Who is Ray Peleckas? To many he's a successful (or scary!) trainer from Boston who transforms bodies in his fitness studio, BURNIN' by Ray. However, as he explains below, the path to success was not easy...
I grew up in Foxborough, Massachusetts, and was commonly caught up in bloody fist fights, defending myself or my younger siblings. I built a reputation through middle and high school and amassed a handful of suspensions along the way. Going into my senior year, I decided to focus on football in an effort to land a football scholarship for college and get out of Foxborough.
In December of that year, a fellow student picked a fight with me in the lunch line and I ended the fight with a single punch causing the other student to suffer a seizure. Standing over him while he thrashed around, the guilt and remorse overwhelmed me. I also knew that I had just messed up my chance to get out of town.
I was sentenced to 30 days in jail, six months house arrest, and three years’ probation. While my friends graduated from high school and were having the summer of their lives, I was stuck in jail, looking forward to the one hour a day I had to play basketball.
During my probation, I was accepted to Fitchburg State College to play football. I thought I could flip the script if I just kept my head down and stayed out of trouble. I’m a positive guy with a “glass is half full” mentality. Thanksgiving break, while playing a friendly game of backyard football with my old high school friends, I severely tore my ACL. Instantly, I knew I’d never play football competitively again.
After invasive knee surgery the following March, I was prescribed Percocet—initially, I truly needed it to cope with the pain. Then I found myself enjoying the pain killers' numbing side effects and continued taking it long after surgery. In fact, for eight years I was popping pills. At the height of my painkiller addiction I was taking 20 pills a day and smoking up to 60 cigarettes a day.
I appeared to lead a normal, if not great, life, and was able to keep my addictions secret. I worked out regularly. I dated girls. I had tons of friends. On the inside I felt miserable and defeated. My football dreams were shattered, I no longer had a path to follow, no motivation to energize me. Working at my family's construction company and addicted to medication, I was lost.
Then my close friend, Nate, asked me to help him get back in shape. I was happy to take on the challenge and help a friend. Within six months, I helped him lose 50 pounds. With his newly gained confidence, Nate met his future wife. I realized that I could do something with meaning, something that could change peoples' lives. It was empowering. I was on top of the world. I’d finally found a purpose in this crazy life.
I knew I had to become a trainer. My friend connected me with a manager of a nearby Boston Sports Club, and I became an apprentice trainer. I quit smoking and pill popping cold turkey and never looked back. When I have a goal in my mind, I am very determined and focused. I went from apprentice trainer to pro trainer to master trainer in six months. I practically lived at the gym, taking naps in my truck and inside a yoga classroom closet. I typically had 50-60 client sessions per week and was consistently on the BSC Top 10 Trainer Leader Board. After several years of working at Boston Sports Club, I realized it was time to venture out on my own.
Ninety-nine percent of my clients followed me from BSC and continued to train with me. I started training clients in my apartment then moved my business into a 1000 sq. foot space. A year later, I branched out to a facility 3X larger! I grew a team of trainers and created what is now BURNIN' by Ray. Seeing the club packed with happy clients working hard towards their fitness goals makes me work harder to provide them with the best facility, instruction, and community. For me, fitness is not just a means to an end. In my youth, it was my salvation. Today, fitness is my reason for being, my true passion.
With a bit of good fortune, and a heck of a lot of grit, hard work and dedication, I was able to rewrite my story. It wasn’t how I planned it originally, but that’s what makes life interesting. Is this my happily ever after? Hell, no! This party is just beginning. You’ll want to be a part of the BURNIN' family because I’m just getting started and the next chapter is going to blow your mind...BOOM!