Model Attitude

Tommy Hilfiger model Julian Lucas on staying fit while “having one hand”

This post is part of a series of Queerty interviews with models, trainers, dancers, and, well, people who inspire us to stay in shape–0r just sit on the couch ogling them instead.

Name. Julian W. Lucas, 30

City: Philadelphia, PA
Occupation: So I’ve been really fortunate to do some modeling and some acting. I used to write and perform live sketch shows and improv in Hollywood with Second City and UCB. Which means I’m either absolutely hilarious or completely delusional. Currently, I model with Tommy Hilfiger for its Tommy Adaptive Line.

Favorite Gym: There’s this super small quiet neighborhood gym in my hometown where I truly fell in love with the working out. It’s so quiet and chill, it feels like it’s my own personal gym!

Favorite Exercise Playlist: My favorite playlist is a mix of hip hop, along with tropical house. I have a very unhealthy obsession with the artist Tobu these days. I also have a habit of dancing waaay too long between sets.

Favorite Workout Food: As for food, I like to keep it light, maybe a banana, but then afterward I like to feast. Usually a big bowl of rice and salmon, or some ground beef mixed with veggies.

Favorite Workout Outfit: I love compression tights with shorts over the top and a tank top, essentially what NBA players wear these days. But full disclosure, when I workout alone at home. I’m usually just in my underwear. Life’s better without clothes on and so is working out.

Related: Meet the yogi who specializes in all-male naked yoga classes for gay and bisexual guys

How do you balance staying in shape and having fun? So my philosophy is you stay in shape and live a healthy style so you can have fun. I’m a firm believer that when you live a healthy lifestyle, you’re naturally living the best life you can, which includes fun. You have to get to a place where you can comfortably miss a workout, or have a Sunday where you eat nothing but cookies and ice cream but not have it derail you. And most certainly not feel guilty. Having the confidence that comes Monday you’ll be back in the gym. Living healthy needs to become a way of life, and not just a 30-day challenge or New Years resolution.  But you should never feel deprived.

Workout Tip: If you’re struggling to stay consistent in the gym or find the time, get a resistance band set. Resistance bands are the safest way to workout, portable, cheap, and you can literally do a full body workout at home. It’s honestly my favorite way to train.
What do you keep on your nightstand? Water, I drink over a gallon a day. Chapstick, have to keep my lips soft in case I’m kissing someone good night ;). And whichever book I’m reading at the time. I’m pretty nerdy so it’s usually a psych or moral philosophy book.
And nope, I didn’t forget my phone, that’s usually in my bed.
Do you consider yourself disabled? How do you describe your condition?
As for the term “disabled,” I’ll be totally honest, no term every truly feels right. There are so many different variations, adaptive, disability, differently abled, handicapped, etc. What I’ve learned working with so many different people is that some find a specific word quite comfortable while others believe it to be derogatory. My cousin for one, who has cerebral palsy, is very confident and proud to use the word “disability” while others would burn people at the stake for using the word. I actually come more from the side of no labels at all, whether it be sexual orientation, physical, mental, and any other category one can be described in.
When describing myself, I tend to just use phrases like “having one hand,” “one-handed,” “one arm,” things of that nature.

How do you think about it in terms of work and working out?

So for me, I was very fortunate, growing up I played sports at a very competitive level all the way up to Semi-Pro Baseball. So working out was just another challenge for me to pursue. It was definitely extremely frustrating in the beginning. I knew I was strong and committed. I knew I had the potential to get really strong and fit, but having one arm I couldn’t just pick up some weights traditionally. I had to adapt lifts. Which at first I was a little insecure about. I first started working out in college, so it was a college gym filled with nothing but young, attractive, fit people.

But as I got more comfortable, I not only studied lifting but experimented, etc. I became not only comfortable with adapting lifts and how I looked doing them but also I understood how the human body works, how muscles grow and gain strength, which allowed me to be able to adapt lifts appropriately. I feel this has really helped as a trainer. I take pride in how much work I’ve put in, not only in the gym but also researching, studying, reaching out to the smartest people in the exercise industry and attacking them with endless questions.

