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‘Things happen for us in life, not to us.” That was the first statement that Jocelyn Jean shared when he began to talk about the trials and tribulations he had went through over the last year and four months. Jean is used to sharing positive vibes and encouraging others because of his work as a fitness coach as well as an IFBB Pro League 212 bodybuilder.
Jocelyn Jean turned pro thanks to winning the welterweight title at the 2008 NPC Nationals. While he had his own pro career, he spent a good portion of his career helping other amateurs turn professional as well. He felt that his ability to train others was just as meaningful to the sport as his own athletic contributions. He estimated that he’s worked with nearly 100 athletes throughout his coaching career, with nearly a fourth of them becoming IFBB Pros themselves.
“I thought ‘what better person to guide these athletes than someone whose been on that stage and knows what to expect,’” Jean explained. “I can also share the mistakes that they should avoid making when it comes to diet or preparation to take the stage.” Jean served as a mentor for many people he knows, and he even wrote a book called “Parenting Athletes,” which he was very proud of because of how it could benefit both kids and parents. One of the first principles he shares in all forms of his outreach is to look for the good in any situation.
“There is always some type of positivity that can come out something that appears negative,” said Jean. It can be easy to share a statement like that during good times, but maintaining that mindset since March 9. 2021 is a testament to how strong his spirit is.
That day had started out as any other for Jocelyn Jean. He works as a trainer and coach, and was working with clients at his studio. As the day drew to a close, he was working with an athlete when he started feeling discomfort that he described as feeling like a heatwave as someone may feel after vomiting.
“I explained to the people with me that I wanted to lie down, and to please call the paramedics,” he shared. When he lied on his floor, he expected to see help arrive so he could go to the hospital. He tried to relax in the meantime by closing his eyes.
“When I woke up, it was seven weeks later,” Jean stated. He had suffered a stroke and went into a coma. Jean had no idea that this could happen to him. He didn’t even recall a family history of strokes. While he didn’t know that it had been that long, he did experience what he called dreams throughout the time he was out.
“I had always wondered what was going through someone’s mind during a coma. It’s like you just fall asleep and having different dreams,” he stated. “It was almost like watching clips of different movies.”
Once Jean woke up, he had no recollection of what happened. In his mind, he was still what he called his “superhuman” self. He soon realized that wasn’t the case after getting out of bed and being unable to walk.
“After they operated on me, I lost the use of my left side,” he recalled. “I wasn’t able to walk or use my hand on my left side.”
Jocelyn Jean was fortunate in his own eyes because he didn’t lose his ability to speak. He is also thankful that his right side is still working. However, his struggles didn’t end there. Not long after he returned to his house, it no longer felt like a home. That’s because his marriage ended. This was also something he didn’t see coming.
“Four walls make a house, not a home. The recipe to build a home is love, togetherness, understanding, sacrifice, and caring for those things,” he said. “I came to my house from my stroke and immediately realized I didn’t have a home.”
Even with that major setback, Jean had to shift his focus to his recovery, albeit in a much different way than he used to focus on physical fitness. The physical limitations have been quite the setback for obvious reasons. Aside from normal living, he’s had to make adjustments to how he exercises.
“I used to go all-out, as heavy as I can, and with a purpose. Now, I go in and do what I can, not what I want. The mental adjustment has been the toughest part of that.”
What sets athletes like Jean apart from others is that even in the midst of the setback and adversity he is dealing with, he still finds a way to improve. He was a lover of squats and lunges, but now he focuses more on bodyweight movements to help himself get better. He estimated that he had lost almost 100 pounds since that fateful evening in his studio. Since the body considered muscle energy, there’s a good chance his commitment to improving his physique saved his life. Even though he still does what he can, he has to be extra careful now because of the possibility he could set himself back even more.
“No one that has been in this position wants to hurt themselves.”
To be clear, Jean doesn’t see his situation as permanent. He still sees himself as the superhuman he once was in his mind, and he anticipates returning to his original form in the future. Every step he takes, every inch of progress he makes, and every day that passes is a brick in a foundation that he intends to use as the starting point of an incredible success story.
“I thank God for a second chance at life,” he proclaimed. “I want to use it by building myself back up to doing what I love to do – train myself to be in the best shape I can and train those in need of me. I also want to help feed the poor and share my story with those that will listen.”
Fortunately, he has a reliable support system and is surrounded by people that want to see him overcome these hurdles. One of those people is his client, roommate, and friend, Rosemane Ambroise. She was the client that called 911 when Jean first lied down in his studio.
“She did everything for me that night. She dictated what everyone needed to do in terms of staying calm and working together to help me. She’s been a big sister for me. Sometimes she can be a pain in the ass, but that’s what sisters are for, right? They are supposed to make sure you do right.”
With the support of the people he mentioned as well as those that have supported him throughout his journey, Jean has every intention of doing whatever he can to return to his familiar form, and is actively working to do that now. In the meantime, he hopes that his experience can be a positive by helping others learn that they should focus on overall health and wellness regularly.
“Regardless of how you look visually, if you don’t get yourself checked out by your doctors, there may be something going on inside you can’t explain,” said Jocelyn Jean. He also wants everyone reading this to take advantage of what they have and can do while they have the health and ability to do so.
“Do all that you want to do because in an instant, it can all be gone.” For more information on Jocelyn as well as to support his recovery, click here.