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Survival of the fittest: Staff writer Stephen Crotty works out with High Performance Center trainer Gillian Glengarry

The following serves as an account of my workout with Director of High Performance and Auxiliary Fitness Programs Gillian Glengarry, but it could just as easily be a portrait of every Greenhill student who’s ever struggled in sweat under the hawk eye of Coach G


I sauntered into the High Performance Center that Friday afternoon, looking egotistically at my biceps.

“Mmm, mmm, good,” I thought to myself.

At her throne by the treadmills sat Coach G, smirking at my cocky attitude. I said to her, “Now Coach, you’re lifting with me, right?” She seemed taken aback, then informed me that she couldn’t, she had Middle School students coming in an hour. I was disappointed but a bit relieved. She shoved me onto a treadmill and ordered me to run. She snapped pictures of my beautiful prances and soon I was ready to go. Well, I thought I was, anyway.

I walked over to grab a weight bar and she snarled at me, questioning my warm up procedures. I halfheartedly pulled on my limbs to “stretch.” I wanted to get started. I wanted to pump some iron. She interrogated me the whole time, what grade was I in, what colleges I’m looking at, why on Earth does The Evergreen want to write a story about this? I told her she was a symbol of the Athletic Department, an obstacle that all athletes at this school encounter and strive to impress. Coach G, the gladiator. She scoffed and I blushed.

Finally, she released me from stretching and I grabbed the hang clean bar. I did five light reps and then we did our superset of knee lifts. Coach G joined me in those. As I sputtered like a fish, she expertly pumped her legs while admonishing my technique.

“My legs don’t go straight up,” I complained, gasping.

She was having none of it. I was to suffer correctly.

We did two more sets of hang cleans then moved over to the bench. It was time for the incline press, my greatest foe. While I have the arms and stomach of a god, I have scrawny little chicken shoulders. I started out with 95 pounds and was proud to complete my six reps. Coach G looked at me with a little grin, paused, then told me to get in plank position.

“Let’s see how my record holder does. It’d been two years and nobody’s beaten it.” I smiled, remembering that time in sophomore year when I beat Evan Haynes’ all time HPC plank record. I was a legend. Holding it for 30 seconds would surely be a piece of cake. The second the clock started, and she screamed at me, her prized pupil with abs of steel.

“Your heels are too close together, and your butt is sticking up. You gotta be better,” she critiqued.

I almost slipped trying to readjust my feet and was suddenly uncomfortably conscious of my rear end. I started to wonder if my record was a fluke, or worse, a hoax of poor technique.

I struggled through my next two sets of presses and planks, but felt poised to jump onto the chin up bar. Before I could, she gave a little chuckle, and randomly inquired, “Do you know how long I’ve been here?’ It had been twenty years and I encouraged her to push through those last five years to become a Legend. It only seemed fair after all the motivation she had given me.

Soon enough, she told me to quit stalling and jump up. I did six chin-ups with relative ease and was told to do 30 crunches. I did them dutifully then did my next six reps. It was all a breeze. On the last set, she told me I had to get ten. I pulled with sluggishness to ten and slipped off the handholds. I looked at her with prideful eyes but received a cold stare in return.

“You could have done more. You gave up! You gotta push it!” she pointed out, then ordered me to do 40 crunches. A twinge of resentment passed through me, that same twinge which has passed through the hearts of thousands of students before me.

She snapped some pictures of me on the bar and I gazed in wonder at my bulging veins. Such a good-looking boy by my standards, but such a weak duckling by hers. Regardless, it was now time to do lateral lunge and I hate those. There was nothing particularly interesting about them but I did get to be a model for middle school kids. Don’t be surprised if you see 13 year olds starting to wear fake hearing aids and neon orange shoes to imitate their favorite lifter.

At this point, a little kid in a bathing suit came up to get Coach G. She was needed at the pool, and I had been freed. I got my complimentary vanilla Core Power protein shake and stood alone in the High Performance Center. Coach G was gone and I could relax. But still, I couldn’t help feeling she was still somehow tracking me. Such is the experience of the humbled athlete. I decided to scamper downstairs and outside, free from any hidden surveillance. On my way out of the gym, I ran into Coach Stringer. A strand of numbness suddenly ran down my spine as he walked by.

“Oh no, not another one of them,” I thought to myself.

Photo by Jake Middleman

Originally published in the November 2017 print issue

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