My training gets minimized when others focus on the physical look of my body versus the awesome things that it can accomplish.

Name: Julie Shiller

Age: 33

Pronouns: She/Her

Pull for Pride location: San Diego

Favorite song to listen to while training: Anything Foo Fighters

Favorite post-training meal: Veggies, Protein, and Homemade Cookies. It’s all about balance, right?

Instagram: Julie_Shiller

How do you identify? Tell us a little about yourself:

My name is Julie, and I am a social worker and trainer based in Long Beach, California. I was an athlete as a kid, and I loved the feeling of being strong and competing. During my adolescence into my early college years, I took a break from sports and healthy living when I developed an eating disorder. In hindsight, I think I was in the middle of my own coming out process.

After a lot of hard work on my own body image, I stepped into a boxing and CrossFit gym in 2013 in Denver. I fell in love with training for a purpose and with a community of like-minded folks. I fell in love with this type of training so much that I left my career as a social worker to train clients. I never looked back!

Even though I knew I wanted a different career from social work, I promised myself that I would never lose sight of my deep commitment to social justice in my new field. I know first hand the need for trainers who recognize clients of all body types, identities, skill levels, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

As a Strong First instructor, I specialize in kettlebell training in my work my clients. I am trans and queer friendly, and welcome all clients to train with me in a safe, inclusive, and empowering space.

What does Pull for Pride mean to you and what's motivating you to participate?

I first heard about the “Pull for Pride” event on the “Harder to Kill” podcast, and I knew I had to be part of this incredible and much needed movement. 

As a member of the community, a trainer who works with trans and queer clients, and as a social worker who has worked directly with trans and queer youth who have experienced homelessness, there was no question that I had to be a part of this event.

I would love to bring this event to Long Beach!

What do you find fulfilling about training?

When I train, I feel strong and empowered to do anything both inside and outside the gym. I am a better trainer, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, and dog mom when I am feeling and moving well.

What do you find challenging?

Training for a purpose brings so much joy to my life! My biggest struggle is that often times, my training gets minimized when others focus on the physical look of my body versus the awesome things that it can accomplish.

What message or advice do you have for folks who might want to start strength training but aren't sure how or where to begin?

Seek out the advice of a qualified trainer or coach. Shop around, and try to find someone that you connect with and feel heard by. If finances are a barrier, many coaches offer small group training, which can be a more affordable way to get the individual attention of a coach without the price of private training.

My biggest piece of advice is that you shouldn’t hire a coach based on how they look. Hire a coach based on their knowledge and how they treat you.

If you are trans and/or queer, do you have any words of encouragement or insights for other trans and queer folks for navigating gym environments and approaching training?

This would also be another great opportunity to seek advice of a qualified trainer or coach. Just make sure the coach uses inclusive language and respects where you are coming from.

Also, get a group of friends or family members together, and create your own trans and queer friendly training group!

Do you have any advice or encouragements for cisgender and straight allies who want to help make the gym a more welcoming space for trans and queer folks?

Whether you identify as cisgender, trans, and/or queer, I think we should all challenge ourselves to to talk about topics in the gym that focus on strength versus the appearance of our bodies.

Let’s be more interesting! Maybe we talk about a book we just read, a great movie or recipe.

If you want to give your training buddy a compliment, tell them their deadlift is looking strong. We are so much more than the number on the scale, and the size and shape of our physical bodies!

Do you have a strength role model(s) in your life (this could be strength training or strength in other ways)?

I have so many role models and people in my life who I have learned from and look up to. However, without question, my role model is my wife. I have never met a human being with a better concept of self-love and balance. She teaches me to deadlift heavy AND also eat the damn cookie!