From humble beginnings, my story on Matthew Stanton: Certified personal trainer, Powerlifter, Virginia state record-holder, and close personal friend.  

Matthew Stanton has lived in this town all his life. Culpeper, Virginia, a small town about an hour and a half from the capital, Richmond, and an hour and a half from Washington D.C.

There’s something you’ve got to understand about a kid who grows up in a family, not related by blood, free of some of the perks most of us may have had the luxury of growing up with. A kid, who by all accounts, has had his share of setbacks and adversity.

Who of has haven’t, right? But that doesn’t matter.

No ordinary gym guy

Meet Matthew Stanton, who, while not your average 22-year-old, and may have a different background than most, is very much the same as you or me.

He’s not your average gym rat who throws weight around. Which trust me, he does.

Currently a fitness manager for Gold’s Gym, he’s also not your average fitness manager either. Adopted at birth, Stanton grew up with a steadfast, work-first mentality. Besides being a good friend, working might be what he knows best.

Yeah, you can say he came from humble beginnings. As cliché as it sounds, it’s true. The things are, there’s a whole other level to this guy.

I consider myself determined for what I aspire for, but it takes a certain level, a certain drive, and desire, through literal blood, sweat and tears to accomplish what Stanton has.

I had the privilege of working and befriending Matt nearly four years ago, working at the local Martin’s grocery store in 2012.

We were both baggers, so we mainly stood at our registers doing just that. And carts. Always having to go outside to get the carts.

So there was this kid, with his obviously strong physique, and dapper dress shoes. The dress shoes stood out to me.

‘What was this kid trying to prove?’

I didn’t know who he was. Knew nothing of his background, or any adversities he had growing up.

Overcoming adversity

I, myself, battled my own adversity that year. All of us go through it, but some have it harder than others. I was out of college that year of 2012, working so as to make a little money; part of the reason so I could go back and finish what I had started, my degree in communications.

But this isn’t about me, and this isn’t to suggest this Stanton kid is a charity case.

It doesn’t matter what Matthew Stanton experienced growing up, or what setbacks he may have endured. He just has a smile on his face and that certain screw it mentality.

That’s all you need right?

Over the next couple months, Stanton and I began to get to know one another. Outside, pushing carts, we had certain solitude from the hustle and bustle of retail.

From customers and their attitudes.

Stanton and I were about the same height and weight – five-feet-nine, 145 – but make no mistake about it, this dude is a beast. A different breed of animal. You get past that notion when you see his bicep.

Straight-solid muscle.

You see, Stanton isn’t just a guy who works at a gym, not just a guy who likes to tear up the weight room.

Stanton is a record holder. Nine Virginia state powerlifting records.

He won the junior 75kg strict curl World Championships, the Virginia USA Powerlifting State Championship — formerly the American Drug Free Powerlifting Association — twice (2013 and 2015).

Just pick it up

To those familiar from within the powerlifting community, Matt is trained by World Champion William “Fred” Rice, a Masters 4 World Champion — 70 and up age class — who he met at Gold’s Gym in 2013.

When asking Matt what sticks out about Fred, he mentioned a newfound commitment to faith and God, as well as growing as a man, not just a powerlifter. Even things one might take for granted, such as balancing a checkbook or how to tie a tie.

A role model.

So yeah, Stanton has had to overcome his adversities, the humble beginnings. Culpeper doesn’t exactly elicit much of a response, much of a reaction on the map.

I remember driving him to an interview once across town because he didn’t have a car.

“It’ll only take [10 or 15] minutes, ” Stanton said. I sat in the car waiting and waiting. It was probably closer to an hour and a half. He likes to bring this story up, among countless others, when thanking me for helping him get to where he is today.That was nothing. This kid has shown me what being a friend is. He might have had less than the average person but has as big a heart as anyone.

Dress for success

I asked him once about those dress shoes at Martin’s and he replied, “I dress for the job I want.”

Smart man. Keeping the eye on the prize.

Over the last year, he became the personal trainer at Gold’s. Initially, he didn’t have much clientele, and he struggled to make much of an income.

He shares a house with friends. His adopted family had lost their house a few years ago, Stanton left to pick up the pieces of where he would go.

Seven months into his position at Gold’s, he was promoted to fitness consultant. Eleven months in he was named fitness manager.

All in a year and five months.

Talking to him recently regarding how it all started, “it began with football.” He was 15 and began to bulk up — weightlifting.

In Matt’s first powerlifting meet in 2013, at the USAPL State Championships, Stanton overcame the adversity of a back injury to break eight state records – four in the Junior age group, four in the Open group.

Since 2014, those eight records are retired, and the USAPL adopted new weight classes. The 148-pound weight class that Stanton competed in has since switched to the 145-pound weight class.

“Just pick it up.” A quote from Fred that sticks with Matt.

Matthew Stanton has definitely picked up a great deal of knowledge, not just to be a World Champion strict curler and record holder, but how to be a successful adult.

From humble beginnings to the record books.

William Chase

Upon taking up writing the summer of 2015, William's works have been featured across RantSports, Bleacher Report, EliteSportsNY, 27OutsBaseball, and Cubbies Crib of FanSided.
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