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JamaRR Royster: Find Your “Why” for Endless Motivation (Podcast)

JamaRR Royster is an elite powerlifter, strength coach, and per his Instagram page, the Pancake Gawd. Outside of squatting north of 700 lbs and coaching handfuls of athletes, JamaRR spends his time educating and inspiring others to be their best selves and building some of the most intricate desserts you’ll ever see, check his Instagram @pancakegawd to see what I mean. Seriously though, if you’re hungry, you’ve been warned!

In this episode, I sit down with JamaRR and chat on a variety of topics. One topic in particular that I think you’ll really enjoy is the discussion where we dive into JamaRR’s past and talk about how it helped shaped who is and where he’s at now, along with how he used his past’s adversity to build his brand and message.

On this episode of The BarBend Podcast, guest host Jake Boly talks to JamaRR Royster about:

  • How JamaRR became such a foodie and known as the “Pancake Gawd” (2:50)
  • Where JamaRR finds his foodie inspiration on such a regular basis (7:00)
  • When Kodiak Cakes brought on JamaRR as their first sponsored strength sports athlete (11:50)
  • JamaRR’s background in strength sports and powerlifting (13:25)
  • Best competition lifts and performances to date (23:00)
  • The clientele JamaRR works with and how he views training (24:50)
  • What helped JamaRR battle depression when he was younger and who helped along the way (26:30)
  • How JamaRR knew he had a story to tell and the shaping of his messaging (29:15)
  • The ways JamaRR battled the critics and bullies when he was finding his purpose (33:00)
  • Combatting the tough days when motivation and your “why” are hard to find (38:45)
  • What’s next for Royster Fitness moving forward (43:30)
  • Inspiring a Stronger You, JamaRR’s latest apparel project (44:30)

Relevant links and further reading:

Transcription

Jamarr RoysterJamarr Royster

In eighth grade, or growing up in general, I didn’t really have a lot of help. That was the issue. I didn’t have help. However, this young kid, this young Jamarr, wanted to inspire and just send a message out to the world. I had no idea what it was, but I knew my life meant something. I knew that.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Welcome to the “BarBend Podcast” where we talk to the smartest athletes, coaches, and minds from around the world of strength. I’m your guest host, Jake Boly, and this podcast is presented by barbend.com.

 

 Jamarr Royster is an elite powerlifter and the owner of Royster Fitness. He’s been a longtime friend of mine, and he’s also known as the pancakegawd on Instagram. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you seriously need to check out his page for some serious foodie inspiration.

 

In today’s episode, we talk about how the name pancakegawd even came about. We talk a little bit about Jamarr’s upbringing and some lessons learned along the way, and a little bit on his current training methodologies.

 

As always, we’re incredibly thankful that you listen to this podcast. If you haven’t already, be sure to leave a rating and review of the BarBend Podcast in your app of choice. Every month, we give away a box full of BarBend swag to one of our listeners who leaves a rating and review.

 

Welcome to the BarBend Podcast. I am joined here with my friend Jamarr Royster, aka Mr. Royster fitness, aka the pancakegawd on Instagram. Good to have you, man. Thank you for joining us.

Jamarr RoysterJamarr Royster

 I appreciate you bringing me on, Jake. This is huge, BarBend is amazing. [laughs] I was like, “Oh,” when I got the ask, I was just honored, man. I listen to your podcast. I’m a solid podcast listener. I don’t really promote all the podcasts I listen to but I just love listening to people talking, hearing the stories and backgrounds.

 

Sometimes it’s a thing I can attach to. It’s like, “Oh, I’ve experienced that,” or, “I know about that.” For the most part, it’s a lot information that I don’t know that I’m just grasping.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Totally man, I really appreciate that a lot. I, personally, am a huge fan of what you do as well. If anybody is listening right now that doesn’t know Jamarr, you might have noticed that his Instagram handle is pancakegawd. That’s not by chance. Literally, a third of his posts are these insane meals. You’re low-key a foodie.

Jamarr RoysterJamarr Royster

I am. [laughs]

Jake BolyJake Boly

Will you share more about your obsession with pancakes and being a foodie in general? How you orchestrate some of those dishes because, man. Some of them, I’m not even kidding you, if I’m hungry and at all a little tipsy or something, I’m reaching for exactly what you put in, or at least something close to it.

Jamarr RoysterJamarr Royster

[laughs] Absolutely. This is funny because I feel like this is going to tie into a lot because cooking is a part of my life. I’m from the South so soul food, [laughs] I love soul food. My mother and father are really good cookers.

 

I’m not saying that has anything to do with where I am today, but at an early age I had to learn to cook for myself. Mother and father were separate so whenever they weren’t home, we had to eat somehow. That’s how I started learning to cook just for survival.

 

Fast forward into my early adulthood when I was living on my own, I worked a nine-to-five and it was very, very long, and honestly got tiring and boring. I felt like I wasn’t fulfilling my passion.

