Man in aerial silks in Charlotte

Life After NASCAR

Let me first introduce myself. My name is Roman Perryman and I love fitness..but what I love even more is group or community fitness! While you may have seen me yelling at Stax Bootcamp, monkeying around at Budokon, or going primal at Bloc, I wasn’t always this involved in the fitness community. I used to throw my beats on, tune out the world and get after it at my own pace, on my time, by myself. What changed that for me? The Charlotte Fitness Community! I am forever grateful. The people I have met and the relationships I have built, coupled with the vast variety of workouts I have experienced has opened my eyes to a whole new way to exercise. Let me tell you how it happened and how it could change your perspective too.

I grew up a scrappy munchkin in northern Virginia and started wrestling at a very young age. At the time, youth club wrestling and football were my world. I completely committed myself to wrestling when I was in 8th grade. I won a state title in high school and competed at the D1 level for West Virginia. When I wasn’t wrestling, I was earning my degree in Sports and Exercise Psychology.

My senior year at WVU, I was recruited by Hendrick Motorsports to be in the pit crew as a glorified tire changer in the NASCAR circuit. They were seeking high level athletes who were fast, explosive, and efficient with their movements. While learning how to change tires with the quickness, Hendricks provided strength coaches whose main purpose was to keep us healthy and injury free. Coming straight out of college and still in wrestling shape, I was always trying to find ways to push myself to new limits. With the Hendrick team being made up of elite athletes from multiple sports, I found myself working out with my teammates to see if I could learn something from their training. After 2 years, 3 rings, and countless memories, I decided that NASCAR wasn’t my passion and parted ways with the sport.

When I left the NASCAR world I felt lost. The community that I was a part of was gone and I was left solo. I had learned about athletes losing identity when their career comes to an end, but I was not prepared for it when it happened to me. Not knowing what to do, I resorted back to the only thing I knew how to do well; work out. I was training hard but had zero direction. Just me using the same old techniques I had been doing for years during wrestling and NASCAR.

All that changed with a spontaneous sweat at First Ward Park. I met a lad who soon became one of my good friends (you know who you are) and he introduced me to Lululemon. Their involvement in the Charlotte fitness community inspired me. It wasn’t until then that I thought about moving from the sport mentality to the exercise mentality, specifically group fitness.

At first, I was intimidated by these group fitness workouts. Walking into a new gym felt like walking into the lion’s den. If you know me, then you know that I am pretty outgoing but my shy childlike self came out and I became the quiet guy in the corner. Once I started going on a consistent basis I could feel the energy, the social support and the sense of community.

It wasn’t long before I found myself exploring all the different types of group fitness available out there and making connections with tons of amazing people. I had no idea how receptive Charlotte was to the health and fitness community. All I knew was that it was something special and I wanted to be a part of it.

Being a part of something bigger than myself was invigorating. Not going to work out and getting that “Where were you today?” text or grabbing a post workout beer with your group was the accountability I had been searching for. As little as those things may have seemed at the time, in hindsight, were what made it special. Being around a strong group of like minded individuals is empowering. It was the same feeling that I got from my teammates when I was in sports all my life. In that moment, I was bit by the group fitness bug.

My group workout experience includes yoga, bootcamps, HIIT, martial arts, barre, cycling, CrossFit and more. With my sports and exercise psychology background I am learning to better understand these practices and what they demand from the exerciser, both physically and mentally. Some workouts require you to turn your brain off and put the pedal to the medal, while others are more mindful and involve more focus. Trying new practices and challenging myself in different ways has been an exhilarating process.

As I continue my fitness journey I want to encourage others to join me. As I go to workouts/events and meet new people, I see there is still room for growth in the community. Charlotte offers an abundance of different gyms and studios and being a SweatNet member gives you exclusive access and not to mention the discounts. Instead of trying to start your journey alone from square one, I’d love the chance to talk to you about what it is you want in a workout and in a gym. Allow me to use my knowledge and experience to narrow your vision of potential places that fit you and your goals. It has now become my mission to help people find a place they can call home in the fitness community.

You don’t have to be an expert in fitness or even be in shape to get started. All you have to do is have the drive to become the best version of YOU! Spending an hour a day dedicated to working out can impact your mood, energy levels, and ultimately your whole day. Having a strong supportive community around you can help make it a lifestyle, especially when you are not up for going. You are not alone, we are all in this together.

You can overcome whatever personal obstacles that are hindering you from living a happier healthier lifestyle. Come as you are today and I promise you will be better tomorrow. Whether you are looking for a place to get started, trying to change your pace, or want a new experience, feel free to connect with me on Instagram @romantheempire. There you will see my schedule, workout partners, different studios, and whatever other shenanigans I get into.