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by Josh Halladay
Most people see you for what you are now, but not many people actually know where you came from, why you are the way you are, and what has gotten you to your current point. The vast majority of people don’t know what drives you, what eats at you, what has molded you. I have been labeled a person with “good genetics” for as long as I can remember. People always said that I was gifted and that my physique was “God-given talent.” I have been blessed with good genetics, but genetics can only get you so far without a ridiculous work ethic to back it up.
I will never forget my Pop Warner football coach pulling me aside one football game to tell me that he overheard someone say that I had great potential. He then followed by telling me that “potential” is one of the worst things a person can say about you because this is just another way of saying that you “haven’t done shit yet.” Those words stick with me to this very day. Who cares about “talent” or “genetics”? If you don’t do anything with it, you will always be remembered as that kid who had “potential.”
People think I showed up in the gym one day and started benching 405 for reps, that I just showed up on stage and started placing well. What people don’t know is that I joined the gym when I was 14 years old because my dream was always to become a pro football player. For those doing the math, that means I’ve been in the gym working out seriously for over 12 years. People don’t know that my grandfather would drop me off and pick me up from the local gym 6 days a week, and that I was doing every body part twice a week for over 2 hours a day, week in and week out.
People don’t know that on Thanksgiving and Christmas, my best friend and I would find a 24-hour gym so that we didn’t have to miss a workout. Nobody knows that when I was on vacation every summer as a child, I would join the gym down the shore for the week to make sure that I didn’t miss a day; then, after the gym, I would go to the local high school track and run wind sprints before I hit the beach for the day.
Nobody knows that I tore my hamstring twice in college because my diet was so strict that I didn’t have enough body fat on me, causing my hamstrings to tear over and over again. Nobody knows that my trainers in college made me write down everything that I was eating and hand it in at the end of each day to make sure I was getting enough fat in my diet. Nobody knows that my dad left me when I was 3 years old and that my mom and my grandparents raised me.
This is one of the main reasons for the fire inside of me that makes me thrive in the gym. People may look at me and think they know me, think that I have it all together, think that I was given all that I have in my life—but what people don’t know is that I wasn’t given shit except my own two hands, two feet, and a brain between my ears. And everything and anything else I have to this day has been built with those things.
People bust my balls because of the car I drive, because of the way I look. People think that I’m not “hardcore” (whatever that means), that I’m a “pretty boy.” People stereotype me. They think they know who I am because of the way I look. Everywhere I go, I’m asked, “Are you a personal trainer?” No I’m not a personal trainer. Truth is, I hate training people. Believe it or not, I graduated from college magna cum laude and I have a full time job that requires me to use my brain every single day, not my muscles. While personal training is a great calling, just because I lift weights doesn’t mean that I automatically rely on my physique to pay the bills. So don’t judge a book by its cover.
I didn’t write this article to pat myself on the back or say, “Hey look at how hard I have worked and what I’ve accomplished” because, in reality, I haven’t really accomplished anything yet. Nor is this a sob story to make people feel bad for me. It is simply some insight on what makes me tick, and what has gotten me to this point in my life.
So next time you find yourself judging someone you see at the gym (or elsewhere), make sure you know their story first. There might be much more to the person than what you see. Most likely, there are some very good reasons why they are the way they are. And maybe, just maybe, you have a lot more in common with that person than you think.