First, there’s the gym. It’s always the gym. The gym is his anchor and his sanctuary, because it helps him to remember—and also forget. The gym has been his home when he was homeless, and it is today, when he’s far from it. It’s seen him through his many successes and served as an outlet for frustration over his failures. Above all, the gym has provided him sacrosanct life lessons learned in his youth but still applicable in his adult life.

This is a story about Dwayne Johnson, but it’s not about his global successes as a WWE legend and Hollywood’s most bankable star. It’s also not a first-person account of an interview at a chic restaurant that details his attire and interactions with the waiter. Let other magazines tell that story.

It’s a story of Johnson’s formative years, and some of the lessons he learned during them, many in dusty gyms across the country. He learned everything by way of iron and sweat and his holiest of grails: hard work. Because, as Johnson will tell you himself, it’s these very things that have made him the man he is today.

Here are seven young Johnson teaching moments. Seven, because that’s how many dollars he had in his pocket when, at 23, he was cut from the Canadian Football League and found himself forced to start his life over from scratch, this time as a professional wrestler. Seven, because the number is so significant to him that he named his company Seven Bucks Productions.

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson's 4-Week Plan for a Herculean Physique

The Rock's 4-Week Muscle-Building Plan

If you want to challenge yourself and start making Rock-level gains, follow this program for four to...

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