By: Arthur Imperatore, Jr., Managing Partner, Iron Culture Gym
Where do you go when the night seems endless and the future uncertain? Where do you go to find relief? Where do you go to wrestle your demons, to find the strength to push through another difficult day and summon the confidence to live a full and worthy life? Do you go to a bar? To the refrigerator? To your TV or digital device? To bed?
I go to the gym. I have always gone to the gym, where I can take the pain of living, channel it into the pain of pure physical exertion, and use that pain to perfect my body, purge my mind of doubt and negativity, and restore my spirit. For me, and for the millions of people committed to a lifestyle of fitness, the gym is more than a place to spend a few hours a week working out. The gym is a therapeutic community of like-minded achievers, all committed to the values and disciplines of pumping iron.
We live in an increasingly fragmented and anxious world full of economic, social and political uncertainty. We work at jobs with schedules we can’t control, sitting at desks for hours longer than nature intended us to be immobile. We eat bad food and become obese. We develop addictions and turn to drugs or alcohol, we lose hope and become depressed, hopeless, even violent. We crave structure, direction, discipline and purpose, a routine whereby we can prove ourselves to ourselves every day and find a true path forward. That is all to be found at the gym. The gym can save your life.
In the fall of last year, I lost my 22-year-old son Justin to suicide. Justin was a star lacrosse goalie who lost his athleticism due to a serious injury, and who, due to an underlying mental illness, never recovered from that loss. I couldn’t help my son enough, but I could help others. I had to help others. So, I opened a gym where I could create the kind of supportive fitness community where people like my son could come to find hope and healing.
I have gotten to know many of the young members at my gym—Iron Culture in Cedar Knolls, NJ– and they have shared their stories with me, as well as their gratitude. I know from them that the disciplines of the gym have saved them from addictions, abusive relationships, economic hardship and mental illnesses. I know the power of fitness and bodybuilding can transform a life. I couldn’t be happier at my work, because to save one life is to save the world.
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Arthur’s fitness journey began at 14 when he saw Pumping Iron for the first time and fell in love with bodybuilding and the fitness lifestyle. Ever since, gyms and weight training have been his passion, his therapy and his cell discipline. He always had a dream to open a world class, hardcore gym and create a community of like-minded people who shared his commitment to hard work, clean living and transforming their bodies, minds and spirits through iron. After a successful 25-year career working in real estate and transportation for his family business, Arthur was ready to pursue his dream to open the best high-end, hardcore gym in New Jersey. At Iron Culture, “hardcore” is an attitude, an outlook, a discipline, not a measure of skill level.