Grow Strong

When Commitment Trumps Risk & Discouragement

I suppose at every milestone in my life there was a jumping off point where I could decide to take the leap or not. Not taking it was the easy way out, and it meant I could stay in my comfort zone where it was always easy to make a good living and just dream about doing more. But to get to the next level always meant greater risk. So motivation had to be high and for me, motivation was being doomed to a life of regret.

In my world, there are fates worse than death such as living with the thought that I didn’t have the nerve to pursue my dream or what I believed I could accomplish if given the chance. Therefore I always gave myself that chance. At each jumping off point, the stakes were higher than the last time because at each point life became safer. I felt safe when I was working as a top trouble-shooting mechanic and bought my first home while pursuing my hobby of bodybuilding. But my hobby became my obsession when I realized I was good at it, and it was the perfect vehicle to deliver the truth about fitness and to change the world. After all, it not only changed me, it saved me from my outlaw ways.

Neal SpruceThanks to my girlfriend (now my wife), at this juncture I made the first real leap. She said If you really think you can make a living at it, go for it. I did. At age 34 I rented out my house, threw some clothes in my Corvette and drove to Venice to find a job while doing part-time work/appearances for Gold’s Gym. Wow, was I scared. But my girlfriend had challenged me, and doing this was what I had been talking about for too long. If I were going to get my break, it would be in Venice … and it happened. I did so well for Gold’s that they took me on full-time to run their nutrition program internationally.

The first health club nutrition program was born and I achieved a six-figure income – all of which made me feel even safer. Then I was married and had a kid on the way, and Gold’s was changing to a point where my goal of saving the world with fitness was vanishing. My wife challenged me again, saying, “Okay, you’re the big man so let’s do it ourselves.” Talk about scared! I was going from $100K/y to nothing and all with a kid on the way! But that’s when I knew I had complete control of our destiny, and that destiny was to dream big and work harder than anyone else to accomplish what YOU believe in.

That philosophy has worked every time throughout my life, from simply staying alive against all odds when I was growing up in the Bay Area, to my career with Gold’s Gym, Apex Fitness, NASM, 24 Hour Fitness and now dotFIT. Anytime something has held back from my goal, I had the confidence to move on. I knew I could make it work. I knew the consequences of not trying would be worse than death, and that would haunt me. I had to finish and do my way.

It wasn’t always as easy as it looked. When I left 24 Hour Fitness to form dotFIT in 2008, the investment was huge and the timing terrible – The Great Recession hit. My family had no clue why I was starting another company; it certainly was not for financial reasons. As a company we underperformed and were overstaffed, and the pain I felt as CEO worsened. As discouragement crept in, I had to remember why I was doing this in order to find the passion again. I had to reach back to my childhood, where I knew I came from nothing but didn’t mind it because I also knew I would eventually get what I needed. That childhood formula of working harder than everyone else, NEVER giving up and not giving in to fear would get me where I needed to go because it got me this far. And it worked; we’re here and bigger than ever. With the support of my family and the commitment of the dotFIT team, we can now finish what we started by making the next generation better than us. And no matter how tough it gets, that’s what truly keeps many of us going.


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  1. Brian Fahrenfeld

    June 26, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    All of us in the Dotfit fitness community are proud to help get this company to the top, where it belongs. We speak the truth about fitness, no marketing hype and a passion for getting people real results. Thanks for inspiring us all and helping us spread and educate our members in our community.

  2. Lyla Fell

    June 27, 2013 at 10:22 am

    Neal, thank you for all you do you are an inspiration. You have been blessed & I pray for you & your family.

  3. Lisa Antonelli

    June 28, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Thanks Neal, our family has been a part of the APEX team and now dotFIT for over 20 years. We feel extremely blessed to know that what we are teaching our clients through NASM and dotFIT is the absolute truth. I love that we don’t have to search fitness magazines or stumble upon the latest trends to give our clients information that may or may not be good for them.

    It isn’t always easy for us as people many times come in looking for a gimmick. They find that we are going to give them the straight truth, and it freaks them out! But, those that appreciate the fact that we aren’t giving them misinformation become lifelong clients and part of our family. You have enabled us to have the best training facility in Ohio! I sincerely thank you for laying all the ground work and taking the risks that you have.


  4. Bernice Aurellano

    June 30, 2013 at 1:13 am

    I am so thankful for the wise words and advice that you give. You have a great impact on the next generation! Thank you and the dotFit team for all that you do!

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