John Berardi is a popular name in the fitness industry. He is the creator of several successful blog sites, including Men’s Health , and his videos on YouTube have racked up over 5 million views. He’s often credited with bringing mainstream interest to bodybuilding, causing more people to start taking bodybuilding seriously. John has become an internet sensation through his highly-praised Men’s Health website, but most people wouldn’t know him outside of the online world. “John” is actually John Scott, a former YouTuber who is best known for running the Men’s Health website , which has seen more than 20 million visitors since he launched it in 2003. He also runs a successful blog site, the Men’s Health Network , which has seen over
John is an extremely successful individual, who has had a number of business ventures that have generated a great deal of wealth for him. But more than just money, John has also gained a reputation for being a kind, caring, and even generous man—a reputation that has been earned and nurtured over many years.
John Berardi, aka “The Fat Guy”, has transformed what we mean when we think of fat. If you ask most people what they think of when they hear the word “fat”, they will probably think of the same thing Berardi does: lazy, unhealthy, averse to exercise, and unattractive. And the stereotype is very accurate. The problem is, this is not what it means to be fat – in the real world, of course.
Dr. John Berardi is thought to have authored approximately a million words through his books and papers.
The majority of them focus on how to diet and exercise to get a lean, healthy body. They’re the result of years of research, experience, and a knack for breaking down complex knowledge into manageable chunks.
Some words, particularly those with a lot of personality and life experience, allude to the “genuine John Berardi,” the man behind the computer screen, the riddle that thousands of readers have tried to piece together from interviews, articles, and video clips.
Even the most devoted reader, though, is left with a skeleton — only a sliver of an understanding of what makes him tick.
Berardi has written a million words, but only a few thousand have been written about him. And it’s those words that provide the meat and blood for a greater grasp of who JB is.
Dr. Berardi relaxes in the great outdoors at Red Rock in Nevada.
He’s found his voice.
My narrative opens with me sitting in a sauna with a shirtless Dr. John Berardi, as it does with all excellent stories.
JB, or The Large Professor, the inventor of and one of the most well-known personalities in sports nutrition, is dissatisfied with the infrared heating elements’ performance.
“This one, down here,” he says, motioning beneath the wooden seat on which he sits, “blasts out quite good.” It does, however, roast your garbage. ‘Do I smell barbecue?’ you thought all of a sudden.
We have a good laugh.
Aside from the crotch temperature measuring, it’s an oddly cerebral sweat lodge activity.
A leg circuit workout had recently completed. Around the 4th set of front squats, 5 rounds of JB-style training can spark a spiritual search. So, despite the oddity of discussing crevice funk with a scantily clad coworker, exploring our inner totems and professional ambitions feels appropriate.
We discuss graduate school and mentorship. JB was self-immolating in a frenzy of productivity in the late 1990s and early 2000s, spewing article after article to establish JohnBerardi.com, creating The Legend of Large Professor all over the web, and scorching the midnight oil with course work, lab time, and lecturing.
He tells me how tough it was for him to find his voice at first. To walk a tightrope between two worlds: the foulmouthed, machismo-saturated internet battlefield and academia’s intellectual sweatshop.
The temptations to go with the flow were as strong as the red blood cells he collected during self-taught phlebotomy sessions on weekends, when he’d sneak into the lab and conduct his own studies.
And how he got that voice when his Saturday pranks were discovered by the lab owner.
“He never – ever – showed up in the lab. So he comes in on a Saturday to get his mountain bike. He kept it in our research lab, that’s for sure. Anyway, he walks in, and I’m standing there with thirty other guys. We’re putting our systems through their paces. I’m taking a blood sample. And he’s enraged. I’m not supposed to be there, he says. I explain to him that research labs are meant for doing experiments, not for storing mountain bikes. That was essentially the end of it.”
Unorthodox. Inquisitive. Determined. Idealistic. Grounded.
This is the complicated JB who arose from those life events, but who is rarely visible in his polished public persona.
