keep trying. If you can’t afford one, stick to the basics. You don’t need to try fancy exercises, like balancing on one leg on a Bosu ball, curling with one arm and doing lateral raises with the other. Unless you want to be a gym fail Youtube star, just stick to the basics. That is your root, your foundation. From there, you can branch off to other exercises that build more specific, targeted parts of that muscle.

Final thoughts:

You can do this. I know you can. I know how badly you want it because I’ve been there too. I wanted it too. I was overweight. It made me so insecure. I hated taking pictures. There’s a big gap of no pictures of me from early grade school all the way until college. I just hated the way I looked and felt.

There was no one to blame and no one’s fault. Sometimes it just happens. I grew up in a low-income household and my parents worked all the time. Microwave food was the easiest thing for my parents to buy me and I’m can almost guarantee that’s where the weight gain came from.

I’ve tried a lot of different types of diets and diet pills when I went through trying to lose weight. Some of them worked temporarily before the weight came back. Some of them didn’t work at all. It wasn’t until I learned about calorie counting, nutrition, and being accountable for what I ate that I started to lose weight for good.

I’ve been told how lucky I am to be naturally athletic and in-shape. A lot of people haven’t seen the years and years that I struggled. The hard work I’ve put myself through. I’ve torn my left knee three times and both my rotator cuffs (none of them exercise related). I’ve never let them be the reason to give up. I’ve never let them be my excuse.

When I tell you that you can do this, I’m being honest that I truly believe in you. This blog isn’t for me, this blog is for you. It’s for you to read all the stories of every one that has come through every walk of life and started their fitness journey. They’ve all been there to some degree or other.

We’re all in this together. None of us has to climb that mountain alone. If we grasp each other’s hands and hold on tightly, we can all make it together. I’ll believe in you. You got this.

 

Kellen (@KellenFang2.0)