JB Speaks: Mentorship and Myth-Busting
JB talks about the night when his whole life changed and why he doesn’t want to be the fitness industry myth-buster.
Dr. John Berardi — JB to his friends — is like that cool older brother who schools you on the ways of the world. He pushes you to be your best. And gives you an open-handed smack on the head when you screw up.
Talk with him for a few minutes and you get a strong feeling that he knows and understands the important domains of a guy’s life. That’s because he’s been there and done that.
He’s built and maintained a muscular, athletic body. He paid his own way through school, started a wildly successful business, and traveled the world. He’s built a network of influential friends and has an incredible family.
Yeah, if you’re a guy who wants to live on your own terms and make a mark on the world, you could do worse than taking some advice from JB.
So let’s do that.
This is the first in a series of ongoing conversations.
I’ll ask JB some questions about working out, nutrition, living a remarkable life, and whatever else pops into my head.
He’ll give us some answers.
And maybe we’ll all learn a thing or two.
On becoming a new man.
Nate: You once told me a story about the moment you decided to change your life — when you decided to “be your own man”. I remember it involving alcohol and a long walk home. Mind sharing?
JB: Yeah, no problem.
I think I really hit rock bottom when I was 17. I got shitty grades, experimented with drugs, drank a lot. You know, the usual “bad stuff”. But there was this one night that really changed things.
I was in a car with some friends driving down a back-road in the country. We’d all been drinking and the driver started swerving back and forth across the road. You know, for fun.
I’m not sure how fast we were going but it was fast enough that when we hit the edge of a curb the car spun two 360’s, launched over a ditch, and missed hitting this huge tree by like 6 inches. It scraped the entire passenger side of the car.
If we would have hit it right on, we’d all have died instantly, no question.
And my friends were all spooked, of course. They started talking fast, trying to figure out what to do. “Holy shit, my dad’s gonna kill me!” “We gotta get the car back on the road.” That kind of stuff.
And I was just blown away at their reactions. Because the only thing I thought of was, What the fuck am I doing with my life?
So they all piled back in the car and I just told them I was gonna walk home. My house had to be more than 5 miles away, but I just couldn’t bring myself to get back in the car. Not to get all corny, but it’s like a part of me really did hit that tree that night and died. And the “new” me was just gonna try and figure shit out on his own.
So I walked home. It took a long-ass time. Hours. And the whole time I just kind of evaluated my life and turned everything over in my head.
When I got home I went in my room and didn’t talk to anyone for a week. I just came out to eat then went right back in.
All my friends were arrested that night, and I never talked to any of them ever again.
I think about that night a lot.
Nate: So that was your wake-up call. But what did you do after that? Is that when you got into weight training?
JB: Yeah, so after that night, for the next two years, I just basically had to re-raise myself, you know? I had to construct this new person.
So I’d get up at 4AM to work at my dad’s restaurant, go to school, go to the gym, and then come home and study. That was my pattern for a while. It’s just what I had to do.
And it was about a month or so after that night where I met Craig, this bigger guy in the gym who became my mentor and coach.
To me, part of becoming a new man was learning how to build muscle and having this new confident persona. And I didn’t really know how to do that at 17. So this guy Craig sees me training one day and starts giving me some tips. Pretty soon I started meeting him at the gym and he just became my training partner.
During those couple years I gained over 70 pounds of muscle. It completely changed my life.
And when I graduated high school, I decided I was actually gonna go to college. I was just on a new path and feeling good. I wanted to see how far I could take it.
Nate: Do you keep in touch with Craig at all?
JB: Yeah, whenever I’m back in Pennsylvania I know where to find him. I’ll pop in and say hello. Let him know what his help meant to me.
And that’s just another reason I’m proud of what we’re doing with S2B. There are a lot of guys out there who are looking to change their body or life in some way. And there aren’t a lot of mentors out there who are able to help.
Even though I didn’t know it at the time, coaching was crucial to me changing my body and, by extension, my life. And I guess having a near-death experience didn’t hurt either.
Though I don’t really recommend that.
On Muscle-Building Myths
Nate: What are some of the the biggest misconceptions out there around building muscle? Anything you see guys doing that makes you shudder?
JB: I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. And here’s the thing: there are loads of misconceptions out there. I don’t know what they all are. Nobody really does. The ones that get debunked this year will be obsolete by next year.
And I’m to the point in my career and life now where I just want to move to a higher level. In other words, I don’t want to be the “de-bunker” or the “myth-destroyer”.
There are some guys out there who build their entire careers on finding and debunking fitness myths. And they’re generally pretty cynical and jaded and do it for the attention.
Now, is there value in that? Maybe a little. But what’s higher-level? What’s evolved thinking?
Instead of focusing on myth-busting and making people feel stupid, I like that we take a different approach of simply teaching best practices.
Want to gain muscle? We’re not gonna call you stupid or tell you every little thing you’re doing wrong. Instead, we’re just gonna give you the practices — the habits — that actually help you build muscle and have worked with thousands of our clients.
- Drinking 3 Super Shakes per day
- Working out three to four times per week
- Taking 10 grams of creatine
- Drinking a post-workout shake
- Getting at least 7 hours of sleep
- Eating two palms of protein with every meal
- Keeping a workout journal
I’m proud of S2B because we don’t spend time saying what’s stupid. Instead, we focus our time on how we can help guys right now.
As a coach, I want your energy directed toward self-improvement. Not looking at the world and seeing who you think is an idiot.
So yeah. I can’t think of a single misconception. But anyone looking for best practices on building muscle should check out our 5-Day Free Course.
And that’s what we call a shameless plug. (But seriously. Go check it out.)
Got a topic or a question for JB related to training, nutrition, or living a bigger life? Post it in the comments and JB and I may pick it for our next conversation.