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Thought Leadership

Let’s face it – vehicles are now just extensions of our bodies.


They allow us to live and work in two different places and give us the ability to get places quicker. Now more than ever they are pretty much a requirement of day to day life.

Commuting to work, grocery stores for food, picking up kids, attending group activities – or even recreational events, all accessed by our vehicles.

Alas – those vehicles aren’t always dependable though are they? Without routine maintenance it’s inevitable that you’ll someday encounter some type of “major” breakdown in your ability to commute.

You could fix it yourself – but let’s face it, sometimes you just know a professional is needed.

You begin calling around to various mechanics – fishing for a quote. Hoping someone will tell you they can fix it like new for $5…

Only to end each call with the same comment from the mechanic – “you need to bring it in so we can fully diagnose the issue”.

So, you look at google maps  – find a mechanic close by, and bring it to them.

Your quote inevitably comes back with a labor charge of $90 an hour. The fix – is always estimated at quite a bit more than that hour. And then there are the parts…

“Holy damn I had no idea” you quietly mutter to yourself…

It’s at this point you need to make a decision.

You could immediately decide to go with that first quote. You may decide to shop around – only to find the rates and estimates aren’t that much different.

So, you decide. The car MUST be fixed. You have no other alternative. Your life as you know it simply cannot continue as-is without this issue being fixed.

It’s expensive. It takes time. But once you have the car back it’s like new – you can resume your life.

(Might want to start scheduling some routine maintenance to keep from going through this again anytime soon…)


Let’s back up a second. 

The car MUST be fixed. You have no other alternative. Your life as you know it simply cannot continue without this issue being fixed.

We’ve been talking about vehicles and mechanics. What if we re-read this story and replace the Vehicle with:

Your Body? 

And the Mechanic

With a Trainer?

Yeah – it’s like that.

You’ve woken up today and found 50 extra pounds of “life got in the way” on your frame. You can’t bend over to tie your shoes without losing your breath. You get exhausted playing with your kids.

Your energy levels are in the shitter. You are uncomfortable everywhere you go.

Your doctor has told you you need to lose weight and get your shit together.

You know something has to be done.

You could do it yourself, however – it was that same self that got you in this situation. You need a professional. 

So, you start calling around to gyms hoping to find a $5 fix. 

I think you know how this goes.

A good Trainer will ask that you come in so they can diagnose a path that works for you. An effective solution targeted at your situation. 

That Trainer – a reputable Trainer, will explain that there is a lot of work that needs to be done and it will take time, but – it’s doable. He should be able to show you a path and give you confidence that it can be done.

The decision needs to be made at this point.

“Holy damn I had no idea” you quietly mutter to yourself…


The cost should be irrelevant (much like the vehicle decision).   

In both the vehicle and body scenario, inaction will negatively impact your way of life. The only difference is that you will feel the negative impact of indecision immediately in the vehicle scenario.

The impact of indecision in the body scenario will have a negative impact as well – but, you can actually just go back to living the way you always have. Adding more pounds. And feeling like shit more and more each day.

Making the situation worse.

Allowing the body and mind to continue to degrade as each day passes. 

Shortening your overall lifespan, limiting the time with your children, and impacting your overall quality of life.

Is your vehicle actually more important than the short time you’ve been given on this earth?

Imagine where you could be if you made the life changing decision to take care of your body. Then followed that up with an excellent preventative maintenance plan?

We all get jammed up from time to time in this life. Vehicles break, life gets in the way – but there are folks out there willing to help. Good ones too, if you do your due diligence and seek them out.

You get one body during your turn on this earth. The quality of that life is directly related to how you treat the body. Your body deserves your attention, respect and investment in it each and every day. 

I would say your body deserves 100x  more respect than your vehicle…

Take a deep breath. Shut out the noise. Do your research and get with a Team that can get you where you want to go. Then – commit to the team and the work.  

Good luck out there guys – as always, I’m here to help.


Coach Ted

Iron Legion Strength and Combat

Written by Ted Dreaver


 Training The Perishable Skill Set


Common questions:


“Hey Coach – what weight should I use for this workout?’




“Front headlock choke – arm in or out?”




“What pacing strategy should I be using for today’s WOD?”




“Ten finger grip or gable grip?”




“Why couldn’t I do the weight / intensity / time I did last time?”