JB is the cool elder brother to your dweeby self, the cool sibling who has a grownup job and a cool vehicle and biceps bigger than your head, and who teaches you about dating and automobiles and how to get swole, according to his legions of devoted admirers.
JB, on the other hand, was the dweeb twenty years ago.
He grew up in Philadelphia as a tiny kid, the scrawny son of blue-collar Italian immigrant parents who taught him to work hard and dream big.
“As a kid, I didn’t have a lot of friends. I was quiet and reserved. Fortunately, I like working out and participating in sports. It’s relatively easy to get away with this in high school. It makes people think you’re cool. As a result, I was able to fit in. I didn’t have to say anything or make an effort to stand out. I could simply sit and listen.”
JB is an inspired communicator and translator of research for the public, thanks to his time-honed knack of meticulous listening and observation. He’s an alchemist who transforms lab jargon into simple but deep truths. He makes Zen proverbs out of equations. His coaching sessions include both systematic reviews and references to Seinfeld.
Coach Tyler Goodale talks about training at the Olympic Training Centre in Victoria, British Columbia.
From the complex to the simple
Unlike his years of epic productivity, little is more these days.
His workspace is a Scandinavian-Japanese combination of snowy garden vista, tidy technical firepower, and emptiness, orderly, macho, and quasi-ascetic. He’s currently determining how little exercise he needs to maintain his ripped physique. (Each week, ninety minutes.) But they’re some of the best minutes I’ve ever spent.)
In the sake of “doing less,” he recently condensed everything he knows about fat reduction into fifteen minutes of video and a few cheat sheets for his free five-day fat loss course — an endeavor that’s akin to reducing the NASA moon lander blueprints into sugar cubes and toothpicks. It’s his way of looking at the human predicament — the complexity and difficulty of simplicity.
JB believes that meaningful change begins with small, everyday activities.
By practicing what he preaches – making transformation a one-at-a-time process – he was able to rediscover the voice that had been dormant for a decade. He outgrew his calm compliance and frail frame. And he’s developed into a captivating, intellectually powerful speaker and writer.
He’s charming and driven to engage meaningfully with his clientele, unlike many scientists who prefer to hide amid their test tubes. Despite this, he listens as well as he speaks.
However, in high school, he was more interested in other things. He was well on his way to become a dropout with horrible grades and a dead-end job at the age of 18, instead of a smart Renaissance-man-in-training.
He’d been out partying with some ne’er-do-wells one night. Their driver purposely swerved with inebriation on the way home along a secluded country road, high and drunk. Hey, people, keep an eye on this nonsense. The automobile jumped off a curb and plummeted down an embankment in a horrifying manner.
“Have you ever heard someone remark that their life flashed before their eyes? And time seems to be slowing down?” JB approaches me with a question. “It certainly worked for me.”
“During those few seconds, I literally started seeing memories from my life, the last of which was witnessing my own parents at my burial. They weren’t simply upset; they were embarrassed by me. They were the only people who cared whether I died, and they would have been embarrassed by me.”
The boys made it out alive and somewhat unscathed thanks to a clever use of trigonometry and tree arrangement. JB literally walked away from the automobile, away from the friends who had nearly murdered him, all the way home, with his characteristic drive and decisiveness.
“I didn’t speak to those folks after that.”
JB began his journey towards Large Professorhood with those initial fearful and bruised steps down the path.
Relationships and illusion
A gorgeous physique is about two things, as any seasoned bodybuilder knows: illusion and relationships. Your lats will look like a landing strip if you have a slim waist. Your muscles appear huge in compared to your bones, which are like those of a bird.
JB hulks in his photographs. He hovers in person.
He’s remarkably light and slim, more like a lively, compact, sprint-ready quarterback than a lumbering linebacker. He’s hardly a Jersey Shore meat slab, despite the fact that he can fill the dudely equivalent of a crazy bikini. He’s on a diet right now, so his face is chiseled and his cheekbones are delicate.