 

I would just sit at home at night and watch the cooking channel, [laughs] all night, but I’ve always had an interest for cooking. One night I just started going into kitchen. I actually started to elevate my meals, so to speak; started doing a bunch of random things. I did try to see how I can create a meal and how I can amplify the taste.

 

That started back in 20…I would say 13. 2013, 2014 is when I really started getting into that.

 

The creativity comes from watching it, but also I have a very creative mind. If I see something in my head, I want to create it on a plate. Like my most recent post. It’s a “Sushi Pineapple Bowl.” I’m not sure if you’ve seen that one.

Jake BolyJake Boly

I’ve seen it.

Jamarr RoysterJamarr Royster

I was like, “What haven’t I done with a pineapple bowl, and what haven’t I seen done to it?” Personally, that was something that…I wanted sushi one night. I was like, “Well, I already have everything I need to make sushi in the house because, as you know, I’m a foodie, and I like to create things.”

 

It was like one of those things where I saw it in my head, I saw the shrimp on the side of the pineapple. I saw the rolls and the inside, and I saw the crab salad that we had. That’s just one of those things that I was like, “I see it so I can create it.”

 

I just go through that process of making it. If it doesn’t turn out the way I want it to, it still turns out pretty well somehow. The creativity level has always been there. I can’t take a lot of credit for just coming up with it. However, it starts in my mind and then I work with it. That’s kind of how the food thing goes.

 

If I want something, I typically try to make it before I buy it because I can buy it in bulk, so I can make it as many times as I want.

 

Two, I can control my caloric intake with it. I control what goes in it and how I make it. Typically, if I have to fry something, I can air-fry it, and things like that. It’s conscious and I’m very aware of what I’m putting into my body. That helps out in general.

 

Going on to the whole pancake thing. [laughs] With the pancakes, the Kodiak stuff didn’t start until late 2000s. I would say roughly around 2016. Before I got into powerlifting, I was focused on more bodybuilding and with that, I wanted to cut as many carbs as I could.

 

I would do low-carb, low-calorie pancakes. I’ll make it out of bananas and eggs, then I started going into the oats. Honestly, they were trash. They were absolutely trash. They did not taste good. I was just doing it so I could look good and look lean and mean. Then I found out about Kodiak.

 

Man, I’m not sure if you guys [indecipherable 6:39] Kodiak or if you’ve had it, but the brand is phenomenal. The taste is good. I know there are other brands that can live up to the taste profile, but I respect the brand wholeheartedly because of what they do and what they’re offering and what they’re doing for their communities. They’re just really good people in general.

 

I didn’t know that when I was buying it at first. It was more so I was doing it for myself, and I liked it. Then the whole pancake-stack game came when I started doing a lot of the bodybuilding.com challenges.

 

This was a 30 Days of Fit Challenge by bodybuilding.com. This was when…I don’t know if bodybuilders were super huge back then and they were doing all these things. It was really cool, so I started jumping in on them.

 

One of them was the “Your favorite treat,” or something like that, so I made a pancake stack out of protein. This wasn’t with the Kodiak cake stuff, at the time, and I won. They gave me a $500 reward with some protein powder. That kick-started the whole pancake stack game.

 

Then I end up investigating Kodiak cake because I was looking for a more refined or better taste, and that’s how that came along. From there, I was like, “Whoa. Shoot. Why not just make them look stupidly ridiculous, like high-carb based. Just go all out. Why not?”

 

Fortunate to say, when I would do anything like that, I would definitely be shot in my carb macros of the day but it was worth it. It was totally worth it. It really got me to where I am today, and I did that consistently over the years.

 

Eventually, Kodiak cake and I, we started working together. It wasn’t anything big. It was like, “Hey, we have these things going on.” Before that, it was just me tagging them because I loved the brand, and I wanted people to see it.

 

Then I started doing my whole social media lineup and that was something that helped me be able to be more consistent with my posting, therefore I now have to think about what I was posting for the next day.

 

I already know, now talking to you, that my next post is a picture post of something, and then the post after that is a video, and then the post after that is a food thing. I already know what I have to do. I don’t have to think about it. I started that lineup and that started working well for me.

 

With Kodiak, it would always be random things that we’d do, like National Flapjack Day, or National S’mores Day. They would say, “Hey, could you make something? We’ll repost you or we’ll share it.” I will say, “Yeah. Absolutely.” Sometimes compensation would be they would send me something but it was never anything serious.

 

After about a year, we started to formulate more of a collaboration. I was like, “All right, we’re going to do these things throughout the year, and expose you a little bit more, and share you more with our page and our people.” Then we went on that process.

 

I eventually got sponsored as an athlete. It has been amazing. I will say that they are very, very good people. They’re a brand I can get behind and stay behind. They aren’t quiet about their beliefs. They respect me and I respect them.

 

They have not asked me for anything, honestly. I know there’s a lot of companies and organizations that are like, “If we sponsor you, you have to do these things. You have to abide by these guidelines.”

