Article written by Alanna Casey
“What’s it like to be married to a strongman?” I asked Callie Marunde Best. Callie brushed her platinum blonde hair to the side as she carefully mixed butter, flour, sugar and banana for the banana bread that her husband had requested. She moved her lips as she contemplated my question; tire grit from the 600 lb tire flips we had done 20 minutes earlier was still smudged across her chin. “It’s a pain in the ass. They shit more, eat more and cry more than a toddler. Our entire schedule revolves around him and his training and competition preparation … but, at the end of the day I’d never want to be with a pencil neck,” Callie said.
I have been curious lately about what it feels like for women who are dating/engaged/married to an amateur or professional strongman. A few weeks ago, I got a chance to find out. I spoke with five different couples who have been together for 2 to 18 years. Three couples were American, one was Austrian and on was Icelandic. I was amazed at the dedication of these women to their partners. They stood out in the scorching Las Vegas sun, dripping sweat, taking video of their men training; and all with a smile on their face! And all were genuinely interested in the training her partner was accomplishing.
One couple was in the process of driving across country to California where World’s Strongest Man was to be held, and where he would be competing. I asked the woman, Diana, where they had stayed the night before and she said, “We slept in the car.” I was astonished. She wasn’t complaining about it, simply stating where they had slept. I asked, “Why?” She replied that the hotels were all too expensive and they wanted to stay in the Vegas area that night to be able to train with Nick Best the following day. I couldn’t believe what she was willing to do to support her strongman partner. This got me curious. I wanted to know more about these women and how they viewed their partnership with their respective strongman. I asked each of the women a variety of questions. I did my best to make sure the questions were not asked in a biased fashion and I simply wrote down how they responded. I then opened the floor to any additional comments about being in a relationship with a strongman. I was motivated to conduct this interview after thinking about myself and how difficult it must be to maintain a relationship with a competitive strongwoman or strongman. I was also curious to see if any of my needs in a partner were similar to what other strongman partners experienced from their partners. Finally, I wanted to know if these women thought that dating a strongman was significantly different than dating a “normal” guy The overwhelming feedback I got was, yes; dating a strongman is very much different that dating your typical guy.
I will not directly attribute the following responses to any one woman in particular but, understand that the responses came from one of the five women I interviewed. My interview was conducted in similar fashion to that of a focus group, where I was acting as the moderator. Q: Do you feel that a strongman’s needs are different from that of a typical man?
A: “Yes. They require more food and sex than the average man.”
“I agree, they need more [sex and food]. There’s two ways to keep a man happy; feed him and f*ck him. And the reason that we are with these men is because we can feed their appetites, all of their appetites.”
Q: Do you view his need for frequent sex as a positive thing or a negative thing?
A: “I view it as a very positive thing and I feel that my sex drive has increased since being with him. I guess because his level is so high that mine just follows. ”
“I view it as a positive thing. If I happen to be too tired one night, I just say ‘two times tomorrow ‘, and he’s good with that.”
“A positive thing! No one can give it to you like a 300lb strongman.”
Q: What are some challenges of being with a strongman?
A: “At dinner parties or when you fly you always have to share your seat. He is just too big for regular seats.”
“Finding clothes for him can be challenging as he doesn’t fit into regular clothing. It’s extremely hard to shop for him.”
Q: Who is the boss in your relationship?
A: “Together we are the boss.”
“I give him options. Do you want this or this? This way he feels like he is the boss because he chooses, but, I gave him the options.”
“When it comes to food, he’s the boss. I’m the boss in most other things.”
Q: What tactics do you use to keep your man fed?
A: “I constantly carry around food with me. I carry beef jerky, protein bars, protein powder. I never come home without asking if I can bring home something to eat. Our biggest fights happen because he is hungry. He is snippy when he is hungry… things that don’t normally annoy him do. So when he gets snippy I usually offer him food to see if that’s the problem.”
Q: In a relationship, if one person is strong/into fitness, and the other is not, do you think that relationship can work?
A: “No, I don’t. That would be similar to being a different faith. It’s a lifestyle.”
“No, because the person who’s not into it, wouldn’t be able to understand the choices that he makes. She wouldn’t be willing to travel to contests, to stand in the hot sun while he trains or competes…”
Q: How often do you travel for strongman training/events?
A: “Every weekend to once a month depending on what his schedule is. That travel could be national or international.”
Q: How do you stay positive when you have to travel so much due to his training/contests?