We’re sitting in a train station in February when he tells me about his near-death experience. He appears almost frail, wrapped in a big jacket and recalling his near-death experience in the dim winter light. His hair has small icicles of gray in it, which I notice. This moment feels more intimate than sweating together, thanks to the passage of time and the presence of down coats.
JB realized that life transformation can be a lonely place after promising to change his path.
“For two years, I didn’t speak to anyone. I didn’t have any friends. I was absolutely and utterly alone.”
He enrolled in a local community college to see if he could use his time wisely and earn a passing grade and some helpful occupational certification. He discovered the weight room and his teacher there.
Brains and muscle
The teacher will come when the learner is ready. Craig made an appearance in JB’s life. He was a gentleman and a scholar, a global and weight-room philosopher. And, like a lioness swatting her cubs, he whupped JB’s new infant self.
JB frequently recounts how they met.
“I was battling with a set of leg presses and, no doubt, failing badly. Craig then walks over to offer me a space. He offered me to perform a thorough leg workout with him after I finished the set. The following morning. It is 5:30 a.m.”
“Now Craig had turned into a monster. He was over 100 pounds heavier than I was. Even though I was afraid, I showed up. We ended up training for the following two years together. In addition, he taught me about business, education, and…life.”
JB limped home every week, sore and loaded with books. His body and mind were changed as a result of the journey. Suddenly, the world looked to be brimming with possibilities.
The launch of the Large Professor.
In the weight gym, JB discovered his motivation and his spirit.
The donuts are delicious.
We discuss the difficulties of eating healthy and dealing with food cravings. It’s reassuring to know that even one of the most disciplined men in the industry, while getting ripped, occasionally succumbs to the siren song of sugar. JB’s eating escapades, on the other hand, are akin to Data from Star Trek learning to be human: he almost gets the junk food notion right, but not quite.
JB, who is now on a diet, tells me that on a refeed day, he decided to sample a Tim Hortons donut to see what all the hype was about. He was perplexed by the swarming Saturday crowds and dizzying amount of options.
“Half of these stuff I had no idea what they were. “What the hell is a Dutchie?” you might wonder.
After making his decision, he was faced with the realities of the international food industry: deskilled employees, the mechanization of eating, and the ridiculously simple road to Supersizing sub-par food.
“I simply wanted four donuts,” says the narrator. The cinnamon roll, however, was not considered a donut, according to the counter worker. As a result, I couldn’t use it as part of a “donut roster.” He also told me that ordering four donuts threw their system off. It was far more convenient for them to give me a half-dozen. I didn’t want half a dozen, though. “All I wanted was four.”
That’s when the frantic counter employee summoned the manager.
“Right now, I’m feeling like I’m in a lot of trouble.” I’m not sure why this is so difficult. “All I want is four.”
“I’m also perplexed. The other three doughnuts I want are blueberry fritters, Dutchies, and walnut crumbles, which are all square-ish. So, isn’t a cinnamon roll – which is spherical – the most similar to a donut?”
When confronted with JB’s bizarre donut choices and geometry logic, the manager insisted on getting six. The manager conceded defeat and JB emerged victorious after JB volunteered to buy three, then whirl around and pretend to be someone else to buy one more.
He returned home with his spoils… to dine with a knife and fork. “I was really looking forward to eating these donuts. I nearly put out the fine china, placing everything on a lovely plate in the middle of the table.”
The doughnuts, on the other hand, disappointed in the end. I tell JB about Tim Hortons’ donut demise: in the 1980s, fresh-baked on-site donuts were replaced by “frozen in a machine, then reheated” donuts.
JB becomes more contemplative. “It makes me wonder if food in general is just a waste of time these days.”
His childhood donuts in Philadelphia, purchased after the family’s weekly church outing, were meatier, gravid with chocolate and vanilla custard, like soft sugar-dusted sandbags.
“Or perhaps it’s always been bad and I just didn’t realize it because my taste receptors had been messed up by too much junk.”
“And why does this food” – he points to his meal of homemade coleslaw, organic sausage, and organic sauerkraut (which keeps the intestinal bacteria happy) – – “Does it now taste fantastic to me?”
