A healing co-operative focused on researching the healing potential of weight lifting for trauma-impacted adolescents and adults, and training coaches and personal trainers to take a trauma informed and healing centered approach to their work with athletes and clients. 

trauma informed weightlifting is:

An embodied practice and intervention that is informed by the latest in neuroscience and trauma research. It seeks to transform weight lifting in an effort to both promote and facilitate healing for trauma-impacted individuals and groups.

Weight lifting, when approached in a trauma-informed manner, aims to foster resilience, increase a felt sense of agency and empowerment, cultivate healthy nervous system functioning, and facilitate positive relational connections to self and others. TIWL posits that using external forms of resistance can facilitate healing and recovery through engagement of the proprioceptive and vestibular systems, while supporting individuals in developing greater interoceptive awareness, vagal tone and parasympathetic nervous system recruitment.

Additionally, it is believed that the physical strength developed in weight lifting is a manifestation of self-trust as one learns to bring a sense of curiosity to the process of attempting both new and familiar movements under increased resistance. TIWL is a solitary activity conducted in a relational environment with a coach or trainer and in some cases, with other weightlifters - it aims to directly combat the isolating and dividing nature of trauma.


In recognizing that marginalized individuals and communities are disproportionately impacted by trauma, TIWL explicitly draws upon healing justice principles and integrates anti-racism and anti-oppressive practices in order to cultivate conditions of safety that are inclusive and responsive to all bodies, all lived experiences, and all identities and expressions. In the spirit of inclusivity, collaborators have been identified to inform the development of TIWL by involving representative voices from a variety of populations and communities. The TIWL protocol is being developed in a variety of formats that can be adapted to serve the needs of any individual or group in a variety of settings.





Healing Justice







Mariah Rooney O’Brien, LICSW, RYT | Co-Founder | she/her/hers

I came to weightlifting after being strong-armed to pick up a barbell by some yoga students of mine who happened to be weightlifters. Weightlifting ended up being the ingredient that was missing from my life - it married well with my yoga practice (in fact the two inform one another quite well), and gave me the felt experience of being fully embodied and stepping into my own strength in new and exciting ways.

As a clinical social worker who specializes in treating folx with histories of complex and developmental trauma, weightlifting presented a unique opportunity to think about trauma recovery, healing and growth. This, coupled with the fact that I began to hear countless trauma stories from fellow lifters, inspired me to co-found TIWL.

Outside of my life as a lifter, I am a trauma therapist at the Trauma Center at JRI as well as a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) with extensive training in trauma-sensitive and culturally-informed yoga and meditation practices through Warriors at Ease, Prison Yoga Project, Insight Prison Project, Mind Body Solutions, and Trauma Sensitive Yoga. I have taught in a variety of settings, including addiction treatment centers and VA hospitals and clinics, and I have led classes, trainings, workshops and retreats locally, nationally and internationally. 

My research has explored posttraumatic outcomes among combat veterans with histories of interpersonal violence, as well as outcomes among traumatized youth in an outpatient setting using a sensory-based intervention. You can spot my writing in Bulletproofing the Psyche and in American Military Life in the 21st Century: Social, Cultural, Economic Issues and Trends.


Mark Schneider | Co-Founder | he/him/his

Mark Schneider is the creator of LIVIT, a comprehensive behavior and habit change program, and personal trainer specializing in injury recovery and return to play. With a twenty year comprehensive background in functional medicine, nutritional counseling, bodywork, fitness training, and behavior therapy, Mark supports clients so they can support themselves, empowering them with the skills and confidence to overcome physical, emotional, and habitual roadblocks on the road to success.