A Little About Me, My Personal Journey in Fitness, & the Lord Jesus Christ
When it comes to starting out on your own personal fitness journey we all must start somewhere. For myself, I walked into the gym for the first time in 2011 weighing 135 lbs soaking wet and couldn’t even press an empty barbell overhead for a couple of reps. I was deconditioned, I was out of shape, and I knew that I needed to begin working on my health & fitness instead of further procrastinating and risking myself to get further out of shape & later have to pay the consequences for it.
It was in August of 2011 that I set out to commit to a routine and lifestyle change for the first time in my life. I played many sports in high school and worked out a few times but never actually had the desire to start a plan and actually commit to it. I only worked out because it was required by my coaches that I played for at the time. This time was different! I set out to train hard and heavy 3 days per week, eat correctly, and only focus on long-term goals. After just a few months of training hard I began to see and notice positive changes in my body composition and muscle definition … I was hooked! These results only motivated me to push harder and harder and commit to reaching my long-term goals. Everyday I studied different routines, forums, and used trial and error to learn all that I could to continue progressing and making gains. After a year in I was squatting over three plates (315 lbs for reps), deadlifting four plates (405 lbs), and bench pressing two plates (225lbs). I then knew that this is what I wanted to do for a living. I wanted to help others also reach their goals and make the same transformation that I was making. I received my NASM Personal Training Certification, put together a website (MattJamesFit.com), began filling up my Instagram page with fitness content and not before long people were inquiring for fitness advice & coaching. It was then that MattJamesFitness was born!
After 3 years of coaching clients both online and in-person (Orlando, FL) and working hard each day dedicating all of my available time to reach my goals and helping others with their goals, it was in 2014 when the LORD really started to work on me and bring me deep conviction. I got to the point after 3 straight years of intense training where I had accomplished most of my fitness goals and working out started to wear on me. The progress slowed down because I had achieved most of what I set out to accomplish and I was simply maintaining my progress from workout to workout. It was at this time when the LORD started drawing me and opened my eyes to the vanity that comes with the entire fitness industry.
Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah. – Psalm 39:5
The LORD began to open my eyes in many ways. I first remember noticing all of the corruption that went on daily in the fitness industry. From the money making pyramid schemes (herbalife, shredz, advocare), to 90% of male fitness YouTubers on steroids or other drugs to get an advantage, to the other online coaches that would just write cookie cutter programs using copy & paste methods it really made me question things when observing the greed and depravity of others. I questioned and wondered why all this work that I was doing dedicating toward my body, my looks, and my appearance why is this not bringing me any long-term joy? Why do I always need to seek to have the next materialistic thing? What happens after I die? What about the eternal? I then realized that this body is only temporary and spending every waking moment on fitness, growing different muscle groups, and my physical appearance that it was mostly empty and only for the here and now. The LORD in His grace and mercy was planting questions into my head about eternal things that I had never cared for in the past. I had been so occupied with myself for so long and had very little knowledge of the bible and I had definitely had no relationship whatsoever with the Lord Jesus Christ. I always believed in God, I even believed in Jesus but I never knew Him. I was lost. I always did what I wanted to do and when I wanted to do it with no convictions whatsoever. I drank alcohol, I partied occasionally often getting out of control, and I almost always cussed like a sailor. I was my own god with the body that I had created and always did as I pleased. It was then in March 2014 when the LORD started planting these questions in my mind and I had to make a decision about Jesus Christ. I had to decide whether to ignore these convictions from the LORD and continue to live for myself or I would need sacrifice it all and humbly come to the foot of the cross.
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. – Isaiah 1:18
One day in late March of 2014 I remember sitting in my room finished with work and I had decided that I wanted to watch something on TV and out of nowhere a thought popped into my head about God. Now I have always believed in God but I never knew Him. I didn’t know hardly anything about the bible so I decided to begin watching The Bible TV Series on Netflix. It floored me. Seeing what Jesus Christ did for me on the cross 2000 years ago making a way of salvation immediately brought great conviction to my heart. It was after watching one of these episodes that I came to the end of myself as a sinner before God, kneeling at my bedside trusting in His finished work on the cross (death, burial, resurrection) and calling upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to save me. This also was the night that everything would change as I was now born-again, redeemed, and had begun a personal relationship with my Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ.
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. – Romans 10:9
Everything changed immediately. I began receiving convictions about things in my life that only the Lord could clean up. I had a zeal for the LORD and I wanted to correct some of my past wrongs and make them right. I deleted almost all of my shirtless fitness photos and posts on Instagram, I started talking about my faith publicly, and the Lord began transforming my life to rid me of my sinful past. He taught me that while exercise does profit a little, and taking care of our bodies is great, and does bring glory to Him, that it also can become an idol and must be done with a healthy balance. Fitness was no longer my identity. My identity now, is only found in the One who saved my soul – The Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. – 2 Corinthians 5:17
We must remember that body is going to age. Your hair is one day going to turn grey or possibly fall out. Wrinkles will begin to form. Since sin entered this world the result is death. All of our flesh will one day rot and be buried in the ground. However, the soul is eternal. Where will yours go? The word of God is very clear that those who die in their sins will live in torment in the lake of fire for all of eternity separated from God. Even though we all deserve to go there, God made a way by loving you so much that He sent His own Son to die for you. The Lord Jesus Christ was God manifest in the flesh, He lived a sinless life, He was crucified, buried, and rose again the third day to make a way to whomever will believe the gospel and call upon Him. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in your past. The apostle Paul persecuted, attacked, and killed Christians before the Lord brought him to repentance. The Bible says that God is not a respector of persons! If you come to the Lord in humility seeking a new life and a relationship with Him He will save you. He will make all things new.
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. – 1 Timothy 1:15
I understand that by sharing my faith which is controversial to many, this may cause many to not sign up for my programs and work with me toward their fitness goals. That is fine! To be clear, my goal is no longer about making tons of money or getting rich by selling a mass amount of programs. My goal is to help others incorporate and achieve an active, healthy, and balanced lifestyle by working hard toward their goals in a flexible way. If your goal is to workout 6-7 times per week and step on a bodybuilding stage, my programs are probably not for you. If your goal is to workout 2-5 times per week and adopt a program that allows for long-term success and helps you become a good steward of your fitness and nutrition habits than I would love to begin working with you. In the fitness industry there is a large amount of mis-information all over the web especially in regards to nutrition. It is my goal with my programs to provide support to each of my clients answering in detail any questions that you might have. I know when I first started on my journey, that I had a TON of questions about fitness and nutrition that needed answering and everybody gave me different advice which most times contradicted each other. With my programs it is my goal to build a lasting relationship with each my clients, provide those time-saving answers, and provide you coaching that will allow you to have the knowledge and ability to continue living a healthy lifestyle even after our coaching has expired.
With the LORD’s leading, I have gained much perspective over the past few years now being settled down with a family and living for the Lord. Fitness no longer consumes me yet the LORD has been gracious to help me find a balanced approach to place Him first, my family next, and myself last yet still being able to continue working toward health goals and being a good steward over my body and nutrition habits. This did not mean that Health & Fitness was no longer important! It just needed to be placed in its proper position and no longer be the idol that it once was that fully consuming my life.
For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. – 1 Timothy 4:8
This is just a short summary of my personal fitness journey and my testimony of how the Lord has changed my life to where I am today. If you’re interested in working together toward your fitness goals with a balanced approach or need help becoming a better steward of your body please do not hesitate to contact me via the contact form or sign up here and I would love to begin working with you or answer any questions that you may have. Thanks for reading & have a blessed day!