Bedros Keuilian had every reason in the world to believe he’d never achieve anything in life. He had plenty of reasons to begrudge this country and the people in it. Instead, he’s achieved massive success and is one of the most patriotic, grateful Americans you will ever meet.
He’s also one of the top experts in the fitness industry and a hugely sought-after consultant and speaker.
Not bad for anyone, let alone someone who’s overcome as much as Bedros Keuilian has.
Born in communist Armenia, Bedros has vivid memories of life without any of the things Americans have and take for granted; things like grocery shelves that are fully stocked and limitless potential in a capitalist economy.
To six-year-old Bedros, as long as he was with his parents and his siblings, everything was okay. He didn’t have a clue that his parents were being watched by the KGB or that the “vacation” his parents surprised them with was, in fact, a dangerous escape.
While his parents drew on Herculean strength to remain composed in the face of being arrested and shipped off to Siberia, Bedros was sighing a sigh of relief to be leaving the two boys who had been sexually abusing him behind. As the trip wore on, though, Bedros sensed the unspoken fear. Then he heard his parents nervously talking about being watched, wondering if the KGB was following them.
All these years later, Bedros gets lost in the memory of those moments when he speaks about them and takes whomever he is telling the story to right along with him until it almost feels like you are on that train with his family. The admiration he has for his parents pours out in his words as he describes his father convincing the American consulate to accept his information on the Communist Party in exchange for granting his family passage to America.
Eleven days after they fled Armenia, the Keuilian family arrived at JFK airport. It was time to start a new life and build their own American Dream.
They had $180 and two suitcases filled with food between the five of them. It was a rough start that made their lives in Armenia look like luxury.
His parents managed to find them a home in Section 8 housing, but the small government-granted apartment with one stained mattress for all of them to sleep on was a far cry from the comfortable home they left behind.
When they opened the two suitcases to grab a change of clothes and something to eat, the family realized his mother had crammed those two suitcases with sentimental family items instead of food and clothes. Their fancy China dishes sat empty, just like their stomachs, until Bedros’s father discovered grocery stores throwing food into dumpsters.
“I was the smallest one,” says Bedros Keuilian, “so it was my job to go into the dumpster.”
The family of five would dine on whatever delectables Bedros found that day. Expired milk and bruised lettuce aren’t as bad as one might think, Bedros says. “Once you peel away enough of the lettuce leaves you’ll actually find a nice healthy head of lettuce.”
Necessity breeds one of two things: despair or grit. While the Keuilian family may have experienced despair, they never let it outmatch their grit. Whether it was diving into dumpsters, siphoning gasoline to use for head lice treatment, or risking everything to escape a Communist regime – where there was a need, they dug deep and pushed through challenges until they found a way to solve that problem.
That grit got them through their first year in America and to the point that they could walk right past a dumpster on their way to eat in a restaurant for the first time.
Bedros Keuilian remembers the night in detail.
Bedros’s dad was so excited – and so hungry- he eagerly said “Yes, very much!” as he prepared to enjoy the feast he’d worked so hard to earn for himself and his family. Bedros had to explain to his dad, in Armenian, that he had to choose. The option was either soup or salad – not soup and salad.
There was not enough money for both, and Bedros still feels the disappointment that hit his dad that night, souring what was supposed to be a momentous occasion.
Just as quickly as Bedros talks about how sad that moment was, he lightens back up with a laugh as he shares that moments like that are now special family jokes. Then he’s lost again in his memories as he openly talks about the anger inside of him that began to grow into a dominant force in his life.
The anger began in Armenia when he was four years old. For two years, he suffered repeated sexual abuse in silence. His abusers stayed in Armenia but the confusion and anger traveled with him. Then came the bullying and callousness from people in the land they’d gone through so much to arrive in.
“Go home foreigner!” or “Go back to your *** country!” is what Bedros heard more often than anything else. He eased into adolescence and puberty as an overweight and insecure boy on the outside, with a simmering feeling of resentment inside.
The anger grew until he could no longer contain it, and it seeped out through violence. Carjacking, home invasions, robberies – Bedros did all of those. “Don’t ever try to outrun a police helicopter,” he advises with a laugh. “I was one of those idiots who tried that and failed.”
Bedros Keuilian was on a crash course to live and breed an American nightmare instead of an American dream in his life and others.
Physical training and fitness changed Bedros Keuilians’ trajectory.
