Athlete of the Month: December 2018

Joe Burkard

Sometimes you have to do something a little crazy to change your life for the better – just ask Joe Burkard. He’d heard people compare CrossFit to an addiction or cult, but he was willing to take the risk if it meant getting in shape, gaining more energy, and feeling better. So, in March of 2018, he jumped into a free conditioning class… and discovered all the rumors were true. 

Joe’s become “addicted” to CrossFit in the best way possible, taking on every challenge with enthusiasm and dedication, including Murph, The Whole Life Challenge, and Olympic Weightlifting. He’s not only racked up dozens of those little gold stars on Wodify, but he’s also made a crew of supportive friends (aka “the CrossFit cult”) to cheer him on. 

Read our Q&A with Joe and get to know December’s Athlete of the Month! 

How did you discover CrossFit?

I was feeling like a change was needed in my life. I was working so much and not taking any time for myself. Driving to work every day I would see the CrossFit 718 sign from the highway and think, “Man, I hear those CrossFit people are crazy”. Then one day I said to myself, “Maybe something crazy is what I need to get that change in my life.” That day I called Tammy and that night I was in for a free conditioning class.

Why did you end up sticking with CrossFit?

I LOVE THE PEOPLE! Honestly, I feel really lucky to have basically stumbled into CrossFit 718 and found so many awesome people who made me feel like a true member from the beginning.

What kinds of changes have you noticed since starting CrossFit?

Since joining CrossFit 718 I have become a better person overall. I see myself able to do more things without noticing how physically difficult they are.

I work as a designer and in woodworking. I’m usually working in a wood shop hauling lumber, standing on my feet all day, moving heavy awkward things. I used to go home so sore and tired. Now, after joining CrossFit 718, I am more flexible, fit, and strong. I have a lot more energy, which has also benefitted my social life.

You recently completed the Whole Life Challenge. How was your experience?  

I really enjoyed the challenge. I lost 40lbs in 40 days! I was blown away by the fact that just changing a few bad habits and introducing some good ones could do so much. I am so happy with the results. It’s the first time in a long time that people have actually stopped me to say that I’m looking skinny or looking good.

The Challenge made me very aware that my eating choices were not in line with the life choices I had set for myself when I joined CrossFit718.

How do you make time for working out?

I started with the basics and graduated to the WODs. Now I’m really into Olympic Weightlifting and I plan to start adding in some rucking and more conditioning classes to keep up the weight loss. The fact that there are so many options is great because I want to try it all.  But it is true that CrossFit can be “addicting” and, therefore, time-consuming. Finding time is part of the commitment to changing my lifestyle.

It’s funny because sometimes I feel like I am not spending enough time with others. I’m just working then working out. But then I get a text from my partner like, “Have a great time at the box, babe. Lift lots of heavy things!” It is so awesome to have that support. It makes the times when I am not working out and spending time with others even more special.

What’s your favorite lift?

I started really liking cleans, but recently I have been really enjoying the snatch. It was such a hard movement for me in the beginning because I lacked mobility, but I have been working hard on it and getting a little better every day. Plus, it just looks awesome!

What recent achievement are you most proud of?

Coach Iz will probably laugh about this, but I always get super excited when I see those little gold stars on Wodify and I feel like I always have to let him know. Like, “Hey look what I did, coach!” But, overall, I’m just proud that I have stuck with CrossFit and am improving my life. I have gone to so many other gyms over the years and I would end up paying for the membership month after month, using the same five pointless machines and then eventually not even going but still paying. People joke that CrossFit is like a cult or like a drug that you get addicted to. It’s kinda true but in all the best ways.

Most people never forget their first time attempting Murph. What was your experience like?

One of my favorite memories at CrossFit 718 is the first time I did Murph. It was so exhausting. I had to scale the pull-ups to banded and I didn’t wear a vest. I tried to keep up but I was not able to hang with everyone. It seemed like it took me forever to get it done and everyone else was like the Flash. By the time everyone else was done I was still finishing up my squats and still needed to do the last mile. I really wanted to quit, but Dave came over and was so awesome. He counted for me and pushed me through to the final mile, which I basically hobbled. On the way in from the mile a few of the guys like Kenny, Mario, and MJ came out to run with me about 1/4 of a mile to push me through. In my head I felt so weak, but as we got closer people were outside cheering me on and that all changed. I decided to sprint the last two blocks and collapsed in exhaustion and happiness as I entered the box. I was very proud that I actually finished it! Maybe next time I’ll do it with a vest on.

What goal are you currently working on? 

I would really love to be able to do a pull-up one day. Watching people crank out pull-up after pull-up is really inspiring and pretty badass.

What do you do when you’re not at the box? 

I like to spend my free time with my amazing partner Victoria and my 2 ½-year-old dog Jax. Victoria and I like to refinish furniture, build and design fun projects, spend time upstate hiking and relaxing. But the best is just lounging on the couch and finding a new show to binge watch. At the moment it’s “Making It.”