Strongman, 600-pound raw bench presses, powerlifting, and a strong sense of community — these are all the things that come to mind when I recall my trip to Strength Haven in Elkhart, Indiana, right outside of South Bend. When I arrived at the gym, I was greeted by owner Dan Gibson and long time friend and fellow strongman competitor Chad Kurian. Having known of Dan for a while, and having competed alongside Chad for years, I knew the gym I was entering was going to be quality.

Dan has a long history in strength sports, but his main passion is passing that along to other athletes. He not only trains powerlifters and strongman alike, but also high school and college athletes, even helping to send at least one athlete to the NFL. Dan’s personal philosophy is that through the strength of everyone in the facility, they help each other get stronger. That cohesion among the members is obvious when you watch them train.

Finding Strength: The Strength Depot

Chad, who has competed in strongman for several years, recently moved to the Indiana area and arrived looking for a place to train. He knew it was an immediate fit from the beginning. He has been around the strongman circuit for a while, with notable wins over some high level strongmen, even a few World’s Strongest Man competitors. After a brutal quad tear, Chad took some time off to focus on powerlifting and is now making his return to strongman. Training at Strength Haven has been a key component of his return.

One of the more noticeable things—or I should say people—I saw at Strength Haven was Thomas “TD” Davis. He brought an energy to the gym that lit up the place, hugging most of the people as his monstrous frame walked in the facility. But as soon as it came to lifting, he was all business, easily benching 600-pounds raw while wearing a pair of overalls.

Despite the success of the gym, some of Dan’s most proud accomplishments are his work with various charities. Every year, the gym chooses a family with a child battling cancer and raises funds for them. Dan has also worked closely with Westside Barbell, Applied Strength and Conditioning, and a few other gyms to help raise enough funds to donate and fully set up a gym at the Lone Survivor Ranch in Texas. This ranch is a retreat and therapy location for soldiers dealing with PTSD, physical therapy needs, and other ailments. Over the last three years, Strength Haven has raised and donated over $20,000 to veterans, families dealing with cancer, and the area’s homeless and battered women's shelter. 

Strength Haven is definitely a top notch facility, and they show how much they care about their athletes and their community through action. I definitely recommend this gym to anyone in the area. They have all the equipment, knowledge, and help you need to reach your goals.