When Ryan Ferguson entered prison as a skinny 19-year-old, convicted of a crime he did not commit, he was understandably scared. His first priority became transforming himself into someone bigger and stronger for protection.

But as he started accomplishing his goal, the same determination to change his body started changing his mindset, too. He grew even more determined to prove his innocence, and though it took nearly 10 years, he prevailed and is now a free man.

What he took from the experience, both his personally honed exercise routine and finding the inner strength to get through it all, are all in his new book, "Stronger, Faster, Smarter,” out now. We talked to Ferguson about how mind and body are connected, and how accomplishing your fitness goals can have a positive impact on other areas of your life.


You’ll become more resourceful

While Ferguson was in prison, he didn’t have access to weights or the freedom to go outside for a run, but he still found ways to work out. “In jail, the stairs have no back, so I would come up behind them, grab on to them and do pull-ups,” he says. “The point is, you can be creative with what you have at home.”

The most important thing to do is just get moving, he says. Even if you can’t afford a gym membership, anyone can afford to walk around the city or do some basic fitness moves, like squats, sit-ups and push-ups at home or in the park.

When you get resourceful about your fitness routine, you’ll find that you’ll become more resourceful in other areas of your life as well, whether it be stretching your finances or tackling a difficult problem at work. Your mind will already be trained to think resourcefully.


You’ll be more productive in other areas of your life

What you eat plays a huge part in being healthy. Besides drinking a lot of water, Ferguson says one of the best ways to get the nutrients you need is through green smoothies. “They’re infinitely better than fruit smoothies because fruit smoothies have a lot of sugar,” he says. “There’s nothing more nutritious.”

When you change your eating habits for the better, you’ll notice that you’ll be able to think more clearly and work smarter, too. “If you’re healthy and hydrated, your productivity goes up,” he says. "You'll actually be a better worker and become an invaluable employee."


You’ll become more determined

If you’re out of shape, transforming your body may seem like an overwhelming, if not impossible feat, but Ferguson says if you want it bad enough, you can absolutely make it happen. “That’s the reality of fitness,” he says. “You’re going to get what you want most. If you want to be healthy, you’re going to get it. You’re going to make it happen.”

After all, if anyone knows something about overcoming a seemingly impossible feat, it’s Ferguson; if he wasn’t determined to prove his innocence, he would still be behind bars.

Once you start seeing the results of your athletic determination pay off, you’ll put your mind to making other big changes in your life outside of your fitness goals, Ferguson assures. Whatever your own personal prison may be, you can find a way out. 

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence