"Now I'm on a quest for wellness, which is hopefully so I can continue physical fitness for the next, 30, 40, 50 years of my life," the professional wrestler says.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on July 30, 2021. It has since been updated.
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of John Cena? Strength and power? After all, the man has built a name for himself as a professional wrestler, and people are intimidated by his larger-than-life persona. Surprisingly, the real reason that he began working out, getting to where he is now, is because of one reason: bullying. Though it seems hard to believe that there are people brave enough to mess with Cena, he wasn't always the way he is now, according to PEOPLE. He got into working on his strength because he was tired of being picked on by bullies at school.
"My passion for strength was out of self-defense. I used to get picked on a lot because I was different in the way I dressed and expressed myself," Cena, 44, said. "As you're an adolescent, social cliques form and I didn't fall into any one of those."
That's when he decided it was time to put an end to being bullied. "So I got tired of getting beaten up and I asked my dad for a weight set and he got me one at 13. I started working out and I haven't stopped since." His passion for strength and fitness training convinced him to get a degree in exercise science and kinesiology from Springfield College in Western Massachusetts. His degree from Springfield College is the backbone for a lot of his current career and his stint in the WWE, one he started when he was 22, in 1999.
"[After college] I headed out to Los Angeles, not because of the entertainment allure, but because that's where the hub of fitness equipment, fitness manufacturing, fitness distribution, everything that applied to my degree was there," he explains.
"I got in working at Gold's Gym and that was the best I could do. I worked in the protein shop. I worked on the floor. I knew every member and a bunch of the members would talk about wrestling and WWE specifically." An offer landed up at his doorstep and that's when Cena decided to give wrestling a try as a hobby.
"It wasn't like, 'Yeah, this is my chance to make it big in the WWE,' it was like, 'Yo, this would be a sick ass hobby, so when I worked my ass off during the week, I can go be a personality on the weekends, I'll try it.' I paid the promoter a bunch of money to get in the ring and learn how to fall down and the rest is history."
Well, with age and experience, the seasoned wrestler figured that he wanted to change tracks. "My quest for strength probably lasted, I don't know, until my mid-30s. And now I'm on a quest for wellness, which is hopefully so I can continue physical fitness for the next, 30, 40, 50 years of my life," he says.
For him, it's more about sustaining in the long run, than it is to pump up for an upcoming match. "I used to want to be as strong as I could, and that meant being stronger than I've ever been in my life. Now, I just want to continue to train. So it's not that I'm not trying to push myself in terms of strength, but I'm also looking long-term."
"And a lot of the things that I would do as a younger person when I felt as if I was bulletproof and invincible, are not necessarily the most wellness-forward things," he added.
Now, he includes yoga in his workout routine, just to focus on his strength and mobility, but at the end of the day, his motto's a rather simple one. "Get enough rest and make good choices. How about that?" he says. "We don't get enough sleep, and we all eat s---. So just make better choices, and get more rest."
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Dia Dipasupil