Updated: Apr 26, 2019
“For guns, it was dead or in jail…I decided to choose wealth,”
Everyone has choices in life. For celebrity fitness trainer Jerry Ford, it seemed as if the only choices he had were guns, drugs or violence. This was Jerry’s reality growing up in Detroit, Michigan.
When Ford realized those options have limited outcomes, he decided he needed more choices offering more positive prospects.
“For guns, it was dead or in jail,” Ford said during our recent interview on my podcast, Skooled. “For drugs it was losing your soul, losing who you are. And I decided to choose wealth,” he said.
That realization helped Ford come up with the tile for his new book “GUNS, DRUGS OR WEALTH.”
The book details Ford’s hard upbringing growing up in a dangerous section of Detroit and follows his path to college, business owner, and now investor.
The book also details Ford’s three-pronged approach to building wealth: passive income through real-estate investing; portfolio income through stock market investing; earned income through smart spending.
“I had the choice to adapt and become better or run back into my little hole.”
As a child, Ford was exposed to gun violence, drug trafficking, addiction, incarceration, gang life and murder.
He thought those were his only choices in life. However, several tragic events helped Ford realize he had more to gain from life.
At age 14, Ford’s brother was murdered on his mother’s birthday. At age seventeen, Ford’s best friend was also murdered.
Those experiences changed Ford’s perspective on his circumstances and ultimately the trajectory of his life.
He decided to channel his anger through martial arts.
As the old adage goes, old habits die hard. Two weeks before Ford was scheduled to start college as a freshman at Rutgers University, he was arrested and thrown in jail for allegedly participating in gang violence.
“I remember talking to God and going, if you get me out of this situation, if you somehow manage to get me out of this situation, I will go to Rutgers and I will never look back,” Ford said.
That’s exactly what Ford did.
He recalls attending Rutgers, an alma mater he and I share in common, and feeling out of place.
“When I got to Rutgers University I had never seen so many different people, from different ethnicities, different races, all in one place,” he said.
Ford thought about leaving college. He remembers talking to his second brother back in Detroit who gave him the choice between staying in college or returning home to Detroit and sleeping on their mother’s couch.
“In my case, what I was around at Rutgers, it was so new and so scary because it was new and so intimidating, I had the choice to adapt and become better or run back into my little hole,” Ford recalled.
Ford chose to remain in college, which is a decision he said, “saved my life.”
“After I got fired from Equinox, it shook me out of my comfort zone.”
That’s also where Ford met a client who would later become one of the most influential people in his life, who he identifies as “Bill.”
Bill introduced him to the basics of wealth building and building a stock portfolio.
“Me and this man finally became like mentor, mentee, father, son, best friends,” he said.
Ford eventually moved to Los Angeles where he became a trainer at Equinox where he developed an impressive roster of celebrity clients.
Ford’s fortunes would soon turn when he was fired from Equinox.
“After I got fired from Equinox, it shook me out of my comfort zone,” said Ford.
Ford would eventually use the experience to fuel his entrepreneurial spirit. He took all of his celebrity clients and launched his own private training business.
He also realized that if he wanted to be successful, he was going to have to become much more serious about building wealth.
He consulted with Bill, who helped Ford develop a strategy to do just that.
“He said what’s the difference between an asset and a liability,” Ford said.
Ford began downsizing his liabilities and increasing his assets.
“I didn’t realize that I had 10 plus liabilities and two assets,” Ford said. “I was talking about car notes, motorcycle notes, rent, you know partying, buying fancy watches.” said Ford.
Ford was able to diversify his portfolio through various investments, smart spending and hard work all while simultaneously building his own personal training company.
Today, Ford’s client list has included actors such as Adrienne C. Moor and Alisha Boe from Orange is the New Black and 13 Reasons Why, directors such as Mark Webb, and rappers such as Big Sean.
If Ford succumbed to the belief that guns and drugs were his only options, he wouldn’t be where he is today.
Check out the rest of the interview on Skooled.