Julien Pineau introduces Strongfit to Utrecht

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We welcome renowned fitness guru Julien Pineau to Utrecht. a welcome new resident indeed!

To quote from the Strongfit website:

Sports have been a part of Julien’s life since he was young and he’s been a state and national champion in a number of sports including soccer, swimming and wrestling. As an adult, he really found something he liked with MMA and Jiu Jitsu and spent time traveling the world to learn from the best in the industry. That time spent with the best made him want to learn more about sport and movement so that he could coach others. In 1993, he began his coaching career as a conditioning and grappling coach for the MMA gym where he trained and in 2008, he opened his own gym that focuses on strongman training. StrongFit was born and has evolved from a single gym to a full education program.
Julien’s  brain is wired to see faulty patterns and visualize, in space, how people move. With his knack for diagnosing muscular and strength imbalances he has developed his own system to identify what issues are and fight root of the problem. He now travels the world delivering seminars to coaches who have the common goal of fixing people and ridding them of pain.

Julien introduced himself to me

I found coaching at age 21. My first martial arts teacher, Nguyen, put me in charge of warm ups in the classes. Our class sizes were too big at the time, and it was my job to make the warm up so hard that we could cut the attendance in half. At the time I was doing a lot of body weight movements as my warm up, so he asked me to provide instruction with the first 20 minutes of the session. Two weeks later, the class size had doubled. While my teacher was upset with me, the coach inside of me was born. I didn’t find a job, I found a vocation. My drive for competition was overtaken by by connection to coaching others. This evolved over time from private instruction to opening my own gym in 2008.

What is your fitness background?

I have always been an athlete. My success in competition began as early as 8 years old. The first sport that I competed in at a national level was soccer. I broke my foot just before the national tournament, and quit shortly after. From there, I became explored other sports. I was a state champion swimmer at 13. It took me until age 19 to find my true athletic potential with grappling and mma. I pursued high levels of training throughout 15 years, including training with Gracie Barra in Brazil, until I had found strongman at age 37. That transition lasted for 4-5 years. Now, I train because I enjoy it. I have started to play pool again, but focus more on mastery of the skills than competition in the sport.

Tell us a bit about Strongfit

It’s not a method, it’s a way of learning. Strongfit has evolved much as I have  through disciplines of movement and sports, training methods, and the knowledge I’ve gathered over the years. I started to explore what drives individuals both physically and mentally. My goal was to create a system that would help people to move well, improve their athletic performance in a non-destructive way, and ultimately find themselves through movement. Is it as my son tells me a case of mind over matter? We have a tendency to choose one over the other, but I believe they’re connected. The mind and the body are connected through the central nervous system- which is the gateway to everything. It is the nervous system that will lead us every time.

What attracted you to designing Strongfit?

I am a humanist first. My goal has always been to find a way to help people. I saw the same patterns through sports and lifestyle of injury, discomfort, and mental anguish, over and over again. I knew there was something that could be done about it, so I took it as my responsibility to find better answers than what was already out there.

How did you work out the rationale?

I read very little about fitness… but I have an extensive background in strength and conditioning. I have spent many years actually practicing different training methods. It allowed me to develop a personal database of experiences— what works and what doesn’t. I get most of my knowledge from other fields like neuroscience, evolutionary biology and quantum mechanics. I search for patterns that I can connect to help people create positive change within themselves. So the rationale is found through countless moments of deep thinking and practice. And together, they create the beginnings of my concepts. I test all of my concepts thoroughly first, and then discuss my experiences with my second, Richard. If the ideas are working, we test even more. With a network of over 300 coaches, we continue to gather data from experience. If I receive a positive response by at least 30 percent of them, then I know I’m onto something.

Do you see Strongfit as a rival to CrossFit or are they compatible?

This is a huge misunderstanding I face constantly. I am not a competitor to CrossFit. On the contrary, I think the CrossFit training system has done incredible things- particularly for women. We’ve seen such an improvement not only in performance with women, but also their self esteem and body image, than we have never seen before. Our intentions with Strongfit are to enhance performance in things like CrossFit and other training methods, not replace them. It’s the individual that always comes first.

Why are you moving to Utrecht?

I was invited to Utrecht for a Seminar by the owners of Unscared CrossFit. This was my first seminar outside of my own gym that I have ever held, and it’s what started my world tour. We arrived two days early to Utrecht, and within 24 hours, I had totally fell in love with the city and its people. I decided that one day, Utrecht was the place I would call home.

What is your favourite place in Utrecht?

I love looking for craftsmen. It isn’t so much the places that are my favorite, but the individuals inside that are always pushing past expectations and limits, and providing people with new knowledge and great experience. I love the Dutch culture. It’s a quiet city. It provides me with the silence to think critically, and views that inspire creativity.

Does Utrecht as a city do enough for sport in general?

Dutch people are super active. My daughter has found connections in various sports like hockey, dance, and mma training. The Dutch culture has been a great place to encourage her towards sports in an inviting way. Where I’d love to see growth is strength specific training for the women here. I see a lot of untapped potential there.

What about Strongfit, are you made welcome?

The neighbours of Strongfit HQ are at least entertained. I think some of our training methods, like carrying heavy yokes and pushing sleds are new to them, but they are welcoming and supportive of our endeavours. Our Saturday sessions that allow athletes to come and train have been well attended, so I think it’s been a great fit.

Your new Gym, where will it be when will it open?

It is not a gym. Our location is more of a laboratory. It is where I test my theories and breakdown my methods. I keep it closed to the public so that I can keep my focus on what I am testing, otherwise I will always default to coaching someone. Assessments and workouts at our location are by invitation only

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Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins is Welsh and lives in England. He is a writer. A Europhile and Remainer, he is a regular visitor to Utrecht and has set his crime novel series in the city.

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