Original Strength, Quality Training

by Lou Costa

I remember as a kid in junior high growing up in the mid to late 90’s only wanting to wear the NEW Silver Tab Levi Strauss Jeans.

All the cool cats in school wore them. The girls wouldn’t think you were hot unless you had them. Your socio-economic status could never really reach its true max potential if you didn’t rock them. Your friends high – fived you at your locker and you WOULD walk with a little more pep in your step while wearing the brand names that mattered! Silver Tab.

(Editors Note – This time period was directly before the JNCO Jean fad of drastically oversized jeans with pockets big enough to fit algebra II text books into – Still sagged slightly below the semimembranosus insertion point. In simple terms, “Below the Ass”)

jnco_jeans In my small town of Bradford Pa where the internet was really still unborn to Ecommerce yet and the closest mall was in Buffalo NY 2 hours away, our choices for fashion rarely resembled what we saw on YO MTV Raps or the young TRL starlets of our time.

Silver Tabs jeans were cool. Popular and could be bought at SEARS downtown. Baggy but still fit great.

My mother; in perfect Trudy fashion ALWAYS opted to buy me the crappy original skin tight red tab Levi jeans that I wore as a kid instead. There was really nothing wrong with them besides they were very snug and the complete opposite of cool.

How was she supposed to know I was becoming fashion conscience and 13 year old girl crazy?

They fit terrible! Everyone was “sagging” their pants in the 8th grade and lord knows I as well tried to hang the hell out of my red tabs, without much success which then brought the well deserved ridicule and ire from the older popular kids.

The look of skin tight “red tabs” being held to my thighs by a belt buckle at the time of baggy and bigger jeans being in vogue, by all accounts at the time, was a fashion atrocity.

Today, I would’ve been a cutting edge hipster. All I needed was a bandana hanging from my pocket and a weird fuzzy beanie hat and I could’ve been the cool trendy kid in junior high!

That is awesomely retrospective food for thought actually!

But much like I look at kids fashion today and think simply, “What the hell.” – I’m sure was the exact same reaction to my 13 year old fashion prowess from onlooking confused 30 year olds at the time.

levis_patch_ironmillThose red tab, terrible looking and tight as as hell jeans DID have one thing I liked – a crushed worn out leather patch on them, like most jeans do these days.

The Levi’s patch was different and cool.

Levi’s originally put this patch on their jeans back in the 1800’s to adhere to the patent protect rules of the time requiring the brand name, patent number, date plus any trademark registrations to be on every single pair of jeans. EVERY SINGLE PAIR!

Because there were no paper or ribbon labels made back then nor fabric that could withstands the wear and tear of the miners and cowboys that wore these rugged jeans – the label was pressed onto leather, inked over and sewn on.

They probably HATED the idea and the cost of having to to do this to every pair. Not realizing they were creating a label that would be copied and reproduced by every other jean company to come.

Now, those patches are something you take for granted and don’t even notice as the distinct leather patch has become part of the style of every company to include the brand name on the back of the jeans. The Levi’s patch was distinct and proud then.

Long after the absurd fads of JNCO, the silver tab line of Levi’s own company and now Lucky Brand, Levi’s Original 501 have persevered because they were the original innovators of their market.

People obviously wore britches, knickerbockers and whatever else was fashion savvy long before Levi invented their brand of rugged patented jeans and stamped their iconic label on them in the 1870’s.

Like Levi entering their market, I’m finding it increasingly maddening to swim in the relatively new industry of strength sport promotion, personal training and overwhelmingly negative narcissistic world where every fitness diva is an expert and every muscle bound meat head is charging people to get strong HIS way.

Maybe it is just Facebook allowing me to monitor EVERYONE I know and their vision of success with “Train with me or you suck, blah blah, rah rah garbage.”

Accompanying that rude style of gorilla marketing is all the famous bitching and infighting that is damn near built into the fabric of OUR industry of Innovators first – Impersonators second mentality.