All valid questions for a coach – from an athlete that is consistent. As a matter of fact – a good coach can answer these questions with certainty if that athlete is dedicated, consistent and driven.


And – to add to that, a great athlete already knows the answers because they have been tracking their progress. What these types of athletes are asking for is an edge or a suggestion to enhance their performance.


Needless to say these are the ones that are fun to coach.


Newer athletes also get a pass here. They (and the coach) are still developing and gathering data on what they are capable of.




It’s the inconsistent ones. (Insert eye roll here)


The guy who comes every once in a while.


The girl who misses 3 weeks but tries to make it up in two days – then misses another week.


The guy who may appear consistent – but is brain dead as to recording progress and appears confused as to why they even wake up every day.


The dude who shows up occasionally – and consistent about one thing: being late.



You know – most of you.


Ya’ll have the same questions, or worse – the blank stare of ignorance. Hiding behind a fake wall made up of your own ego. That “zero fucks given” attitude should NEVER apply to your training.


Believe it or not – your Coach now has to take steps back to get you set up for your occasional workout.


You may not want to hear the next part:


Your coach is not able to progress your training.


Because – you’re not training. You’re working out. Recreationally. Aimlessly.


Your coach will do their best to work through your nervous fumbling around and shifty gazes to set you up with a good stress relieving sweat session – but they will not be able to support or progress your training.


Not until you get your head out of your ass – or the clouds, and start caring about and tracking your progress.


Being dedicated and prioritizing your training has been discussed at length in many blogs before this. For now let’s talk about tracking.


There are so many easy ways to track your progress. A sketch pad, a notebook, a planner – or for you smart phone junkies there are a million apps out there that can help.


Here at Iron Legion you have access to Wodify. Did you know you could do a 5k at home on a sunday and put the results in there? You can log your garage back squat, garage FRAN time – whatever. And we will have it here when you need it.


Successful athletes prioritize their training AND their nutrition. They earn the results they get and it feels great to enter them into a tracking system.


Want successful training and nutrition sessions? It’s actually quite simple – so simple it’s easy to ignore:


Show up – care about AND track – your results.Every. Single Day.


Seasoned athletes know they are training a perishable skill set. Results aren’t guaranteed, and everything is earned by the day. Time away and distracted aimless workouts are disruptive to progression of any kind.


You ain’t unique. I can guarantee I’ve got members in here that have harder schedules and more kids than you and they are crushing it.


Get a notebook – or use the tools you pay for, be consistent and you’ll be surprised how quickly the gains will start stacking up.


Or don’t. The world loves gobbling up mediocre boring weak minded folks.


We want more for you.


Pay attention – it don’t cost nothin’.

I’m here to help

Yours in Strength and Confidence,

Coach Ted

#strengthoverfear #forgingbetterhumans


By Kaitie Neratka

What happens next?

Is this a question you think about after you achieve your goal? Whether it be weight loss, muscle gain, joined the 300# club, ran the marathon etc.


I mean the goal was met, you achieved what you wanted. So no need to keep being mindful of what you eat, how often you train, how much you sleep. You can probably have a few extra rest days now. And definitely a nightly treat like before won’t hurt.


I wish. For me and you. But our bodies don’t work like that. To keep what you worked for you have to keep doing what you were. Which is maintenance.


Y’all!  This is the easy part! It really is. Why? Because you already did the hardest part which was following a plan for however long.


You’ve cut out the stuff that was working against (at least 80% of it) and added in things that would help you achieve your goal. You know what to do, how to do it, when to do it.


So then why when we hit the “finish line” do we think we can go backwards and not end back at the starting line?


Because you never thought of the new habits you created as a permanent lifestyle change, but still as something short term.


Listen, if you feel you deserve a reward for fueling your body with foods that support your existence, exercising so your muscles can stay strong and support you walking around this earth, then by all means I support it, I actually encourage it!


Not so much as a reward but as part of your new lifestyle. Because BALANCE.


Indulging, splurging, these words describe


some. of. the. time.




all. of. the. time.


Just because you hit your goal does not mean your body is now no longer affected by poor eating habits and lack of movement. It just means you achieved your goal. Period.


