Standing in the kitchen, moving slowly, still breathing heavy (post training session), my mom bent over to touch her toes.

“Look!” She exclaimed.

“I could NEVER do this before….”

My mom stretching at Force 12/1. Tyler sent me this photo with pride.

My mom stretching at Force 12/1. Tyler sent me this photo with pride.

She then pulled up her shirt to show me her stomach.

She hadn’t done that since I was a five-year old and she weighed 120.

She was so proud.

It had clicked.

The word, and even more, the process of training now made sense to her.

The “workouts” (as she calls it), or training rather, that she has been consistently doing day in and day out— are yielding results of which she has always dreamed.

The idea of completing a real pull-up was now a potential reality.

My mom, Laura, has been training at a place called Force Barbell— one of a kind in Indiana. Tyler Miller, owner and head coach, has a passion that is not only evident; it is transferred. In about three months he has taught my mom how to squat properly, how to breath with her diaphragm, and greatest of all— how to find confidence through her own strength.

To her astoundment, she has never, ever felt that, “I am going to die [in this workout]” feeling or the scared exhausted feeling of “50 burpees!” throughout her experience at Force Barbell in Fishers, Indiana.

My mom calls me everyday and not once has she omitted “I feel so strong.” She is stoked on her new found strength. She attributes this strength to her coach, Tyler.

“To me, [the word] strong is mental; strong means having the mental capacity to understand what you can do, mental toughness is strong. [It means] Mind, body and spirit.” said Tyler.

Force Barbell has 65 clients at the moment and they are growing. With new assistant coach and Vermont native, Brad Collins, Force Barbell will be a name to know in 2015.

An inside look at Force

An inside look at Force

While home for Thanksgiving I got the pleasure of training at Force to check out what my mom had been doing, seeing as though I sent her there. Fall of 2013, thanks to Facebook, I had been hearing some buzz from old high school friends about a place that lifted heavy and wasn’t crossfit– so I checked it out over Thanksgiving. I realized it was the real deal; foam rolling, goblet squats, glute bridges and heavy carrys? My happy place!

Mom, foam rolling

Mom, foam rolling

Doing the weighted side crawl (a part of my program)

Doing the weighted side crawl (a part of my program)

This time around, Thanksgiving 2014, I trained there with my mom. Sharing the training experience with her, discussing progress, and feeling strong while going through a tough program with Brad was invigorating.

I learned a lot— there is never a bad time to be coached at something. No matter how good or bad you perceive yourself to be at some skill, or how well-seasoned you think you are from years of experience, learning is epic. I believe in keeping an open mind to new perspectives, coaching cues and training strategies.

I learned that there is definitely a passionate family culture at Force Barbell.

Very well behaved kids waiting while parents train.

Very well behaved kids waiting while parents train.

Bonded together by the “Live Light, Lift Heavy” mantra, the people here share similar strength goals and understand the idea of building strength and muscle adaptation.


Tyler himself has always loved lifting heavy awkward things. In eighth grade he found delight in helping people move– lifting large, heavy, awkward objects was enjoyable to him. He loves competing in Strongman competitions and coaches six strongmen at the moment.

Force Barbell considers safety and mobility— Tyler says he changes lives through movement.

“First people come in mentally and physically weak. After weeks of building strength, they start to realize they are actually strong and their mindset changes. All of the sudden when things outside the gym get tough (work etc.)—it’s all good because they know they can come in here and [for example] crush a 50 pound dumbbell row; they can handle anything. They are strong.”

My mom has found a new home- but not a comfort zone, she continues to work on her goals and breathing better but also understands how to warm up, cool-down, stretch and be patient.

Tyler coaching her on step back lunges.

Tyler coaching her on step back lunges.

One thing I loved about my experience at Force was seeing the dynamic between my mom and Tyler. He is stern with her but in a way that is motivating and edifying. She learns something new about her body every day. For three months she has called me to tell me how she just realized where her lats are, or now understands why her posture was always bad, her neck sore, or her glutes rather small. Plus– she has so much fun.

Tyler, a former shot putter, discus and hammer thrower in college, has a strong (no pun intended) background in strength and conditioning. Not only did he study exercise science, but he dabbled in sports psychology.

To Tyler, the mindset matters. The most influential coach/mentor he ever had was a man he worked with a Purdue University named Jim Lathrop.

Tyler wil never forget Lathrop’s words when he said this, “You know what you know, and you know it as an absolute truth; and THAT is what you should build your program’s foundation on.”

