Travis Stoetzel interview

Travis Stoetzel interview

Check out this killa interview with Strength Coach Travis Stoetzel. I met him at an Underground Strength Coach Seminar this past summer and this guy is fired up and gets after it. I love meeting guys like Travis as he walks the walk as he is super fit and agile, mobile and hostile (when he needs to be).

SEALgrinderPT sits down with Travis to answer and few questions and catch up with his coaching programs.

Travis Stoetzel interview
Photo: Brad McLeod, Travis Stoetzel and QD at this summers conference.

SGPT: Tell us about yourself?

TS:  Well if you don’t know me, I’m a complete FREAK when it comes to training.  Growing up I was always involved with sports and from that I was always heavily involved with training and lifting weights.  When I got into college I was determined to get myself into the best position possible to make it to the next level so that’s when I started studying and researching everything I could possibly find in regards to training to get stronger, faster, bigger, and more explosive. That’s really how it all started.

Travis Stoetzel workouts with the TRX

Check out Travis Stoetzels Bag, Bells and Bodyweight workout here

Now since I’m done with sports it’s become my number 1 PASSION and personal MISSION to train athletes and people who are serious about training so that I can possibly help them reach their ultimate gold.  It’s my MISSION to get people stronger both mentally and physically.  My personal mantra for when it comes time to do anything worth doing in your life is to do it 110% H.A.M. (If you don’t know what this means, look it up 😉 ).  This especially holds true in regards to my mentality when it comes time to train.  I love to train hard!

Other then training people in my gym and online at I’m a pretty relaxed guy.   I have a boxer that is like a son to me that’s named Kain as well as a fiancé, Aundrea who i’ll be married to on December 14th, 2012!

SGPT: How did you decide to start a gym?

My first job after college was as a personal trainer at a large corporate gym.  Things started off great and I loved everything about my job at first, but after a while the corporate world and atmosphere of the gym I was working at turned for the worse and was not something I really wanted to be apart of for the long haul.  I was being restricted to doing things the way the gym wanted things done and since I wasn’t able to train the way I wanted to train and do the things I wanted to do, which ultimately impacted the type of results I could achieve with my clients, I knew I needed to get out and start my own gym.

After two years of training at the big box gym, I started my gym, The Forged Athlete!

This was the absolute best decision I could have ever made as with today, being in my own gym I do things on my own terms and train who I want to train.  NO more corporate BS!

***BIG thanks to Zach Even Esh and his USC cert for helping me get started***

Travis Stoetzel Pull Up workout

Train like Travis Stoetzel with Bags, Bells and Bodyweight workouts

SGPT: Tell us about your gym.

The Forged Athlete Gym is a NO BS, hardcore strength based gym that’s geared specifically towards performance based training and caters to athletes and non athletes alike.  We require people to earn their spot into the gym via a trial session.  This keeps the lazy, un-motivated people out and brings in the determined and motivated individual.  The training that we do not only helps improve overall physical abilities like strength, speed, power, but also helps with lean gains in muscle, as well as increases in fat loss.

The training we do also helps transform people mentally as well.  This is an important piece of our gym that we take very seriously as mindset is key.

One of the programs that we offer is specifically geared for Marines that helps them get prepared both mentally and physically for their initial boot camps.   Guys come in weak and timid who can barely do pull up or push ups but when they leave, to leave strong, confident, and ready to serve as a Marine!  We pride ourselves greatly for this program.

The main overall mission on The Forged Athlete is to help people destroy their weaknesses both physically and mentally.  Whether this be a young athlete trying to make the varsity squad or an ex-athlete police officer wanting to improve his fitness for his job, our goal is to forge them into a strong and athletic person that’s not only tough physically, but mentally as well.

SGPT: What are a few things you would have done differently setting up your gym – now that you have opened up and established.

To be honest, I wouldn’t change much.  There were many mistakes made, but it was all of these struggles and various “rough times” that we’ve gone through that has made us into what we are today.  I can remember during the first year we were open, in the winter time we wouldn’t even turn on the heat because it was so expensive.  We would train in 10 degree’s fully bundled up with coats, hats, and gloves!  You want to talk about building up some mental toughness…  Train in freezing temperatures.

We started off small and very minimal.  At first we didn’t have much equipment at all.  Just a small set of DB’s, some pull up bars and a few KB’s.  We didn’t need anything else.

One of the major mistakes I see a lot of new gym owners make is buying a bunch of equipment right off the bat.  If you’re a good trainer that holds any sort of ability to get clients results, you should be abel to train anyone at anytime without equipment.

With this in mind, we made it a point to “earn” the right to have more equipment in the gym.  As we grew, so did the amount of equipment and extra “toys” we had.  My advise is to live off of nuts and berries until you can truly afford to go bigger.

The one major mistake I would avoid if i had to do it over all again would be to AVOID spending (or wasting) money on advertising.  We dropped 1000’s on both online and offline marketing BS and never saw any return in it.  Instead, focus in on what you have with your current clients and treat them like gold.   They are number #1 and if you get them good results, they will bring in more people.  Forget about trying to buy ads as thats a waste of money.  If I could change that today, I would have spent that on some more “toys”.

