If you don’t know who I am by now, my name is Rocco Castellano and I want to give you the confidence be a better person in every part of your life. To either drive your business from just surviving and living paycheck to paycheck … to actually thriving and living your life with absolute significance.
In order to thrive in every aspect of your life you need to be extraordinary. That is what I want.
And what is better than creating an extraordinary life anyway. Why settle for average? You’re no asshole..
What did I Discover along the way to becoming who I am today?
From a Stuttering kid, afraid of everything to Millionaire Author, Speaker, Fitness Personality and self described Jeopardy Head
My business card used to say, Author, Speaker, Fitness Personality. Now you couldn’t get my number if your life depended on it. It was a testament to where I was and my journey to becoming a multi-millionaire fitness personality and what a journey it was.
Ever since I was a kid, I always worked hard and made money. When I was six years old, I shined shoes every morning at the Bus Stop in front of my Apartment complex on Shaler Blvd in Ridgefield, NJ, humping my shine box to make sure I got at least four shines before the bus drove away with my customers.
When I was ten years old, I worked as a gopher for a construction company making 10-12 dollars a day to cook my brother’s dinner every night when my mother worked the graveyard shift. I’d do anything to keep from getting back on welfare and using food stamps to buy food at the local grocery store.
Just Couldn’t Get the Words Out
And to make it worse, at the age of 5, I developed a horrible stutter that kept me from communicating what I wanted. My mother would try to figure out what I was trying to say by guessing what I wanted. If I started stuttering and the sound K, K, K, K, K, K, K, K, K, K came out of my mouth, my mother, in rapid-fire would spew the words Cake, Cat, Coffee Can, Coat and eventually Cookie. I feebly nodded my head forward in acceptance of a cookie from the cookie jar, even though I wanted to ask her if I “could” go outside and play with my friends. I took the cookie and ran out to play without asking. It was just too much work.
My stuttering became such a hassle that even my Guidance Counselor at School told me that I should “learn a trade” so I wouldn’t have to speak too often for my work. I did take up a trade and learned Masonry and Carpentry from two incredible mentors, Michael Broderick and Ricky Venasanos but realized quickly that I would rather not break my balls too hard for my living. I still semi-mastered my trades but worked for my “Cousins” part-time at North Jersey Health Club. They weren’t my cousins, but that’s another story entirely.
Like an episode from the Sopranos
The fitness bug hit me hard, and I was good at it; the only problem was I still stuttered and found myself only cleaning showers, emptying garbage, and vacuuming the gym. I wanted to be like my “cousin” Frank and train people… well… I became so fit, strong, and tough that my “cousin” put me to work in his other “family” business… and I was good at that too.
It was like an episode from the Sopranos. “Rocco, this is Joey; now break his leg.”
Breaking bones seemed to come naturally to me because I couldn’t talk; I just snapped fingers, toes, or maybe an elbow or nose—nothing to it.
The only problem with that was the Authorities were always looking over our shoulders; not a good way to live your life, always trying to survive. I needed to get out of just surviving and get something stable.
Determination and Tenacity
I knew I needed a change, but I had no road map, no idea how to change my life; I just knew it had to change. Through sheer determination and tenacity, I decided to find a way to stop stuttering. I stuttered my way through many a sales pitch at the gym. I spoke in front of crowds in School, and as one of the Captains of the Wrestling Team, I led Pep rallies, screw it, I was on a mission. Then life steps in and slaps you in the face! My bone-breaking acumen got me in a bit of trouble that sent me away for a year. A year to think about how I was going to be a millionaire.
In jail, I overcame much of my stuttering. I had to learn to communicate quickly and efficiently. Before going in, my Sensai Carlos told me that I should never, ever fight with anyone. I would be showing my cards, and it was always better to keep them guessing about the big tough “white guy.”
Studied every Sales, Marketing and Business strategy book I could find
I took that advice seriously and studied the dictionary and thesaurus every day, looking for words I could say. Because I stuttered on sounds like “G,” B,” and “W,” I changed the word from “get” to “acquire” or “bring” to “take” or “work” to “task.” It was like my world had changed. I was able to speak and communicate. Now I was ready to build my future. I threw away all my Mafia history books and studied every sales, marketing and business strategy from Tom Peters and other authors. I learned from “In Search of Excellence”, Eliyahu Goldratt’s, “The Goal” to Jay Levinson’s, “Guerilla Marketing.
