Jeramy K. Freeman wants you to believe in yourself and dream big.

And you can’t argue with his success as a point of motivation for that believing and dreaming.

The 1989 graduate of Lowville Academy calls himself a “professional goal achiever.”

“I say that because that’s what I’ve done. I’ve set a number of goals,” he said.

He accomplished those goals and has also helped others by being an authority on health, fitness nutrition and improving oneself mentally and physically.

From 2000 to 2001 Jeramy was the most photographed bodybuilder in the world, including as cover model for “El Mundo De Muscle,” the number one muscle and fitness magazine in France and Switzerland.

All that magazine time led to his likeness being copied as the apparent inspiration for the animated character Bob Parr in the 2004 Pixar film, “The Incredibles.”

He has collected a slew of bodybuilding contest wins, including in 2001, when he was overall winner at the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness’ North American Championships. In 1991, he won the title of Mr. New York State 1st Place Heavyweight Champion. His first big win was in 1989 as Teenage Natural Mr. America.

He’s still a professional bodybuilder and that “professional goal achiever” description is evident with a bio that also includes stints as a professional putt-putt golf player and a professional dodge ball player.

He has provided fitness and nutritional guidance for people ranging from NHL athletes and UFC Ultimate Fighters to corporate executives and military recruits.

He’s a sought-after motivational speaker and on Feb. 10, he was a guest, via Zoom, of the Watertown Noon Rotary Club. I gave him a call to his home in Florida a few weeks after that session to ask about his career in body building, his motivation and how he became “Incredible.”

It all began with swimming in Lowville in eighth grade. Yes, it was something he excelled at. Jeramy received a varsity letter as an eighth-grader.

“I had swam on the modified team 14 times and took first place every time,” he said. “I was able to break a number of their records in modified, and they moved me up to varsity.”

He still did pretty good as an eighth-grader in the varsity team. “Never less than third place,” Jeramy said.

But swimming wasn’t for him. When he arrived in ninth grade, he didn’t go out for the swim team.

“The coach had a fit,” Jeramy said. “They said I had Olympic potential. I didn’t care. So they banned me from the gym. They wouldn’t let me lift. So I went and spent my own money that I earned and bought weights. They weren’t easy to find back then. I put a gym in my bedroom and started to lift.”

He became obsessed with weights and weight-lifting and loved the personal growth it allowed. The obsession turned into building his body, as he saw results.

He entered his first body-building contest in Watertown, the Can-Am Physique Show, in the mid 1980s, after being urged to enter the competition by the owner of a Lowville supplement shop.

“I had to compete in the 18-19-year-old division because I was the only one who was 15,” Jeramy said. “There were about 11 guys in the show, and I ended up taking fourth. It’s kind of like I traded in my swimming trunks in for posing trunks. That was it. I just loved it. From there, it was like, ‘OK — I want to do this again.’ So I would find wherever that next show was, keep pushing toward it.”

He began tuning in the finer details of the sport of body building, from the oil and the tan to the presentation and weight. He began studying biology and biochemistry.

“It’s something that instilled in me really great principles for growth,” Jeramy said of body building. ‘‘I would always have to assess myself and to see where I was, what I needed to improve. We all have area to improve. And I’d go back to the drawing board and start working on that area until it improved enough, and then, you’d display it again on stage. It’s the shortest part of the whole body building competition, but you would prepare for it for months.”

He also loved that time-related element of the sport.

“You have to be specific and it has to be time-bound and dialed into you,” he said. “That’s something that stuck with me. I became someone who set goals over and over again, not just in body-building, but in everything. I think that’s really helped me excel in so many areas.”

Jeramy and his wife, Kim (Schuller) Freeman co-own Freeman Formula. Their website says, “We have created books, videos, journals, online programs, coaching systems and accountability programs, e-courses, in-house training, corporate fitness solutions and programs to help you achieve your goals, no matter what they are.”

Kim is a 1991 graduate of Lowville Central and is the company’s vice president of operations. Her bio on the company website notes she has been modeling from the time she was 12 years old and has been in the health, fitness and beauty business her entire life.

Jeramy said he and Kim didn’t start dating until he came back home from college one year.

“We started hanging out and that was that,” Jeramy said. “We were inseparable.”

They had known each other as acquaintances for years before then, first meeting as kids when their parents attended a Kenneth Copeland Ministries gathering.

Jeramy has since traveled the world teaching about personal development and “creating purpose.”

One Freeman Formula program is Project 42, where clients, Jeramy says, on average lose 42 pounds in 42 days. The six-week program is now online because of the pandemic and is known as Virtual Project 42, with a cost of $997.

Freeman Formula also offers a $497 “Unleashed” program in which Jeramy and Kim teach about self-mastery and taking your life, work and relationships to higher levels of success and fulfillment.

The pandemic has forced closure of the Freemans’ Well Rounded Health and Fitness Facility in East Syracuse. But the Freeman Formula distribution center is still based in Syracuse. The company is based in Longwood, Fla., where the Freemans reside and products are made.

Before the pandemic forced its closure, Jeramy said that Well Rounded Health and Fitness hosted “Project 42” sessions. Only the committed needed to apply.

