An Exclusive Interview with Jay Ferruggia:
Craig: So Jay, let’s explain how we met and how we got to be friends.
Jay: Well, we met personally in 2006 for the first time, but I think we connected in 2004. I think that’s a great lesson, we’ve been friends for a long time now.
A lot of times people are like, “Oh that guy’s too busy, or that guy’s too big.” Just reach out and make connections then help other people.
So, I reached out and we kind of just shared similar experiences and we liked what each other was doing. I don’t remember how we planned it but we were both going to Ryan Lee’s fitness in Connecticut. So you were like, “Cool pick me up at the airport.” We drove the whole way listening to old Pearl Jam and had a great time.
Craig: Tell us about why you got started, what you loved about training, what you still love about training, and how that has grown into what you do with the podcasting today?
Jay: I’m a big fan of pro wrestling. So I’m always looking at Hulk Hogan, the ultimate warrior and the big screen back then, it was Arnold and Stallone. And here I am, like a little, skinny, fat kid, not that great at sports, and I’m like, “Man I want to be jacked like those guys one day. I want to be a superhero.” So I got into training. My cousin Christine was dating a guy named Eric and he’s a pro wrestler at the time so he starts writing my programs.
And they’re six or seven day a week, like three hour body part splits and everything. I just start crushing myself. Couldn’t walk or anything, couldn’t move. I was like, “Well why isn’t this working? I gotta figure this out, get more into this.” So, I kind of just became obsessed with that, becoming that real-life superhero.
Craig: Did you take your vitamins?
Jay: I took my vitamins, said my prayers, clanging and banging, all that kind of stuff and finally I figured it out. I was following Body Building magazine and stuff, and then Dorian Yates came around in like ’92, ’93, and he’s like “Dude, all that 15 to 20 sets per body part’s a waste. Cut it way down and train harder.”
Craig: So you’ve grown into being that guy and really bringing a whole bunch of people together. Which is what you do now with your podcasts.
Craig: Which is getting how many downloads per show now, like, 10 thousand? Twenty thousand?
Jay: It’s more than that, but it’s getting up there yeah. It’s growing consistently.
Craig: How many episodes have you done?
Jay: We are at maybe close to 190? Like closing in on 200 soon.
Craig: So what’s the magic of the podcast?
Jay: I was just trying to find the balance of what I liked and what the audience liked and I love when people are here in person. That’s amazing. Like if you and I are having a conversation, I can really focus. But if the person isn’t here it doesn’t work. So that was why I kind of like fell out of it, I was like, “Maybe I’ll just do my own stuff.” And the audience does like when I do solo episodes to just answer their questions and just ramble.
Craig: And how long are your shows? Like where have you seen the sweet spot there for your shows?
Jay: It’s so hard to say what the sweet spot is. I would bet the 45-minute ones would be better. But the most downloads have been longer, like 90 minutes plus. I don’t know if it’s just because those ones are so good or if it’s the guests, so it’s still hard to say for sure.
Craig: So let’s go back to the way that you were before and how you evolved over time. Who was that guy and how is he different from you today and what have you kept from him?
Jay: I had to work to achieve a 30-pound muscle gain, but I was born with that hustle DNA, I don’t know how not to do that. So I’ve always done that, I’ve always hustled my face off. I’ve never worked for anybody else, but I don’t work smart. I just worked super hard like around the clock.
But back then I was definitely angrier and a lot of that stemmed from stuff from childhood, my parents. So I was angry, I was rebellious, and I carried a lot of that with me for years. The way I trained kind of reflected that. I was training too hard and smashing stuff over my head and injuring myself.
So I was intense, I had the East Coast thing, the anger, worked hard, not smart, played hard. Played hard for sure. But here’s the thing that some people don’t know. Because I started while I was still going to college … I had success rapidly. By the time I was 20 and still in school, I was making six figures training people. I really didn’t play that hard until I was about 28.
I was working non-stop and it was hard to even go out. And then later, from 28-30 I made up for a lot of, a lot of time. I went out really hard, which ended … that ended up being bad, too.
Craig: Right, so that was the second stage, you moved to the city and did you sell your gym or you just shut it down?
Jay: After we had the gym for 10 years straight the building was sold and we all had six months to get out. Long story short, it was really hard for me to find a place in Jersey because you had to get a recreational use variance and spend thousands of dollars for a lawyer, and I couldn’t find a place. So I shut the gym down, moved into the city, which was a huge blessing because it allowed me to finally really focus on my online business. Then we reopened the gym a few years later and there were some little things in there that happened.
Craig: When did you move to California?
Jay: We’ve been here almost seven years now.
I moved into the city and I was training people there, and I was starting my online business and whatnot, but I was like a kid who grew up in a really strict household and then went to college and went nuts.
So if you recall, I would send you crazy text and what not at three in the morning about my escapades. I spent an inordinate amount of money in the city, and after 12 or 13 years of making six figures, I was completely broke. At 31 years old, I had to call my mom and with tears in my eyes I said, “Mom I blew everything somehow.”
Craig: What would you say to your younger self to get started on faster personal development?
Jay: Read How to Win Friends and Influence People, I now strongly believe in improv. I think everybody should take an improv class or six.
Craig: I think that anybody that struggles with communication should just do anything on communication. Like for me, I did 105 podcast interviews last year and I know that has dramatically made a huge difference.
Jay: I agree 100 percent.
- Take a public speaking class
- If you’re standing in the elevator with someone, instead of being the weirdo who just stares at the numbers just say hi
- If you’re checking out at Whole Foods, talk to the cashier
At the end of the day, I want to have made eye contact with, or at least said hi, or even given a little nod to somebody.
Craig: Okay, all right. So how did you personally evolve from ’94 to 2014?
Jay: Meditation has definitely helped with eliminating the negative, angry people. A lot of people say, “Your problems will follow you wherever you go, and you can’t move and leave your problems behind.” I don’t believe in that. You can reinvent yourself.
Craig: Was moving to California a big factor in you changing?
Jay: I would’ve continued to grow if I’d stayed in Jersey but nowhere near at the same level. The evolution wouldn’t have been as extreme because I just think you know as dedicated as I was there were a lot of people around me that I wouldn’t have been able to escape. And the same environment, it’s hard to escape that sometimes.
I have certain triggers that if I go here, or if I see these people, or if I drive down that road, it’s going to remind me of stuff and I’m going to be bitter or angry or negative or glass is half empty and I don’t want to do that. So I had to get out and start fresh somewhere and it was life changing.
Craig: What about the sunshine?
Jay: Of course, because of the physiological trick of getting more vitamin D to feel so much better.
Craig: What are some powerful habits and routines that allow you to live a healthy, happy and productive life? You talk about meditation. What else do you do?
Jay: Yeah so with a lot of your help and influence and reading your book and what not, my morning is pretty solid. I keep it short and sweet and do my meditation and journal, and then I do always focus on my most important task of the day.
So no phone, no internet, no social anything like that first thing in the morning. Get outside. I think it’s really important to get natural sunlight and fresh air first thing in the morning. It helps you sleep better it helps set your mood for the day, all that.
Craig: What have you learned since owning Bronx?
Jay: Oh so many things:
- Patience, for sure, to live in the moment and to appreciate the small stuff
- Learning to slow down
- Creating a schedule
- Being less critical
Craig: Now you do some self-reflection though right?
Jay: Absolutely, yeah
Craig: Okay and so walk us through what you do for self-reflection and how that’s helped you
Jay: We’re at close to 200 episodes of the podcast now but at first, I didn’t have the level of self-confidence I have today and I was even more insecure. I couldn’t listen to the podcasts. So I went through 80 or 100 episodes without listening to them. But then I realized that, “How else am I going to get better?”
