A first glance at the name of Jiu-Jitsu and Strength Academy (JSA) may not conjure up thoughts of atlas stones and log presses, but that’s exactly what you’ll find here. The gym offers a very dedicated portion of space for combative and martial arts training, as well as everything someone would need to train for strongman, powerlifting, or any other strength-based sport.

JSA was originally founded by owner Matt Bryers as a school for martial arts, but he has always had an interest in strongman training. Bryers found that adding strongman to his fighter’s programs has helped them tremendously. He and long time strongman competitor Justin Czaplicki have created a program that has introduced many people to the sport and is helping to grow the culture in Connecticut.

RECENT: Finding Strength: Colosseum Strongman

When I arrived to JSA, Justin was already warming up and waiting for the rest of the people that were planning on training to arrive.  Like most of the gyms I’ve been to, there was a sense of community that you don’t feel at large commercial gyms. The familiarity and genuine interest in one another is a recurring theme at the most successful gyms I’ve visited since starting Finding Strength.

For many of the strength athletes there, it was a testing day for some of their one-rep maxes. One athlete, Jen, was testing her single-arm dumbbell max, and hit 90 pounds at a bodyweight of 140 pounds. A bodyweight ratio lift typically doesn't interest me, but this one is different. Jen is one of Matt’s success stories, having started at a much lower bodyweight and unable to even squat a barbell. Her success says a lot about what Matt and Justin have going for them on the strength side of things.

The great thing about gyms like JSA is that it offers something for everyone, and doesn’t discourage people from trying new things.  Fighters are getting stronger from strongman, and strongmen are getting in better condition and able to learn more patterns and develop better proprioception by taking Jiu-Jitsu classes. If you live in the Hartford area, and you have an interest in martial arts, strength sports, or both, I would highly suggest checking out Jiu- Jitsu and Strength Academy.

WATCH: Finding Strength — The Mission