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Breaking Barriers

What is up Ugly Duckling world? The name is John Arreaga! Born and raised in Moreno Valley, CA. I was brought up in a military household thanks to my father, John S. Arreaga, who served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force (yes I’m proud of that, haha...). Mother is the beautiful Minu Arreaga, older sibling is my amazing sister, Melissa Singleton, and of course I can’t leave out my annoying little brother, Daniel Arreaga.

Most people nowadays call me “Coach.” Probably because I’m the owner and head coach of 4th Quarter Fitness & Performance. But that is honestly just a very small part of me now. The biggest and best part of my life is my amazing wife, Mony Arreaga, and my beautiful daughter, Maliah Hope Arreaga! God has truly blessed me with what I feel is an amazing life. But I'd be lying if I said He didn’t make me earn it...

This is not your usual “rags to riches” story. To be honest, there were no real “rags” growing up. I’ve had what I consider to be an extremely happy and blessed childhood. I had a loving mother, my siblings and I are all close, and my father was THE BEST father I could ask for. Until one day it felt like it was all taken away from me.

I still remember it clearly. I was 15 years old and I just got done with my last day of “hell week” for my high school basketball team. My teammates and I were all smiles and singing in the locker room because we had finally completed 2 weeks of intense training in preparation for our upcoming basketball season. My father was picking me up from practice that day and I was excited to tell him that I had finally completed hell week. We went home, had dinner, I did some homework then got ready to wind down for the evening. He played soccer weekly at the nearby university with a few of his buddies and had been doing this for years. I remember him leaving and me saying “see you later Pa!” Unfortunately, that would be the last time I would be able to have an actual conversation with him.

That night on the way home from playing soccer with his friends, my father was in a car accident that put him in the ICU. He unfortunately had a number of injuries ranging from organ failure, brain damage, and was unconscious the entire time. Months passed and every once in a while we’d witness a glimmer of hope with his recovery. Finally, after 6 months of my father doing what he does best, fighting to survive, he took his last breath and passed away.

The loss took a toll on each member of my family in it’s own way. For me, I had just lost the person I was just becoming best friends with. Someone who I literally had just started building an even bigger bond than just father and son. The conversations we were starting to have were memorable and I still cherish and remember them till this day. But I knew my purpose from here on out. To be the man of the house. So I did my best with that until the next challenge in my life came about.

Like I said, the loss of my father took a toll on me in it’s own way. I leaned on relationships and athletics to get me through the rest of my time in high school. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always get you the grades or GPA you’re looking for. By the end of my senior year I had a decent GPA to get into Cal Poly Pomona, or so I thought. After graduating high school, I went to New York to spend time with my family from my father's side and play basketball for about a month. While I was there I decided to check my university email. And there it was. The email that said my application had been withdrawn. Basically, I got kicked out of college before I had even started because I didn’t make grades in my final semester of high school. So, I came back home to California, registered into my nearby community college and started my new journey.

You’d think I would have learned from my past mistakes, right? Well I didn’t, haha... My first few years at community college were a bit of a challenge. Finally I was able to transfer out to CSULB and get into the Kinesiology program. This is where I would face some of my biggest challenges as a student. Now I can make every excuse in the book as to why I struggled so much. At the end of the day, it was all on me. Aside from some other personal struggles I was going through at that time, it was really all on me. I just didn’t apply myself as much as I should have. So much so that I ended up going on academic probation, then took almost a whole year off from school just to rethink if this was really the path I wanted to take. After a bit of a kick in the ass from some of my family members, I refocused and finally received my degree in Kinesiology!

The story doesn’t end there though. I’m going to have back track a bit for this since it took place around the time I was in community college. Remember I said before I leaned on relationships to get by? Well this was one of them.

I met a girl during my time in community college and at first everything was great. Blinded by the honeymoon stage of the relationship, I missed all of the red flags. This led to multiple break ups and make ups, a loss of trust and arguments that seemed to come up almost daily. It ended up being a very unhealthy relationship, but for some reason we both wanted to do our best to make it work. So we moved in together when I transfered to CSULB. Obviously that was a BIG mistake. After almost 2 years of a physically and emotionally draining relationship, she moved out and we broke up. Now I’d love to tell you that it was just a mutual agreement and we went our separate ways, but that wasn’t the case. The unhealthy relationship, as well as things that were done and said in the past, made us both do things that pushed us farther away from each other. In the end, my actions were what finally drove her to move out and end the relationship.