Craig: Let’s go into some rapid fire questions. I’m just going to say one word, and then you give me a response to it. We might go deeper down depending on what you say.
Craig: All right. Can you explain that a little more?
Jay: I grew up super negative and scared of a lot of things. And I love my mom to death but she’s scared of everything. So I was terrified of a lot of stuff throughout most of my life. At least the first half of my life.
Craig: All right so how did you get a positive mindset?
Jay: By reading the right books, and spending less time with people who were negative.
Craig: Did you have a vision in ’94?
Craig: When did you start having one?
Jay: Once I expanded my horizons and built up my confidence and I have so many good people around me, I feel like man there’s so many things I can do and at a higher level.
Craig: All right. Music.
Jay: Pearl Jam, Public Enemy, one of the most important things in my life is listening to music.
Jay: You. What’s really cool is my mentors are some of my closest friends.
Craig: Do you find that you can get a mentor relationship from a book or video? Or do you need to talk to your mentors?
Jay: I think you need to talk to them and connect with them and be around them.
Craig: What do you seek to get from a mentor? And I don’t mean that in a negative way, but you know what does a mentor bring to you, I suppose?
Jay: Accountability. Motivation. They’re on the same path that I want to be on. I’m learning from them.
Craig: So… next, comfort zone.
Jay: Push yourself out of it, for sure.
Craig: Were you getting out of your comfort zone when you went to improv for the first time?
Jay: Oh yeah for sure.
Craig: You mention being the first to do something and so, how important is it for somebody to step out of their comfort zone and be the first to volunteer for something?
Jay: I think it’s super important.
Craig: All right. Fear.
Jay: It cripples a lot of people. It crippled me for years.
Craig: Were you scared when you asked Jen to marry you? I’ve never heard this story. Can you tell it?
Jay: It was Christmas morning, it just seemed like the right time, and she had no idea it was coming so it was a surprise. I gave her a bunch of stuff, and I was like “Oh you know I did forget one other gift to give you.” I was like, “It’s nothing, just a little something I found.” And then she opened it I got down on one knee and the whole thing.
Craig: Very nice, very nice. All right. Comedy.
Jay: One of the other most important things in my life. Comedy and music.
Jay: I think anger … I still do love anger as an emotion. You have to have some anger because it pushes you.
I was angry about being weird and socially awkward and wasting a lot of years. So I say, “Okay, now it’s time to go.” Let that anger fuel you, you know what I’m saying? So it can be good.
Craig: You mentioned differentiation. I want to talk about that, but I almost feel like it’s not a good question to ask you because you’re just a different guy.
Jay: It depends. I would say just be yourself. Don’t try to be somebody else. And don’t try to do anything. You even gave me that advice.
Craig: So where would you start today like in this era if you were just getting started? Let’s say in the fitness industry?
Jay: I would do daily videos for sure. I’d at least put up daily stuff on Instagram and then bigger, more high quality, well-produced stuff on YouTube at least once a week if not three times a week. I know people who really have a good strategy on Instagram and are killing it.
Craig: Then who should and who shouldn’t do podcasting.
Jay: Don’t do it because you think it’s the big thing and the hot thing to do. You can do it like you would do written content. Written content’s not dead.
Craig: What three books should a 25-year-old read?
- How to Win Friends and Influence People at Every Age
- The One Thing
And then as you get older, I would say I really like Tribe by Sebastian Younger. So reading a book like that could be helpful.
Craig: What is one thing that somebody can do right now to get out of their comfort zone and promote and pursue personal development and growth?
Jay: Right now, I would say set a goal to interact with people every day. Take an improv class. Go to meetup.com and join some stuff. Just do those things. That’s it. Just get out of your own head.
Craig: What’s next for Jay Ferruggia?
Jay: We’re really going to continue to blow the podcast up, I’ve got some exciting ideas for vlogging and videos we’re starting, I got some exciting guests coming up, so really just those two things. And we are launching the new training app soon, but I’m really focusing on those two things.
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