Drinking 100+ oz of water should not stop, eating more fruits and veggies should not stop, exercising 3+ times a week should not stop. Enjoying the 2 beers on the weekend at dinner should not change. Having pizza night with your family should not change.


The habits and 80/20 lifestyle that you have been practicing while also chasing the goal you set for yourself should not look any different before or after you achieve it.


Seriously, do not change what is working, just keep doing it. There are just new goals that can be set. ALWAYS. And you should always set new goals.


“People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going.” — Earl Nightingale

Iron Legion Strength and Combat puts a ton of emphasis on training our members to be Generally Physically Prepared. Some of you may have heard the acronym GPP – that’s what we do here.


There should be no physical challenge that our members cannot face – our systems and programs are created to enhance GPP at every level.


GPP training touches on a lot of different training modalities. Wizard of Oz style behind the curtains programming with intent that includes progress testing and benchmarks along the way is the road map to success here.


But – We’ve always got that few who want… more.


More. If a little is working – more is better right?


Not necessarily.


If there’s one thing I see a lot of in my industry it is attempts to do – more. More reps, more weight, more skills, more programs, more – more – MORE!


And – it never EVER fails. “More” – always degrades into cherry picking what they like. Every workout they “find” on their mind deprivation device oddly always contains one of 3 of their favorite movements.


And they drill the shit out of them. I’m not here to say they aren’t working hard – they are, but they are consistently picking the same shit over and over. Similar time domains, similar loading, and the exact same skills over and over.


A false sense of confidence is typically created in this scenario. They think they are pushing out of their comfort zone – all the while they are backing themselves into a comfort zone.


This ends up getting tested in the morning when they look in the mirror – or at competitions in the gym and outside of the gym. Member expectations are high for these “more seekers” and their peers get confused when they see them fail or underperform.


Where do they fail? They fail at things they aren’t good at – the things they intentionally removed during their chaotic instagram program research. They’ve also removed themselves from a coached environment – losing the occasional queue and oversight that can help dial in efficiencies and make these guys the actual bad asses they want to be. ( I won’t even go into nutrition and recovery habits – entirely other blog)


I’m not hating on these guys – hell, I can get caught up in this sometimes too.


We are all in this to have fun and be healthy right? So – I still back these guys up. They are still training way harder than any of you reading this on your couch or in your cubicle – BUT:


In this biz there are hobbyists and there are athletes. These “more seekers” are typically hobbyists. Bad ass hobbyists sometimes, but hobbyists nonetheless.


So what is an athlete then?


An athlete does the fucking work. All of it. They adhere to the program as written and under the guidance of their coaches. An athlete does not question the process. An athlete doesn’t whip out their phone whenever the day’s programmed work doesn’t appeal to them.


Could you imagine for a minute a well known NFL QB showing up for training with their team and deciding they don’t like the workout? They just go do what they feel like? And they do this consistently – only occasionally training with their team.


I wonder how well that would go over on their ability to show up 110% on game day with their team?


That QB would be without a job quickly. Healthy and fit – maybe, but an athlete? Nope. Off the team. Good luck being slightly above average in your little pond.


Can you picture Froning or Toomey scouring the internet for a workout they “like” instead of the day’s programming prescribed by their coach(es)? I doubt it.


A true athlete? They grind. Hard. They commit and they stay the course. They follow the program created to make them better than they’ve ever been. And that journey can be from time to time:


Mind numbing. Boring. Humbling. Yep – I said it. It’s not all flash and fireworks folks.


But the results? An athlete knows its worth every second. Good days and tough days.


Example – we have a 45 year old mother of three here at Iron Legion that recently qualified for the quarterfinals for CrossFit.


**disclaimer: a few of you just said “she’s competing in Masters” in a tone that implies it’s “easier”. That thought, or even that statement shows your ignorance of true sport. Some of the most aggressive, most competitive athletes out there are competing at Masters level.


A Masters athlete traditionally has more time to train and a broader level of common sense. Their careers are typically figured out and their kids are grown – translating into well trained animals that can hang with most 20 somethings any day of the week.


You’ll find out soon enough. Time comes for us all.


Anyway, back to our example. 45 year old mother of three, one of them with special needs, a full time dual business owner active in both of her businesses. One of the hardest working people I’ve ever met – and the example that pops in my head when anyone gives me an excuse about “not having time to train”.


How does she train?