A high school classmate led Bedros into the physical fitness world and it was there, while he was pushing himself, that the burning muscles tamed some of his burning anger. It was there that he changed his outward appearance and began to feel better about himself. Fitness became his new outlet for his energy, and he pursued it after high school.
Bedros loved his path as a personal trainer. The part-time work was where he felt the most fulfillment. But it was not enough to pay his bills and he was never going to dive into a dumpster again, so he supplemented his income with other part-time jobs. He was a fry cook at Disney and a bouncer at a gay bar, where the money was better than other bars because the bouncers regularly had to fight off skinheads who frequently showed up to attack the patrons.
Bedros couldn’t wait to get more Personal Training clients and leave those other jobs behind. When he began training a successful entrepreneur, he took that opportunity to barter his services for professional mentoring, and before long his new mentor introduced him to sales, communication, and marketing insight via cassette tapes from leaders in those arenas.
Bedros Keuilian poured himself into those lessons. It was important for him to lose his Armenian accent and master the art of communication. This, he knew, would unlock further potential for him to fulfill his dream of opening his own gym one day.
Eventually, his mentor believed in his mentee enough to loan him the capital for his very own business – at 8% interest. Bedros credits Jim Franco in his book, Man Up, and on stages everywhere for being a decisive factor in his current success.
Who is Bedros Keuilian? He’s a Man in Command of an 8 Figure Empire.
Fit Body Boot Camp is his international personal training franchise and Empire Systems is his high-level business coaching company. Bedros runs a mastermind with another king in the health and fitness industry, Craig Ballantyne. He speaks at selective events and is absolutely committed to using his own personal success to give back in various ways. He’s also a very outspoken advocate for small businesses and gyms and Bedros frequently speaks on the topic regularly as a guest on Fox News.
Children’s charities are at the top of Bedros’s charitable focus. Bedros Keuilian and his wife have “adopted” over 90 children through Compassion International and are dedicated contributors to Shriners Hospitals for Children. They’ve also donated close to $500,000 to Toys for Tots. With each dollar he donates, says Bedros, “another piece of the child inside me heals.”
No one, he says, should have to experience what he and his family did. No child should be abused or starving and every child should have more than a gift-less Christmas with only a single pine tree branch as a Christmas tree. “It’s not enough,” says Bedros, “until every single child has a Christmas gift, their medical needs are taken care of, and they have an education and food in their stomachs.”
A close second priority for Bedros Keuilian to support is the military community.
As Bedros got older he realized there had to be a reason his father chose America to escape to. Curious, he asked his father the reason and has never forgotten the reply: For one reason – the fact that this country has an all-volunteer military who will fight for freedom and the constitution that is unlike any other country’s. This, his father said, was worth risking his own life to bring his family to.
Now that Bedros is a husband and father himself, he is even more appreciative of the life his own children will have in this country. He’s determined to show his gratitude to those who serve and did so at first with large donations to organizations that support the military. He’s since moved further into this area by working together with former Navy SEAL Jason Redman to offer Operation Opportunity to the military community.
The one-day program, offered at various times throughout the year, is free to veterans and military members who seek entrepreneurial coaching. What he normally commands tens of thousands of dollars in fees for, Bedros does for free as his way of supporting those he is so grateful for.
Bedros Keuilian is living a powerful version of the American Dream and loving every minute of it.
He attributes his success to the “immigrant edge” he developed as a result of being faced with relentless struggles for so many years and is happy to teach others how to tap into their own edge to achieve their own version of fulfillment.
Perhaps what makes him happiest of all is being able to take care of his parents. His father can have all the soup and salad he’d like not, at any restaurant he chooses, and a professional driver will take him there any time he wants. His brother and sister are older than Bedros and helped their parents raise their little brother. Now Bedros is all too happy to do extra things for them, too. Bedros’s mom is suffering from dementia, but thanks to Bedros she now has the best possible care available.
So while it was not an easy path and he still works hard to maintain and grow his American dream, Bedros insists it was all well worth it. He’s on a mission to impact 5 million lives every morning by reaching 2500 franchises of Fit Body Boot Camp. Give his company a call if you’d like to be a part of that movement.
Bedros has plans beyond his current business, too. “I love making people laugh,” he says. One day he’d like to make that his mission and make audiences laugh as a stand-up comedian. If Rodney Dangerfield can do it, so can he, says Bedros.
It’s possible to have more than one dream. And if you’re like Bedros Keuilian, you can even make them all come true.