Tyler is always learning and experimenting, but he leaves the experimentation and continuing-ED [education] ideas for the extra 10% of what he programs for clients.

“To me, there are five basic things: lower body push, lower body pull, upper push, upper pull, and a carry. That’s it.”


That is what is blowing my mom’s mind. She has tried so many bootcamps, cardio classes etc, and only experienced frustration. Yet with simple movements including progressions and regressions at Force, she sees dramatic results without hellish “workouts” that leave her injured, painfully sore or worse— unmotivated to go back. The movements at Force make sense to her physically and mentally.

I keep having to remind her that she is doing exactly what I do– just with different rep ranges, weight and programming. In days leading up to to my homecoming, she would say, “I want you to come with me to Force, but it will probably be too easy for you.”


I would reply, “Mom, we will be doing similar movements but with different volumes, we do the same things, you and me.”






The day before Thanksgiving I decided to forgo my programming and do the strength class with her, coached by Brad.

Force let me follow my program (written by Jason Pak at Achieve Fitness) of deadlifting and benching on separate days, while I was home in Indy.

Force let me follow my program (written by Jason Pak at Achieve Fitness) of deadlifting and benching on separate days, while I was home in Indy.

There was a lot of volume. I will never forget the 4×8 pull-ups we did. I had to use a band on my last set. My mom kept trying to make excuses before she approached the bar. Brad would help boost her up there (amidst laughing at her nonsensical excuses). While she used the band, he would touch her upper mid back to bring the mind body connection– this way she could feel which muscles should be working. After all four rounds of eight, she was ecstactic.


For days she was proud of being “sore in the right places.” She could now feel where these muscles are. She wants to be able to do a pull-up on her own by next summer. I have no doubt that Force Barbell will get her there.

Tyler trains high school and college athletes in their off seaons wherein he focuses a lot on block periodization. He like to help athletes maintain the strength or endurance they currently have while at the same time he works on improving one specific aspect without detracting from anything else. Tyler believes in this type of training.

To simplify what block periodization means, Tyler puts it this way, “We find the weakest link and knock it out. Later, we re-test to make sure they still have all the strength they had when they started, but we test that the weakest link is now better, and we set a new goal.”

I love Force Barbell because they just get it. They understand the importance of strategic training that builds on itself. Tyler would love to double his numbers (as any business owner does) and he want more people to find a happy medium in this industry. He wishes the industry didn’t lie in what he feels are two extremes: the extremes of training to absolute exhaustion and the other end of the spectrum– not moving at all.

Tyler Miller (left) and Brad Collins (right)

Tyler Miller (left) and Brad Collins (right)

“So many people live at one end of the spectrum— you have the crossfitters that train everyday like its competition and you have the coach potatoes that don’t even work on GPP stuff.” Said Tyler.

Tyler discussed to me how so often General Physical Preparedness is forgotten, neglected and underrated.

“Walking, jogging, zumba, etc those are all things that encourage a healthy life, and people should do them. If they want to get better, they should add strength. But I think people either do too little and are disappointed or too much and exhaust themself.”

Tyler said something I love: “Training is training. Training is not competition.”

My mom spent years doing aerobics, running for hours and not eating enough. She gained weight and in her late 30s early 40s she tried these crazy bootcamps that left her injured for two years and immobile. Right now, she is happy; she can goblet squat; she can touch her toes; she has little pain and she is ecstatic to get her first pull-up. Overall, she is living well and setting more goals.

Even more– these workouts do not punish her or kill her for the reward of calorie burn. Each session with Tyler teaches her movement patterns and stresses the muscles without putting her in pain.

If you are in the Indianapolis area and want to learn strength as a skill, get better, feel better and have an awesome coach, go check out Tyler Miller and Force Barbell. They have a six week challenge coming soon, the perfect way to start an accountability program with training programs and nutrition tips.

Two weeks ago, my mom attended a Powerlifting meet at Force Barbell. She called me after enthralled by what she observed and learned. I think a competition may be in the cards for her someday–  We might just do one together 😉

DL mom

One more thing: there is an incredible client at Force who is a crazy fitness fanatic and has been for years. She works on her snatch form at least three times a week and sports some fancy olympic weight lifting shoes along with sweat bands on her wrists and around her beautiful long gray hair. She is older, but not weak. While my mom struggled on finding out how to fire up her lats and upper back, the women quietly said to her, “Don’t give up; trust the process; it’s a game changer.”

I will never forget her words or her passion– it was tangible.




Mom doing some suspension rows.

Mom doing some suspension rows.


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