 

They’re like, “Hey, Jamarr, we love you. Keep doing what you’re doing.” I’m like, “Cool.” That’s what I love and that’s what I like because it gives me the space to have creative freedom. It gives me the space to do what I want to do and be honest about what I’m doing.

 

It gives me the space to just creatively be me and feel free. That’s how the pancakes started. I know that was a long intro into it and a long intro into the whole food thing, but I’m a foodie. I love food in general and I will make it if I can. If I can’t make it, I will taste it and then come back and try to replicate it [indecipherable 10:45] .

Jake BolyJake Boly

No, I think it’s great, man, and honestly, there’s so much to take in there. It’s like you have so many different ways of expressing creativity. On social media, I don’t think, especially in the strength sports world, a lot of people do that with food.

 

It’s really cool and unique to see you do that as an accomplished powerlifter and share like, “Look at what I made this week. This is sick. This is how I do it.” I don’t know how you fit some of those meals into your caloric intake.

 

I always giggle when I see some of the comments that are like, “Dude, you’re going to be 120-plus soon.” Like, “You’re going to be lifting with the super heavies.”

 

I always giggle at those, but man, it’s really cool and really unique. I think it was really cool. I think it was like, what? Like a year and a half ago or two years ago now when Kodiak actually, you guys made it a little more official.

 

I remember that announcement and it was like that’s the perfect lesson of consistency and just pumping into the creativity of what you truly enjoy and bringing the best product, aka their food forward. That’s really cool [indecipherable 11:46] .

 

Are you the only powerlifter sponsored by Kodiak right now?

Jamarr RoysterJamarr Royster

I am the only powerlifter sponsored by Kodiak. I don’t really know a lot with Kodiak. I know in terms of their sponsorships because I’m not quite sure of everyone they sponsor.

 

If I’m not mistaken, I felt like I maybe the only sponsored athlete they have at the level that I’m at. I’ll just keep it at that, but I know we do a lot of Kodiak [indecipherable 12:15] ambassadors. We always advocate for that because there’s a lot of creative people out there who are just doing a lot of good work in terms of their creations and things like that.

 

As you can see, too, if you looked at my page recently, I haven’t really been posting a lot of pancakes stacks. I’m trying to drive more of like, “Yeah, I’ve established I’m the pancake guy, but these are the things that I love making as well, too. I want you to see these things, too.”

 

I can also make so many different things with the Kodiak brand, too. Like the other night, I made a Kodiak cake tacos with their buttermilk…Oh no, with their flour. They have flours. They have so many different things. It’s amazing. This company has grown so much over time.

 

I am the only powerlifter for sure that’s sponsored by Kodiak.

Jake BolyJake Boly

For the listeners at home, this podcast is not sponsored by Kodiak. We are not getting paid to say any of this. We’re dropping the mad plugs, and we are not getting paid to hype Kodiak up. Just we like the brand and we like their taste of their product. We are not paid to…

 

Jamarr RoysterJamarr Royster

I will say this though. If you are getting sponsored by anything, food is the way to go. [laughs]

Jake BolyJake Boly

Dude, I bet, man. Oh my gosh. I wish like ONE Bar would sponsor me and just send me bars every week or month. That will be nice.

Jamarr RoysterJamarr Royster

Those are good. That would be phenomenal.

Jake BolyJake Boly

To pivot to strength sports, you might be the only sponsored strength athlete by Kodiak, which we discussed, but what is your background in strength sports? Could you catch the listeners up to speed about what you do, what you’ve accomplished, and how you carry yourself through your personal business with strength sport itself?

Jamarr RoysterJamarr Royster

It’s so cool thinking back where I was and where I am now because it’s loaded. There’s just so much there, and there’s so much I know I am going to miss out on, and I’ll do the best I can to navigate through it all.

 

Strength sports came into play about eighth grade for me. A lot of my friends wanted me to go out for sports and that. At this time I wasn’t really interested in sports. I liked the idea of it but I have six other siblings. I have a single mom I’m at the times, and a father who separate again, so two different households, and we chose who we wanted to live with.

 

Me and my oldest brother lived with my mother, and my youngest brother and my other sisters lived with my father. At the time, my mother was always working so there was no room for any extracurricular activities because I didn’t have a ride home. It was more of a complication than it was anything else.

 

I will say in eighth grade I slightly did, I would say, have a case of depression. It was weird, and I’ve never really been open about that. I’ve even expressed that to my mom at the time.

 

I will say that, looking back now, that wasn’t taken as serious as it should have been. Being the black man that I am today, looking back now I would have loved to have someone in my life to navigate me through that, as opposed to me trying to understand it myself.

 

What I did then was just threw myself into sports by myself because I didn’t get the support for it. I got a lot of backlash and I love my mother to death, but it wasn’t easy.

