Isolator Fitness interviews IFBB Pro Bodybuilder Seth Feroce on his resurgence into the bodybuilding industry after a 3 year hiatus and his new apparel brand–All American Roughneck.
Isolator Fitness: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your journey, and what caused you to walk away from the game 3 years ago?
Seth Feroce: About 3 years ago I decided to call it quits and walk away. I just disappeared, without warning. I was flying high from 2009 to 2012, my career was flourishing, I had sponsorships coming in, and I was working with the best people and sponsors in the industry. I even got to train with guys that I had idolized as a teenager. Everything was perfect, except that my home life was falling apart.
Piece by piece; slowly but surely; the traveling, the women, it was all becoming too much. In 2012, I was competing in a show and everything fell apart backstage just minutes before I was set to compete. My skin had a reaction to the oil I had used and my mind was not in it this time. Of course, I didn’t do very well and I didn’t take that loss very well. After that, I went home with my family and tried to regroup my thoughts and reassess my goals, but my wife and I were at each other’s throats, which compounded to the added pressures from my sponsors and my coach. I started getting pressure from a sponsor to do a show, which has always been a pet peeve of mine, although knowing that this is how I made money to survive and support my family, I sucked it up and decided to do the show. Not long after, I decided that I was no longer going to use the coach that I had for that show and was going to do things on my own.
Isolator Fitness: What mistakes did you make and what did you learn from trying to coach yourself?
Seth Feroce: That it was a bad idea. I went on to do another show a few months later and disaster struck. My body practically shut down. I had overdone everything: training, cardio, diet, supplements– you name it and I had overdone it. I wanted to prove that I could make it on my own. My mind was set on it, but sometimes the body can’t handle what the mind can. After that show, I remember laying there thinking to myself, “What the f*** am I doing?”
Isolator Fitness: How did losing this show escalate to walking away from your livelihood?
Seth Feroce: I was no longer having fun, my passion had become a job, and the one group of people that relied on me to be their rock, hated me. All the while I was trying to please the sponsors who looked at me as just another number. So I quit. I knew that I needed to work on becoming a better husband, a better father and a better friend. It was clear to me that I could make the same kind of money in another career, as long as I applied the same effort I was applying to bodybuilding. I was determined to keep my passion of training a true passion, and stop viewing it as a job.
Isolator Fitness: What was your next step and how did your values change in your family life?
Seth Feroce: I went back to western Pennsylvania and into the blue collar workforce. It was not just my decision, it was our decision–my wife and I decided to start over. We decided that we would start making an effort to be the people we wanted to be rather than the people we wanted each other to be. We needed to stop being selfish and saying “me, me, me” all the time and instead focus on making an effort for the other person. I vowed that I wouldn’t have another ‘bad day’ and that I would wake up and enjoy my coffee the way I like it. I would eat the breakfast I wanted, kiss my wife good-bye, hug and kiss my children and tell them all I love them before I left for work. I was going to make a true effort to be a positive, and truly blessed person, because I am. I live in the greatest country on the planet. I have a wife who truly loves me, evident by the fact that she’s still here after everything that I put her through. I have happy, healthy, and smart children, and a supportive family circle of people who want us to succeed. I have a will and desire to become successful. I AM BLESSED. Once I realized all of this, I finally started to enjoy life again, because there is more to life than just competing and training. I lost track of that.
Isolator Fitness: What type of career path did you decide to embark on upon returning to western Pennsylvania?
Seth Feroce: Back in Pennsylvania, I started my own landscape contracting company; retaining walls and drains, doing lawn maintenance, and other general landscaping. I enjoyed the hard labor. I grew up doing that kind of work and I forgot how much I enjoyed it– I couldn’t get enough of it. I felt like it was bringing me back to life. Carrying blocks all day to build a wall, digging a drain 200 yards long, building a wooden fence from scratch, splitting wood all day long on a Saturday– I loved it all and still do. I felt a great sense of pride in my work.
I did this for about two years and right before the winter of 2014, I put my resume out to find some work to keep myself busy through the colder months. Since I had graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) with a Safety Sciences degree, I submitted my resume to some safety consulting firms in the Pittsburgh area and got a call back from John Lafayette, who started his own firm a few years back and needed some help. We sat down, talked and decided that we would work together for a few months. After a couple of months, he made me an offer to stay on full time and I couldn’t refuse.
