Member Spotlight: Mike Varney

From Coach Pete-

Sometimes life has a unique way of reminding us about our health. Sometimes that reminder is a heart attack. Mike 1st began with modest goals and had not yet fully dove into CrossFit. Early into his CrossFit journey, which was only 1 on 1 personal training, it happened. This was an eye opener for both Mike and myself. Whats happening inside the body can go unnoticed for years and years and then out of nowhere, boom, it hits you. Once cleared we inched our way back into regular training and slowly dosed intensity for several months. In retrospect, its all pretty amazing. 6 months post heart attack, Mike completed his 1st CrossFit Games Open Workout. Check out Mikes story below…


1) What was your fitness and training background prior to Roaster Barbell?

I had no real fitness or training prior to coming to Roaster.  I did go to some gyms but was never really focused on achieving any real fitness goals.

2) What prompted you to begin training regularly?
It was my daughter, she had wanted to start going to a gym and working out.  So I would go as a way of spending time with her and trying to support her in achieving the goals she was focused on achieving.  I would come to the gym with her on the weekends, but would never do anything when I traveled.  Then two things happened, the first being when my daughter Abigail found Roaster Barbell.  To be honest I was nervous for her coming to a CrossFit gym based upon my impression of these gyms and others we visited.  This impression changed at the first meeting with Pete, seeing the mix of fitness levels, and most importantly how everyone supported everyone irrespective of their fitness levels.  This made me comfortable for my daughter to go there, and then she started to push me to begin individual sessions with Coach Pete.  This got me to start doing lessons every Saturday morning which motivated me to do more exercise when traveling during the week and showing initial progress.  This motivated me further to keep going. Then I had my heart attack in April of this year which was a real eye opener for how unhealthy I really was.  I actually started to miss going to the gym and working out, so when I got clearance from the doctor I started back with the Saturday individual training sessions, then moving to the regular classes. In summary – the two things that prompted me was my daughter pushing me to start doing the individual sessions which showed I could actually do this once I focused more on it.  The second was my heart attack, reinforcing the need to be healthier.
3) What have you changed about your diet and what was the impact on your health?
My main diet change was attempting to cut out all processed type foods.  I also do not restrict myself from foods I used to eat on more regular basis.  If I want a piece of cake or pizza, I have it.  Doing things this way, I do not get really hungry, don’t really crave processed type foods, and have seen consistent results.
4) What are your fitness goals?
I want to maintain consistency of exercising on a regular basis, side goal to be able to do a 5k and also 10 pull ups.
5) What is your favorite part of the Roaster Barbell community?
My favorite part is the support from everyone (as noted in question 2) no matter a persons fitness levels.  A person at the gym that can complete one of the full open workouts is right there supporting a person who can just get through one round of the workout with all the excitement as if they were doing the exercise.  This drives a sense of community, and more importantly gets rid of the intimidation for beginners to come to Roaster and actually begin with confidence they can achieve their goals.
6) What health challenges have you faced?
As mentioned above my biggest challenge and eye opener was my heart attack (with a stent).
7) What advice would you have for someone who is afraid to start?
Set realistic goals for yourself and work to your goals for health and fitness, not anyone else’s.
8) What fears did you have before starting, and how did you overcome them?
My biggest fear coming to a gym like Roaster was if I could actually do any of the exercises effectively or fit into one of the classes.  I overcame these in two ways, first having a support network to push me to just do it (this was my daughter and the community at Roaster). The second was just taking the first step and signing up for the sessions.  I know that sounds cliche, but taking that first step gives you the confidence to continue moving forward.
9) Is there anything else you would like to add?
I have greatly enjoyed the time I have been coming to Roaster, the people I have met, and the support that has been given to both me and my daughter.  I’m glad my daughter found Roaster and pushed me to start coming to the gym.  The sense of community Pete has developed at Roaster has helped me keep the motivation and enjoyment in exercising.  More importantly for me is that my daughter has felt welcomed at Roaster, to which I thank everyone at Roaster.  Finally, one day Pete we will find the absolute perfect cup of coffee.
If you would like to learn more about what we do at Roaster Barbell simply shoot us a message at and lets talk about how we can help you!