Rob Ruggiero has always had a passion for fitness. As a kid, he looked up to his older brother who played college football at Bentley University: “He and his teammates were superheroes to me,” recalls Ruggiero, who began working out with them as a freshman in high school. “They were the perfect role models: focused, dedicated, and proud.” Ruggiero went on to have a successful collegiate career in football, he worked as both a personal trainer and university strength and conditioning coach, and in 2014 achieved his lifelong goal of playing pro, joining the Indianapolis Colts as an inside linebacker.
Ruggiero was signed and released three separate times. “In the big league, no one really tells you when it’s over, it just is.” What followed was an emotional roller coaster where the only constants were the weight room and his fiancé Julie, who joined Ruggiero in training to compete in powerlifting and strongman. The grind worked: In 2019, Ruggerio won first place in the New England Strongman Competition and this past October, both he and Julie took home first in the squat, bench press, and deadlift competitions during the Revolution Powerlifting Syndicate. For Ruggerio, it wasn’t just about winning, but a chance to capture “that feeling” again.
Today, Ruggiero, alongside best friend and business partner Adam Toman, owns Summit Performance, a physical fitness center in Bristol. The journey to the literal Summit began when Toman and Ruggiero decided to channel their collegiate coaching experience into private training at facilities around New England. In January of 2020, just months before COVID hit, the pair opened their gym on Gooding Avenue. Despite the challenges, Ruggiero shares, they’ve managed to survive with both dedicated clients and health and safety standards. For many, working out has been the saving grace to getting through “unprecedented times” – and Ruggerio understands this on a personal level: “I have learned so much in this lifelong process and I love passing my passion and knowledge on to the next generation of athletes and lifters. I truly just love helping people get better, fitter and stronger.”