She allocates one hour to training each day. It’s all the time she has, but she prioritizes it. It comes first in her daily planning.


She doesn’t add to it. She doesn’t take away from it. She does what is prescribed in that hour. She simply does not have time for anything more than that hour.


Day in – and day out. She is not known to complain – as a matter of fact she actually appears even more comfortable in the most grueling of workouts.


To watch her work sometimes it appears so – slow. A closer look and you see the definition of efficiency. She is doing her workout – her way, trusting her training. She doesn’t let anyone she’s competing with rattle her. She chooses her pace and never ever deviates.


That hour of training time she has – it’s all she may get. She puts forth every ounce of effort she has to learn and achieve exactly what that hour is created for.


Day after day, year after year. Never cherry picking – I couldn’t even tell you what she considers her favorite movement. She trains whatever is on deck for that day.


Is it effective? Absolutely. She’s qualified for this a few years in a row now. She is an athlete and will always train as an athlete trains. Committed. Dedicated. Never questioning the process.


In summary – there are hobbyists and there are athletes. If you are in your first year of training I encourage you to find a training style that you enjoy first and foremost. If you can’t find any of it appealing – move on until you find something that does.


Once you are over a year into training – understand that “more” work as a hobbyist may be fun, but probably not moving you towards the goals you may have originally had. How can you tell? Look in the mirror. Or sign up for a competition outside of your peer group.


Seek out your weaknesses and address them – or don’t. Small ponds need average fish too.


Life is met to be lived. Your time is precious. Your training time must be prioritized, and programmed with intent if you are looking to achieve anything beyond who you are at this moment.


First and foremost – STAY ACTIVE! Looking to level up and you live in or around Ocala Florida – hit me up. Iron Legion is a 100% non-virtual experience designed to get you to where you want to be physically and mentally.


Yours in Strength and Confidence,


-Coach Ted


Strength over Fear

By Paul Winter


I’ve got a tattoo around my right wrist.

A quote from an old mentor of mine, it reads: “I shape my own life.”

This simple statement of affirmation has led me through many situations and scenarios where otherwise I might have stumbled and fallen into a victim mindset – looking for someone or something to blame for my  current state of affairs.

In the current political landscape, and common narratives of our time, nothing seems to be the individual’s “fault.”

Addicted? It’s a disease.

Overweight? If it ain’t a thyroid issue, you’re healthy the way you are and anyone who says otherwise is an oppressor.

Terrible behavior? Self-diagnose with some kind of disorder and tell people it’s an illness, and they have to respect it.

In all this finger-pointing, “poor me,” victim-of-my-circumstances reasoning and logic – what if we just took responsibility for all of the things in our lives?


Whether or not we had any control over them.

Whether or not we would rather just be absolved of every failing and weakness and shortcoming by hitting the easy button.


What if, instead, we looked all of it dead in the eye and said: “I shape my own goddamn life,” and then set about doing just that?

There is a massive force and power in the individual taking total ownership over his every situation and circumstance and denying the current programming of the blame game, and instead choosing to terraform the landscape of their life.


Every good thing, every bad thing in your existence so far, it’s all raw material on the anvil within the Forge.

You’ve got the hammer – that’s your willpower. Don’t like something the way it is?

Turn up the heat on it, focus your attention on that thing, and beat it into a new form through the relentless force of that hammer.

Tired of the way you look?

Feed the furnace – establish a protocol and attack with ferocity and consistency, and a completely altered thing will emerge from the Forge over time. It will be the “you” that you yourself deliberately shaped, rather than the one shaped by circumstance and lack of agency.

Frustrated with some aspect of your life, or yourself?

Man the bellows, and crank the fires up high with clean fuel.

Focus on what it is you want to change. See its ugliness and the bad, flawed iron shot through it, and start to heat it and beat it. Right there before your very eyes, you *will* see change, as long as you continue to swing that hammer of will.

There are very few problems that cannot be solved in your life by turning your fire up hot enough and applying sheer, brutal, unstoppable willpower to them.

You are in control.

You are the one making the decisions.

It may not be your fault, but goddamn if it ain’t your responsibility to *change it.*

Finally, you may be dealing with that most daunting of problems.

The very fire of the Forge itself has nearly gone out, and barely an ember remains. You feel cold, like ashes, and you feel unable to stir the embers to flame, to the heat needed for transformation.

