Friday Jams

When we went to FInland last March and were picked up at the local airport by Champions League co-founder and promoter, Ilkka, we jumped into his stylish zoom zoom and took off for the 20 minute trek to the mountainside resort, Ruka. It was a beautiful spring day with a light dusting of snow and even more snow coming off the cars in front of us. Between Ilkka’s lead foot; his texting and Facebooking; talking with Bigg about stuff and the loud radio, it was quite a ride. Macklemore’s Thrift Shop came on the radio, clearly a favorite of Ilkka’s because the already loud radio got turned up to a respectable shake the windows level. From that moment on, anytime I hear that song, I think of Ilkka and that drive.

Fast forward to Lithuania, Our driver was one of the young men who work at Z’s gym complex and had minimal English. VERY minimal! When we jumped into his car, Roar by Katy Perry was playing on the radio. Now, I’d heard this song of course on this side of the world and thought it was stupid. “Roarrrrrr,er,er,er,er,er’r’r!” SRSLY? This is the shite on our radio. But I guess this is the shite on everyone’s radio. When the radio announcers said the song was sung by Katy Perry, I said I hadn’t even known she sang that song. Then I said it was a stupid song. Which I immediately felt bad about because that’s one word of English our escort recognized and he turned the station. I felt bad. Fucking rude Americans. But now when I hear this song…I think of Lithuania…before I turn it off.

And talking about interesting young people in Lituania (that’s called a segue;) I had previously mentioned our hostess for the Strongman weekend, Vaida.

Vaida works for Z and is one the most delightful; smart; gorgeous; stylish; witty; slings the fun teasing she got from the big boys right back at ’em; high heel wearing young lady’s I’ve ever met. Her English was very good and she even helped me find some prizes for the kids back home.

Vaida was in charge of making sure all these Strongman were bussed, fed, accounted for, teased, and even went above and beyond the call of duty as she was sent to Svend’s room to get him going Sunday morning. He didn’t answer her knocks…he regretted that later;) Just LOOK at her! She is really one of the tiniest people I’ve ever been around, when you hug her, she disappears. The restaurant that fed us Saturday and Sunday was in a mall across the way from the Arena. It was a nice little walk, nothing too much for tired big guys. But those 5″ heels of hers! How in the hellz did she walk for two days straight in those heels going back and forth and even having to RUN back on Sunday to grab the locker room key that Z had back at the restaurant. When I asked her how she walked in those shoes she said she has to wear them or she becomes invisible (a fact that is actually untrue since we saw her Monday morning in jeans and no heeled boots and she still manages to turn every head in the room.)

She was a delight and kept everyone in check (a ginormous task with these guys;) and smiled the entire weekend. She also has prizes going her way from Wisconsin. I have no idea how old Vaida is, I’m guessing mid 20’s. She’d lived in Belgium for a year and came back home to be close to her family. This is something I love about Europeans, moving to another country so young is no big deal. Give it a try, it may work out, it may not. Learn to speak Dutchie, no problem. They’re awfully cool. Vaida was our hostess with the mostess and made the entire weekend fun and completely stress free (well, for me anyway, I wasn’t competing;) Heeeheeeee.

Enjoy the weekend.

Few enjoy noisy, overcrowded functions. But they are a gesture of goodwill on the part of host or hostess, and also on the part of guests who submit to them.

Fannie Hurst

Training Log

About tosabarbell

For training opportunities at tosabarbell, call or text Juli at 320-296-9313. e-mail to At tosabarbell, I build relationships cultivated in a strength and learning environment. There is no 12 week magic pill program to strength but rather a lifetime commitment to be the very best and most useful human you can be. tosabarbell is a private, home grown gym with three lifting platforms; squat rack; prowlers; throwing implements; bars, bumpers and everything else needed for an effective strength and conditioning program. Straightforward barbell programming including the Olympic lifts; sound (read: not fancy bullshit) diet advance for weight gain or loss; and strong coaching will ensure you will meet your goals such as becoming stronger, more explosive, and better conditioned. I have been coaching teams and athletes for over 30 years. I grew up participating in various sports at various levels but was always drawn to those that require strength training. I have multiple local, national, and world records in the sports of Weightlifting and Highland Games Heavy Events as well as a combined total of 5 World Championships. My 5 years of training and coaching under Mark Rippetoe provided a wide range of influence from some of the top strength & conditioning and throwing coaches in the country. I will strongly encourage tosabarbell athletes to compete (and prepare you to do so.) However, tosabarbell is also for those who wish to be stronger and go through life feeling better. Matt WanAt is a retired Professional Strongman who competed frequently with Strongman Champions League in Europe. He played a year of D1 football with Iowa before concentrating on his Chemical Engineering degree in Iowa City. He is a native of Wauwatosa and still remains a staunch supporter of Tosa East. This blog will be a mixture of strength notes, coaching and nutrition tips, personal shit; bacon delicacies, and a whole lot of fun.
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