March - Athlete of the Month
Congratulations "Shoeless"

Get to Know "SHOELESS" Joe – Q&A:

Hometown: Haverford, PA
Current Location: King of Prussia, PA
Age: 25
Occupation: Engineer
College: Villanova University

How long have you been a CrossFitter?

I did Fundamentals with Coach P in February of 2010, and started coming regularly in July of that year.

Did you ever play sports?
Track and cross country in high school.

Mom, Dad, my brother Dan, my sister Claire

What is your biggest achievement at CrossFit?
My first 175 pound snatch. I was trying to do a power snatch with that weight and failed a few times, and when it occurred to me that that weight might be out of my league, Coach Laura said something like, “You can definitely lift that, I know it.” Then I got it, and then I just had to try a full squat snatch. Getting to write my name on the board for the first time was a really emotional experience.

What do you feel you still need to work on?
Double unders, burpees, and push-ups. In general, I want get better at showing up for wods that I don't think I will perform well in. I also want to learn more about how to help other athletes with their form and performance.

Goals for the rest of the year?
After the Open, I'd like to resume focusing on strength, particularly the Olympic lifts. I don't have any numbers in mind for goals yet, but if I can make some degree of progress in this and in all the things in the question above, I feel like 2012 would be a success.

What's your favorite WOD?
Anything that involves a barbell and finding a one-rep max. There was also one recently where we did front squats, 1-10-1-20-1-30-1, which I liked because of the mental focus it required. (Special thanks to Coach Tim for being my partner and helping me get through that one.)

What's the craziest, insane workout outside of CF you have ever done?
Running the Broad Street Run barefoot. It was the stupidest thing to do, especially since someone whose judgment I trust very much told me beforehand that it was a horrible idea and he wound up being right. It was an important experience for me though, since I learned not to be so stubborn and to open my mind to the benefits of different kinds of shoes for different kinds of workouts.

What is your least favorite WOD?
Most WODs that take longer than 10 minutes (especially Filthy Fifty) or those that have extremely high reps with a relatively light weight (Randy).

What's your favorite lift?
The snatch.

What is your least favorite lift?
Right now I dread the clean the most, since I've got a lot of work to do to get my form right. Thanks to Coach P's clinic though, I know what I need to work on and what I need to do to get better.

What skill do you want to work on in 2012 the most?
I'd like to improve my form on the Olympic lifts and get better at stringing double unders.

What's your favorite foods, and snacks?
My go-to almost-paleo meal is 4 eggs, coconut milk, (almost paleo) sausage, peppers, onions, and spinach all scrambled together. I usually have this 4-5 times a week. My favorite non-paleo foods are pizza and ice cream, and I’m working on getting better at having less of these. Oh, and I don’t know if I’d be able to survive without chocolate milk.

Whats your favorite piece of workout "gear"?
My black Under Armor pullover. I’ve had it since senior year of high school and it still feels brand new!

What would you say is your biggest improvement since starting Crossfit?
My confidence in myself, especially after gaining a lot of strength and body mass thanks to Coach Laura’s help.

Who is your favorite coach?
At any given time, it's one of the following:

Jeff, for believing in me at times when I didn't believe in myself.

Nikki, for caring so much and spending so much time going way out of your way to help me improve.

Mel, for being a great friend and making me smile every time I see you at the box.

Tim, for never letting me slack off and being one of my favorite role-models.

Jason, for being so knowledgeable and dedicated to learning how everyone at KOP can improve.

Donkey, for focusing on everyone's individual needs and pouring your heart into helping us.

Vinny, for always staying with me right by my side in all the classes when I'm the last one to finish.

Cate, for looking out for me and helping me learn what I need to work on.

Laura, for being very patient and understanding with me when my diet was terrible and inspiring me with your contagious passion for wellness.

Steph, for teaching me why it's important to love my body even with its limitations, and similarly but more importantly, why I need to accept the parts of my personality that I never liked and used to wish weren't there.

Aimee, for your brilliant coaching and being the visionary and leader of this community that enabled me to feel stronger, have more self-confidence, and make a whole bunch of friends.

Plentus, for all the fitness and life advice and for being my personal hero since the summer before I went to college.

PR's to mention? Goals Reached? Nutrition highlights?

Recently I did 3 sets of 5 back squats with 265 pounds (full disclosure: I took nearly 10 minutes rest between sets), which was really exciting to me, since when I started two summers ago my one-rep max was 205# and my 5-rep max was 185#. I also did 3 sets of 5 shoulder press at 120 pounds, while my 5-rep max was 105 at the end of my first month of strength training. After working with Laura I saw a huge increase in my strength, with my clean and jerk going from 165# to 195# and deadlift going from 415# to 445#. During this time I learned to eat in higher quantities with higher frequency, to try to eliminate the bad things one thing at a time (starting with gluten), take supplements such as BCAAs, and do more heavy lifting and less long endurance workouts.