SGPT: What makes your gym different from other boxes?

First off, we’re not yet affiliated with Crossfit.  Not sure if we will ever affiliate.  Either way, at The Forged Athlete, we want our members to constantly be striving to improve performance.  We want our people to always have a goal to get better.  Every day is another day for them to come in and improve and while our workouts are designed to be crushing, there’s always a method behind the madness.

Every 4 weeks our members get a fresh set of workouts that focus on different strengths and weaknesses.  Progression is one of the main focuses with what we do. There are gyms out there that will throw complete beginners in with advanced lifters and this is a quick way to get people hurt and lose members.

We want everyone to work as hard as they can and go 110% H.A.M. every time, but not at the expense of their health and results.  People train hard but they train SMART.

We have a super effective little system that we use that “tests” people out one time every month.  This not only builds up buzz and keep the energy high, it also keeps people bound and determined to keep progressing.

If a client passes, they get their name up on the board and are able to take on the next test.   If not, they best improve before next time…

On top of this, we connect with our people OUTSIDE of the gym as well as it’s important that we be apart of our clients lives vs. just seeing them when they come into train.    Again, our members are our life blood and they mean a TON to us.  What truly sets us apart from the other gyms out there other then our ability to train and get people results is how much we CARE about our clients.

SGPT: Tell us about your typical athlete that comes to your gym? What style of workouts do you have in your gym?

We have a wide array of clients that come in.  There’s your young and old athletes that come in to get stronger, bigger, and faster and your ex-athlete / weekend warrior types that just want to come in a tear sh*t up just so they can feel like the athlete of old.  We also cater to military / public servant types who have jobs that require they be in good physical shape (as their life depends on it).

Across the board, we train everyone very similar in that all of our programs are specifically geared towards improving performance.  Getting a person stronger, more explosive, more conditioned, and athletic are the main results that our programs produce.

The most common of workouts we do are full body based training sessions.  We always make sure to blend in power, strength, some assistance work, then usually throw in a finisher at the end to work conditioning and mental toughness.    Not all session are like this, but for the most part, they all follow this similar set up.

Here’s what a sample workout may look like…

1A) Box Jumps x 10 total jumps – as high as possible
2A) Sumo Deadlifts 6 x 3
3A) DB RDL’s 3 x 15
3B) Handstand Push Ups 3 x submax
4A) 21-15-9 of:
a) Ring Push Ups
b) Kettlebell Swing
c) Front Sandbag Zercher OR Keg Carry x max distance

We would always follow up with some extra grip and core work then end with some focused stretching and foam rolling.  Those extra bits at the end are MANDATORY and we expect our members to get those things in on their own.  We make it their responsibility.

SGPT: What are your plans for your gym for future?

Actually, right as I type this interview out, I signed a lease for a NEW gym as we’ll be expanding into a new space that will supply DOUBLE the space.

We’re going to keep things similar in that we want to keep the atmosphere very high energy and intense, but the main bonus with the move with be the ability to utilize more space and bring in more people!    More people = More lives changed!

SGPT: Tell us about your online business.

I have a personal blog at where I like to post my own training routines and info at.

The blog is geared towards everything hardcore strength and conditioning as I talk about share my  workouts, discuss nutrition, and pretty much go over anything else needed to improve your physique and mindset.

I LOVE having the ability to reach out to more people and having an online business has allowed me to do this (It’s how I met you Brad 😉 ).  The main reason I started my blog in the first place was to expand my ability to help more people vs. being limited to just helping the people within my gym.

Thus far, I’ve been able to connect with people from dozens of different countries and who live on the other side of the planet!  It’s been pretty crazy and things are only getting better.

Another site that I have that’s also helped people break through barriers and reach their training goals is which is my hardcore strength training membership based site.   That’s a great site where I supply brand new training programs each month and am able to connect with people via the forum for additional help.

My major online resource is my Elite Online Coaching Program which gives me the ability to directly work with people 1 on 1.  This takes things to a whole new level where instead of me having to be there in person to help train a person, I can specifically connect via my coaching system to help take people to their goals and beyond.

All exciting stuff.

In addition, I also have a lots of different training manuals and courses that are all geared towards getting serious lifters and athletes results that have been proven to be highly effective.   I’ll continue to publish more of these manuals on into the future.

SGPT: What are you reading now?

Right now I’m actually listening to an audio course called Pure Genius by Dan Sullivan for the third time.

To be honest, I’m more of a audio book type of guy.  If I hear it and can listen to it, I typically get it down a ton better the reading it.

It’s hard for me to sit down and read a book for extended periods of time.  I’ve got to get out and move!

SGPT: Thanks for the interview, Travis.

Hey thank you Brad!

With you being a Navy SEAL I just want to let you know that I highly RESPECT you more then you know and appreciate everything you’ve done and keep doing.

Keep kicking ass and going H.A.M.!  I look forward to getting in some training sessions with you as well as having you put me through a SEAL Grinder PT challenge someday!

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