Iron & Aloha

This has been a bad week. A very bad week. Some of us have walked through fire and have quickly came out on the other side. Some are just beginning their journey through darkness here on our sunny world. Some of us have grown; have begun healing; are starting new chapters in their lives in new homes, and though our portraits have changed a bit in our every day, we’ll all be fine.

Others have lost fathers, grandfather’s, and husband’s. An unimaginable tragic Thanksgiving according to my FB feed. Sad news of loved ones of friends passing. Shocking news of an Iron god leaving our strength world and the lives of his loved ones and friends. A stark reminder that as long as there is breath in our bodies, we can do better. Make things right. Not give up. Don’t wait.

A new and dear friend of mine made a comment this week about my probably not getting to train like I’m used to which is adding to the stress and exhaustion of not sleeping. I said, no, I train. Because when life turns to shit, I turn to the Iron. I’ve often wondered what people do in times of crisis who don’t have the Iron to turn to? I cannot imagine. The Iron is always there, not only wanting to beat you, but to give you comfort. The feel of the weight on your back, pushing you down, cheering you on to get back up. Telling you to not give up. Just stand up with me on your back. You and me kid. My job today isn’t to beat you, it’s to keep you standing. Just stand up. The Iron is my go to. I would be lost without it. I’d also be horrendously fat and unhealthy in my non-Iron depression. No thank you. I’ll take strong and sad any day to that.

But I’ve learned recently where else to turn. To my friends. Yes, this is new for me. I’ve always kept things close to the vest, not letting too many people know my shit. Too often people close to me have used personal information learned in times of crisis later on against me. Lesson learned, don’t tell. Deal with it on my own. Until now. I couldn’t do it on my own. This one was different. Harder. The hardest. I needed help. So I reached out. Luckily for me, some amazing people grabbed my hand and let me know I’m not alone. Amazing.

See, when I hit town, I became a part of Bigg’s life. His friends became my friends, his family became my family. Everyone was incredibly welcoming. I’ll always be thankful for that. But what happens when shit hits the fan and that network instantly shuts down? Actually, an entire new network (that had been there already in varying degrees) opened up to me and suddenly I wasn’t on my own dealing with a horrible situation. It still overwhelms me, how many of you reached out. So many mutual friends too, you all made an impact. All of the Aloha you sent or helping hands you extended…you’ve taught me so much. Not only to remember to reach out, but to extend myself to others so THEY can reach to me when needed.

Iron and Aloha. I would be lost without it. I cannot ever convey to all of you my (our) thanks for helping us see this through. You know who you are. All of you. There are a few who have my complete love and devotion, you know who you are. Thank you.

tosabarbell will be around for a while longer. A long while.


“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”
A.A. Milne

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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