This month’s athlete spotlight is Joel Hulley. Joel is a 31 year old military veteran who served in the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and deployed on a tour in Afghanistan. He is an avid Crossfitter and an iconic figure in the Select community. Joel joined Select 5 years ago while he was home on leave from the army. Every time Joel came back to Toronto he didn’t hesitate to get back to Select. Since Joel has left the military in 2014 he has been a full time member at Select. Odds are you’ll see Joel throwing down at the notorious 6:30 PM class and then sticking around open gym lifting heavy and chatting with other athletes.

Here’s a quick interview with Joel…

Q: How did you hear about Crossfit?
Joel: When I first got into the military in 2008 it was around the same time that Crossfit was growing in popularity. There were already a lot of military units in the States that were doing it and we had a couple of guys in the Canadian military that started doing it and were qualified level one trainers. I saw the rapid growth of Crossfit in the military and it quickly became the go-to training methodology for most of us. When I went overseas to Afghanistan, the base that I was on had a Crossfit gym that was run by American military personnel that were L1 certified. The gym was called Crossfit Camp Phoenix.

Q: The relationship between Crossfit and the military is obviously a strong one. How did crossfit help you in your day to day life while serving in the military?
Joel: Fitness is one of the most important things in the infantry. It’s such a physically demanding job, where everything we do our physical fitness plays a huge role. Our commanders would make us workout at least once a day. There were times when I felt my fitness decline and I could tell right away, in terms of my job performance. It just shows how big a role physical fitness played in our day to day duties.

Q: How do you feel when you see a Hero workout?
Joel: In the Military we would do the more well known hero workouts like Murph on Memorial Day or some sort of Hero Wod on Remembrance Day. It’s really cool to see affiliates and gyms program those workouts. It’s a nice sense of recognition for those that served. Often times when there’s a hero WOD programed I’ll use a weight vest. It is very close in weight to the body armor we had. Often times when we workout at our unit we would use our body armour or ruck for added weight. All the hero WODs are also very long and challenging but the last thing you want to do is quit during a Hero WOD.

Q: What are you most impressed with your progression as an athlete since doing Crossfit?
Joel: How much leaner and stronger I got! I was kinda heavy when I started and I’ve found that I’ve leaned out a lot while still getting a lot stronger.

Q: Are there any movements that you can do now that pre-Crossfit Joel would have been blown away by?
Joel: Muscle ups. I remember when I started doing Crossfit I saw some athletes doing muscle ups and I thought I would never be one of those guys. Now here I am.

Q: What’s your favorite part about being a member at Select?
Joel: My favorite part of Select has to be the people here. It’s a really good group of people that I get along with really well, they’re all super supportive more that anything and I like hanging out with them in and outside of the gym. I like the friendly competition that the group class brings, in the sense of getting to workout with other people that push you. It also brings people together. I’m always looking forward to come workout and to see my friends. Even if I’m not planning to workout with my friends that day there’s always someone there who’s ready to workout with you. I’ve done the whole globo gym thing and a lot of the time you go do your thing and keep to yourself and leave. Crossfit is much different, there’s always someone you know or that you’re friends with who’s ready to workout with you.

It’s also really easy to get a workout in. You just gotta show up and there’s a workout written on the board, the coach runs you through the class and your done. There’s other times as well where I’ll hang out talk to my friends then workout out, hangout again,workout again, next thing you know you’ve been at the gym for 4 hours.

Q:How has Crossfit influenced your life?
Joel: It’s helped me deal with a lot of stress. I had some issues with depression and anxiety after leaving the military. Staying in shape and having the friends that I have here have really helped with all that. Crossfit is a really good way to release a lot of frustrations that you may have built up. Working out is kind of like a self-therapy method to reduce some stress.

By: Coach Thomas Markhauser

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