 

I went in eighth grade, tried out for football and started from there. Man, I got smacked so hard one day, I was like, “This is not it. [laughs] This ain’t it, fam.” But it was a tough lesson for me to learn because life hits you hard. Life is not easy for a lot of us, and it’s not kind to a lot of us.

 

The beauty about that is that I can get back up and continue to fight because I choose to. I chose to fight every single day from eighth grade till now.

 

Leading after that, I spent a year — my whole ninth grade — training, just in the gym. Training, learning to do everything up by myself. I literally built so much muscle mass at the time. That was really cool blowing up like that. I stopped getting bullied so that was cool too. [laughs] I got a lot more respect from my peers. That was cool.

 

Then the year after that, I started football. I got on JV my 10th grade year and then varsity from there. [laughs] Also at this time I wasn’t really good academically. I’ll try not to spend too much time on this, but I wasn’t really good academically until I learned more about academics, GPA, and why those things were important.

 

This was in my senior year and I had a really poor GPA that wasn’t really going to get me anywhere. What I did was, I took myself out of sports and put myself into more classes and more classes after school to up my grade point average, just so I can get into college. I was so bad I couldn’t, and I wouldn’t be able to. I took that challenge on and then did sports after if I could.

 

Basically, I let sports get on the back burner because I thought education was going to be a key for me. I didn’t know why. I didn’t understand why. My mother had recently got her GED and then my father dropped out of high school.

 

Education wasn’t really a big push in my family. It was like see if you get degrees, just graduate and then you can move forward from there and figure it out. I don’t know why I had a calling to go. Eventually I worked my ass off to get there. I’m not sure if I can say that here, but excuse me. I really worked hard to get there, and I did.

 

I eventually got to college. At the time, I wasn’t recruited. I wanted to walk on and I called the coach’s office at Chowan University. I was like, “Hey, my name is Jamarr. I love to walk on your team here.” It was like, “No, thank you. Bye.” That was literally it. I was like, “All right, cool. I guess I’ll just work out. I’ll focus on my grades. That’s why I’m here anyway,” and I did.

 

Then I think I kept pushing for it though, for some reason. About half a semester into it, the coaches reached back out to me. They saw me in the cafeteria was like, “Hey, come try for spring ball.” I tried out for spring ball, made the team.

 

Then about a year after, after proving myself for a whole year or so, I ended up getting a scholarship. A big part, a big chunk of my fitness, I gained from there, too. Just a lot of training, a lot of grueling training and fighting, and constantly fighting to make the squad, and just get bigger, faster, strong. You just know how it is from there.

 

That was a big portion of my background in strength sports and how I got so strong. Unfortunately, I had a few injuries due to football that put me out for a little bit. I got so beat up and tired that I took two years off. From about 2013, ’14 to about ’15, ’16, I didn’t train. When I did, it wasn’t much.

 

Then I ended up traveling throughout life and doing a bunch of other things. Eventually, I quit everything that I was doing at the time, and I just wanted to get right back into fitness because I knew I had a calling there.

 

Since I was a young kid, I knew I had a higher calling to spread my message to the world. I didn’t know what that message was at the time until I was having a conversation with a friend.

 

I literally was like, “I’m just trying to inspire a stronger you.” They were like, “That’s it. That is it right there.” That catapulted Royster Fitness. The message behind Royster Fitness, my brand, is, “Inspiring a stronger you”, which I also tagged on, “Inspiring a hungrier you,” because all the food that I do.

 

As we know, in the fitness world, the whole double entendre, “Stay hungry, never…” All these hashtags.

 

There’s so much behind that and then double entendre with the state, “Inspiring a Hungry You” came later, but the “Inspiring a Stronger you,” it was a big one because it means so much to me personally, and just reminds me of where I’ve been and where I am now, and where I’m going.

 

That’s my message to the world. On my website I take it into detail a little bit more than I am now about what that means to me as a whole. That’s how that catapulted Royster Fitness in 2015, ’16, because I started building there, and then slowly got into powerlifting a little later.

 

I got back into fitness doing general fitness just like most people would do, and just working on myself trying to stay lean. I wanted to do a bodybuilding competition. That was my big goal.

 

Then I was approached in a gym, saying, “Hey, you know there’s this powerlifting competition, and you would be great. You should definitely look into it. It’s all about five weeks out.” Five or, six weeks out, I believe. I can’t really remember. January 7, 2017, a USPA meet was in Raleigh, North Carolina.

 

I paid for a drug test and then the meet. I think I paid over $200 or so for this one meet. [laughs] I really wanted to be drug tested because I was like, “Oh, I want this. I want people to know this.”

 

People can easily say this or that about people and drugs and, if you’re built a certain way, it’s just like, “Oh, there’s no way that’s natural.” No matter how many years you put behind it, it’s like, “Oh, he’s only that way because of this.”

 

I went out to prove something like I always am, and that was one of those things where I wanted to prove that I’ve done this myself. I built this body and I want people to see it.

