Double Down

Maxx Chewning makes a move from part-time Internet star to full-time fitness guru.

Since launching his eponymous YouTube channel in 2011, 27-year-old deadlifter and digi-age fitness guru Maxx Chewning has accumulated nearly 200,000 subscribers and more than 39,000 Twitter followers. Posting a new 15-minute video at least three times per week—and sometimes daily—Chewning’s offerings are whimsical, educational and entertaining. Titles like “Girls Always Leave Me,” “The Year of the Squat,” “Wearing a Suit in the Gym,” and “Physique Update: Let’s Get This Over With” reflect Chewning’s aesthetic of hip, nonchalant zeal.

Earlier this December, he quit his IT job in Alexandria, making the leap to full-time YouTuber. Hoping to learn more, we reached out to the man himself.

When and how did you first get into fitness?

My college roommate actually got me into it. He was really enthusiastic, but me? I was 21 years old and preferred sitting on the couch, playing Call of Duty, eating sour candy and drinking Pepsi. He’d ask me to come along, but I didn’t think I needed to work out. It was dumb. It just didn’t interest me.

But he kept at it, saying that if we really got into fitness, we’d impress more girls or at least our friends. He was trying to lose some weight at the time and, with the gym right around the corner from our house, I kind of gave in and started going there for support. At first I just kind of picked up weights and put them back down—not really taking it seriously or putting much effort into it. Then, slowly, I got addicted.

I remember this point around three months in when I saw some changes. And while they weren’t exactly impressive, all of a sudden I felt like I was the Hulk. I’d put on a tank top and go into a Mexican restaurant and think I was the most cut-up guy in the place. Looking back, it was ridiculous. But seeing that change is what got me into it. I liked the way I felt about myself. And because of that feeling, going to the gym suddenly became fun, something I fell in love with doing.

How did you get into making workout videos and posting them online?

It was through Nick Wright that I got into it. I’d been watching him on YouTube for years when he just so happened to move to Richmond, which is where I lived. When I found that out, I got really excited and reached out to him and was like, ‘Hey, I watch your videos and we should work out together!’ To my surprise, he welcomed the idea and we got together pretty soon thereafter.

Over time we established a friendship. He had a YouTube channel with maybe around 30,000 subscribers at the time—which I thought was just insane; it really seemed like a lot of people. Being around him, I could see how much he loved it, how much passion he put into it. I thought it was a cool thing, but that was about the extent of it. Then one day he looked at me and said, “You have a unique personality; you’re a little stronger; you’re a smaller guy—I think there’s definitely a market for you on the YouTube avenue.”

Taking Nick’s advice, I started making videos in 2011. Since then it’s just taken off.

Tell us about your clothing line, Ever Forward Apparel. What is it? How’d it come about?

A couple years into the YouTube thing I started wanting to create a brand. But I wanted something meaningful—not just some funny slogan I thought up one day and said, “Hey, wouldn’t this look cool on a t-shirt!” I wanted something people could get passionate about. Over time I started really giving it some thought. Then it hit me: My father had passed away in 2005 and “ever forward” was this thing he’d always told my family—like, just be constantly moving forward with your life. I thought that was perfect, that’s what I wanted my brand to stand for. I mean, anyone can take that phrase—ever forward—and have it mean something specific to them. So while what it means to me maybe isn’t what it means to someone else, the idea is the same: everyone has something they’re moving forward from or moving forward to. It’s a really diverse message that’s so simple. People connect with it. I get so much feedback. People tell me they love the message—love what it stands for, love what it means. And that’s great. I think it’s awesome that I’ve put something out there that people resonate with and claim as their own.

How’s life been since you quit your job this fall to devote your full-time attention to fitness and YouTube?

It’s  something I’d been planning on doing for about a year—tracking my finances, making sure they were regular, making sure this was something I could afford and so on. So it wasn’t all-of-a-sudden, it was a long, thought-out process. And I think that making the decision to commit myself to doing what I want to do professionally was exactly what I needed to do. I’m doing what I love—making videos and entertaining people. While I don’t know what the future may hold, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to working in a cubicle for someone else. Quiting my job was the best decision I’ve ever made—I’m truly happy with where I am and I have zero regrets.

Care to offer our readers a bit of closing inspiration?

If there’s one thing I’m always telling my followers and supporters, it’s to never give up on what you want to do. You have to try and go for it. I think too many people get started working on their dreams but, when they don’t see immediate benefits or gains, they quit. Whether it’s fitness, business, going to school, whatever, I feel strongly that, as long as you put your mind to it, you can do anything you want. You just have to go into something saying, “I’m going to start this and I’m going to finish it—I’m going to see it all the way through.” That’s how you succeed. It sounds so cliché, but I totally believe it.,

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