This left me devastated. To the point where I remember I slept on my own couch for a few weeks because I couldn’t sleep in my own bed from the fear of being alone. I just wasn’t used to it at all. It took some time, but as all things do, this too passed. I refocused on getting my mind and body healthy. Some of us at 4th Quarter Fit HQ call it the “Revenge Body.” I got closer to the people who I knew actually cared about me and made friends with more and more people at CSULB and Long Beach in general. I finally built up the courage to start 4th Quarter Fit by starting with one client at a park with a handful of equipment that I had. In doing so, I built a network of friends that led me to my now amazingly beautiful soul of a wife, Mony Arreaga.

It may not seem like it, and trust me when I say that I know it could have been worse, but all of these different life experiences hit me really hard. The loss of my father, not progressing in college at the rate that I had originally wanted and a relationship that I put way too much effort into... each were milestones in my life that taught me something different about myself. I realized that the loss of my father made me have a consistent reply of “I’ll be alright” to just about everything. No matter the issue, I was in a constant state of just trying to “man up” and try and tough it out because I didn’t want anyone to worry about me. I felt that there were other people around me that needed more focus and help, so I was constantly dodging any kind of offer of assistance from anyone. An attitude which I later realized actually held mine and Mony’s relationship back a bit in the beginning.

When it came to school, it was a self sabotage theme that would constantly come back to itself like a never ending loop. Almost as if I enjoyed pulling myself out of a deficit. Like trying to come back from behind in a basketball game every time instead of just putting up points on the scoreboard as quickly as possible. I would get too comfortable in the beginning purposely creating more work for myself.

And with my last relationship? Well I sure as hell learned how to read red flags a lot better! Haha... In all seriousness, that taught me a lot about myself. After having my heart crushed into an infinite amount of pieces and thrown into the quantum realm, I had to learn to be by myself for a while. Scary at first for sure, but living on my own and just trying to figure life out on my own helped out a lot. I was finally able to sleep in my own bed again, pizza and redbox were a very common companion for me on Friday nights, and this pushed me to make new friends.

But these realizations would not have come about had I not gone to therapy.

Yes, that's right. I sought out help from a professional and went to someone that I could talk to about the things that happened in my life and the impact that it had on me. Did I have a lot of resistance towards it in the beginning? Yes! Did I think that I’d be fine without it? Yes! Did I fall accustomed to the typical mindset of men in saying “ahh, I don’t need to talk to someone to help me with my issues?” YES! If it wasn’t for Mony having an understanding of the things I went through, as well as some of my mentors opening me up to the idea of seeing a professional therapist, I would have never been persuaded into doing so. But I did! And I can tell you with full confidence that it was one of the best decisions I had ever made in my life.

So, why the lengthy boring story about my life? Why am I telling you about the different mountains I had to climb in order to get to where I am today?

Well first off, as a man, I feel that more men should be encouraged to do so. Yes it’s a theme that we see on social media here and there, but sometimes that’s not enough. If you’re a male and reading this I encourage you to take some time and open about the challenges that you may have gone through or any issues you may have. If you’re a female reading this, please check on the men in your life. I understand that the typical male response is going to be “I’m ok,” but I don’t think that should stop any of us from at least showing our male loved ones that we care and helping them feel open about expressing what’s on their mind.

And second, I’m here to tell you that as a man it’s absolutely OK to seek out professional help. Like I said, it was one of the best decisions I had ever made in my life. Without those therapy sessions I probably wouldn’t have the relationship I do now with my wife, family or friends. I also wouldn't have been able to break down some of my own personal barriers that I was creating for myself. Barriers that wouldn’t have allowed me to level up the way I wanted to in life.

We all have our own story. And I truly believe that those stories are worth listening to. And there is without a doubt someone out there ready to listen to it with absolutely no judgement at all. Someone who wants to just let you spill it all out let the weight come off your shoulders for a bit. Find that person and open up to them. You’d be surprised at who they may be and how it will make you feel in the end.

Thanks for reading! Much love!

John E. Arreaga

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