 

Me, knowing me now, I’m not saying anything is wrong with the use of that. If that’s whatever someone wants to do, that’s what they want to do. That has nothing to do with my personal feelings behind it.

 

I did it. I had a great competition, and that’s when I was like, “Oh, wow this is a strength sport, and I can do this for sport.” It kept that competitive hunger and also it’s a way for me to have that competitive outlet. I spent my first year and drug-tested USPA, and then transition to USAPL in 2018.

 

That’s how I got from where I was to where I am now. I know that was long now but that was my introduction to sports, fitness, and strength sports. I didn’t really focus on strength sports, I thought, growing up, but essentially throughout football, my football career, I did.

Jake BolyJake Boly

That’s really cool, man. What has been your best lifts in competition to date?

Jamarr RoysterJamarr Royster

My best lifts were these past two meets. The Arnold’s wasn’t my best meet. It was actually a poor performance on my part but I had by best bench. My best squat is 672 on the platform, as well as a 402 bench, and a 661 deadlift. Those are in pounds. I don’t quite know the kilos for all of them.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 It’s all right.

 

We’ll have somebody say it in kilos, but it’s all right. We’ll let them do the math.

Jamarr RoysterJamarr Royster

Those are my best lifts.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 Royster Fitness, does your brand cater specifically to powerlifting or is it generally just anybody who wants to get stronger along with the message with it?

Jamarr RoysterJamarr Royster

That’s a really good question. The beginning of Royster Fitness was just catered to general population of people. I wanted to help any and everyone who wanted my help. I knew I didn’t know everything so I’d reach out to other people who knew more than I did, or I would send clients their way. I just wanted to be that little help to help anyone I could.

 

However, along the way you pick up an audience. My general population started going away and I started getting more strength athletes. From strength athletes, more people wanted to compete, and the powerlifting athletes.

 

I don’t really push my training, or I don’t really push my coaching on anyone. I don’t really post much about it. However, I do have a lot of clients, and they’re really good and really strong, and they’re always willing to learn. I love the collaboration I have with my clients and some friends.

 

What I like to do is teach them as much as I can to, one, be coachable, but as well as learning to coach themselves. So that one day that I know I have a lot of clients who are coaches, so that one day they can inspire and train and coach theirs.

 

Now I more cater to powerlifters. However, I don’t really push it. It’s if someone wants to get stronger, or if I have availability, I’ll take someone on. If I don’t, then I’ll push them in the direction that I feel will be best for them in terms of coaching.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 I mean, and all due respect, I don’t think you necessarily even need to push it because I think your work stands for itself, and how you present yourself and carry yourself online. With your lifting, with your consistency, with all the posts, you create a very strong brand and message without having to actually say it. Without having to sound super market-ey, and get people in the door.

 

I think that’s really unique about you. That’s what initially drew me to you. I think it was…What? Three years ago now, that we’ve know each other and I met you at the Arnold, hanging out with…

Jamarr RoysterJamarr Royster

Yeah…

Jake BolyJake Boly

Yeah. Ever since then, man, it’s been cool to watch the brand evolve because I can see you’ve really carved your niche out. I want to circle back to something you brought up when you were explaining you origin story; your path to where you are now. That was something that you said, in eighth grade when you experienced a bout of depression.

 

I think that really hard for a lot of people to address and acknowledge, especially when it happens when we’re younger and we might not actually fully understand what’s going on. At that time, what kind of help do you get through it? What do you wish you had at that time to help you along the way and help you craft…?

 

It was cool hearing that you got into lifting in your ninth grade, but I also want to know what spurred that interest? In eighth grade, what do you wish could have been a little bit different with how you adapted and went about that year, and what got you into lifting in ninth grade?

Jamarr RoysterJamarr Royster

In eighth grade, or growing up in general, I didn’t really have a lot of help. That was the issue. I didn’t have help. However, this young kid, this young Jamarr wanted to inspire and just send a message out to the world. I had no idea what it was but I knew my life meant something. I knew that.

 

Depression actually runs in my family. Very uncomfortable saying that, but it does. I’ve seen it, but what I hadn’t seen was help. I hadn’t seen proper help so I didn’t know how to get through it. What I did was throw myself into sports to combat it, or to at least, drown out the noise of what I was feeling and experiencing.

 

A lot of that was due to not having access to a lot of things like recreational sport, and Mom was at work all day. I didn’t really have much. I got really bored. I didn’t really want to do a lot of homework anyway, so I just didn’t have a lot. That was really hard for me.

 

I can’t honestly say that there was one particular thing that helped because I really wasn’t. It was just me doing the best I could with the little resources I had to combat it. I think sports helped a tremendous amount with that, not even knowing that that’s what really helped me catapult.

 

What got me into fitness or got me into the gym my ninth grade year was just wanting to be strong. I saw my build. Once I started lifting, I was like, “Oh wow, my frame is really shaping up, and I feel stronger. I look stronger.” I like that feeling of being strong.

