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Strength Stories How Jared Rodriguez Discovered the Strength to Find a New Passion

a man smiling and laughing

After losing your passion, how do you find the strength to discover a new one? Tonal coach, Jared Rodriguez, played the highest level of baseball for his age when he realized it was no longer his passion and was making him miserable. Facing up to the fact that he didn’t love baseball enough to go pro was hard, especially because he didn’t know who he was without the sport. 

Trying to navigate that part of his life took Coach Jared to a difficult place, but he’s grateful for those tough times. They gave him the strength to embrace the possibility of change and find the path to becoming the best version of himself. 

Playing baseball was your passion for a long time. How did you come to realize it was no longer what you wanted? 

In college, I was a baseball player and a young, ambitious kid who didn’t really explore many other aspects of life. My mind was solely baseball, but then I stopped loving it. I was no longer excited to get up and go to practice with the team. Something was shifting.

I found myself more interested in philosophy, culture, language, and food, but I fought it back and kept playing. I played division one at San Diego State, the highest level I’ve ever played ball, but I was miserable. 

I still loved movement and working out, but not the sport, and I think part of the reason is the culture of baseball and me looking the way I do. You know baseball is notoriously a white game, there’s a decent amount of Latinos, but I just found myself feeling out of place and on my own. My teammates would constantly tease, and I’m cool with teasing, but after a while, I thought, man, they want me to know that I’m different from them. This also put me off. 

When my passion for baseball went away, I had no clue who I was. That was one of the most trying times of my life. Baseball had taught me that I could be social, show leadership, and be successful — but only with sport.

How did you find your spark again? 

What sparked some life back into me was a book: The Power of Positive Thinking. This book teaches you how to train yourself out of negative thoughts and limiting beliefs, exactly what I was going through. 

So I started to change and work on those things, and it opened up a brand new world for me. I learned that our quality of life depends on our emotional and mental health and on what we give meaning. 

So that was the start, I’m a giant advocate and fan of emotional wellness, but I would almost call it emotional fitness.

As a human being and athlete, Tonal has pushed me and helped me to elevate my game. 

It takes courage to look at what you’re doing, especially something you’re good at, and say this isn’t for me. How did you find the strength to do that? 

My parents helped, especially my Mom. They did a solid job of reminding me that we get one life. I know there are different schools of thought on this, but I think it’s safe to say that I only get one shot in this current body. There’s a real urgency for me because I don’t want to have any regrets. 

Now that I’m here. It’s like, what do you want to do? Who do you want to be? I feel a sense of urgency to be the best version of myself. Not for vanity or self-glorification, I believe in the power of movement, fitness, and health and want to contribute to the industry. That motivates me and gets me excited.

So how did you end up discovering your passion for fitness?  

Baseball helped me realize that I was good at fitness. This one thing actually gave me some life. So that’s where it started. 

I was the fittest guy on my team. I loved helping out my teammates. I realized that I love movement and working with people. So I guess in the beginning, there was a genuine interest in that. 

Then I started working at gyms and learning the industry, and realizing that if I get smart and do this right, I could make a good living from something I love. So that’s when I decided to go into movement. With each year, I find more passion for what I’m doing. 

Has being a Tonal coach helped to elevate your passion? 

Tonal speaks to my core and essence as a human being and athlete. I love strength training. That is my number one favorite training style, so it just goes hand in hand, and Tonal is incredible. It automatically recommends your weight, and then you push a button, the resistance is on, and just like that, the resistance off. It does the grunt work, and you get to show up and enjoy your workout. 

Tonal is also great at letting us coaches be ourselves. I want to contribute strength, mobility, and breathwork, and Tonal has pushed me to elevate my game. 

I also love the fact that Tonal is an open-minded and diversity embracing company. That’s a big deal. I look around at the staff and the coaches and people who represent Tonal, and I don’t just see the same avatar. We get a chance to experience different looks, colors, ethnicities, backgrounds, and I just love, love, love that. 

Seeing progress makes me feel strong, but it also helps me feel powerful, fulfilled, and alive.

What would your advice be for someone experiencing loss of passion for something they’ve been working towards for years?  

Sometimes life is clean and smooth and feels good, and sometimes it gets a little messy, and you have to be vulnerable. Your struggle, confusion, and discomfort are an opportunity for growth. 

You haven’t failed, you’re just figuring out what you don’t love, and this opens up a new door to figure out what you do love. It doesn’t matter what that is, as long as it lights you up. If you find yourself getting excited and feeling a desire to contribute to that thing and make it better, regardless of what it is, that’s your passion.  

So I would encourage paying attention to that. Because not only are you going to do better, you’re going to enjoy the day-to-day more, contribute more, and just have an overall more profound and positive experience.

How has strength evolved for you? 

When I was younger, it was all about physical strength. Having big muscles and, and being intense and just never getting tired. 

I still like being strong, of course, and having a muscular physique, but now, strength is in the mind and heart and the ability to have empathy. Today it means a lot more to me. I would break strength down into more categories — emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, and health — and we need to give each one energy to continue growing and progressing.

Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Strength Stories is an interview series highlighting individuals from the Tonal community.