“It was 42 days of complete commitment and dedication to making major changes, starting with your mind-set, knowing what you want to happen in those 42 days and then executing a plan that drives you toward it, day in and day out,”Jeramy said. “Most people aren’t committed to something enough to make a change.”

He said there was a waiting list in Syracuse for Project 42, with 150 people in each session, and 30 people in each class.

“It was a major success,” Jeramy said. “People were getting amazing results. We taught people how to make major changes by working with your body rather than against it.”

Jeramy, 50, attended Erie Community College, Buffalo University and Onondaga Community College. His education was delayed by a couple of car crashes and he eventually earned a degree at SUNY Empire State College in health and exercise science, with a minor in entrepreneurship. He won his Teenage Natural Mr. America title in 1989 while a student in Buffalo.

He applied the qualities of what he’s learned in his pursuits to becoming a professional putt-putt golf and extreme dodgeball player. The latter sport was related to the 2004-05 Gameshow Network series, “Extreme Dodgeball.” Jeramy was on the Barbell Mafia team, which ended season one with a record of 3-2 as runner up in the finals, losing to the Certified Public Assassins.

As far as putt-putt golf, Jeramy said it took hours and hours of practicing to master it and to understand its elements such as “geometric optics and angles.”

“I knew I had to have a hole-in-one almost every hole if I was going to win a tournament,” he said. “It took a lot of time, energy and effort, but it defined the relentless action needed to be able to achieve something.”

It was the power of voices that Jeramy listened to as a youngster that influenced his path in becoming a motivational speaker.

“My family are definitely all storytellers, no question,” he said.

His parents, George and Cheryl E. Freeman, moved to from Pulaski to Lowville when Jeramy was a child. He has three siblings; two older, one younger. George was a general contractor and Cheryl had several jobs, including working in sales and as a staff supervisor for The Arc. In addition to George’s contracting business, the couple also moved to Lowville to take on junior pastor positions at a church. They moved to Syracuse in 1989.

Jeramy would listen to tapes that his parents owned, such as those featuring author, coach and philanthropist Tony Robbins and Denis E. Waitley, a motivational speaker, writer and consultant.

“I would just take those tapes and listen to them while I was doing cardio or something,” Jeramy said. “It had a big imprint on me.”

Cheryl recalled Jeramy borrowing those recordings.

“At one point, we were very religious, both ordained ministers,” she said of herself and husband, George, who died in 2008. “We were always listening to some type of motivation — somebody that enhances our lives so we could enhance other peoples’ lives. But we kind of broke away from that as we started learning more about who is in control of our lives and I think that’s where Jeramy really picked up.”

Cheryl said she saw Jeramy’s motivational drive take off when he reached around the age of 16.

“He had that desire to become a professional bodybuilder and he never let that out of his sight,” she said. “He pursued that, was very persistent and did what he set out to do. Just being able to accomplish that made him look for other things he could accomplish. He continually sets goals, a standard for his life that he is going to be the best Jeramy he can be, not just for himself, but for mankind.”

For about six years, Cheryl has lived in Apopka, Fla., less than 10 miles away from Jeramy and his family in Longwood. She originally moved to Florida to become a nanny for the children of Jeramy and Kim.

She has personal experience in her son’s transformative powers.

“When my husband passed away, I was very despondent, depressed,” Cheryl said. “Jeramy called me and said, ‘Mom, you need to come here. I’ll help you.’”

At that point, Cheryl weighed 350 pounds.

“I went on his program, Project 42, which was a six-week program,” she said. “I did it once.”

At first, Cheryl couldn’t even put the elliptical exercise machine to good use.

“I was like a minute on it and started crying,” Cheryl said. “Jeramy said, ‘You have to finish. You’re going to do three minutes.’”

Those three minutes turned into hours in the gym. She now weighs 140 pounds.

“He was right there, just changing my life completely as to where I was at,” Cheryl said. “It was a traumatic time with my husband being ill and sick. It took all of the positive out of me. Jeramy rebuilt that.”

Jeramy’s power of persuasion has spread to the cartoon world. It’s believed his likeness was used as the basis for Bob, a main character in the 2004 animated Pixar film, “The Incredibles.” Jeramy said he met someone at an airport a few years back that confirmed that belief.

“This guy comes up to me and says, ‘Jeramy Freeman!’ I just thought he was a body-building fan. But he said, ‘I work for Pixar. We had your picture plastered everywhere across the entire studio!’ He was an illustrator for Pixar.”

From 2000 to 2001, the early stages of making the film, Jeramy said he was the most photographed body builder in the world.

“Because I was so visible, they were just looking for an image to replicate,” he said. “They can replicate anybody as long as they say it’s not that person. I was so visible, it was easy to use me for that super hero, which my wife says isn’t relevant. She thinks I’m the real Mr. Incredible.”

He then let out a hearty laugh, and added, “She’s the only one I really have to impress.”

“Sunday Portrait” is an occasional column featured in the Watertown Daily Times’ Sunday edition. Contact Chris Brock at cbrock@wdt.net.

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