Posted On March 8, 2023

The Velvet Coffin Where is your fitness journey taking you?

We are all familiar with making decisions about weight loss, training cycles, and workout programs. These are the routine decisions we make all the time.

Few of us ever pause and think about the long game. Where is our fitness journey taking us?


I borrowed (stole) the term velvet coffin from New York University business professor Suzy Welch. My rendition of the coffin that many fitness people find themselves in is the endless progression of the same workouts, same diet plans, same fixation on your abs (or their lack of presence), bigger bench press and so forth.

The fitness coffin is the place where we never have to think about is what to do nextor why we are doing what we are doing.

The standard response suggesting that we think about what we are doing is to assume that we will quit working out entirely and become monstrously fat like everyone else at All You can Eat Pizza Night.

My experience has been quite different.

Reflection of the many opportunities we have in our lives can often lead to a creative re-direction of our energy and a lot of satisfaction.


Here is an example: Many years ago I knew a young bodybuilder who had a fantastic physique (before steroids). He was always struggling with his image. Many people thought he was a dimwit just because he was really buff.

Quite by accident he discovered that his years of training in the gym had given him a body that adapted quickly to another very competitive sport. Over a period of eighteen months he went from spending time lifting weights to playing tennis. He became very good and over the next five years advance to being ranked among the top ten amateurs in the US.

In short, he took the opportunity to try something new, and discovered that it was much more personally rewarding and exciting than what he had been doing.


Making any change is always unsettling. If it is a big change from your established routine, it can be very disconcerting.

However, finding that you are in a place where you begin dreading the process of training and all the lifestyle that goes along with it, perhaps it is time to take a look at where you want to go on your fitness journey.

Lately I have been struck by how miserable some strength athletes may be. In the last couple years several pro bodybuilders have died before age 40. The worlds strongest woman, Strongman competitor Rebecca Lorch committed suicide at age 32. (NY Times article Jan 29).

I should add that some of the people I regularly see at the gym where I train are deeply dissatisfied with the results of their training and are openly discussing which PEDs to take in order to make progress.

I believe the saddest part of this is that none of the lads seems to have any clear idea of what they want and why they want it. Their thinking seems to be Ill know it when I get there.


Over the 67 years I have been training, I have had regular occasions to look at what Im doing and why I do it. I can honestly say that at no point did I ever participate in a sport or do a workout that I disliked.


Ever since I was a kid working out and playing sports have been like recess. I picked out what I wanted to do, and then did it.

Lifting heavy stuff was something that has always been enjoyable for me. (Some would find this a sign of significant mental illness).

In the decades when I competed in powerlifting, I always did a significant amount of running.


SimpleI enjoy the act of running and look forward to it any time I get ready to work out.

At the tender age of 82 what fitness goals do I have?

Basically two: 1) keep lifting a variety of heavy stuff and 2) enjoy my regular outdoor runs.

If you dont feel the love for what you are doing, your journey is likely to be a sad one.


IMHO we can become too caught up in the intense process of fitness training to reflect on where we want to go and are we having fun.

Maybe time to check your personal preferences and direction.

Lift Big!


Written by Richard

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