Fitness CEO James Gullatte moved from prison to business owner

His name is James Gullatte, but you can call him Boss. His biceps, decorated with tattoos from a past life, bulge out of a cobalt T-shirt that shares his company tagline, Results Do Matter.

In 2004, Gullatte arrived in Columbus with about $100 in his pocket and a laser-sharp focus: to help as many people as possible get fit. Overcoming obstacles from poverty to homelessness and incarceration, today he’s a certified fitness trainer and owner of B.O.S.S. Fitness, a two-room gym just southeast of Downtown, where he has logged over 175,680 training hours with roughly 1,500 clients and has earned over $2 million.

Paint me a picture of you while growing up.

Gullatte: I grew up in Westwood. Growing up in Dayton, you either did two things: worked at GM or ran the streets. I started running the streets around 11 years old. I began to go take care of myself, stealing candy. I was taking it to school, selling two candy bars for a quarter, to make money, to take care of the things I couldn’t get at home.

James Gullatte owns B.O.S.S. Fitness on E. Livingston Avenue.

What do you think made you turn to crime at such a young age?

Gullatte: I remember the first time I got caught stealing. Everybody came over, so it triggered a signal in my mind that if you get in trouble, you get attention. I was a baseball star and I was traveling all over Ohio on all-star teams and made it to the Little League World Series, but no one ever came to the games. I translated getting in trouble with getting attention.

You spent time at a youth detention center in west Columbus. Why do you think you continued your path after you left there at 17?

Gullatte: When I got home, there were people now standing on the streets selling drugs. The community was going downhill. But everybody had money. I began to steal cars.

I had this small goal: I wanted to be able to purchase a kilo of cocaine, which at the time was $24,000, around 1987. It was all about survival. But then the bottom fell out. I became addicted to cocaine. That was part of the reason why my business fell apart, and I ended up with seven children by four different women. I lost everything and became homeless from 21 to 34. Sandwiched in between were 10 years in prison.

Can you point to a time, while incarcerated, when you decided to change your life?

Gullatte: Prison is where I learned how to love me. This picture is still in my head: It was 1995. I had just worked out, and I was feeling good about what I was doing, and it just hit me, it stopped me: I asked myself, “Do you love yourself?” I took a hard look at myself at age 25, while I was sitting inside this cage, and my journey began to change. From that point on, it was about how

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