As a personal trainer, Julien Stoutt’s not short on credentials — or the wins that come from years of exceptionally hard work. He’s a three-time world record holder with the International Powerlifting Association for the deadlift, squat and total.
A New York native, Stoutt moved to Colorado Springs in 1997 at age 20, when he was stationed at Fort Carson with the Army. He says his success in fitness is the result of many people seeing his potential when he couldn’t see it in himself. Now, he spends his life identifying the potential in his clients and drafting unique plans to fit their personal needs, ranging from rehabilitation, powerlifting and weight loss to youth physical education. What started as a talent for helping those in his unit perform better during their PT tests eventually became Stoutt Fitness, his personal training business.
With certifications in personal training, corrective exercise, performance enhancement, weight loss, fitness nutrition and behavior change, Stoutt offers personal training, group training, nutritional advice, weight-loss programs, muscle development and cardio training.
He spoke with the Business Journal about his passion for fitness and education, and how he leads people to better health.
Let’s talk about leadership. How do you get people to trust you and have their own fitness journey?
First of all, I don’t ask you to do anything that I’m not willing to do. And the level of knowledge that I come with — it’s proven, it’s not junk science, it’s not gimmicks. It’s serious, but it’s not in your face. Back when I first started professionally training, it was either go hard or go home. But it didn’t take me long to realize my training philosophy is to be the best version of yourself. To be the best you is not necessarily to be ripped and jacked. It’s not excusing obesity, but it’s not shaming you because you’re not shredded. That type of mentality is not where fitness really is. To look at a woman like Megan Thee Stallion, and then to look at Jillian Michaels and to try to say one is perfect, and the other one isn’t — or vice versa — is irresponsible, asinine and silly. … Once people hear me talk about the importance of health, and understanding that not everybody’s a supermodel. … Putting that standard of beauty on the whole population of women, when the truth is that every woman is beautiful in their own right — that puts you in an unhealthy position, rather than the healthy path of living that you’re supposed to be on, that’s rooted in science. The “standard” is not what we think it is. Once you discover that there’s 23 different body types and they all account for the various heights and girths that we all have, that is when you finally start to realize that there’s a standard of health and fitness for each of those body types. Once we understand what the standard really is, we can feel a little bit more confident about who we are and what we’re supposed to be. Once you can do it from a place of science, that is when shaming can go out of the window. That goes for men too, but the funny thing is this mostly applies to women, because you don’t see men going, ‘Oh Brock Lesnar, that guy’s too big. I don’t want to be that big.’
What got you into powerlifting?
It was actually the owner of the gym [where I train] that got me into it because he saw me lifting, and he just looked and said, ‘You’re freakishly strong. You should be a powerlifter. You’re repping the world records right now.’ … I was skeptical about it, not in the sense that I didn’t believe in it, but it was more along the lines of I didn’t know what ... it looked like to be a powerlifter. … They’re all, you know, 200-plus pounds, and they’re squatting 700 pounds, so I didn’t really look at it as a place for me. … But I started looking back on my life, and … there’s opportunities that I’ve missed because I wrote myself off, rather than taking them head on. So I decided to take this one head on, and lo and behold I broke world records.
What got you into fitness in the first place?
The military is part of the reason why I got into it because, in the military, I scored a 341 on my PT test which is above and beyond perfect. So people were watching. That’s when people started to take notice that I could do it. A lot of people started asking me for help, starting in basic training because they started seeing that every … two weeks, I was improving, and people were wondering, ‘How is it that [you’re] doing this?’ … A couple of people committed to working out with me. Even when we got our butts handed to us by our drill sergeants, we committed to that work. And once we committed to that work, they themselves started to see those same levels of improvement. … And one day, my sister was like, ‘You’re never going to be satisfied until you do what you love.’ And I was like, ‘I don’t know what I love because I’m good at a lot of different things.’ … So she said, ‘I know one thing that you’re good at that you’re committed to that I know you’d be good at.’ And that was personal training. … Ultimately, my passion for fitness has always been there — it’s been there since I was 12 years old.
What sparked that passion back then?
Pain. Pain sparked it. Like everybody else — an emotionally tragic event. I was — as the kids say — ‘roasted’ by my sister and my cousin at the age of 12, on New Year’s Eve. I interjected in a conversation they were having and I was full of myself at the time — and my emotional belief in myself was quickly destroyed. And in the process of it being destroyed, I didn’t have the answer on how to fix it, until my aunt took me to the Boys and Girls Club, some two months later. Once I went there, I only had to put two and two together: big muscular guys inside of a weight room, working out. That must be it. I knew that’s where I wanted to be regardless of what it took, how it felt. It didn’t matter. I wanted that.
I actually cried my way into the weight room, because I was 12 years old. The age limit was 13, but I was turning 13 two weeks later. But they knew I wanted it now. Not tomorrow, not next week — yesterday.
Once they saw that I was serious, a bunch of guys that worked out there started teaching me the ins and outs of what to do, what not to do, and the maturity level that you must have when you’re in there. You must take this seriously. They taught me all of that, the level of intensity that was necessary, how hard it was, how tired you would be when you’re done. … I slowly started to build myself up. I’ve always had self confidence and self assurance but at that time I learned that you have to put in the work in order to get the result. Once I realized you’ve got to work for it, things changed.
What can people expect from you as a trainer?
Honesty, straightforwardness, and the best workouts you can imagine. No gimmicky workouts. … You’re here to train, to get your body in the best shape possible, not to impress somebody on a YouTube video. … What really keeps people coming in and keeps them going is not the fact that they can, you know, do burpees and do those superman burpees and all that other stuff. … I actually trained a guy; he was 80 years old, and I trained him to be able to lunge on his own. And it is those types of things, that type of training that makes me feel good. Because knowing that this person could not do it to save their life before meeting me, [but] now they’re more than capable of doing it puts a huge smile on my face and warms my heart beyond all measure. … Truthfully, the way I look at it is if you’re still training with me for three years, you must like my training rather than you need me. If you need me after three years, then I didn’t do my job.