A Gym Rat Walks In a Bar
A masculine modern man, an impressive power-lifting career and an epic beard are just a few ways we mere mortals can describe who Tommy Janusz really is.
Holding two Raw American and two Texas State Raw records in Bench Press and 16 previous records, this small town child with hopes of, one day, looking like a superhero has bench pressed his way from mediocrity to the self sufficient entrepreneur / power-lifting coach we see today.
Here we take a look at his trials, his reserve and his ability to come so far, knowing he has a long way to go to reach his goals.
This is Tommy’s story.
In a small town far far away, a nine year old child walks into a strange place. Led by the hand and guidance of his father, he sits in the corner on the floor and plays with his toys. Though his mind is cluttered with imagination and creativity as he continues to play; his eyes are fixated on his father who's walking across the room.
He's a giant among his fellow men in the gym. He stands tall, walks proud and breathes confidence as he prepares his workout as he enjoys the company of his fellow gym buddies. A melody of laughter fills the gym with occasional grunts and the inevitable crashing of the heavy weights dropping to the floor and banging against the racks.
That small boy now stands; laser focused as the giants walk and perform feats of strength that, in his perspective, are super human. It was at this moment, this little nine year old boy's' life will change. And it was on this day, he realized what passion feels like.
Born of two regular gym goers, Tommy Janusz was brought into this world carrying a barbell. Growing up idolizing strength and muscle in the likeness of Superman and Batman, he already had the desire to want to be as big and as strong as he could be.
His father, a police officer, would regularly compete in competitive power-lifting and Tommy, being his biggest fan, would come and see his father compete. Though the memories are cloudy and vague, he never forgets the feeling.
Sports were a regular thing in the beginning of Tommy's life. Although he wasn't a huge fan of team sports (and the asthma growing up didn't help him much), his desire to be the cool kid kept him active. It was until he discovered the weight room in middle school, did Tommy completely fall in love with the gym. Not soon after, Tommy would workout with his father and learn everything he can from him.
Things were going smoothly until the day came where Tommy became bigger than his father. The old lion didn't take kindly to the young cub surpassing him so fast,
"My dad wasn't happy about it. I was definitely bigger than him and I weighed more than him. I got into lifting, really, because I wanted his attention. What kid doesn’t, right? But, in all honesty, that idea went down the toilet after he realized I had surpassed him. I believe that was the day he started to resent me."
Tommy got big into powerlifting while in school, but didn't care to much about the entire format. He even has gone as far as to going to a meet; Bench and squat and skip the deadlift and go eat somewhere and go home. While he wasn't setting records; Tommy chalks his ability to identify who he was just by lifting.
"Most lifters have that one weak lift and that one amazing lift. Mine was bench. Some of the lifters I coached in the past were amazing dead lifters and that's amazing, because I think the Deadlift is the most amazing, badass and manly lift there is. There's nothing like it.."
Even through High School, Tommy was in the gym every single day. While playing football, powerlifting, and eventually getting into Gymnastics for a year, the gym was always the only consistent variable that Tommy had through his high school career.
"I started officially powerlifting competitively at Texas A&M, where I joined the powerlifting club. I did my first meet with them after I joined up a month prior and I had no clue what I was doing and I had nothing for the meet. No belt, No deadlift socks, no singlet, the wrong shirt and the wrong underwear on. I ended up qualifying for Nationals in my first meet."
As college went on, it came down to a time for change. Tommy relocated his efforts to Angelo State University, where he started the powerlifting club. With only two lifters on his team, he started to put things into motion. Dubbed the name Ram Powerlifting, Tommy and his team soon made their way to collegiate nationals in powerlifting.
The Struggle is Real
Soon after Tommy received his Bachelor's, he began making his plans for grad school. Soon after he realized he would remain, he began teaching weight training classes and lecturing introduction classes while earning his Masters at ASU.
While doing so, he ran into an instructor who wasn't the most keen on current knowledge of Kinesiology. Conflicted with the urge to call this instructor out on his poor information and trying not to embarrass or insult him, Tommy eventually removed himself from that situation entirely.
"The week before I quit, I was lecturing on set and rep schemes for particular goals. He asked me to use his slide show in addition to my lecture, and to avoid any bullshit, I agreed to it. I did, but I took it upon myself to write out a chart of sets and reps with labels and percentages for weight training.
He literally asked me if I came up with this method and he wanted to know where I could find this information. I was shocked, disgusted and just fed up. That's when I told the department head and told them I'm quitting."
Soon after, Tommy graduated and begins seeking his next great venture for eight months. While pursuing his next milestone, he sold supplements in a local supplement store, that he also managed, until he landed his dream job.
Much to his surprise, the well was dry to the fault of the oxymoron deemed: "Overqualified"
So much so that opportunities were running from his like the rabbit from the wolf. No sooner would they see his credentials, would they let him know they can't hire him. No matter what Tommy would try to argue, offer or bargain, companies would remain steady on their decision to not pursue him due to his high education and experience.
