Ballet to Barbells


Melissa Gatto is one of our newest coaches at CrossFit Central Downtown. She has just recently moved to Austin from New York City where she was a professional ballet/ contemporary dancer. Melissa found and fell in love with CrossFit in 2013 (after never lifting a barbell before!) and decided to get her Level 1 Certification a couple years later. She has a passion for helping people achieve their goals and encourages clients to challenge themselves everyday and we are excited to have her on the CrossFit Central coaching staff! Check out the Q&A with Coach Melissa to get to know her a bit more.

When did you start dancing?
I started dancing when I was 3 years old!

You moved to New York City to pursue your dance career. What was that like?
I moved to NYC from Ohio when I was 22, 6 months after graduating college. It was intimidating, but SO exciting (I’ve always been a city kid at heart). NYC is super expensive so finding a balance between pursuing my art and making ends meet was tough. There were a couple times where I had to choose between an audition or paying my bills and unfortunately the bills won sometimes haha. Before moving to NYC, I danced 6-8 hours a day, 5-6 days per week in all different areas, mostly ballet and modern contemporary. Once I moved to NYC, I would take class 3 days a week, and depending on my rehearsal schedule, about an extra 5-7 hours a week. I got to dance with some amazing people and companies.

What initially drew you to CrossFit?
As my dance career was winding down, I was told to try CrossFit and was hesitant because I had never really lifted before. I figured with my dance background I would be okay at CrossFit so I finally decided to give it a try. I remember my first workout ever: 5 rep max backsquat (I hit 105#) and I did the benchmark workout “Grace” (30 Clean and Jerks at 135/95), which I did at 55# and it took me over 7 minutes!! After that, it was safe to say I was hooked.

After becoming a CrossFitter, I was approached by a couple of coaches that I should think about coaching. I was already teaching a Dance classes and Barre Fitness classes and thought it would be great to incorporate CrossFit into my repertoire as well. I got my L-1, started coaching in April 2015 and haven’t looked back since!

What brought you to Austin?
My boyfriend James and I decided to make the move to Austin. We were ready for a change from the NYC lifestyle. We had done our research, and realized Austin was the city for us. The city is smaller/ more affordable, the fitness industry is booming, the people are awesome and most importantly, there’s no snow!!

What’s next?
I like to take life as it comes. I love what I’m doing at this time so I’m definitely going to continue educating myself and growing my brand!

Rapid Fire Questions with Melissa Gatto

What do you love about CrossFit?
I love the community aspect of CrossFit. Everyone has a different goal and is at a different fitness level, but we all come together to exercise and train in the same space. Everyone supports and encourages each other no matter what!

Favorite CrossFit movement and/or workout?
My absolute favorite movement is the Clean. There’s nothing better than pulling a heavy barbell off the ground and catching it on to your shoulders. My favorite CrossFit workout: The Filthy Fifty. Long chipper-style workouts are the best!

Favorite go to meal?
A normal meal for me consists of lean proteins, guac, lots of veggies and sweet potatoes! My favorite cheat meal? TACOS.

Favorite thing to do when you’re not coaching/working?
If I’m not training or coaching, my favorite thing to do is to be on the river either kayaking or SUP! I love taking advantage of all the outdoorsy things we can do here in Austin!

Hype jam? (what song/artist/station) do you listen to to get pumped up?
Kanye. I always get hyped when I hear pretty much any of his music! I also love listening to Disclosure while I workout.

Favorite podcast/book/or movie?
Sticking true to those dance roots: DIRTY DANCING.

Favorite quote?
“You know all those things that you’ve always wanted to do? You should go do them.”