As a trainer, I trust my ability to truly help a client. But I also trust my ability to understand them. I know what it’s like to look into the mirror and just absolutely hate what I see. I know what it’s like to feel insecure about your body, not wanting to even take your shirt off in public. Being born with one arm has allowed me to view this world differently, and I feel as though I can connect with people on a much deeper level then the average person can. I feel very much connected with other people’s struggles.

Is being one-armed an inspiration?

At first, I really rejected the notion of inspiring people. I didn’t want that. I just wanted to play sports, lift, be myself. But as I got older it became quite clear that no matter what I did, people would find a way to be inspired, even just by tying my own shoes! So I reached a point where I matured, I was like ok, I can embrace this, or run from this. Helping people has always been important to me. I’ve always wanted to build a life around helping people, so embracing it was a no brainer. Having my social media blow up and all the love and support I get really is mind-blowing to me. Seeing all the messages of people whose lives I’ve affected truly leaves me speechless. And as you can tell I’m NEVER speechless!

How does it affect the way other people treat you at the gym or in your career?

Some people can be extremely annoying, like one time, I was doing dips, and I had a 100-pound dumbbell dangling from my waist on a belt, and in the middle of the lift, some guy comes up to me and starts talking to me about my arm.

And it’s sad to say that I’ve faced a good deal of discrimination. When I was working at a gym in San Diego, it was right before I was getting officially certified to train, at that point I had already been lifting for years, and getting certified was just a formality. I literally passed the exam without reading the book. Because I had essentially been studying for the exam for years prior.

When talking with the gym owner he told me that I should focus on training people with disabilities because “regular people” wouldn’t want to train with me. That they wouldn’t trust that I knew what I was doing. He also went on to laugh and tell me my arm looked like an anteater in a completely different conversation.

And I’ll be totally honest, that messed me up a bit. I did feel insecure about training “regular people” and pushed back the date of my exam for a pretty long time. The truth is, I know there was some truth to what he was saying, he was a total asshole for a multitude of reasons, but there was some truth to what he was saying. I also quit working at that gym.

How do you identify in terms of sexual orientation?

I’m bisexual. Very 50/50 right down the middle!

What effect does your one-handedness have on your dating life?

So having one hand and dating has been quite the journey. I’ve always been very sex and love driven, from a very young age, writing love letters and being lovesick back in 1st grade! Even now, my main priority is finding love.

But I learned at pretty young age things would be different for me. When I was 13, I was very close friends with one of the “popular” girls. We would talk every night until her phone would die. And one night, we were talking, and she started to cry, and she told me how all the girls were talking about how hot I would be if only I didn’t have one hand. So naturally I had all the normal insecurities and fear around dating just like anyone else, but it definitely had the added layer of having one hand. I know there are some people who will never date me because I have one hand. And I truly get it. I do. I don’t blame them or hate them for it.

Some people want to fetishize me. Be with me just because I have one hand, which I also understand! Life is crazy, complex, and a big mess. I just can’t hold people’s feet to the fire. I have one hand myself, and I struggle to make sense of it all, so how can I possibly expect them to?

I definitely had a lot of insecurities about dating with one arm. I used to never take pictures that would show my arm, especially putting them on tinder and stuff. My initial logic was let them like me first then show them I have one arm. But now I don’t hide at all. Now I make sure on apps like tinder, bumble, etc, you can see I have one arm. I hated the feeling of being on a date and it’s like “Surprise!” But the people I end up dating, the people that are closest to me, are the ones who barely acknowledge that I have one hand. They don’t think about it, they don’t talk about it, they don’t find me inspiring, or different. They don’t find me more or less attractive because of it.

It just simply is.

Bonus Pics, because Julian is awesome: