For many, achieving eye-popping abs or losing even a few pounds can seem like a stretch. But fitness trainer Shaun T says the path to a fit body starts with building inner strength.

He should know. Through the personal trials and tribulations that have helped him reshape his own life, the New Jersey-born fitness icon has built an empire though which he’s helped millions reach their goals.

“I started out as a very fit kid, went to college and gained 50 pounds,” Shaun, 39, says.

He lost the weight by dancing and “finding love with the treadmill for 10 minutes a day and progressing from there to the weight room.”

He made history in 2007 by creating Hip Hop Abs, a top=selling home fitness program. In 2009, the motivator debuted INSANITY, which changed the face of home fitness via 60 days of his proprietary training moves. And in 2015, Shaun T released CIZE, which delivers a heart-pumping workout by way of professionally choreographed dance moves.

And make no mistake, this man knows how to move. He appeared onstage with Val Kilmer and Adam Lambert in the musical stage version of The Ten Commandments, as well as landing roles in Pippen and Applause. He hosted ABC’s My Diet is Better Than Yours and co-hosted the Logo network’s Secret Guide to Fabulous. Other television and film credits include Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, Six Feet Under and Beauty Shop starring Queen Latifah. He has choreographed routines for and toured with Mariah Carey, danced for world-renowned choreographers Travis Payne and Jamal Sims, and assisted Tony Gonzalez with cheerleading moves in the film Bring It On; All or Nothing.

These accomplishments came after he worked on his own personal trauma. In his book due in stores on Nov. 7, T is for Transformation, The fitness icon talks about the sexual abuse he suffered as a child.

“I use to look at the abuse as ‘I cannot believe this is happening,” he told People magazine, adding that it lasted for four years, starting at age 8. Shaun T (which stands for Thompson) went to counseling to deal with the absue, and after a while he realized he could help others deal with their personal troubles. Each of his business ventures is dedicated to empowering his clients’ minds and building their confidence so they can “trust and believe that they can live their best life.”

His videos are seen by millions, and he has 290k Twitter followers, with 666k on Instagram. He believes there are mental obstacles that stand in the way to achieving goals.

“Success can happen. It’s about the people who are willing to go deep within themselves and to want to dig deeper to make a change or to continue to change their lives,” he says.

For him, staying transparent is about focus.

“I look at myself, I talk to myself, and what that does is help me constantly be able to believe in myself, whether things are going good or going bad.”

For those wanting to get a great-looking body but not live a restrictive life, there’s good news: Being perfect is NOT part of the process.

“Most people beat themselves up for having that piece of cake or that glass of wine when in reality, that’s part of life,” Shaun explains. “And when people understand that, and that it’s not bad to have those things and it can be done in moderation, then they’ll be more apt to stay committed.”

It’s true. Getting fit is less about restriction and more about consistency.

“The reality is, not everybody can be a fitness model, and not everybody is going to have a six-pack at the age of 60,” he says. “but how do you define your life when it comes to fitness? Is it walking every day? Is it moving? What does fitness mean to you? And once you can define that and commit to it, then success is going to happen.”

So the work of being honest with one’s selfie going to help people reach their goals?

“My book makes you look deep within who you are―and you have to be honest about who you are and what you’re doing and the people you bring around you―and seeing how that’s impacting your transformation.

When you start to be honest with yourself, when you start to look at who you are, I get you to understand how to build and rewrite your story through my story,” he says.

Pre-orders of the book are available at