I see the IRONMILL logo in some form being used, personal silhouettes, branding patterns and copy being clung to dangerously close to outright infringement.

The cool thing is, I get it. Imitation is the highest form of flattery. It means were doing something right!

Actually, as I have written about previously that I stole the crossfit slogan “Forging Elite Athletes” by accident, not maliciously at first but because it was in my head and sounded cool.

That taught me a very valuable lesson. I learned that great ideas are usually not yours. You need to put it through a filtering process and certain built in tests to prove authenticity. Our brains are funny little beast machines, always tricking us into thinking were much smarter than we are and much more clever than people notice. Neither of which usually happens to be true..

When you learn that most great ideas are already taken it forces you to think outside of the box and to use that big giant brain of yours for something other than ways to scam the Walmart checkout system or get more burritos.

Once you realize, “Hey, I should thoroughly test this idea to make sure of its originality and hone in on the real innovation of my industry,” your business vision should instantly become markedly more clear.

That now true and filtered vision void of all unoriginal and plagiaristic thoughts should then allow you to say through a funny, half true, half angry little blog post that,

“This is the beginning. We are in it for the long haul. See our whip smart ideas? If we get sleep and stay away from boxed wine we can do this all day long!”

See previous statement about becoming overly clever and smart :) I never learn.

IRONMILL does not do the numbers of EliteFTS YET or have the brand recognition of WestSide/Rogue or name Recognition of Poundstone, Shaw or whoever.

IRONMILL does not aspire to be these entities. Our experience is something different. Unique.

There may be other gyms or websites eerily similar, greatly over inundated with ass pictures and negative reinforcement of what people think is healthy or positive or sells.

I literally pray they keep doing things their way!

There may be ten other gyms, companies, websites with the name IRON in it !!! Good grief was that a hard decision to keep.

Hey, I tried to make it work with Freak Factory – too bodybuilding. Monster Muscle – Not tuned in enough. IronIntensity – More of an emotion than gym. Costa Strength – I am not Brian Shaw. Conquer – too EliteFTS.

IRONMILL was actually a gym in Bradford for powerlifters that went under and that I loved the feel of lifting at. The spector of it. The Hardcore of it. It fit. Even though, yes, it has the word IRON in it. Some things are just cool. And so it stayed.

So I want to send this statement out into the fictitious façade world of Facebook where false notoriety and short stunted fitness business plans rule and pluck away from our model what they want with no second thought or reason for doing so.

Have all of the ideas you want from us! It is flattery. We look beyond this week, this year and the next backload fad that will die off and sputter out in this fickle environment.

More importantly the IRONMILL battalion of family, friends and supporters we have are real. We sweat together. Talk Shop. Celebrate and struggle together. Know each other’s kids and families.

They are not just “likes” on a page or numbers in a bank account.

We thrive off each other. Constantly changing, evolving and adapting.






We pay homage to the Levi Strauss Patch. It stands for originality in the face of industry at its time. It has withstood the years of evolving industry needs, struggle and change to still be a beacon of success.

We hope to emulate that success with years of dedication to our craft to come.

That is what you can expect from our brand.

That is what you can expect from IRONMILL.

Because Levi Strauss did not invent the rivet jean believe it or not. He only patented it.

Much like IRONMILL does not think it invented the strength silhouette, T-shirts with skulls on them, strongman saturday, facebook fitness industry or positive reinforcement to exercise.

What Levi Strauss did do was innovate his brand of jean enough to withstand the test of time through a product they believed in.

That is our goal.



One Response to Original Strength, Quality Training

  1. Matt Amendola May 6, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    That’s phenomenally put, awesome message, it will ring true with all readers and even hit harder with meatheads like me who treat athleticism and being a better athlete and person as part of their life, not something they might want to do

    You’ve worked so hard and the fruits of your labor are sprouting, people are noticing you, and I love the fact of consistency in programming and positivity being a driving force, something most programs are void of big time

Leave a Reply to Matt Amendola Click here to cancel reply.


Site Design by Hearth Creative