There are also some goals I set that I didn’t get, i.e. a 3-minute L-sit hold (didn’t know what I was getting into), a set of 100 pushups (got discouraged and stopped), and 100 burpees in 5 minutes (just didn’t stick with it). I’m working on getting better at setting reasonable goals and being honest with myself about what I think I can do.

Thanks everyone for your friendship and support! I know I’m fortunate to belong to a community like KOP where I can check my ego at the door and be entirely comfortable being myself.


JZuck said...

Congrats Shoeless! You deserve it. I remember working with you when you first started and I could tell you were going to have great gains because of your work ethic and willingness to learn. You have ended up exceeding what I even thought was possible in such a short amount of time. I am excited to see where you will be in the next 6 months to a year. The sky is the limit. Keep it up.

Vinny said...

I second JZ's comments about your work ethic bro...you've had some awesome progress with your strength lifts as a result. Its always a good time when your at the box man, overall your a great dude to have around. Congrats!!

Jen S. said...

This is awesome. Congrats Shoeless! :)

Mike P said...

Woooooooo Hoooooooo!!!!! Congrats, Shoeless!!!!!

Kathleen said...

Congratulations Shoeless! You are a great role model for all of us!!!

Howard said...

Congratulations Shoeless!

Melanie said...

Shoeless, thank you for always laughing with me and not at me! You are totally awesome and deserve this recognition. Congratualtions and keep up the strong work my friend!!!

Jason Lyons said...


Well done brother. Like JZ said, you are easily one of the hardest workers at the gym and are not afraid to target your weaknesses. Also, your back looks like the side of a tractor anymore. You got huge from your dedication...

Did you know Plentus before CF?

Eileen Banis said...

You are one cool dude...great interview...

Katie V. said...

Get it shoeless! Awesome!

Anonymous said...

Shoeless - congrats! Its great to see all of your progress. You always bring such a great attitude to the gym. I bet you are pretty excited about wod 12.2


Gina S. said...

Congrats Shoeless, you rock!!

Denise said...

Congrats Shoeless! You deserve it! It has been awesome to watch you grow as an athlete. Keep up the good work :)

Jon Schell said...

It's going to get really expensive buying new clothes all the time if you keep packing on the muscle the way you have been.

Chris P. said...

Shoeless! Very excited that you are the member of the month. This is a very well deserved recognition, as JZ and Vinny said, no one can match the time you've put into improving yourself. Knowing you in college and now, I can say that applies to both your workouts and your own personal growth. As I've said before, your best trait is your willingness to learn, take constructive criticism, and grow from it. Keep it up buddy!

Danny said...

Congrats Shoeless! You have worked so hard and continue to work even harder. Congrats again buddy

Anonymous said...

Shoe, you are the man at the box! Every rep is legit every time. You never take the easy road in any workout and you make me look like a slacker. You're an inspiration to more people than you know. Congratulations!

Brian R

Byrnsey said...

Joe aka Shoeless:

You are one nice guy! Always a pleasure working with you....

Congrads and well deserved.


Kristin T. said...

Joe! Shoes or no shoes - you are one awesome guy! Thanks for inspiring me to work harder! It is such an inspiration to watch your progress! You deserve it all! Keep it up! Hope you kill WOD 12.2!! SNATCHTASTIC! boo ya!

Anonymous said...

Congrats Shoeless! Always great to see your enthusiasm and the hard work you put in.


Unknown said...

Congrats Shoeless! I echo what everyone else has said, your work ethic is second to none. You definitely deserve this!

shoeless said...

Thanks everyone! As far as work ethic goes, the coaches and community deserve a lot of the credit for that..I would not be able to stay nearly as dedicated or focused without them.

Jason, I met Plentus when he was leading an event at Villanova that I participated in right before I was a freshman. We eventually became friends and he'd tell me all about Crossfit, and eventually CrossfitKoP. So he's pretty much why I'm here!

Jay E said...

Nice work Shoeless. I see a 500LB Dead in your future.

steph said...

congrats shoeless! i only just met you last week, so it's nice to see your history and progress! you're an inspiration to us noobs! ;)

Tim P said...

JOE Congrats again on the many well deserved accomplishments. Your work ethic is stellar and many returns have come of it.

Anonymous said...

Congrats Joe aka Shoeless.


Liz said...

Congrats shoe. Great write up.

Laura Pappas said...

Joe sorry I'm late to the game on commenting, but great story and write up. You have done so much work to get where you are now and with your passion and dedication you'll keep amazing yourself, I know it! Keep up the great work and being you :) Glad to have you at the box and as my neighbor!

Paul S said...

Joe "shoeless" congrats man, you deserve it. Keep up the hard work.

Stasie said...

Nice recognition for a nice guy! Congrats Shoeless!

Nikki said...

Hey Shoeless! Sorry I'm so late to seeing this. Congratulations on athlete of the month! You definitely deserve it!!! It's been great watching you grow as an athlete over the last couple of years. You work hard and deserve every bit of it! What I love about you the most is how you have such a positive attitude. You make everyone around you smile, and just having you in class was always a pleasure. Keep working hard and kicking ass! Thanks for the shout out - it means a lot to me. I miss you!