“It’s no surprise that many believe they don’t enjoy nutritious foods. Their taste buds are all messed up now, so the food doesn’t taste good to them.”
“Perhaps there is no such thing as a ‘proper taste,’ because taste evolves with time. For the time being, junk food tastes better to them.”
The phrase “for the time being” is crucial. This is critical. No decision is irreversible, and no path is unthinkable in JB’s world.
“People struggle over what to do in fitness and in life. “Just try it and see,” I say. It makes no difference what it is. Just take a chance. The rest you can take care of later.”
Things shift. We change over time. A client in’s Lean Eating coaching program may despise broccoli for the first month, but then enjoy it half a year later.
Nothing – not one’s self, not one’s habit, not one’s decision – is eternal.
JB’s life and physical transformation programs, Lean Eating and Scrawny to Brawny, are driven by this philosophy that anything is possible.
From swingle to family guy, he’s come a long way.
The birth of JB’s ten-month-old daughter was the one thing that had lasting implications for him. In the spirit of serviceability, he’s given up his toy sports vehicle… His daring spirit, however, was not one of them.
He’s content with the paradox of driving a hulking Harley-Davidson pickup truck with a baby seat and toys in the rear.
He spoon-feeds a mouthful of fish oil to his wife Amanda Graydon at lunchtime, like a mother bird tending to a nestling, while Amanda’s hands are engaged carrying baby Amalynn.
It’s a long cry from the swingle lifestyle he had as a young man banging his ass on a startup company with Phil Caravaggio, the company’s co-founder. Or maybe it’s the image he’s projected on himself by his fans.
“We had a terrific time in that downtown Toronto apartment when Phil and I lived there. I felt liberated and unconstrained. All of the things I currently had — a home, a family – appeared to be a big burden. These were items I determined I didn’t want as a kid. I wanted to travel and discover new places. I wanted to amass a variety of experiences.”
He would explore every area, every part of the metropolis when he relocated to the big city. He’d use the subways with a book on occasion to unwind. “I’d never used a metro before, so it was thrilling and fascinating… Perhaps it was just a quiet way to get some adventure.” He gave speeches all around the world and lived the life of a Large Professor.
“Everything has changed now. I miss my house, my family, and my alone time. And getting about has become a pain in the neck. People have asked me to participate in events. They offer me money, and I accept it gratefully. ‘OK, that sounds like a good deal,’ I think to myself. But what do I have to say no to if I say yes to that?’
“Everything you say yes to means saying no to something else,” Alwyn Cosgrove once told me. And saying yes to more speaking engagements and travel also means saying no to my family. And to the amazing work I get to do on a daily basis as a member of the PN team.”
While JB is equally at ease making brrrrbbb daddy-motorboat noises for Amalynn as he is researching nutritional biochemistry, one has to wonder what happened to the tough-guy image he was given while writing for T-mag a decade or so ago.
I ask him about a T-mag interview I recently read, in which writer Chris Shugart asks if JB gets “more ass than a Studio 54 toilet seat,” set against a backdrop of toddler toys, a bookshelf of children’s books (including the Narnia Chronicles), a keyboard (which he’s teaching himself to play), and a tidy living room in the house he designed as a rural family retreat.
“The issue with a lot of these internet identities,” he says, “is that you’re writing about fitness and nutrition.” You are not disclosing personal information. If you do, it’s just in part. As a result, no one can come to know the real you. They create a personna in order to fill up the gaps.”
JB isn’t bothered by the inconsistencies. He nurtures them. He prefers to let others interpret him how they see fit, while subverting their expectations with high-quality work, a genuine desire to serve others, and a strong dedication to his family and Team.
Georges St-Pierre, the UFC welterweight champion, is a customer.
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He now considers it to be his lifeblood, and he takes it extremely seriously.
“This is more than a job. It isn’t something I do for the sake of my ego. It’s a life’s job for me. Even saying that isn’t sufficient. It engulfs me.”