 

It commands a certain type of audience or it commands a certain type of respect. People treat you and speak to you differently. I like that just because when I was smaller, I was bullied a little bit. People picked on me a little bit more but when I got a little bit more size on me, that all stopped. It’s something that I know I can speak on.

Jake BolyJake Boly

When you talk about you always have felt like you have a message to get out to the world to the folks around you. Can you go into a little bit of that into detail? How, as a younger individual, did you know that you had a story to tell? You just didn’t know how to tell it, or explain it yet, or what it was? What sparked that? Do you have any idea?

 

Was it present throughout your whole childhood growing up or did it get shaped by the folks around you? How did that happen?

Jamarr RoysterJamarr Royster

When I talk on this, I have to say that everything that happened in my life leading up to that realization, and which was only at the tender age of five, and I think people are going to think I’m crazy, but I can recall it, every moment of that realization.

 

Till now, everything that happened — the good, the bad, the ugly — was for the greater good of what I’m doing now so that I can be genuine about my message. So that I can be authentic in my message because it means something to me.

 

I didn’t grow up very fortunate. We all know this. I have six other siblings, separate households with my mother and father. My dad was here and there. My mom was always at work. We were in a trailer park in a Hispanic neighborhood, mixed within blacks, no whites.

 

I say that and I call those out just as is. I’m very direct with this. Black Hispanics, no whites, and all I saw was poverty. I’m standing outside the trailer, and I’m just looking around. We got the biggest trailer, somehow, in the trailer park. It was a huge trailer park. It was just so many families.

 

I’m like, “Wow, we’re poor.” The only reason I said that was because I had visit my white friends’ houses sometime before, I believe. It was houses, these nice neighborhoods. The fridge was literally a store to me [laughs] because they had everything. Just looking at it, I was like, “Oh wow, this is poor. We’re poor.” I need to somehow break the cycle.

 

Being that young knowing that, not knowing how to articulate it, to get help with doing so was tough. I had a message but I didn’t know how to express it. I’ve always been seen as different growing up from my family.

 

Not really sure how to express that or say that, but growing up, I got called white boy a lot. It’s because I tried my best to articulate my words and tried to do the best that I can in every situation I was in.

 

That word itself, I hate it, but I also kind of understood it in a weird way. That’s what, at that time and that moment, my siblings, or neighbors, or other kids, that was their only way to express how they felt.

 

If I acted different than what the culture was around there, if I looked different, if I said different things or articulated differently, it wasn’t understood, and I saw that.

 

No, I’m not going to say that everyone’s the same and I should treat them the same who treated me the same. It’s more like I understand that you have this feeling towards this vibe that I have but I’m going to make sure that we all get where I’m going together.

 

It’s one of those things where it’s like I didn’t know how to express that message but eventually, along the way, I found it. I feel like everything I’m doing now helps with that. Like I said, there’s a lot of gray area in all of that in the past, and there’s so much to…There’s so many things that are not being said, but it was a lot.

 

I think that being as young as I was, knowing that was the only thing that separated me from my siblings. I love them to death but I think that was the only thing that truly separated me was my mindset at the time. I literally, in the blink of an eye, could have been on a different side of what I’m doing now.

 

I try not to think that way because I feel like I am where I’m today for a reason and a purpose because I felt like I’ve always had a message to display to the world. There’s a reason why I’m where I am so I shouldn’t think otherwise, right?

Jake BolyJake Boly

100 percent. It had to have been hard having to go against the grain, especially with those around you maybe bullying or talking down to you. I can’t even imagine what that had to have been like.

 

How did you keep yourself on the mission of that higher purpose throughout those periods of time when people close to you were talking down to you or bullying you and so forth? How did you continue to navigate forward?

Jamarr RoysterJamarr Royster

In life, whatever you believe, whether you believe in religion, whether you believe in God, whether you believe in the universe, things are sprinkled into your life to tap you on the shoulder and say, “Hey, you’re heading in the right direction. Keep doing you.” It’s like, “Hey, don’t worry about that. It’s going to be OK.”

 

“Hey, I know this sucks right now, but look, listen, you’re going to be good, trust me.” I have had family members in my life who helped me point me in the right direction. A lot of that was my mother, I will say. I know it sounds like I’m going back and forth with that, but she truly believed in me and truly told me that I can and will be anything that I want to be.

 

I know this sounds so crazy, but she always told me I was special. I know a lot of kids believe that. That’s something that I think you should tell your kids if you believe that they are. She always told me individually, “Hey, Jamarr, you’re different, you’re special, and that’s a good thing. Use that,” so I did, and I really felt that.

 

I felt that I had a calling and a mission. I think that there are people laid out in my life. There at the time I was again like five, six, seven, around this time, my youth pastor at the time, he was a really tall, white guy with gray hair. I would do him a disservice by saying that he didn’t see color. I would do him disservice by saying that because he did see color, and he also saw our need.