There is only one edict for this problem:


Movement, friction, stress – all these create the atomic movement from which heat is produced.

Get mad, get moving, put yourself under pressure to accomplish through accountability and the positive stress created from there.

Remember how to roar from the depths of your being, and reject all that’s beating you down with a singular howl of pure fury – and with the energy that rises from that simple “no,” the embers stir.

The coals smoke.

Keep going, feed them with little victories, and keep stoking them with deep breath and forward movement.

Soon, the coal will flicker to life, and the flame will be reborn, hotter than before, as you stack wins into the inferno and it burns hotter and hotter.

Transform into who you were meant to be, who you always wanted to be!


What will it look like?

Start swinging that hammer.

By Paul Winter

It doesn’t matter if you’re coming to Iron Legion to train weightlifting or Jiu Jitsu.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, young or old, in peak health or broken down and scarred up.

We don’t care how you feel about what’s on the news today, or your boss, or your car.

“You’re not your fuckin’ khakis,” as Tyler Durden famously said in the film “Fight Club.”

What you are is a member of a community that requires you bring the heat each and every day to Iron Legion, and that you bring fire to the Forge.

Our bindrune logo is about that fire, and the people who work the bellows to hammer out the imperfections from the steel, as we talked about HERE

All of us have something going on in our lives at all times that makes it inconvenient to train. We all have somewhere to be, or a schedule to keep, or obstacles large and small that could’ve kept us from being here.

The difference is: who makes the choice to be somewhere, to offer their heart’s blood and their sweat up as fuel to power the Forge, to make the fire burn as hot as hell, in order to build up the entire Legion.

This upward elevation we are looking to produce here at Iron Legion Strength and Combat has to be a product of the whole – each individual coming together to form something greater than themselves, driving toward an unattainable ideal, and yet striving toward it with every expectation of attaining it, every day, every minute spent here.

Energy and attitude are infectious, both the good kind and the bad – so when you come into the gym with a shit attitude, low energy, dragging your ass in here to put in a lackluster training session, that is no longer simply you having an off day.

It is you acting as some kind of Typhoid Mary, an energy vampire pulling the life force out of the training facility, pulling others down to your level, because “misery loves company.”

View this place instead as a temple of power, a place where, before you walk in the doors, you need to purify yourself of all the madness and mayhem of the day, in order to come in strong, positive, and ready to uplift those you will train with to be their best.

These kind of people are more valuable than gold in any kind of environment – in business, they keep the excitement up and the cash flowing. In friendships, they maintain good communication and act as the glue that keeps things together.

In war, they’re the kind of people that get you home.

I was just watching the classic, “Deer Hunter” again last night.

In it, during a high stress and horrific scenario inside a VC prisoner camp, Robert DeNiro’s character Michael talks down his friend Steve as the scene reaches a boiling point.

After their attempted rescue by helicopter, Stevie is unable to hang onto the landing gear and plummets back down to the river – Michael lets go, and falls back to enemy territory with him, rather than leave a man behind.

On returning home from the war and discovering his friend Nick, immortalized by a young Chris Walken, is still back in Saigon – he goes back to VietNam in order to try to bring his friend back home because of a promise he made while drunk.

We should all strive to be the “Michael” of our community.

And sure, training isn’t war, and shouldn’t be equated to it…but we can look at it as a proving ground where we can choose to bring strength to others, or make them weaker with our presence.

This place is a Forge – and we expect you, the Legion, to bring the heat. 

By Isabelle Reynolds


You had a baby.


Now what? You have to do everything, but at the same time, can’t do much of anything. There is so much information about what to expect with the baby, but what about you? Postpartum is a season of uncertainty. You have a new baby and a new body and neither have an instruction manual.


When I had my first baby, I was so shocked at how different my body felt after birth. Radically different. Things ached, things became more challenging, things were in different places. I get it. This body, the same one you’ve known your whole life, may seem foreign. And the urge to get it back to something familiar is valid.


Let me try and help. Below are my recommendations for a few moves to consider as you ease back into or start training. **Remember, I’m not a doctor, if there was any birth trauma or surgery, please reach out to your trusted healthcare provider for recommendations. If you don’t have one, reach out to me and I can send you some information!