A: “I love him very much and he loves [strongman]. I knew what I was getting in to. It’s an adventure. I like it because I get to meet new people and develop a strength family.”
Q: What is your role during strongman contests?
A: “I play the role of cheerleader, water girl, equipment inspector, ice bag maker/holder, tacky girl, Gatorade reminder, food runner/supplier, diplomat, video taker, boo boo kisser, loudest yeller and, hottest wife. “
Q: What do you do if your man performs poorly in a contest?
A: “Once he calms down tell him what he did right, pat him on the back and, tell him everything will be okay.”
Q: Do you feel strongmen are any more or less emotionally needy than a typical man? A: “I think they are more emotionally needy. Usually I try to just let him ride out emotional outburst/mood swings. Sometimes I can predict and can help avoid it. Most times, it’s time to eat.”
“Most strongmen have a very big presence and their emotions are that much bigger. There is a certain type of man who gets into strongman. Most of these Alphas have to be the biggest and the best at everything they do. Being emotional is no exception.”
Q: Are you ever scared that he will physically hurt you?
“No, no. I know that I am his Achilles heel.”
“I am sure he would never hurt me.”
“Pshhh, yea right! I make the rules… he wouldn’t lay a finger on me.”
“No. He just has a hard time accepting that it’s his fault sometimes. But he is soft …very romantic.”
Q: Would you ever attack your man’s strength?
A: “No… because that would really hurt him. He will remember it.”
Q: Your man gets a lot of social media attention. Do the comments from other men/women make you jealous?
A: “No, it doesn’t usually bother me.”
“No. He will take care of it and if he doesn’t that’s a sure sign something is going on.”
Q: In one word, how does it feel to be with a strongman?
“It’s cool to be able to say, ‘My boyfriend can kick your boyfriend’s ass, and he actually can. It’s still entertaining to see how other guys react to him though. They puff out their lats and try to act tough.”
Q: Do you train together with your strongman?
A: “We train together as in we arrive and leave at the same time but, we both do our own thing.”
Q: What would you say if your husband told you he wanted to quit strongman?
A: “I would say, ‘I think we need to rethink this.’ … I don’t think anyone wants to quit but is forced to retire when the body has taken a beating. Strongmen want the fame and glory that comes along with being a strongman. No one wants that taken away from them. In this sport if you are not winning, you’re losing. If you don’t show at a contest, you’re old news.”
Q: What’s your favorite quality about your partner?
A: “He is hardworking and very caring. He is a good husband and a good father. He sometimes acts like a doofus but everyone acts like a doofus.”
Q: Have you changed your lifestyle since being with your strongman?
A:” I feel I need to be hot for him. I’m more conscious about eating right and feeling healthy.”
“I was never as motivated to reach my goals until I met him. I was a little lazy.”
After my interviews were conducted I felt good, and so did the other women. They remarked how nice it made them feel they that they all share similar positives and challenges when dealing with their strongmen. As I reflect on the sport and various relationships I’ve observed, I make a couple conclusions. The REAL purpose of my interview was not to find out about strongmen but, to find out about the women who support and love them. What I was REALLY wondering was, “Does it take a certain type of women/man to be with a strongman or strongwoman?” And the answer is a resounding, “yes.” A strongman or strongwoman needs a partner who is faithful, resilient, and determined. All of the women I spoke with were remarkable. They cared for their men in a way that was admirably selfless. They didn’t mind traveling with their men, putting out for their men, cooking for their men, or being present and encouraging for his contest. The overwhelming feeling that I got was that each of these women where their man’s biggest fan and supporter. Sure they get annoyed with him every now and then, and occasionally get into fights. But, each of those women was just as strong, if not STRONGER than her man.
That is the point I am getting at. A strongman or strongwoman needs a partner who will not stand behind him but, a partner who walks beside him and sometimes even in front of him, cutting down the tangle of brush in his path. These women do more than just “support” their man. I have zero doubt that without their respective women, none of those men would be as successful as they are today.
As Callie says about strongmen, “Kids admire them, woman desire them, men want to be them.” I would like to add one thing; it takes a very VERY special person to lovethem.
Callie Marunde Best / Nick Best
Tory and Jonathan Lane 3 years
Cornellia Kaiso / Martin Wildauo Austria 3 years
Diana Hiund Guuuousdottir / Valgeir Gauti Arnasou Iceland 2 years
Shelle Carroll / Doug Carroll 18 years > met getting ready for a powerlifting show
*The opinions expressed in this interview are not necessarily the opinions of LBEB.