It’s Not A Coatrack

For most of my workout this morning, it was just me and another dude in the Craptastic gym.

He was about my age, maybe a little older… classic apple shape… walking on the treadmill in a slightly hunched over position, his arms supporting his upper body as he clomped on the conveyor belt.

He looked fairly miserable and extremely bored.

I warmed up with 400m on the elliptical, some PVC mobility work, and a few deep squats to wake things up, then I made my way to the lifting cage to start my workout. Mr. Treadmill was on the hamstring machine – still looking miserable, but now resigned instead of bored – and his brown hoodie was hanging on the end of the barbell that was racked in the lifting cage.


“Is it OK if I move your jacket?” I asked him.

He looked surprised, then he moved his jacket and went back to his machines.

And that’s when I realized it: three years ago, the lifting cage would have looked like a coat rack to me, too.

The barbells were something the ‘big guys’ would do.

And I most certainly would not have dragged the stool under the uppermost bar to practice chinups.

At that moment, I felt compassion for Mr. Treadmill and his workout rut because this morning, he didn’t have a conversation with a barbell, visit with the demon that lives at the bottom of the back squat (G’Morning, demon! How are you today?), or breathe through the painful exhilaration of deliberate, chest-to-deck, elbows-back pushups.

Thank you to my Roller Derby pal Dirty Deeds for taking me to my first CrossFit Central Bootcamp… to Melissa Hartwig for convincing me to lift heavy… to coaches everywhere for spreading the good word. My workouts are often humbling or frexciting or annoying or enlightening – and on occasion, triumphant and joy-inducing – but they are never, ever boring.

And I will never mistake a barbell for a coat rack. For that, I’m grateful.

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  • TrainerMolly says:

    Love this article.

  • Kayla says:

    Hi Mel, loved this post and just wanted to say I thought about you and your squat demon today at CrossFit when I was doing thrusters. It actually helped me and pushed me to increase in weight! You are an inspiration! Thanks so much!!! -Kayla

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Kayla –> Hooray! Glad to know you squashed the demon with your might thrusters. AWESOME!