Every stage after birth is slightly different, and may vary in time. These are guidelines that I recommend for new mothers at our gym.

Birth: 0-2 weeks after birth. Consider this the immediate recovery and co-regulation period. My favorite recommendation for new mothers is re-learning how to breathe in your new, different body, fueling yourself with nutrient dense nourishing foods and resting as much as possible. I know this may seem easy to read and harder to implement especially if you have other children at home, but communicate with your partner or family and see how they can facilitate this for you.


Recovery: 2-6 weeks after birth. During this time you may stop bleeding, start understanding the patterns and cry of your baby, you may even be anxious to hit the gym. Most providers will clear new mothers for exercise around the 6 week mark, but I still encourage women to ease back into movement. BirthFit has fantastic functional foundational movements that they use to recover the post partum body. They’re linked below.


BirthFit Functional Progression 1

BirthFit Functional Progression 2

BirthFit Functional Progression 3

BirthFit Functional Progression 4


Another fantastic ‘movement’ that you may start because you want to or you need to is baby wearing. Taking walks, tending to things at home or shopping can be made so much easier and comfortable for a baby in a carrier. There are so many options, but my favorites were woven wraps and ring slings. Carriers free up your hands and it gives you extra snuggle time with that sweet little one.


Now is also a good time to check in with your gym or coaches. What are their recommendations? What resources do they have for you? It’s also nice to talk to friends who you probably haven’t seen in a while.


Rehab: 6-12 weeks after birth. The functional movements from BirthFit aren’t just for your initial recovery phase postpartum. They’re great for every phase. I recommend them for a general warm up a couple times a week. Once you’ve been cleared to exercise, you’ve stopped bleeding and don’t have any pain with the functional movements, feel free to explore simple weighted movements that are actually similar to what you may have to do at home.


I’m talking about carries and squats. We’re looking for movements that gently challenge the core, but not isolate it. If you’ve ever had to bring a gallon of milk from the car in your right hand, you’ve felt it on your left side. Think about bracing your core and trunk each time you lift, hold or carry a heavy object. This can be equipment at the gym, or things at home like the milk jug I just mentioned.


Carries can be done with both hands for a farmer’s carry, one hand for a suitcase carry, overhead, front rack, and bearhug.


Next is squats, they are one of the most functional movements out there, and postpartum rehab is a great opportunity to perfect squat form. I recommend squatting to a box slowly without relaxing in the bottom position, with core braced until that feels entirely too easy. Then you can make it more challenging by lowering your target, slowing down the tempo and adding weight or reps. Remember, all of this should be done without pain during or the next day.


Foundational:  3-5 months after birth. At this point you may be back at the gym into your old routine or the classes you took when you were pregnant. Nice work! Consider adding a couple of these movements into your workouts. I have seen many women and myself develop a weak posterior chain because of the posture many women adopt during pregnancy, postpartum, feeding and carrying babies. This can lead to injury and pain in joints like the shoulder and knees.


To combat this I like to train hinging movements. Things like the Romanian deadlift, traditional deadlift and single leg deadlift are great for activation in a warm up and for strength sets. I also love a good single unilateral dumbbell movement. They can offer isolated strength building, compound movement, and a challenge to the small stabilizing muscles. Great for a workout or  accessory work.


Movements to consider: power cleans, front squats, snatches, turkish get-ups, presses, rows, devil’s presses (if you’re feeling wild)


Rebuilding: 5-12 months and beyond. This final stage isn’t really final and it isn’t really a stage. This is the rest of your life. Rebuilding strength, focusing on continuing to build a stronger foundation and focusing on movement that makes you feel good. Now would be a good time to consider adding in impact training like plyometrics and running if you’d like to and can move pain free. High intensity interval training, like CrossFit or circuit training is a great way to get a balanced array of movements. And as always, strict strength is the way to go for everything. It will make your explosive compound movements better, smoother and make you less likely to hurt yourself.


Recovering from childbirth is no easy task and you will never be exactly what you were before pregnancy, you’re a different woman, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. Postpartum is a beautiful opportunity to forge a better version of yourself from the inside out. Be grateful for this chance to come out of childbirth a stronger woman than you were before.


If you have any questions about anything pregnancy/postpartum, please reach out! If you’re in the Ocala, Florida area, even better. Let’s grab coffee and get you moving well.