I took over as many accounts as I could so that he could be free to grow the firm and make it what he dreamed that it could be. I worked for oil and gas clients, construction clients, steel mills, manufacturing, and production lines. You name it, we would help with what we could. That’s the One Stop Safety way!
Isolator Fitness: How did these experiences help you grow and learn as an individual?
Seth Feroce: As I worked in all of these industries, I met and trained thousands of different people, and found that there was a common denominator– these people had a will to work for not only themselves, but their families. The pride that so many of them took in their trade or skill, the stories they had about past jobs, and the overall sense of “this is what I do and I am proud of it,” was obvious. It became apparent to me that these men and women are blue collar America and they are so proud of that fact, I loved it.
Isolator Fitness: How did all of these new experiences and friends help inspire your new apparel brand, All American Roughneck?
Seth Feroce: My co-workers had become my friends and during an overnight stay in a hotel, for a job we had to do the following morning, we got to talking about how great it is to be an American. We talked about all of the crazy and fun stuff that make up our lives: guns, beers, whiskey, diesel trucks, lifting weights, dirt bikes, and most importantly, hard work. We were all in agreement that there needed to be something or someone that exemplified how wonderful it was to live in the USA, while sending a great message to the people listening (the hard working American community). It remained a late night conversation and didn’t go any further for a while, but the thought never left our minds. Months went by of continuous talk about how we work with true Americans who built and continue to build the infrastructure to support and grow this great country. I started to pay more attention to it all: the owners, the operations managers, all the way down to the grunts, and the stories of how they started and obstacles they overcame. It was all very intriguing to me.
Fast forward to the end of July 2015, and my 8 year old daughter was getting ready to compete in competitive gymnastics. I told her to be confident, never give up and always give it her best. I explained to her that she may fail, and she may falter but that’s okay, as long as she gets back up and tries again. I told her “If you cry, just dry your eyes; if someone laughs, don’t let it hurt you, let it infuriate you to do better and don’t quit because of anyone’s lack of kindness.” She was pumped up and ready to go and then got this bewildered look on her face and asked me why I quit, and why I don’t lift weights anymore. I was floored. My eight year old had just call me out. I played it off and said that I had stopped so that I could watch her compete. That did the trick. She smiled, got out of the truck, and ran into practice. On my drive home, I couldn’t believe it–she called me out and it lit a fire under me.
Isolator Fitness: And what fire was that?
Seth Feroce: About a month later, I got a call out of the blue from a good friend who was also a huge inspiration to me, Jason Huh. He was a true friend, and we used to bounce ideas off of each other all the time. When he called, he asked about my life and how things were going, and then he asked if I ever thought about coming back. I admitted that it was an idea that was constantly lurking in the back of my mind, but when he asked why I didn’t just do it, I didn’t know what to say. I was silent while I thought about it and I finally answered, “I don’t know if I am still relevant or if it would be worth it.”
He then told me about how much of an inspiration I was to him years ago and how important my message was to the young weightlifting community. I was floored. We talked for a little longer and he told me that I should just get back to the gym and have fun, whether anything resulted from it or not.
A week went by and I got another phone call from an old friend who was coming to Pittsburgh for a bodybuilding show, your CEO at Isolator Fitness, Dave Vollmer. He wanted to meet up with me and grab a beer while he was in town. As we were talking, he asked if I was happy. I said that I was and that I couldn’t ask for more than what I had right at that moment. I had a life, my kids were happy, healthy and smart, my wife and I were happy living life, rather than just going through the motions. I told him what I had come to realize as truth– I had it pretty good. He was happy for me but questioned if I didn’t also miss bodybuilding. I thought about it and realized that I missed training and talking to different people, but that I didn’t miss the competing or the sponsorship pressures at all. He told me about the changes and opportunities that were available in the industry these days, mostly because of social media. He told me that the industry would be better off with more people like me in it–people with a positive outlook on life, who were willing to be honest.
Isolator Fitness: Clearly Dave and Jason’s words inspired you to rethink some of the changes you’ve made.
Seth Feroce: I couldn’t believe it, what were the chances of three people who I respect and love all telling me similar things, and gently urging me back into my passion, within a month? Especially after two years of not being around the industry. So I went back into the gym, and despite not having trained for about a year and a half, I got back into lifting and I started feeling “it” again.
Isolator Fitness: It... Care to elaborate?
Seth Feroce: I started to feel exhilarated! My mind began reeling and everything started to become clearer than ever before. I made a call to one of the friends/coworkers that I had stayed up talking with about how great America is and I said, “I am coming back!”
