Barbarian Barbell


6930 Hayvenhurst Ave.  Van Nuys, CA 91406


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Emmy began weightlifting under the tutelage of Bob Takano in 1996 to help improve her performance in track & field where she was a scholarship athlete.  She quickly developed a love for the sport and began competing.  Within a short period of time she became one of the top female weightlifters in the United States and earned a spot as a Resident Athlete at the Olympic Training Center.  Emmy had the opportunity to learn from several coaches at the Olympic Training Center and Northern Michigan University including Lyn Jones, Bob "No Mercy" Morris, Lisa Brien, & Ma Jianping.  Her approach to coaching and programming can be considered a hybrid of these coaching philosophies. 

Emmy competed at the national level for eleven years, placing in the top 3 at numerous Senior Nationals, American Open Finals, and University Nationals where she was a scholar-athlete and record holder in the clean & jerk at 75 kg.  At the same time, she qualified for and represented Team USA on Pan Am Championships, World University, World Championships and Pan Am Games Teams where in 2007 in Rio she earned a silver medal in the +75kg class.  She also qualified in the top 10 for the first 3 U.S. Olympic Team Trials held for women’s weightlifting.  

After retiring from the sport in 2008, Emmy had the honor to have been elected by her fellow athletes to serve on the USA Weightlifting Board of Directors as the United States Olympic Committee Athlete Advisory Council Representative.  She held this position for 8 years, having been re-elected for a second term in 2012, serving from 2008-2016 which were critical years in the restructuring of USA Weightlifting.  Emmy was also selected to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency Board of Directors in 2016.  Being a Board member was a fulfilling experience that allotted her the opportunity to work with other individuals to help grow the sport in the United States and abroad.  

Emmy began her coaching career in Colorado soon after her retirement from competitive lifting in 2009.  She shortly thereafter moved back to California to complete her education and began to dabble in coaching at a few CrossFit gyms.  It wasn’t until 2013 that she began to focus on competitive coaching and since then, she’s developed a competitive lifting club that includes leading dozens of athletes to national competitions and 6 to international competitions.  The club is also host to CSUN Weightlifting; a collegiate-level club that is already developing athletes that have qualified for the 2020 University Nationals.  Emmy created Barbarian Barbell as a non-profit organization in order to provide better access to the sport of weightlifting in a fun, disciplined and supportive environment.     

About the club:

Barbarian Barbell was established in 2013 and was the first non-profit weightlifting club in the Southern California area.  The club is in Van Nuys, CA and is housed inside a 15,000 square foot strength & conditioning facility, that includes weightlifting specific equipment/platforms, and a variety of tools for functional training, and sports-specific training to name a few.

A variety of weightlifting training services are provided for both youth and adults, and the club offers training for beginners, intermediate levels, and those that seek to become competitive athletes.  Training and education are very important to the club and we offer our 6-week introductory course that is a must for anyone looking to develop the needed skills to begin training in the sport.  We also provide instruction in USA Weightlifting courses for those that seek to become certified in USAW Level 1 or 2.

The demands of the sport develop the young athlete in a holistic manner and results in increased confidence, physical development and emotional strength.  Emmy has experienced the positive benefits of undertaking the sport, and as such, she developed scholarship opportunities for selected athletes who demonstrate the potential to excel in the sport at the national and international levels.  

Also, the club attends various functions for K-12 schools and student-athlete organizations to introduce and provide exposure of the sport to students, parents and school administrators.  Most recently the club worked with “NoHandOuts”, a nonprofit organization “building stronger, healthier and more equitable communities for all, by providing student athlete centered enrichment programs.”

Most recently we’ve developed a relationship with California State University—Northridge’s Weightlifting club, and we became their official training site in January 2019.  We work with student-athletes of all skill levels and seek to develop them to become qualified for future National Junior and National University & Under 25 Championships.  While they learn the basics of the sport, we are using local competitions for the lifters to gain experience in a competition setting.  As such, along with UC Santa Barbara, we have created the first of its kind “College Series” which complements the many competitions we’ve hosted for several years, such as our well-known, “Octobar Fest” meets.  

In the short time the club has been in existence, we have been successful in qualifying dozens of athletes to national and 6 to international competitions, as well as placing them on the podium.  We look to further develop the programs we currently have in place, as well as develop new initiatives to promote the growth of the sport in our community, and the growth of our club.

Outreach programs:

Youth/Community Outreach

Emmy has a long history of doing presentations and volunteering at various schools since her days as a “program” athlete at both Colorado Springs’ Olympic Training Center and Northern Michigan University.  She continues her work locally, reaching out to schools in the vicinity of the gym in order to promote and expose a larger audience to the sport of weightlifting.  We have set up booths with a complete weightlifting platform and weights in order to physically demonstrate the lifts at expos.  The club also partners with other organizations who focus on youth development, academic enrichment, community service and sports performance training.  

Barbarian Barbell Scholarship

The club provides scholarship opportunities to selected athletes that demonstrate a potential to excel in the sport on the national and international levels.  In order to determine how the scholarships are awarded, the club has developed criteria that athletes need to meet, and once selected they are expected to volunteer and assist during club activities/events.  In order to stay in the scholarship program, athletes must meet training/competition metrics that are reviewed quarterly, where short and long-term goals are set between athlete and coach.

Introduction to Weightlifting: A 6-week Course

Our 6-week introductory course was started in order to provide a more comprehensive and efficient approach to learning the basics of the snatch, clean & jerk and additional movements.  The course is scheduled to meet twice per week for 6 weeks and will be limited to a small group of attendees in order to provide each person with as much focused attention that can be provided in a group setting.  The goal at the end of the course will be to have a greater understanding of the movements used in weightlifting, and to provide a seamless transition into our beginner training programs for those that want to continue developing their skills in the sport.

California State University, Northridge Weightlifting Club:

One of our Barbarian Barbell Club athletes is currently a student at the University and took the initiative to begin a weightlifting team through the school’s Club Sports Organization.  While the school has a state-of-the-art facility, unfortunately there isn’t much space allocated for weightlifting.  After discussing the situation, it seemed natural to have the CSUN team use our facility as their official training site.  A partnership has been developed between the University and our club, and it has allowed us to begin developing student-athletes. We are also developing the first of its kind “College Series” and currently have 4 schools competing against each other in a 4-meet series, and we’re looking to grow that event into a regional event.  In addition to the College Series, our goal is to increase recruiting at the school in order to grow and continue qualifying athletes for National Juniors and National University and Under-25 Championships.