Isabelle Reynolds is a woman, mother and coach. She is a BIRTHFIT Leader and Coach, CF-L1, and USAW-1. Her passion is empowering women through fitness and community.

By Paul Winter


Most of you have probably seen the 1982 John Milius film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, “Conan the Barbarian.”

If you haven’t, I suggest the following course of action: whatever it is you’re doing right now, which I can assume is reading this article on a computer or smartphone, stop.

Throw your smartphone or laptop out the window. Run to a Blockbuster and rent Conan on the new VHS technology, and immediately watch it on your color television set.

Shit, sorry – even the thought of Conan takes me back to an 80’s state of mind.

Go grab your phone or laptop, and watch Conan on whatever streaming service you use, I guess.

Anyhow, now that you’ve done that, or if you’ve already seen it, you know that at the beginning, there’s a great scene where Conan’s dad is forging a badass sword, and is telling Conan the basic facts of life:

“Fire and wind come from the sky, from the gods of the sky.


But Crom is your god, Crom and he lives in the earth.


Once, giants lived in the Earth, Conan. And in the darkness of chaos, they fooled Crom, and they took from him the enigma of steel.


Crom was angered. And the Earth shook. Fire and wind struck down these giants, and they threw their bodies into the waters, but in their rage, the gods forgot the secret of steel and left it on the battlefield. We who found it are just men.


Not gods. Not giants. Just men.


The secret of steel has always carried with it a mystery.


You must learn its riddle, Conan.


You must learn its discipline.


For no one – no one in this world can you trust. Not men, not women, not beasts.


[Points to sword] 


This you can trust.”


If you’re anything like me, you’ve been getting bombarded the last while by the current events around the world, and likewise for the last couple years we’ve been involved in this “global pandemic.”

Without getting political here, I’d just like to say – it seems like the media is always just trading one crisis for another, and it’s almost like they make money on stuff that drives people into an emotional turmoil. Weird.

The point I’m making is:

If you’re training at Iron Legion, or anywhere else in the world right now, no matter what else is happening on planet earth, you can trust the steel.

The “riddle of steel” that Conan’s father is talking about, for me, has always been the act of physical training for both strength and combat.

Physical strength and the ability to handle oneself in a dangerous situation does not go out of style. Its stock does not rise and fall like the latest meme-coin. It doesn’t become obsolete like the new iPhone in a few months.

The discipline that it builds within the individual who understands the riddle of steel is priceless – it can only be bought with more of itself. Time put in, equity gained through sweat and blood and tears.

When things get confusing, or produce anxiety or uncertainty – that is exactly when we should be prioritizing our training.

It calms us down, hits us with endorphins, gives us focus, clarity, keeps us within the community.

More importantly, it gives us something real we can hold onto.

In a time where it seems like everything is a potential lie, a marketing scam, some kind of “deep-fake” or government psy-op…

This, you can trust.

Learn its riddle. Learn its discipline.

Stay on the steel, y’all. 

By Paul Winter

When I was a kid, my mom always repeated the phrase, “garbage in, garbage out.”

What she meant by this was pretty simple – whatever you put into your brain or body was what you could expect the output to be in return.

Spend all your time binging series’ on Netflix while going through processed sugars like a starving hippopotamus? You’re likely to not get much in the way of a performance return.

This is a pretty obvious statement when it comes to nutrition and feeding yourself on mental garbage, but how many of us keep this kind of mindset steady while training?

Whether we are lifting weights or grappling, it can be very easy to allow whatever kind of day we are having, our various distractions, or even just an undisciplined mind get in the way of our “take away.”

Mindless reps aren’t good reps.

Neither are lazy ones.

When we approach our grappling session or our lifting, we should ask ourselves, “what am I trying to get out of this?”

If the answer is “high value,” as it should be, then you must know that in order to receive that, you must also put it in. Your return on your investment will be of the same quality – so if you put garbage in, expect to get garbage out.

Here’s a few ways to make sure that happens at each training session:

Keep your day to your day.

If you’ve had a shitty one at work, with the spouse, if the kids are driving you crazy, whatever the case: you’re not special. Half the people in here might be dealing with some high level drama.