 

He brought all of us in the trailer park to a church in Lewisburg at the time, which was about 40 minutes away. Not Lewisburg, it’s closer, so about 15 minutes away.

 

He would drive a church bus, literally like a school bus. He would drive a church bus through urban neighborhoods, every Sunday, pick up kids in the morning, drive them to church, and then drive them all back home without getting paid, because that was his calling. That was a huge light bulb and inspiration to me, like, “Wow. This man is literally doing what he feels is best in the world.”

 

From that point, one of my coaches, coach Johnny Mac at the time, he was this really big, buff guy, younger dude, he really taught me how to properly train. He taught me what a lot of old-school lifters do, which is like those pyramid schemes, old bodybuilding routines, but the dude was jacked. Still is to this day.

 

I recently saw him about a few weeks ago. He’s still jacked. A little bit more leaner now because he’s doing more CrossFit-style workouts. He’s in his 40s, and he still looks just as young as I do.

 

Then, at the time, Trent Sanders. So, Trent Sanders was more of a bigger coach, but he could articulate his words so well that you could mimic his movement without him doing anything. He was one of the coaches that definitely solved a need for a lot of us.

 

He drove me home from time to time. There were times where he couldn’t. There were times where I stood after school till 12 AM, till my mom came and got me. It was a rough patch and a rough time, but he bought me shoes for all my sports because I didn’t have the money to do so.

 

Like I said, I feel like these coaches, and I’m not doing them a [indecipherable 37:41] service by explaining how much of an impact they had on my life.

 

But I feel like these are moments in my life where I got tapped on the shoulder and said, “You’re running the right direction. We see your passion. We’ve seen where you’re going. You’re going to be great, [indecipherable 37:55] . We’re here for you, and we got you.”

 

That’s what I felt. The rest of them, [indecipherable 38:01] Trent Sanders and Brother Clyde, because I don’t think without them and those small, kind gestures, I would still be the kind of human being I believe I am today. Seeing all of those people fulfill their missions just inspires me to continue to do mine. I think those few people are really monumental in where I am today as well.

Jake BolyJake Boly

That’s really cool, man. That is really cool. I think it’s amazing that you’re then taking what you’re doing, and your mission, and transferring that pretty much to clients and coaches that you work with. I think it’s really cool to continue spreading almost when you had that through your life, and now you’re spreading it to someone else.

 

I want to fast forward to Royster Fitness now.

 

On days when you might not feel that inspired or that strong about your purpose, where do you bring yourself? How do you realign and keep it moving forward? I feel like highs and lows are very common in life. I would love hear how you personally tackle periods of time where you might not be feeling so strongly necessarily about the mission and so forth.

 

Where do you go? Do you go to past memories? Do you look to clients and their growth and get inspired again from them? What is your personal way of navigating that?

Jamarr RoysterJamarr Royster

That’s a really [laughs] good question. I think one of the biggest ones you hit on is past. Recently, I just launched my apparel. Technically, a relaunch, but I don’t want to get into the specifics of it, but just launched my apparel and seeing the growth and seeing the support literally had me teary-eyed. Like, “Wow, people believe in me.”

 

Yeah, I have a larger platform, not a huge platform, a larger platform, but that doesn’t necessarily always trickle to everyone supporting you. Some people are just there to watch, and not everyone’s going to support you. That’s just how it is at the end of the day. I’m human, I have moments where I don’t feel as inspired like you said. Thinking about past…

 

Just a few weeks ago, or a few days ago, I was like, “Wow, look at the support. Look at where I am today. I have a two-bedroom apartment that I don’t have worry about when I’m going to pay my next bill. I ain’t got to worry because I already know I can do it. I know it’s there.” I know that sounds crazy to some, but I’ve always had to worry about bills being paid.

 

I’ve always had to worry about if my lights getting cut off. I’ve had to worry about all these things, where I’m at a point in my life where…I’m 29. This is just recent. I’m 29 now, to where now I don’t have to worry about these things because I can financially afford these things. I can financially do these things. I can spend money without worrying about where am I going to get my next meal.

 

I think about all those times where I’ve had it rough. I’m like, “Hey, bro, man. This ain’t that bad.” [laughs] “This is not that bad in comparison to what you’ve been through, and where you are. Don’t let little Jamarr down.” I always think back to that moment where I had that realization to where I am now.

 

I’m like, “Don’t let that guy down. Don’t let that keep you down,” because there’s another kid out there that’s just like me. There’s another kid out there that’s just like himself. There’s another kid out there that needs help.

 

That doesn’t necessarily have to be a [indecipherable 41:27] kid but that’s just the example I’m using to where there’s another person out there that needs that inspiration, that needs to beat that light. I continue to try to amplify my voice and be the light for others on my social media platform.

 

I’m not out here bragging about, “I got this. I got that. I’m here. I’m this. I’m that.” It’s more like, “I greet you. I see you. I’ve been there. I am there. I’m here for you.” In a way of where it’s like, “This is grit. This is what grit looks like.”

