Travis Barnes had an unfortunate childhood. He was abandoned by his dad, and raised by a horrible stepdad, so it’s no wonder that he decided to leave his former life behind and move to Las Vegas, twice. The first visit he leaves before he even settles in and the second he plants roots and begins working at Gold’s Gym, a hangout spot for some of the world’s best bodybuilders. Having been fond of fitness, particularly body building, since he was a kid growing up in Sayre, PA. Travis is elated that on top of finding employment in Sin City that he is training alongside and befriending nationally recognized bodybuilders such as Eric Eckenrode, the 1991 North American Champion of Bodybuilding, who later becomes Travis’ roommate. Life seems to be getting much better for Travis Barnes, or so he thinks.
Unfortunately, the twisted road ahead is filled with turns we never expect. For Travis this means that more people in his life disappoint him and he makes some very poor decisions. Turns out, his boss at Gold’s Gym is only out for money and doesn’t care about the members’ health. He refers to most of them as “sleeping giants,” or members who pay monthly dues, but never show up. To make matters worse, Travis discovers that the elite bodybuilders he admires all use an assortment of drugs. Before you know it, Travis is unemployed, a drug user, and has given up on his training.
“I did not become a famous bodybuilder. Instead, I had become an unemployed drug user,” says Travis.
Things just continue going downhill for Travis. He has two separate near-death experiences, but he still doesn’t hit rock bottom. Barnes has a few more close encounters with guns and drugs before finally being arrested for giving a friend a ride to pick up a large quantity of pseudoephedrine, a pill used to help make methamphetamine. Again, lady luck isn’t on Travis’ side and he ends up facing 15 years in federal prison. How unfortunate for a man who is a newlywed with an 8-month old baby on the way.
They say God works in mysterious ways, and He certainly did in the case of Travis Barnes. First and foremost, he provided Travis with a loving wife who was forgiving, not to mention strong and resilient. Cindy Barnes stands steadfastly by her husband as he pays his debt to society. A man who finds a wife who loves him like Cindy has surely found a good thing. Secondly, Travis was blessed with a baby girl named Destiny. Thirdly, God used prison to develop Travis into the man he needed him to be so he could later save lives via personal training, his passion. Funny how Travis’ story mimics the story of Joseph in the Bible. Joseph spent thirteen years in prison before going on to save an entire country.
Travis Barnes is one of the most successful personal trainers in the country. His past includes serving as a trainer, manager, and COO of four different fitness centers. He has also written a best-selling book, Results Fitness, with Rachel and Alwyn Cosgrove who own one of the top 10 gyms in America, according to Men’s Health. Today he and his wife are the proud owners of Journey Fitness in upstate NY. They currently have three locations, oversee 15 employees, and serve over 500 clients. In 2015, Journey Fitness was voted Best New Business of the Year by the Corning, NY Chamber of Commerce. Travis attributes a lot of his success to his mentor, Todd Durkin, owner of Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego.
The cover of Journey Fitness features a Phoenix, and when I first started to read the book, I wondered why. Turns out, the phoenix rises from the ashes and is reborn, symbolizing long life, rejuvenation, and being knocked down, but getting back up again. I can’t think of a better symbol for a man who has looked adversity in the eyes and didn’t retreat. And although Travis has the heart of a lion, I admire him most for his honesty and openness. As Travis stated so eloquently in his book, “when a secret is no longer a secret then it loses its power.” Travis lived a broken life full of secrets and lied to himself about his full potential. Now, like the phoenix, Travis has transformed into the person he always could be. Thanks for finding the courage to tell your story, Travis. You have lived a life worth telling a story about.