John Odden, Owner & Head Coach


Since I was a child I have been fascinated with improving my health, fitness and athleticism. I was a tall, skinny, awkward kid growing up who always lacked confidence, especially in the gym. So after begging my parents to get some home equipment for some time, I got my first set of plastic-covered cement weights from Target when I was 12. I was so shy and uncomfortable that I didn’t feel like I was strong enough or good enough in some way, to even take a high school weight training class until my senior year! Somehow my passion persisted and the calling became louder. I knew that if I put the effort into building physical strength and learning about the body, it was going to be worth overcoming my fears and leading to something more. 

Unfortunately, some misguided enthusiasm resulted in chronic back and shoulder injuries that sidelined my athletic career and limited my quality of life well into my 30s. During my senior year in high school, the gym had essentially broken me, but somehow I knew there must be a better way to use resistance and other forms of physical training to rebuild my body without re-injuring myself. So, I dove into my quest to learn as much as possible about the body with the help of several mentors, tireless self study, constant personal practice, certifications, and a degree in Exercise Science along the way. Unknowingly, these injuries and setbacks would be the cornerstone of my passion and unique perspective on how to teach others to live an empowered, pain-free, active life using the strength and movement principles that I have created and honed in my 20+ year career. 

Working full time in the clinic environment as an Exercise Physiologist/Employee Wellness Coordinator/High School Strength Coach for over 10 years, allowed me to understand how important it is to fuel the body and mind through proper exercise, health education and nutrition at any age. So in 2014 I successfully “retired” from my clinical position and packed up to move to sunny Bend, Oregon to start Empowered Strength and now enjoy teaching full time in my studio and online with clients around the world. 

I have competed as a Scottish Highland Games athlete since 2004 and hold several world records. Last year, I successfully lifted the 734lb. Dinnie Stones and many of the legendary stones of strength in Scotland. This coming year, I am planning a trip to Iceland to lift even bigger stones and compete in the Highland Games Masters World Championships.


  • Bachelor of Science, Central Washington University

Certifications and Courses

  • StrongFirst Level 2 Kettlebell Instructor 
  • StrongFirst Bodyweight Instuctor (April 2018)
  • KIPS True Mace Training Certification
  • NSCA- Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and Certified Personal Trainer
  • ACE Personal Trainer
  • ACSM- Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist (CEP)
  • FMS- Level 2 Practitioner
  • Ed Thomas Indian Club and Movement Course
  • Max Shank Ultimate Athleticism
  • Original Strength – OS Pro
  • Kettlebell Strong – Double Kettlebell Course with Geoff Neupert
  • I formerly held over 20 certifications, including clinical certifications from the ACSM- CEP and AACVPR Pulmonary Rehab throughout my career and regularly attend continuing education courses.
  • This year I plan to complete my last StrongFirst certification (SFB-barbell) to become SF ELITE and produce several new online programs.

Personal Accomplishments

  • #1 World Ranked Scottish Highland Games in Lightweight Class 2016 and 2017
  • 2017 Highland Games Lightweight National  Champion
  • 3 World Records as Lightweight Competitor (Weight over Bar, 42lb Weight for Distance, and 22lb Hammer).
  • Former Heavyweight Professional Athlete 2010-2014
  • Multiple Amateur Heavyweight records and championships
  • StrongFirst Tactical Strength Challenge Elite Class Competitor  (Top 10 finisher)
  • StrongFirst “Beast Tamer” (Strict Press, Pistol, and Pull up with 48kg/106lb “Beast” Kettlebell)
  • StrongFirst  “Sinister Challenge” January 2018
  • Competitive Olympic Lifter in 94KG Masters Class 35-39

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