Welcome to The Jamin Show! My names Ben Villers. I'm a Fitness Trainer DJ & MC here in Los Angeles, California!
I appreciate everybody tuning in to everything that I do! You know, this is my first blog post and i'm excited about it. I felt it was appropriate to start with My Story & Come Up! I believe my story can help others.
I've been part of the health and fitness industry, as an athlete, student or in business my entire life! I'm 30 years old at the time I made this post, and I have been playing sports since I was able to walk on my two feet.
I was born in Paris, France, but I grew up in the United Stated on the East Coast in Stamford, Connecticut. I was playing sports as a little kid. I started swimming and skiing and playing soccer, all those fun things. As soon as I started being able to walk, my parents were very comfortable with getting me in the water too. I was a lifeguard and swim coach for many years of my life!
Who would have thought that all of these activities would be the framework for the rest In my life. My parents supported me and allowed me to play sports and follow my hobbies and interests. So that was really lucky for me.
As a young kid, I was a social guy, but I had to choose between being social and sports a lot. So growing up, I missed a lot of hang outs with friends, a lot of fun things to do so i can go to practice, travel & compete. But, I made so many friends doing that, and that created relationships for life.
This is how I was able to expand my network at a young age. I did not hangout with the same people over and over again. I was always seeing new people as the seasons would change.
As I got to be really competitive, I transitioned from soccer to football and from basketball to wrestling. Kept playing baseball, and loved doing that too.
I've really done what feels like everything. Water skiing, wakeboarding, snowboarding, skiing, sailing, tennis, snorkeling. These days, I need to really dial into my golf game!
That experience is really important to me because I'm a fitness trainer now! Who would have thought back in the day, all of the sports would have created a very universal practice for me, which would allow me to really teach people and change people's lives for the better.
I love what I do. I've really turned my hobbies into a paying livelihood. I get paid to work out and train people and play music and execute fun events. Pursuing your dreams could be a lot because the work never ends. It's harder to find pleasure in something that you do all the time for work & business, but at the same time, I wouldn't trade anything at this point because I know how hard I worked to get here.
It's crazy how my life has really shaped out. I'm sure you can relate? So many life decisions that were fork in the road moments that could have lead one way or the other. Instead of that, I would be doing something else, etc.
Where I am right now is so fragile. So, no regrets. There's literally not one thing I would do over again at this point. It's weird how life just plays out.
You know, it's crazy cuz I could have easily grown up and done the corporate route. That's what I thought I wanted to do for a long time. Because I had no idea what I wanted to do. Like when I went from high school to college, I ended up studying kinesiology because I didnt know what I wanted to do the rest of my life so I decided to study a passion. I was a bit intimidated, I wasn't a straight A student or good at science. It wasn't easy but I stuck it out.
Eventually though, I got accepted into sports marketing & management. About halfway into sophomore year & I ended up double majoring. When I went to college I had no idea what I was doing and then I graduated having two majors & a minor. That feels good.
In hindsight, I learned a great lesson. Make a decision on something that interests you.
You don't know what you want to do with yourself for the rest of your life before you even get into school or during freshman year, or even when you graduate. When I graduated, I was still clueless. I was late to the internship thing. When I was applying for an internship, you know, they're telling me I needed an internship before I could apply for this internship, which to me at the time was breaking news.
Is there anyone else who can truly relate to that when they were applying for their internships, or like their first jobs? You were told, you need some experience before you should apply for this position. It may seem obvious now, but at the time it did not.
I thought this was where I began to get the experience. For me, I was late behind the ball. But eventually, I lucked out on the internship and I got a pretty cool job on campus that counted for my internship.
After I graduated college, I went back to my hometown Stamford, Connecticut. I didn't really know what I was doing at the time. I guess that was my first freelance play as an adult. What do you do after college? After college, my situation was unique because my parents retired and moved from my hometown.
That presented challenges. They moved to Delaware, which is a really nice spot. I definitely recommend visiting there, but it wasn't the place for me to live. I could have stayed in the Midwest, but I didn't have a job offer. The only option I felt was pretty much go back to the east coast, where I'm from originally and find a place to stay, or stay in the Midwest. But for some reason, at the time, the gut instinct was to go back to the East Coast. Yes, I was pretty much over the Midwest at that point. Looking back on it, staying out in the Midwest might not have been a bad idea. I'm sure a lot of great opportunities would have arose from staying out there. But I ended up going back to the East Coast. No regrets.
That first year out of college, I spent a year with a family friend who I knew growing up. They let me stay in their place for a whole year, trying to figure it out.
Right after college, I started coaching football because I didn't know what else to do. That was awesome. That was my first gig. I was an offensive coordinator for the freshmen football team at my alma mater Westhill High school.
We had a blast but it didn't last the whole season. Lessons were learned from this. When or went not to quit something. You never ever want to really quit anything, right? You really want to see it through. Unfortunately, I had to make a tough decision.
In the middle of the season that was going well, I had been unexpectedly demoted by the head coach and I had less power on the team. I didn't have the offensive coordinator decision making job anymore. I didn't agree or feel I deserved this. Neither did the players.
