HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The gym can be an escape for many. A place to let off steam, have “me time,” or even meet up with a “gym buddy.” For Justin Peck, it saved his life.
Five years ago on New Years Eve, Peck was a single father of three kids, had gone through two divorces and thought there was just no way out.
“I grabbed up all the bottles that I had in my bathroom of pills, I sat on the floor and decided this was it, I don’t want to live this life anymore, I don’t want to live the way I’m living I was trying to justify that the kids would be better without me, that the world would be better without me,” Peck told News 19.
Teresa Lasseter, Justin’s Mother said she had no idea that her son was struggling like he was, “I felt like I should have done more,” Lasseter said she should have known because it was her son, but whatever pulled him out of it, she’s thankful, “I think it was God, because that’s my beliefs and I think God told him, No, you’ve got a purpose and you have three little kids, I’m talking little kids that need you,” Lasseter said.
On New Year’s Day, he woke up the next day and signed up at the YMCA. He started with a small goal, 30 days consistently at the gym, “I was kind of that guy hiding away in the corner, sweating profusely, doing cardio only,” Peck said.
Peck says everything for him is all in, he didn’t do it gradually he went all in, “I started eating clean, started trying to look up videos of how to meal prep.” Slowly over time, he started gravitating towards lifting weights.
From there he said he needed more of a challenge, Peck started with a Mud Run. A 20-mile course filled with courses. He trained for it, something he never thought he would be able to do, but he completed it. “It was a great achievement for me,” Peck said it was a way to show people who had regular lives that they could do it.
But, all the success didn’t come without sacrifice, “You know, I would get up at 5 a.m. and do cardio before the kids even woke up so I could go home, make them breakfast, take them to school, go work a regular 9 to 5 job,” Peck said.
With a new found discipline and routine, he still felt like he needed a challenge, he had heard about Bodybuilding and how tough prepping for it actually is, “We saw that he started going to the gym and thought, that’s good, but we never thought it would lead to Bodybuilding,” Lasseter said.
About a year after his new life’s journey began, he was finally ready to start achieving a goal that he never even thought possible.
Peck reached out to Competition Prep Coach, Will Wise, “He’s a staple here in the community and I said, ‘Just tell me what I need to do.” From there Peck says he never looked back, but he experienced a whole new kind of push, mentally and physically.
“I never expected what prep would be like, it is legitimately the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through. You have to push yourself to a whole new level, but I did it. I got on stage in June of that next year in Chattanooga and it was that moment that I stepped on the stage, I knew this was my new life,” Peck said.
With that, he won his first competition, “I ended up winning my first show somehow and I was hooked. Ever since then I’ve tried to be better at each show.”
On Saturday, June 26th, he’ll be competing in the NPC Capstone in Tuscaloosa and then the NPC Universe in Charleston, South Carolina on July, 3 to try for his pro card.
While he may look intimidating, he’s not, “I get a lot of people that stop me all the time and say man, I want to look like you. I could just blow it off and say, yeah just diet and work out and stuff like that, but I make a point to let them know that I didn’t start like this,” Peck said.
It’s that heart and willingness to help that his mother says is one her favorite things about her son, “He really does want to help people, I mean he’s got a plan and he has his goals, he’s very goal oriented,” and Lasseter says he wants to get into the motivational part of it.
It may look like Peck’s doing it all on his own, but he says it takes a village and he couldn’t do it without his mom, “I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without my mom, she helps more than any person in my life she’s always there,” Peck says she’s completely there for him no questions asked.
All this he says, is for his kids.
“You know, they push me to be better, I want to show them that they can do anything in this life that they want to and you know, fitness of not, to just not give up. I’m glad I didn’t give up on myself or them and I just want to make them proud. They are proud of me and that means the world to me.”