Adieu, Craptastic Gym!

Today’s strength workout at the craptastic gym was bittersweet. Our much-maligned — but also beloved — craptastic gym is moving to a new location. A shiny, new, large, airy location. Today, we bid adieu to the gnarly astroturf floor, questionable air conditioning, creepy bathroom (with one dim, bare lightbulb dangling from the ceiling), and painfully bad music on the stereo system.

I’m not sure that my Story in Photos about the craptastic gym accurately captured just how craptastic is it. But here’s the thing: I kinda secretly liked how crappy it is. The craptasticness ensured that the people who worked out there were either:

(a) pretty serious about their workouts, because who else would put up with perpetually-busted cardio machines except people like me who are only there for the extensive barbells-and-plates collection;  or

(b) completely weird and maybe trapped in a time warp, like the 60-something lady with the bleach-blonde perm who wears pink spandex and uses the hip abductor machine while also doing biceps curls with 1-pound dumbbells.

Anyway, I’m sure the new location will be just fine, but I will miss the original craptastic, where Dave and I cemented our commitment to lifting heavy and bonded with the barbells so deeply, we now have strongly-held opinions about how the weight plates should be racked. (I should also mention that the craptastic has a colorful history that includes Ann Richards, a connection to a murder [a hit at a bus stop, no less!], and some a world record for bench press. The craptastic was serious business.) (And just in case you doubt the crappiness of the craptastic, here’s a post about the day we found a dead bat on the floor.)

In honor of the one, the only, the craptastic, here are some of my favorite posts about strength training in that sweaty, stinky box.

The Craptastic Gym: A Story in Photos
A visual tour, and now a souvenir, of the strength training floor of the South Austin Gym

Why I Lift Heavy Things
The benefits of strength training with bonus pics of Abbye “Pudgy” Stockton

The Barbell & I: We Are Demon Fighters
Tips for overcoming that f*cking demon that lives at the bottom of the back squat, with bonus pep talk for deadlift, too

It’s Not a Coatrack
… in which I realize I used to think the lifting rack was for discarded clothing items, too

Thrusters Need Love, Too
Yes, even thrusters deserve compassion. Maybe.

The one where I talk about my “thighs like hams” and the movie Perfect
… with bonus video clip of aerobics that will make you squirm in discomfort

The one where I talk about what being an introvert and doing handstands have to do with each other
… with bonus Nom Nom Paleo socks

The one where I talk about overcoming resistance
… or the whole notion of getting comfortable with being uncomfortable

The one where I talk about remembering that the glass is half full
… with bonus day-in-the-life photos

And if you can’t get enough of my strength training posts, you can read all of them right here.


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  • Erin says:

    Thank you, lady my mom’s age in the pink spandex, biceps curls on the hip abductor is a great idea!

  • Tom R. says:

    I dig the strength training posts more than any other. I hadn’t seen the Story in Photos. That place certainly qualifies as craptastic. Hope the new place has you lifting heavy things real soon.

    As for my training days, I have managed a blowout of my right elbow/triceps. Surgery Oct. 9. In the meantime, I’ve been squatting. A lot. Twice a week, adding weight each workout. So, my squat is better than ever. 6 weeks in a cast and 4-6 months recovery should take care of that though. Hope I can still squat and pull my tire…

    • Mel says:

      Oh, man! I’m really sorry to hear about your elbow. That’s sucky. Hope you’re not feeling too badly about it… and please let us know how your surgery goes in October. I’ll be thinking of you!

      Question: I’ve been doing 5/3/1, and I like it, but… if you were going to recommend a weight lifting protocol/strategy, what would you suggest?

      • Tom R. says:

        You ask an interesting question on the strength programming. As you know, the answer always starts with “what are your goals.” Reading your blog, I know strength progression is why you follow Wendler, and it’s hard to argue with his program. It’s proven. That said, I think even Wendler would agree that some form of periodization/variety is needed to challenge our bodies and systems in different manners.

        I’m not a strength coach, so I’m not even comfortable programming for myself. Here are some suggestions:

        I really like what John Welbourn has going over at CrossFit Football. He has different lifting programs based on Amateur (linear progression) and Collegiate (more mature lifter) and Pro (very mature lifter). You might check his FAQs to see what these different levels offer. Whether you do the daily WODs versus your own would of course be up to whether they help meet your goals.

        If John’s program isn’t appealing, I would encourage a period of perhaps “strongman” type programming if you can find access to a place that has some of the tools. That type of training can be a lot of fun and challenges your muscels and system in a way that your fundamental lifting just can’t. Then, go back to Wendler and start from there.

        My final thought would be to stick with Wendler but change your lifts. If you are working the squat, deadlift, consider a different form of squat, perhaps a push press and maybe power cleans. I’d keep the deadlift to help with the posterior chain.

  • Kelly says:

    Awww. Ann Richards. As a transplanted Texan, I recall her so fondly. In TX, it always seemed to me that women only came to their true power as they aged. And then suddenly…..they were/are a FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH!!!! She was that and so much more. Glad to say I still know a few. 🙂

    Farewell craptastic! Onward!!!

  • Paul says:

    I just “downgraded” to a craptastic crossfit box. It’s two storage units with the wall knocked out between them. No drywall, no a/c, ratty fans blowing stagnate air on you, it’s kind of awesome. I feel like Rocky Balboa working out in that barn in Siberia via Rocky IV. Doing my first cooking wod tomorrow, thanks to your book, hope you’re working on the next one, already looking forward to it…

  • Tina says:

    Any thoughts as to how much benefit I may be missing by just doing resistance training (low weight/high rep and body weight resistance) at home 2-3 days a week? (Also do HIIT/Tabata 2 days and a combo workout 1 day.) We just got a weight bench but it’s not in use yet. I’m not sure I would be as consistent if I had to haul heinie over to the gym vs. just getting out of bed in the am and doing it. Plus, I like not paying gym fees!

  • Mary says:

    Melissa — I’m actually a little sentimental about the end of your craptastic gym. It was like your little secret (well, that you shared with your readers too!)

    • Mel says:

      Today was our first Monday in AGES that we didn’t got to the craptastic to do deadlifts and overhead press,

      Look for a full report on the new craptastic when it re-opens sometime after October 1.

  • suzy says:

    Boo. I hate it when crappy yet lovely things go away.