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.