Around the Whiteboard: Cathy Mele


Certifications: Level 1 Crossfit, Crossfit Kids, USA Powerlifting Club Coach
Favorite WOD: Fran
Favorite Lift: Deadlift
Deadlift: 385 lbs
Back Squat: 250 lbs
Bench: 160 lbs
Favorite Food: Thai food
Favorite Movie: Pride and Prejudice (long BBC version)
Favorite Athlete: Ethan Mele
Dream Job: I’m living the dream
Dream Vacation Destination: Rome
Favorite workout song/music: 300 Violin Orchestra (for max lifts only!)
Inspirational motto/quote: “Go Hard or Go Home” and “You can have excuses or results but not both”

How did you find CrossFit and what drew you to getting started?
“We were talking with a friend about starting to work out as a family and she told us of the old NEA location. We drove by to check it out and stopped in. I loved that there we no mirrors! The only one at the gym at the time was Ben Davis. He invited us back to do a trial workout. We fell in love pretty much right away. I specifically remember seeing ladies doing rope climbs and pull ups and thought, I so want to do that someday. This was January 3, 2012 and I was 45 years old.”

You and (your daughter Lydia) got into powerlifting after starting at No Excuses. Tell us more about how that happened.
“Lydia signed up to do the charity event, Deadlift for Dollars. She was around 13 and lifted 250 lbs I think. Ben said he had to introduce us to someone…Jeff Robison. I guess Jeff was impressed because he asked if we would like to do some powerlifting training and honestly I didn’t even know what that was. I brought Lydia to Quest [Gym] where, unbeknownst to us we began our training with some of the best lifters in the country and world–some HUGE guys! I watched while Lydia lifted. Six months later, Jeff asked if I would also like to train with the, ‘your here anyways’ logic. Did my first meet two months later in April 2013, then Nationals in June. The rest is history.”

How has your involvement at No Excuses and in the sport of powerlifting changed your life, lifestyle and level of fitness?
“I can say my life was completely changed in so many ways! Prior to our first WOD on Jan 4th, 2012, I was doing next to nothing as far exercise and nutrition goes. The most exercise I did was playing with my kids and walking the dog. I also never really put serious thought into healthy eating. After starting Crossfit we learned about eating Paleo and eating in order to fuel your body to perform its best. We now work out 3-4 times a week with a high focus on hitting our macronutrients (lots of protein) which is so important for muscle gain and recovery. I still have a lot to learn! I soon became confident enough where I wanted to start helping others move and feel better so I began my journey towards coaching. As far as level of fitness goes, I’ve never been more fit in my entire life. And I turned 50 this year!”

What are the main differences in training powerlifting specifically, versus training with CrossFit?
“Crossfit was a great precursor to my powerlifting career. It taught me how to move correctly and to be strong mentally. I’d say one of the main training differences, for me, is I really do very little cardio when in season training for powerlifting. Some powerlifters do, but not many. We have a joke that anything over 5 reps is cardio–I’d say that’s different than crossfit! As a result, after our workouts we are hardly ever flat out on the floor like in crossfit. However, on heavy volume lifting days I can feel a very serious CNS (central nervous system) drain. It’s just different. One more thing, we sit down between sets.”

If someone at the gym wanted to get involved in powerlifting or learn more about the sport how would they get started? (besides talking to you!)
“If your looking to compete, talk to me or someone who’s been involved for a while. You could check out the USA Powerlifting Georgia website which has lots of useful information for new lifters. Read the USAPL Lifters Handbook under the resource tab. Then do a local competition! We’re fortunate to live in a state where there are many events each year.”

What is your athletic background? 
“I played softball and volleyball in high school.”

Have you always known that you wanted to be involved in training and coaching others?
“Can’t say I’ve always known. It wasn’t until I really saw a change in myself and knowing that I couldn’t have done it without the help of my coaches.”

What do you love most about coaching others?
“Seeing their potential right from the beginning and then helping them develop their skills and improve their weaknesses. And I love watching people fall in love with different movements and exercises.”

Tell us about a CrossFit or powerlifting moment or achievement of which you are particularly proud.
“I’d have to say winning the IPF (International Powerlifting Federation) World Championships, Masters M2-63kg class, this year in Texas. I also pulled 365 lbs to break the World Record in the deadlift! This is the highest level of competition in powerlifting.”

What is your funniest CrossFit/lifting moment?
“I don’t think I have any funny ones…survival ones, yes!”

What is one goal you have yet to achieve in but are working hard towards?
“I really want a 400 lb deadlift in a meet and an 800 lb total would be awesome!”

What are your hobbies and interests outside of CrossFit?
“I homeschool Ethan (other two kids graduated from Mele Academy!) and I run an afterschool club sponsored by our church. I also love spending time with my husband and my kids.”

Do you have any advice for new members?
“When I first came to the gym there was a ‘Then and Now’ board. Brandon was on there with a few others. If you haven’t heard or read his story, do it. It’s very inspiring and there are plenty of other similar stories from amazing athletes in the gym. Pick someone and ask them their crossfit story.”

“Have an ‘if they can do it, I can do it’ attitude.”

“Take one WOD at a time. I remember thinking if I can just make it to the gym consistently for 6 months…it’s been over 4 years and I’ve only missed a few training days. Training your body and your mind takes time. Enjoy the journey and have fun!”

“Record your gym results. Every once in a while, I look back in my journal to see how far I’ve come.”

“Set short term and long term goals and record them in your journal.”

“After every WOD be proud of yourself for working hard and finishing!”

What do you love most about No Excuses CrossFit?
“I love the feeling of community. That we’re all working together towards the same goals– To be physically fit and mentally strong!”