Interview with Joe Pasquariello of CrossFit Oakland
I met Joe when he visited our local box during his short trip in the Philippines earlier this year. The CrossFit Open was about to start and since it was my first time doing the open, I wanted to get tips from guys who’ve been doing it for a while. Joe left quite an impression after our first WOD together (it was ‘Rankel’ if I remember it correctly). He crushed it and I was naturally impressed. He was gracious enough to give tips and share his CrossFit story, and if he can inspire me and my boxmates, I’m pretty sure he can inspire you! Check out his story below.
How long have you been involved in the sport of CrossFit? How old were you when you started?
I’m in my 8th year at CrossFit Oakland. I started in 2006, when I was 49, so now I’m 57, which doesn’t seem right. A friend of mine had found CrossFit, and she invited me to go one day. At the time, CFO was offering a week of free classes to get people interested. I did those free classes, and I was hooked. I’ve been going ever since.
What was your first impression of the sport? Were you intimidated?
A little bit, I guess. At the time, almost everyone was new to CF. We had a mixture of fitness levels, but there were some very good athletes, so right away I could see people doing kipping pull-ups and lifting heavy weights. They were way ahead of me, but I figured I would eventually learn to do some of these new things.
What’s your favorite CrossFit movement?
That’s a tough question. I like to do all of the strength movements (squat, deadlift, press, clean), and I do okay with basic metcon movements like push-ups, pull-ups, dips, double-unders, etc. There are so many things we do on a regular basis, it’s hard to have one favorite. I would like to be better at the olympic lifts. Burpees are not my favorite.
What’s your favorite WOD?
I’m going to say Grace. It’s not too long, and it seems to be a workout that everybody will go pretty hard. It gets loud in the gym, with people dropping the bars. The whole scene is pretty fun, with the strongest athletes cheering on the slower ones at the end. That’s something you don’t get at the Globo Gym. I do Grace with 95 lbs, and like so many workouts, I need to push myself to do it heavier.
What aspect do you feel you need to improve on the most (e.g. metcon, mobility, strength, etc)?
Mobility is the one I think about most. To do any movement well, you have to able to get in the correct position, so mobility might be the most fundamental of the three. When I first started, I could not do an overhead squat at all. I couldn’t stay on my heels in the bottom of a squat or get my shoulders in position to get the bar overhead. My mobility has improved a lot, and I need to keep that going. When we do a WOD that has OHS, I feel good afterward, remembering those early days.
How has CrossFit changed your lifestyle?
Lots of different ways. Crossfit is not just exercise, but all kinds of exercise, with high intensity, as well as eating right, getting plenty of sleep, and having fun doing all of it. In my experience, Crossfit is unique in providing a community that supports all of those things, to whatever level you want to go.
How do you prepare for a WOD? Physically and mentally?
Not much! The night before, when I read on the blog what the WOD will be, I usually imagine myself killing it, and the next day, when the WOD starts, reality sets in. Some days you are stronger than others, and every once in a while, it all comes together and you get a PR. That gives you a new baseline for what to expect of yourself, and on it goes.
Tell us more about your local box. What’s the community like?
Crossfit Oakland is the best. Our owner, Mike Minium, is an original crossfitter from Santa Cruz, and he’s everything that Crossfit is about. He’s a great teacher and sets the tone for what Crossfit Oakland is about. We have excellent coaches, and a great community of members. It may be a cliche, but it really is a family. When you go to the gym, for that hour, whatever else is going on in your life, you’re among friends, and you can get your workout and do something good for yourself.
What would be the first thing that you would tell someone who’s starting out?
We get new people all the time, and it’s fun to see them getting into it. If they ask, I would say don’t worry about how much others are lifting. Focus on learning the movements and doing each of them as well as you can. Be smart about how and when you push yourself and do it safely. Keep looking for the balance of technique and effort that leads to the best outcome. It’s really interesting to me that if you watch video of Rich Froning, he’s never rushing or out of control. He does every rep with great technique, and look where he ends up.
What are your personal goals as a CrossFitter? Would we be seeing you in the Games (60+ Masters division) several years from now?
They say half of life is just showing up. I want to keep showing up, working to get stronger and learn new skills. I have a few specific goals, but mostly I want to stay healthy, mentally and physically, and do each workout as best I can. If I can do that, I’ll consider myself successful. We have a few elite masters athletes at CFO, so I’ve seen how strong, talented, and committed you have to be to get that far. I’ve been happy just to complete the Open workouts as Rx’d the last two years and get an official score. I’m just hoping 14.5 never comes up again!
What’s your message for your fellow CrossFitters who feel they’re either too old or too busy to try the sport?
If someone younger than me is saying they’re too old to do Crossfit, I really don’t need to say anything. They can see it’s not true. I’m always trying to get people to give it a shot. What’s more important than taking an hour of your day to devote to your own health and wellness?
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