Fitness. Dogs. Fashion. Tucker Howe is the Personal Trainer on a our radar. The Texas native discusses swapping tacos for training post being diagnosed with HIV, the chances of Chris Hemsworth playing him in a film and his muscular first crush…
“Everyone deserves a champion.”
YOUTH and ROLEMODELS
How was your youth, did you have a role model growing up?
I grew up in Texas to parents who always raised us to be thinkers and I have a very distinct memory of my mom voicing that intention. So, I think my role models really revolved around those two things: Texas and being encouraged to think, challenge, and lead. Kind of a marriage of the southern masculinity I felt I needed to adhere to and an encouragement to have a presence around something. Short answer: Indiana Jones.
Who was your first crush and who is your pipe dream boyfriend?
Being a gay man, I am not sure this counts. But I used to hold this girl named Rebecca on the bus in Elementary school. Thinking back on this I think I was drawn to her because she wore this shirt with the back cut out and I liked her muscles. From there we could list Daniel, the soccer player, Nick the baseball dude, etc etc… Pipe dream? Hmm, I really don’t have a blue print for the ideal. But if I had to be creative around it; let’s make him bedhead handsome with a good life story I could help write.
What was your relationship with queer culture growing up?
Nonexistent? I am not sure I even knew what queer meant. For young Tucker, homosexuality equated to Nate Berkus’ weekly appearance on Oprah, and the older Texan men in my life haphazardly using the word fag. The concept of queerness and the knowledge of a culture existing around that was far beyond my comprehension.
What advice would you give to your adolescent self?
Don’t hold it in. Little Tucker shouldn’t ever hold back in a race, with boys, love, school, parents, friends, fear. Give it all out at all times, and while it will be too much for some, your return rate is going to be stellar.
Who would play you in a film?
In my mind…Chris Hemsworth…obviously. In reality, probably Adam Brody.
“Authenticity with yourself may not always be the most popular option, but it should always be the one you choose.”
FITNESS and HEALTH
On social media you’ve mentioned being HIV positive. How did you work through your initial emotions and what have you learnt about HIV that members of the queer community should know?
Oof – time, I think, but to be honest I’m not too sure exactly. Everything was so blurry and my mind seem to continuously drown in my own blood. I don’t really know how to describe this feeling, but there is something that overtook me. I have never had a negative relationship to the word disease but sickness really gets to me. This sick cocktail I experienced after I was diagnosed was equal parts disgust, a strong desire to rip out my veins, and a calming realization of my own mortality. It has been the heaviest thing I’ve ever had to carry. But after a few months of feeling shameful, being much too skinny, and trying to figure out how I was going to move forward, I just decided I was over it. I was just exhausted. So, I stopped drinking alcohol and soda, I said goodbye to my favorite meal of bean and cheese tacos and got a personal trainer. +40lbs of muscle later (with the occasional taco), I’ve encountered many different reactions around my status. “You’re too pretty”, “Okay, no worries”, “Go infect someone else”, “HIV undetectable isn’t real” etc etc. And, I realize everyday that we still have so much more to do to simply educate our community. Stigma and naivety can develop around anything; the best way to bring something into the light and to create a safer community is to talk a lot and talk loudly. In regards to my experience with this (and really any hardship), I recommend that you encounter life’s finality. It forces you to learn to swim in your own sickness.
Do you have a killer ab routine that you can share with us?
Gymnastics rings. Or any kind of stability work, really as you are consistently engaging the core. Like all muscle building, time under tension (how long you are engaging/contracting the muscles) mirrors the results. This kind of activation gets to those itty bitty muscles you didn’t even know existed. I don’t have a set routine per se. But I like to work up my abs – starting with lower, moving up to obliques, high abdominals, and then back down.
As a personal trainer what would you say to someone who wants to join a gym but has reservations due to the hyper masculinity of gyms and inexperience of workout routines?
“I get it.” It’s important for me when training to remind myself I am here for me. And, that’s it. It’s a constant process to remind myself of this, and to accept I will be doing things wrong and I will make mistakes with my fitness. But ya gotta try! Put on some tunes, start with basics. Building muscle isn’t only about how heavy you are lifting, but your time under tension. Move slow, concentrate on the muscle, keep your form, and breathe.
Can you take us through your daily routine with any health and fitness tips you can point out?
My daily routine in a nutshell: waking up, Teddy (my dog), food, training, food, work, food, Teddy, sleep. You could say I live a very exciting life, not revolved around eating at all. Kidding. One rule I live by is “food is fuel”, and for the most part it’s silly to continue to exercise and tear your muscles if your body has no fuel. I am currently trying to build muscle, so I am running on a diet of 40% starchy carbs, 35% veggies, and 25% protein. This combo works for me personally, but I recommend trying out different variations and seeing how your body responds.
What’s your Go-To Track for working out?
Strength days: – Mr Skeng by Stormzy + Mozart.
HIIT days: – Conga by Gloria Estefan + Money Moves by Lil Gigi
“For young Tucker, homosexuality equated to Nate Berkus’ weekly appearance on Oprah, and the older Texan men in my life haphazardly using the word fag.”
What have you learnt about yourself this year?
Authenticity with yourself may not always be the most popular option, but it should always be the one you choose.
Are there any young athletes or creatives that make you excited for the future?
My constant fitness inspiration is @adigillespie and @pnp_tc – they are the brains behind @uvuclub: the kind of fitness community I aspire to be a part of.
Goals for 2018?
Cultivate a community of go-doers, gain 15lbs, give more to others.
Do you have any future projects that you can tell us about?
I feel like I am always working on a multitude of projects at once, but my current focus is building a queer community around fitness and health. Who knows what that looks like, but stay tuned.
What would you graffiti on the back of a toilet door?
Probably nothing. I’m a boy scout and I would be afraid of vandalizing someone else’s property. But…if I was feeling rebellious: “Everyone deserves a champion.”