He admitted that he had been waiting to hear me say that since he had been hired. I told him that I was coming back and that I was starting a brand called the “All American Roughneck.” I knew that I wanted to have clothes and accessories based around how awesome it is to be an American. I decided that my social media would be geared towards being the life enthusiast that I am. I would focus on my love of family, hard work, guns, weightlifting, food, beer, whiskey, and cigars. “So, America?” he replied. Yes! It was great to hear my ideas solidified. I told him about my plans to make information-based YouTube videos on lifting, nutrition, supplements, and also fun videos of us shooting guns, blowing stuff up and actually giving honest information.
I hated how untruthful so much of the industry was. I believed that people wanted the truth and I was going to give it to them. I had lied, cheated and stolen, and it had never worked out in my favor, so I was going to be honest and tell the truth about it all. No bullshit, no filter, and if anyone didn’t like it, that wasn’t going to be my problem. My buddy was all over it. He said, “Go with it, Bro! This could be a great thing.” So I did.
Isolator Fitness: What were your next steps in creating this All-American Brand?
Seth Feroce: Over the next few months I became a whole new person. My life began firing on an even higher level than before; my marriage, my kids, and my work, all just seemed so much better–I was walking tall. I called up Dave Vollmer to help me out with the shirts and other merchandise, because he runs this amazing multimillion dollar company that has a screen printing department. He told me that ISO would help with whatever I needed. I talked to his videographer and graphic designer, Bobby Dautrich, who was an old friend of mine, to see if he would come out and film a video for me, and help me create logos and designs for the website. I told him all my ideas and vision for it all. I explained how this brand is for everyone who has the American Dream, who has worked hard for everything they have, those who have value for the wonderful gift of life, the people who keep their heads down and just keep working in spite of troubles, the people who do whatever it takes for a better life for them and their loved ones. This is a brand that I want hard-working Americans to be proud to be a part of. I had him hooked. Bobby was just as excited as I was, so I told him that I had an idea and a vision that I needed him to bring to life. I gave him complete creative control with the videos and website to make it something special.
By mid-December 2015 Bobby and his business partner, Jason Huntzinger, came out and filmed this video:
By late December, everything was falling into place: website, videos, pictures, content; it was all coming together. Bobby and Jason were putting the finishing touches on everything, while Dave was helping from a business standpoint. There was just one phone call left to make.
Isolator Fitness: And what phone call was that?
Seth Feroce: Blackstone Labs and Prime Nutrition. During my comeback training I was taking protein powder, pre-workout, post workout and amino acid supplements. I took them because I liked them, and they helped elevate my training as they were supposed to. I chose my supplements based on the fact that I knew the owners and I believed in their vision. One of my last conversations with them was at the Olympia in 2013, when I was sponsored by Muscletech. I was walking through the lobby at the expo and saw them; we stopped and talked for a few moments and I was told that if anything ever happened with Muscletech and I wanted to work with them, they would love to have me as part of their team. I was greatly appreciative because I could tell they had something special that they were passionate about. They were the outcasts that people didn’t take seriously at the time, but they didn’t care. They were going to do whatever it took to achieve their goals. I told them that my hands were tied with Muscletech, but that in the future, if anything ever happened, they would be my first call. Over two years later, it was finally time to make that call to PJ Braun and Aaron Singerman, the owners and minds behind Blackstone Labs and Prime Nutrition.
We talked about the All American Roughneck, my social media and my goals for the future. They were on board with all of it. They had been looking for something different and someone like me to work with and so we came to an agreement. We all kept this very quiet, because we wanted to come out of the gate with a bang.
Everything you are now seeing is the collaborative effort of a group of people who wanted to create something different, something to be proud of, and something that not just one person could create, just like The United States of America. We are a group of people that had a common goal to create something great; just like the workforce at your workplace, and just like your family at home. Everything that you will see from me is what I use and have at one point spent my own hard earned money on. I use the ISOBags, and the Blackstone Labs and Prime Nutrition Supplements. Everything you will see from myself and the All American Roughneck may not always be what you like, but it is who I am. The messages I put out may be vulgar, or obscene but it will be the truth; and the truth can be tough to deal with sometimes. I have had to admit my faults and accept all my screw ups and own up to them. It was not easy, but it was necessary, because if you truly want to be a better person, you have to admit those things and build from them, not hide from them.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the All American Roughneck. It is something I feel very passionate about and am very excited to share all of this with you.
Stay tuned and follow Seth:
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