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Beneath the tattoos and chiseled physique, Adam Von Rothfelder carries deep scars, physical and emotional, and an abiding desire to improve the fitness and the lives of everyone in his native Milwaukee, be they a CEO or his two young kids. Here he shares pro tips about keeping the entire family fit.

The seminal moment in the life of fitness trainer, reality television star and tattooed Versace model Adam Von Rothfelder was when – early one morning in 2005 – he learned of his brother’s death from a drug overdose.

Adam Von Rothfelder with wife Araceli and daughters Arrow (left) and Azalea (right). Photo by Adam Ryan Morris.

Adam Von Rothfelder with wife Araceli and daughters Arrow (left) and Azalea (right). Photo by Adam Ryan Morris.

The previous night, Andy Von Rothfelder had called his brother needing to talk, but the trainer felt too busy; he had one more client and wanted to sneak in a workout of his own before going to bed. But at 5 a.m., Von Rothfelder was awakened by a phone call with the devastating news.

“I had a lot of rage,” Von Rothfelder says on a recent afternoon, standing inside, CoMo, the Walker’s Point gym that he co-owns. “I knew if I didn’t [vent] it in a constructive manner that I would end up in prison.” Now 34 years old, he can look back at that turbulent time more calmly. He’s been married for the past five years to Araceli Sevilla, a former hair stylist who recently became a certified yoga instructor, and the couple have two daughters: Azalea, 3, and Arrow, 1.

But the path to focus and stability has been anything but direct. After his brother’s death, Von Rothfelder found an outlet for his anger in fighting. With little training, Von Rothfelder, a Greenfield native, entered several area tough man competitions – amateurish but brutal affairs, he says, in which fighters merely flailed away at each other. Von Rothfelder performed well. His strength was an asset, of course, but he was fueled by personal tragedy. “The pain was revealing,” he says of the pounding that he took while fighting. “It allowed me to feel certain things I was hiding from.”

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To hone his fighting skills, Von Rothfelder moved to Minneapolis, where he joined a mixed martial arts gym and practiced striking, wrestling and submission holds alongside professional fighter Brock Lesnar. Von Rothfelder eventually competed in a pair of professional bouts of his own, but a shoulder injury, and, more importantly, a hard-won sense of acceptance with regards to his brother’s death that took five years to achieve, compelled him to walk away from the sport.

Read the rest of this story in Milwaukee Health, a special issue of Milwaukee Magazine. Find a copy on newsstands beginning Monday, Oct. 31, buy a copy online at milwaukeemag.com/shop, or read it now using Member Pass.

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