At the time, in the background I had a job offer that I was planning on going to start after the season. Once I got demoted on the coaching staff for the football team, it made no sense for me to be there and I left the team in the middle of the season...
The head coach of the program, was a different coach from when I played football. We didn't see eye to eye on how to manage the kids. I had a great relationship with the team, but the coach took away my responsibilities. I felt I could not waste my time and that was that.
I had left them with an inferior coach. It was sad for the kids, but I had to do what was best for me and take on this new job opportunity. At the time this was the start of my "career".
My first "big boy" job was selling T Mobile cell phones... T Mobile cell phones... In the middle of nowhere, Connecticut. Rural Connecticut. I was selling a service that didn't even work in the area that I was selling.. It was a really lousy job. I was in the gutter grinding this out for two months. I was applying like crazy at the same time. I knew I had to get out of there.
But it did build character. And I don't regret doing it at all. It was a miserable two months, but definitely the right play at the time. And I encourage anyone getting out of school, or anyone trying to really find their lane to really make a sacrifice, especially in the beginning. To set you up for the long term future. You want to be a servant in the beginning. You want to serve and bring value to people, and prove yourself that you're worth being there.
I don't think we're taught to really bring value to people when we're growing up. Thats what the real world is all about. I was taught academic subjects, but never in the art of business and bringing value. At least nothing that ever stood out to me. In the end, it's about what you know, who you know, and what value you can bring. That's the stuff that they don't teach you.
My next job was a marketing job, for a company that had a lot of clients. My account was MasterCard. I was just an account trainee, which is the lowest position you can get. It wasn't even a long term contract just a few months.
The person who hired me, literally told me, the reason why I hired you is, when I looked at your resume, i saw that you had a sales background and you would be a hard worker. So anyone who's really contemplating taking a sales job out there, or you don't really know what to do. Maybe suck it up in the beginning and do what it takes to get your foot in the door.
The beginning of any career can be painful & a struggle so it's important you have safety nets to hold you up and keep you going. If you can get through that startup phase, then you'll learn great life lessons. You're going to maximize your true potential by making those sacrifices. Putting yourself in uncomfortable situations.
That new marketing job, also sucked. I worked every single day, and they paid me practically nothing. But that job led to another marketing job in the same company, where I got to drive a lot of cool BMWs and travel around the country.
Finally doing something better. That was pretty sweet. And at the time, it paid what I needed it to pay for, but still wasn't making much. I also was part time training clients since I was a certified personal trainer with a Kinesiology degree. Just trying to figure it all out.
Eventually I had to find a real job that paid me real money. So I got another job that paid me just a little more. I'm still in Stamford at this point and the job was another dog shit marketing assistant job but was a slightly more legit paying job.
Really nothing special, just some busy work. Just tasks that other people don't want to do or think they are too good for it.
But then, an opportunity presented itself for me to move to California. To move into an affordable space in Santa Monica. So I had to make a pretty big decision at the time. Growing up, I've always aspired to leave Stamford. Not because I don't enjoy it, but I just am so curious about the adventures outside of where I'm from.
I actually love where I'm from so shout out to Stamford, Connecticut. Really great place to grow up and live as a young adult. I miss it a lot. I miss all my friends, but unfortunately, my family doesn't live there anymore and I dont see myself moving back anytime soon.
When the opportunity presented itself to go to California, I was ready to take on a new challenge and new opportunities. I just felt like it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I took it and ran.
I went to the west coast with no job. At that point this is when I started racking up credit card debt. At one point I was like two weeks away from being bankrupt.
I had gone on job interviews, but I was blowing the interviews left and right. I had put a lot of pressure on myself. I've always been a good public speaker, and have always had a lot of confidence, but not really great interview strategy. At that time I was not that good at being interviewed (or I would have had a job)
These interviews were tough. I struggled with them at the time. I was just not putting on my best performance and I kept getting turned down. I was getting nervous, anxious, I was running out of money and my debt was racking up. The pressure was building. I was feeling it. But then I finally got a job.
It was actually with the same company that had the cool marketing accounts with the cool cars. They were a bi-coastal company. I was lucky enough to get in and I did the West Coast version of that job for a year. That bought me some time. It was really cool, fun, but again they didn't pay me much. 3 years out of college and still making pennies. I had to do other part time jobs, like driving Uber.
I had gotten into multiple car accidents while Uber driving. So this part time job wasn't sustainable and I did not continue this.
I was still part time training clients. People knew me for my fitness & athletics so it was easy to always keep the conversation going.
I also started baby-sitting dogs/pets. This was a great solution to replacing the Uber driving. This was also great for me to hold my own while I was still figuring life out.
Then, I got a kidney stone and that hurt a lot. Many lousy events happened in that year, but as always there were good times too. Overall, it was a year of grind.
At the end of the year working for that company it led me to another important, real, fork in the road moment. When I had to make a decision what to do next.
I didn't know many people in Cali yet, I was having trouble really growing into myself, having confidence, and I was missing home. I wasn't in a good place mentally, but still trying to be strong. I was about to go back to the northeast. I was very close to making that decision. But I just felt like, in my gut, that didn't seem right no matter how bad I felt.