Leave that where it is – it will still be there to deal with when you leave, but think about it: you can drag that into your session, maybe complain some to coach or partner (who almost surely don’t care), and let your ruined day ruin your training session, or…

You can “punch your way out” of a bad day, using the victory of a totally on point, mentally dedicated session of training, to strike back, to reverse the flow, to change your mentality toward things, and get back into the war with a solid “kill” under your belt.

Hit It Like It Owes You Money

Feeling a little tired, a little unmotivated, under the weather?

Take that shit someplace else.

This spot is for killers. For strength-seekers and power-sharers, who come in and spread their energy throughout the environment, and let their extra spill over to those who might need a little more.

Be one of these people, who give to the environment, and not one who only takes away.

Second, perform every single rep of whatever exercise it is – clean and jerk or rear naked choke, or some other dirty sounding maneuver – like it owes you money and you want it back.

Or, like Greg of Wolf Brigade Gym says: do the reps like they’re costing you money to perform.

Because they are.

Their cost is membership dues, their cost is physical investment, their cost is time.

Don’t disrespect the process or yourself by wasting any of these.

Finally, understand that down time isn’t “off time.”

The big changes and growth doesn’t always happen in the gym.

It happens in the kitchen, through continuation of the discipline you’ve established through your physical program and training.

It happens in the shower, as you’re mentally reviewing a grappling technique, and all of the sudden, “oh shit, I get it!”

It happens through understanding that this pursuit of strength and combat effectiveness is a lifestyle that doesn’t start and stop at the front doors- you have to take it out into the world with you, and apply yourself to it everywhere.

You have to keep it front and center to avoid poor decision making, and poor choices.

You have to feed it daily, and remember:

Garbage In, Garbage Out.

By Paul Winter


It’s a no-brainer that being strong is a good thing.


There is quite literally nothing that can be brought to mind that being strong is a hindrance to, and an endless list of things that being physically powerful makes easier.


Just ask your wife next time she needs the pickle jar open.


However, simple physical strength or conditioning of the kind that we train at a high level here at Iron Legion is just one piece of the puzzle of human evolution.


Sure, you’re strong…


But the obvious question is: for what?


Unless you plan to make a living at the pickle jar thing, or are a professional athlete, we eventually have to look at the fact that spending a large amount of our time and calorie intake on getting stronger day after day to just…be stronger-


Becomes something of a waste of resources.




You are one of those enlightened individuals who understands that physical strength provides a base of athletic ability that makes up the first of a system of three interlocking triangles.



Those of you interested in the Viking era may recognize the above symbol as the “Valknut,” a modern name given to a symbol used in some Scandinavian art pieces depicting Odin, god of warfare and magic.


Most interpretations of this symbol are pretty fanciful, but Odin was popularly associated with the power to bind things and unbind them – for our purposes, we are looking at the symbol from this perspective.


In order to live our lives in a way that makes sense, we need to structure things as a system – that is, many different interlinked parts that work together to form an effective whole.


If each aspect of our life isn’t harmonious with the rest, things tend to fall apart pretty quickly.


Because of this, we have to think of our various pursuits as bound together in a cohesive structure that works to elevate us and allows us to perform at a high level of human evolution.


When it comes to that performance on a strictly physical level, this triangulate structure refers to the primitive human abilities of strength and combat.


Imagine the first triangle as strength and physical conditioning:


These are the necessary elements of primal skills like running, jumping, lifting, climbing, carrying and so on.


Training for strength and conditioning provides the human with the power, dexterity and stability- as well as the willpower- needed to undergo physical hardships that would break another human being.


The second triangle is the next step in what that strength informs: fighting.


The ability to defend oneself unarmed relies on building the specialized skills of grappling and striking. Someone who is very strong, and has excellent conditioning will still be totally outmatched by someone who is perhaps less strong but much more technically proficient.


Third, we have the next stage of mankind’s evolution into a creature of deadly purpose and dangerous ability – that of technical proficiency with weaponry.


These days usually referred to as “tactical” skills, this also covers things like bladed combat, hunting, distance accuracy with bow, pistol, and carbine- as well as the mental acuity to strategize and plan out the application of these skills on a wider scale as it pertains to feeding and defending a community.


So far at Iron Legion, we provide two of these triangles…but the next step is quickly coming down the pipeline.


When it does, will you be ready to answer the question:


Strength…for what?