This determination is also what allows – which developed from JB and Phil working out of JB’s basement to a highly lucrative firm with roughly thirty employees spread across North America – to function. “We’re all these diverse personalities, but we’re all driven by the same passion.”
You can change your mind, but you can never take back what you say on the internet. Wherever he travels, the legend of Large Professor follows him. He’s frequently greeted by adoring fans.
“It can seem strange at times. A large number of fans approach you with a specific goal in mind. They might wish to say hello or ask a question, for example. When you meet individuals in these situations, where they expect you to be famous, it’s as if they’re truly hoping you’ll do something amazing.”
He widens his enormous blue eyes wide, spreads his arms in a fish-that-got-away-story posture, and cranks his face into an overdone caricature of a grin. ‘Come on, Dr. Berardi,’ I said. ‘Do something fantastic!’
Of course, he comprehends. He now understands human nature and commands a compelling, empathetic-yet-expert presence after strengthening his own body and spirit, coaching thousands of clients, and ingesting mountains of philosophy and applied psychology.
Whatever the reason or issue, it is evident that many people believe JB can solve it. He seems to draw people that desire to change and develop themselves.
“When I was in university, people started asking me for relationship advice all of a sudden. Because I was at a loss for what to do, I gave the best counsel I could. But that was all a load of nonsense. I’d never been in a serious relationship before.”
While his attractive appearance never fails to pique the interest of female Lean Eating clients (and perhaps 10% of male clients), the people who have the biggest infatuation on JB are skinny young males who hope they might be like JB – whatever omnipotent superhero they picture him to be.
JB has poured his charisma, expertise, and personal experiences into ‘s Scrawny to Brawny program to assist these guys achieve their Charles Atlas fantasies.
Naturally, he understands the need for self-improvement, and he has a special affinity for intelligent young men seeking significance and autonomy. He’s lately employed three of them as coaches and writers.
“I believe there is a mid-twenties crisis,” he continues, “when you realize that all of your expectations may not be realized.” However, going through it is a good thing to do. You discover that your expectations had nothing to do with reality. And certain aspects of yourself are honed. All the nonsense you were lugging around. All of the entitlements or oversimplified worldviews.”
Amanda interjects, claiming that this existential crisis makes the twenties worse than the terrible twos, which Amalynn is about to enter. I point out that no one under the age of twenty flushes things down the toilet or drinks household chemicals. (At least, not as frequently.)
It’s time to squat.
Nothing cleanses the palate like squats after all of this soul-searching and sauerkraut. JB and I went to his home gym, which is far superior to many commercial gyms.
While we’re air squats and kettlebell swinging, Amanda, who looks like a cross between a small Valkyrie and a Swiss milkmaid, comes in. Although she could easily be mistaken for Amalynn’s teenage babysitter rather than her mother, she exudes bright good health and a joyful parental tranquility.
She warms up her powerful former-figure-skater legs, explodes into 10 minutes of inclined treadmill sprints, then departs in a pink floral-scented cloud, wearing pink running shoes that match her pink top.
Between reps, JB moans, “Amanda, you’re making me look horrible.” My oxygen supply is currently consumed by my straining quads, so I’d crack up at the prospect of somebody making JB seem terrible.
If there’s one word that sums up JB’s personality, it’s “believe.” He has a strong belief in the power of self-transformation and the inevitability of change. It motivates him to continue to create possibilities for others to change as he has.
He just released a nutrition certification for coaches and trainers, in addition to his books and coaching programs. He also intends to revolutionize an entire industry with this. Eventually. Let’s take it one step at a time.
Nothing, according to JB, is everlasting. Everything is open to discussion. Change is also conceivable. This is for everyone. It’s a simple yet difficult discipline that he strives to live himself. Every single day of his ever-evolving existence.
John Berardi is the man behind the internet legend of “bear season”. John Berardi is a 29 year old natural bear hunter from Idaho. He has been hunting bears for many years and has hunted in all the main bear hunting states: Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana.. Read more about dr john berardi podcast and let us know what you think.
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