 

It’s going to take time to get from point A to point B, but when you do, it’s going to be worth it. I think about my past transgressions. I think about how hard people in my life had to work and support me, and how much money people have invested in me, especially my clients.

 

My clients are investing. Yes, they are investing in the service but they’re also investing in trusting me with their programming, so I do look up to them. I have a lot of clients that I know are pulling 700. I’m not even [indecipherable 42:28] lifting 700 yet. That’s huge.

 

I’m like, “Good God. These guys are strong. These women are strong.” I do have women clientele as well who are really strong. It’s a beauty seeing that. There are also, “Hey, I’m having a down day.” One of my recent clients, Felicia, she was like, “I’m having a rough day with deadlifts.” I don’t know what they’re feeling so I just sent her some words of encouragement.

 

I’m like, “Wow, people do look up to what I’m trying to say or what I’m trying to exemplify.” I have to be that light for them. Also, they’re that light for me as well, too, because they’re work just as hard. They’re hungry for success.

 

Those are a few of those. A lot of it comes down to just me thinking about where I was, where I am, where I want to be, and if, right now, what I’m doing is going to lead you there.

Jake BolyJake Boly

I love that, man. It’s your anchor. It’s what keeps you going and grounded in the sense of progressing forward always. Dude, I am stoked that we had a chance to get to talk.

 

What is next for Royster Fitness going forward? How have you navigated the pandemic, and are you ready to hit the wheels running when gyms finally open back up and everything?

Jamarr RoysterJamarr Royster

[laughs] Yeah. I appreciate that and I appreciate just everything, Jake, as always. Next, [indecipherable 43:59] , the whole apparel, it was everything that I’ve been trying to work on for years. Really just work with people who trust and believe in the brand just as much as I do, myself.

 

What’s next for me is a nice couple of launches. I have one planned for the fall and spring. I have a couple of collections coming out. I’m still taking on clients just dependent on where I am right now. I have one client who’s actually competing this weekend. [laughs] For me, what Royster Fitness is honestly just getting my message out to the world, as I said before.

 

This time, I have a way to give it to people to where they can wear it with pride. You see the logos, you see the designs but you understand them. You know them.

 

They’re kind of catchy. The whole wolf head looks fire. I’d wear that. When someone asks about it, with all your heart, you can explain like, “Yo, check this guy out. He really understands this. He’s got the grit. He’s got the determination.” I am literally the face of my brand but I’m looking to bring on more people with it.

 

There’s just so much I want to do. Like I said, with the “Inspiring a Hunger You,” with the whole double entendre and everything that it embodies, I plan on taking that, especially with my State Hunger collection that I feel like I’m going to have come out in the spring, and use that money to slowly start producing and start investing in charities, and things like that.

 

I have all these ideas, man. They’re still in my head. What I would love to do, I would absolutely love to help feed those who cannot feed themselves or feed those who don’t have food. Maybe do that once a weekend or once a month where I literally take…Again, I’m sponsored by Kodiak so I have a lot of the food here.

 

My thing is I love to share wealth. I will bring anyone on. I love to give because I know what it’s like to not have. I would love to take that and take it to…I don’t know where my help is needed in my community but I will take that, and I will literally flip pancakes every Saturday or Sunday and make a breakfast or brunch for whoever needs it.

 

I want to do that. That’s my mission now. I’m working towards that and that’s, again, maybe a year to go, or so. I hope next time we have a conversation about where we’re going, that I’m already there.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Yeah, I hope so too, man. You’re a diamond in the rough in the industry, I swear to God. Very few coaches that I’ve talked to carry themselves in a manner that truly is about helping others. A lot of coaches are, obviously. I misspoke that.

 

A lot of coaches are, but I think it’s really cool hearing how you’ve tied everything that’s happened in your life to promoting that. It’s not just in fitness being an outlet and a passion. That’s a passion, yeah, but it’s all tied back into the deeper meaning behind your brand.

 

I think that’s something really cool that you have that you translate very well in both Instagram post, your messaging in coaching and so forth.

 

Final question before we head out, where can people find you, where can we follow you, where can we stay in touch with you?

Jamarr RoysterJamarr Royster

Absolutely. On Instagram, you can follow me at @pancakegawd and that’s pancake gawd, G-A-W-D. I had to announce that.

 

Also, you can follow me on YouTube. You can simply type in Jamarr Royster and you’ll find it. Those are the two platforms I utilize the best. Facebook’s more for family just so they know I’m doing OK. I really don’t get on that much.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Gotcha, man. Thank you so much for the time. I hope we’ll talk and catch up really soon.

Jamarr RoysterJamarr Royster

 

Absolutely.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Dude, thank you so much, and I hope you have a great day.

Jamarr RoysterJamarr Royster

Thank you, Jake. I appreciate you.

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