I had just gotten here a year earlier. Not a long time. How can I just pick up my things and go back after one quick year?
I had a job offer on the East Coast waiting for me that a friend set me up with. I put the job offer on pause for two weeks because I straight up was just telling them that I have to think about this. I was having regret now, feeling the pressure. But they gave me my space I needed to think about what I wanted to do next.
I was thinking about it, but at the same time, I had gotten a new part time job as a brand ambassador for this meal prep company. At the time this was a good fit for me. Part time Fitness trainer, part time nutrition rep. I had to make a decision. East coast corporate or west coast hustle.
The company was expanding & I figured they would have more full time work for me. I reached out to the guy who hired me, with nothing to lose. The guy who hired me was the West Coast Promotions Manager for the company.
I reached out and said this exactly: "I got a job offer back on the east coast. But I don't want to go back. I know you guys just came from the East Coast to the West Coast. There's got to be some job for me, like, what's up?"
He then replies: "I'm actually leaving the company, do you want my job?"
And at that moment, I'm just shocked. This guy just offered me a job with a food and health company as the manager for the promotions of the West Coast. This was the opportunity I was looking for.
I responded immediately: "Yeah, I do want your job." He then reaches out to the owner to see if he's around. He then asks me if I would you be willing to go interview with him that day? I told him absolutely. That afternoon I went in sat with the owner for about two hours really connecting.
The specifics of that moment I barely even remember, it's crazy. My adrenaline was pumping high because of what was at stake for me. If I could not secure this job it was back to the east coast.
I didn't even realize that I was in such a startup warehouse environment. Eventually the facility evolved into a clean place, but in the beginning it was very startup vibes.
Most people would have been shook to be in this place, probably not even considering working here. But I didn't care because I just felt there was an opportunity for me. I was desperate for an opportunity. A way for me to really take control of my career and my life after all the rejection I had to endure.
At the time, it was three years past college graduation and I know a bunch of people who had good paying jobs and I'm still the scrub trying to figure it out. Still a trainee assistant, bouncing around. Part time trainer having no idea what I'm doing with myself.
At the time I felt lousy, but I am here to tell you don't worry about what other people are doing. Just focus on your journey. It isn't about how you start, it's about how you finish.
When the owner offered me the job I was so pumped. I didn't care about anything else. I went and called my parents right away, to let them know, I got this job, I'm staying on the West Coast, and I turned down the job on the East Coast.
I thought I was living big until the job actually started. When the job started I realized that this wasn't what i expected. The way I thought it was in my head, wasn't actually the reality. I didn't realize I was gonna have to really grow this role, and would have to come into my own. You know, they promised hours, but they just meant, they promised that there's a million things to do and that I have to do it all for them.
I turned down a full time salary job for this job. Most people would have thought it was pretty stupid at the time. Most people would have done the other thing, but my decision was a complete blessing. This was training to be an Entrepreneur.
On that first day of cold calling, I had so much success. I booked out a whole month worth of events! I kept this momentum going & this opportunity in the company grew & grew & grew more!
This job ended up being the most successful accomplishment I have had in my life at the time. An opportunity I will forever be grateful for. I ended up being part of an amazing team, witnessed tremendous growth and having amazing success.
I was making better money than I ever had at this point, my network and my connections expanded beyond what I thought I was capable of, in a city I didn't know anyone in.
Now those same connections are a valuable asset to me to this day as I grow my business.
That job experience allowed me to see hundreds of different gym setups. I got to do business in all shapes and sizes with so many people. These experiences are helping me today with my business and set me apart from the rest. It gives me a tremendous advantage over my competition. This experience has given me a lot of confidence and awareness of what's going on in my industry.
Had I gone back to the northeast, my life would be completely different. Not necessarily in a bad way, but who knows what I would be doing. Right now I do what I love and fits my dreams as a kid. I have a long way to go but I am in the right direction.
Now my network in Southern California is big, and I'm not even from here. The lesson here is you really just have to know what is best for yourself. Listen to your wants.
In this story there are two examples of me wanting to quit.
1) I did quit coaching the football team before the season was over because I felt I had to do what was best.
2) I almost quit on California after 1 year. That would have been a mistake. I knew I had to stay. So i stuck it out.
There isn't one answer. You just have to know what you want and do whats best for you.
Sometimes you gotta stick it out and not quit. Sometimes you gotta abort and jump off the ship to save yourself!
Sometimes it is necessary to leave or quit something, but not always. You need to really evaluate the situation short term & long term. You've got to tough it out sometimes.
If you quit on something too early it can change the whole course of your life. You know, you have to be able to recognize a fork in the road moment and take it seriously because that decision can lead you down one path or the other.
I wasn't musical or a DJ growing up but I started DJ'ing in California. I met my DJ mentor while working for the food company. These opportunities in my life became important to who i am today because I stuck it out in California.
And now I have been Full Time Personal Trainer & DJ since the beginning of 2019! I have been consistent ever since and strive to grow my business !
I hope you enjoyed this post!