“This city has one hell of a heart,” says Jujimufu, who has just finished posing shirtless, holding a dead pompano, at a fish market on the edge of Chinatown. “New Yorkers have a bad rep for being rude, but they’re really just trying to get shit done.” As he struts, pecs out, gazing toward the skyscrapers to his south, the backflipping, headbanging bodybuilder (whose birth name is Jon Call) finds himself reflected in the steel-coated ambition of the metropolis.
Since his television debut on America’s Got Talent, during which he lifted Heidi Klum above his head like a barbell while simultaneously doing splits, the fitness entertainer has broken out of his Alabama backyard to embark on a content spree across the country. Whether he’s eating three pints of ice cream in an ice bath (surprisingly easy) or crushing an organic jumbo egg with his bare hands (surprisingly hard), Jujimufu has yet to run out of experiments to share with his nearly half a million YouTube subscribers. “What I love about the feed is that it’s 24 hours,” he says. “It never stops!”
But even for a man of Jujimufu’s mettle, courting the internet can take its toll. After ripping a parking sign off of the pavement, the 32-year-old pauses to reflect on the wear and tear that inevitably comes from doing gymnastics at his size, describing his 230-pound body as a “giant meat suit.” As far as he’s concerned, though, it’s all just a step toward becoming the beast you want to see in the world. “I’m actually an introvert, and I get in funks sometimes where I feel like a sham,” says Jujimufu, who cites Jack LaLanne as a personal hero. “But getting out of my comfort zone is key to getting people out of theirs.”