Selling supplements proved to be successful for Tommy as his sales and sales team drove revenue up. When asked how he did it, he said,
"You put your foot in the door and start small. Or, if you want to fail, you slam their face in the door of a bunch of stuff the customer doesn't want or didn't need. Thing reason this doesn't work is because when you try to sell customers a bunch of BS, it insults their intelligence and it's dishonest.
That same customer starts telling everyone they know about you and how you tried to sell them BS. I believe to start small, build a person's trust and don't be dishonest. Sooner than I would think, my customers started making their way to me. It's all about being honest, in every situation."
While Tommy continued to seek a job, the job was fruitless.
"My downfall would be my masters degree. It requires the state government to pay me more money and they don't want to spend more money than they have to. Even if I offered to take a pay cut, they wouldn't allow me to do so. This was told to me by a representative from the state. In fact, one school told me they were impressed with my education and experience.
They also stated they would be concerned that, if I was offered a better job, that I would just up and leave. Even when I told them I would plan on staying for five years and I would commit to making this my priority, they still wouldn't hire me. This is when I began to become discouraged."
The Birth of The Bar
At this point, Tommy had enough. After witnessing those whom he'd refer to as, "Buttheads" open up a supplement shop of his own, he then realized he was perfectly capable of doing the same.
Not soon after did Tommy begin researching everything and anything he could on starting a business. Tommy also gathered funds, found a business partner, and called a friend about a few pieces of equipment and the gym was set in motion.
With the wheels in motion and $20k in the works, the gym is a living and breathing entity. Tommy attests to the selling of supplements was paying the bills in the gym while The Bar began to really get noticed.
With the help of current members and previous Ram Powerlifters, Tommy fixed the gym nicely. Painting, cleaning and setting equipment up. Though it was a struggle, Tommy was living the dream. Or, in this case, living in the dream. He occupied a room above the gym while he was working on getting the gym in a better financial position.
Through it all, Tommy gets to walk into his second home. A gym that, when you walk in, is Tommy's world. The lights flicker to the beat of the music on the speakers and visitors frequent Tommy's couch in his office as he sits at his desk.
It's an open door for anyone and everyone who lifts because all of the members all brothers and sisters in the gym. It's occupied with multiple squat cages, bench presses, dumbbells, squat stands, a lifting platform and all the tires, sleds and chains one could have.
"I don't do contracts. I don't want to "trap" a member in a contract so they can pay for a gym they don't want to go to. I want you to WANT to come here. If you don't want to come here, I don't want you here. I've had to kick a couple of people out because their negativity and attitude began to affect all of my members.
I believe at other gyms, people are paying for gimmicks and BS. Here, you pay for a special environment for growth and development and you get a family out of it. "
To the average person, they see a hole in the wall full of outdated and sketchy workout equipment. To the average gym goer, they see a sanctuary. A metal paradise where men and women are forged in cast iron, steel banging around, chalk piles and loud music. A place where all of us can take off our masks and let the beast within out.
Just think, in some parallel universe, if Tommy Janusz had never went to the gym with his father or had never lifted in middle school; where would he be? Would he be owning his own business, personal training, competing in power-lifting and living the dream?
Or would he be working for someone else? wishing and dreaming to own his own business, have his own freedom and have the life we all dream of having?
Just think all of this would be possible because of Tommy's love for helping people and his love for working out. Because Tommy told himself to do this because why WOULDN'T you do this? And, also, because of Bench, Squat and Deadlift.
In his final thoughts, Tommy's tell us this when asked what does he believe is the cause of his success:
"When I was getting ready for Bench Press Worlds, I was in a relationship that was ending. It all happened together. What bummed me most is my ex was going to the same competition. I didn't want to train, eat or workout.
I ended up losing 15lbs during this. It sucked, but I told myself to just do it. That I’ve been waiting a long time to get here and I need to do this. I began eating a lot and getting back to training.
I believe I was able to do this because I don't think I've ever had anyone take my hand and lead the way or help me do something. I've pretty much done everything on my own, especially when I was young.
My parents were divorced and my mom worked a lot, so I was alone a lot and had to take care of myself when she was at work. When I was in middle school, no body helped me while I was lifting and no one really saw anything in me.
No one paid my rent, no one was feeding me, and no one was there to hold my hand. I felt that if I didn't do something for myself, no one would do it and nothing would happen or change.
I didn’t come from a wealthy home or rich family. My dad wasn’t really around and he didn’t do much, of anything, when I was growing up out of middle school. My mom was always there for me and she did everything she could.
It’s a hell of a thing for a woman to be both a mother AND a father, so I really appreciate and respect her for that. If it hadn't been for these struggles, my mom and lifting, I don't know where I would be right now."
I believe we can all take a page from Tommy Janusz book.
Article wriiten by Sean Burton