Growing up, Juto (27) was constantly bullied; feeling alienated and helpless. By introducing fitness into his daily life through dance and strength training, he made it through to the other side with his head held high. Through finding his own path in life, he has risen above his challenges while standing out from the crowd.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: Exercise can help prevent and heal the psychological damages of bullying. How did fitness help you on your journey to overcoming bullying?
JUTO: Fitness gave me more confidence. Fitness helps improve my mood, self-esteem and decrease anxiety. It is not just good for your body, but your mind. Fitness is now an important part of my life.
BD: How did dance first teach you about physical and mental health?
J: It was through dance I started to learn about how I could show my emotions in a new way. It was a way for me to move, stay focused and get out of my head. I first got into dancing when I was around fifteen years old. I watched a YouTube video on the dance style of Krump created by Ceasare “Tight Eyez” Willis, and Jo’Artis “Big Mijo” Ratti. After I joined the military, I met a group of people who showed me this dance group called Dragon House that do animation, tutting and freestyle to dubstep music. That added even more spark to my love of dance.
BD: The military was another factor in what set you on your path to fitness. How did becoming a military veteran educate you about fitness?
J: After high school, I served four years in the Army doing one tour in Ghazni, Afghanistan. When I first started basic army training, my comrades were lifting a lot of weights, and I couldn’t even pick up a thirty pound dumbbell. Then as I progressed through my time in the military and my deployment, I wanted to make a change. I started training and it set me in the direction to become the person I am today.
BD: Why do you think so many people find it hard to be their true self?
J: If you look at how society is set up in this century, the definition of being yourself is thrown out the window. What I mean by that is how situations and normal interactions are dealt with. People feel like they have to put on an act, be a certain way, or do a certain thing to get what they want. Of course, that never works in the end. Deep down it breaks my heart because people are not being authentic, they are not being true to themselves. All you have to do is be what nobody else can be, just be yourself.
BD: Style is something we all have inside, and something that is unique for each one of us. How has fashion allowed you to express yourself?
J: Clothing and accessories comes in many forms, which has allowed me to show my creativity even more when I put outfits together. As a teenager, I was never really into fashion. When I started seeing unique looks online, I definitely got more interested and began to experiment with different looks. Now I am really into mixing streetwear with vintage.
BD: You’re currently in your fourth year at Augusta Technical College where you’re majoring in Cybersecurity, why did you choose that discipline?
J: Growing up I was interested in computers and technology. As technology advances, hackers advance, so this sparked my interest in being one of the ways I can help people.
BD: Instead of letting bullying break you down, you have put your efforts into something positive and worked at your passions. What advice do you have to others who have been or are currently being bullied?
J: You need to keep being yourself, and you can’t let anyone get in the way of that. I haven’t conformed. Continue to do the things you love to do and invest in that. Always stay true to your convictions and your own personality. Make sure that you take care of yourself. If you’re in danger from a bully, whether it be at school or your job, don’t hesitate to go through the proper channels to seek help to stop that person and their bullying ways. You have to tell yourself “I’m done letting bullies get me down.” It can be achieved despite how difficult it may be to do. It wouldn’t be the first time somebody accomplished something difficult. Remember things will get better and you must stay true to yourself.
Follow Juto on Instagram @IAmJuto