Because I couldn’t speak growing up, I listened – a lot. One of my true father figures, a great man named Ed Bogosian, told me, “if you have no money, your best investment is knowledge .” When I got out of jail, I studied and studied and decided to start my own business armed with all the knowledge I had accumulated. The first business I was to “acquire” was my “cousin’s” gym. In my first deal, the details I’ll disclose when we meet, I was able to take over the gym I grew up in.
When I look back at my story, I realize that I had an uncanny ability to look into the future like I had a crystal ball to get myself out of being stuck. I had to develop that skill because I needed to make more money in less time. And even today, I use that same skill I developed in my youth to get myself and my client’s results to a place they need to be.
Only “Certified” Personal Trainer in New Jersey
In 1991 I saw an ad in Muscle & Fitness for a brand-new profession. I could get “Certified” in Personal Fitness training without a College Diploma. So, I bought a plane ticket to Chicago to become one of the first 400 Personal Trainers Certified by Bob Goldman’s National Academy of Sports Medicine. I became the only “Certified Personal Trainer” in New Jersey. I used that statement in a massive $15,000 Yellow Pages ad (remember them before you Googled anything) that landed me my first Personal Training client. Being the “only” Personal Trainer in New Jersey had its perks. A Progressive Corporation wanted to add an amenity of a personal trainer for their bond trading employees. I went to the interview, and they hired me on the spot for $25 bucks an hour; who wouldn’t want a “personal trainer” named Rocco Castellano?
If there is only one thing that I learned with my time in the “Family” business, your past always comes back to haunt you, and again it did. I beat up the wrong guy this time, so my “cousins” told me it was a good idea to get out of New Jersey. Get out of Jersey, I did. I borrowed money from some friends and got on a Greyhound Bus to Cincinnati, OH, 14 hours later and $60 in my pocket. I set out to change the world. OK… the fat people in Cincinnati.
Moved to Covington, KY
Within the first six month’s I met a guy who owned a Hair Salon named “Strands .”I made a deal to Personally train him to use his vacate room to do Massage. He jumped at the chance to have that amenity and be personally trained.
Within the first three months, I worked at Strands, I got in front of enough people and talked about Personal Training and weight loss that I had to give up doing Massage and wound up training a full list of clients at a place called “The Boathouse for $25 bucks a session, making $5000.00 my first month. I busted my ass.
Ninety days later, I had my own 800 square foot facility making $10,000 a month, doubling my income. Though I doubled my income, the big problem was working 5:30 am to Midnight every day, including Sundays.
The Gary Burbank Show
This was when it all turned around. I put one of my lessons to work, “Get yourself in front of the right people,” so I did… I hung out at a bar where all the radio jocks hung out and met Jimmy the Weasel. Jimmy saw some great potential in having me on the Dawn Patrol, and from that, I met a now long-time friend Rick Consolo who asked me to visit “The Gary Burbank Show”… and that’s when my Celebrity began to build… Nobody was a better teacher than two-time Marconi Winner Gary Burbank to teach a kid named Rocco Castellano from New Jersey how to be on the radio; my attitude and Gary’s tutelage created a Celebrity juggernaut.
With my Celebrity building, I decided to do something everyone told me wouldn’t work. I more than doubled my prices, and something strange happened. I attracted a better client and reduced my workload by half! Within one year, I went from “0” dollars to making $60,000.00, $120,000.00 to $250,000.00, and buying my first 1600 sq. ft. facility at 519 Main Street, Covington, KY.
Winning an Emmy and Moving to Albuquerque, NM
The following year I stumbled upon the best client retention system, I told the truth. It worked so well that I had a waiting list of more than 100 people. So, I started firing the clients that didn’t live up to the “Rocco’s” standard. They went kicking and screaming because no one wanted to leave; the results didn’t lie.
Everything was going so well that I opened a facility across the river in Downtown Cincinnati on 7th Street, started a boot camp, as well as personal training. At this point, it was 2001, and I had two facilities, four trainers, 4 group fitness trainers, an admin staff, was on the #1 Radio Show, had the #1 Column on the Web & Newsstand, and was a regular on all the news outlets affiliates, ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox. Specifically, “Sports Rock” with Ken Broo and George Vogel.
In 2008, after winning an Emmy from participating in a TV for MTV called MADE, I decided to move with my girlfriend (later my wife) to Albuquerque, NM, where I continued askROCCO Media, a fitness business coaching and consulting agency. Twenty years later, askROCCO Media has launched many multi-million dollar eCommerce Brands, like iReliev, Rolflex, Dynamic Contraction Technique, and product brands like Risana Prima, Earl Pitts, American, and my wife’s brand Pommy Mommy.