ATHLETE : JOE ADAMS
Have you ever walked into 717 and seen a guy doing Armless Rope Climbs? Or completing Fran in 26 seconds? Or Turkish Get Ups with the barbell… vertical. If not, Joe Adams is the guy, always creating ways to make the workout just a little bit harder, or even impossible. He’s the first to hand out a compliment and always the last to take one. Even if a pat on the back is well deserved, he points out the positive in others first. Joe is one of our old time 717 members and the place wouldn’t be the same without his dry sense of humor and remarkable craftsmanship. (Joe is responsible for the creation of the 2.5 & 5 # Plate rack, the sleds anchoring the pull up rigs, the railing on the porch, and a few other personalized creations around 717.)
1. Where did you grow up?
I grew up in western PA in a town called Colver. When people ask me this
question, I usually say “Johnstown” if they haven’t heard of that, I just say “Pittsburgh”.
If they have heard of it, I say “Ebensburg” and if they have heard of that, then they may
have heard of Colver.
2. What is your athletic background?
I started sports with tee-ball at around age 5 and was involved in some type of
organized baseball until I was 15. I played soccer from about age 8 until I graduated high
school. I also had a few years of ice hockey and football thrown in there as well. Now I
mostly just play slow pitch softball (Adult Tee Ball). I think it is kind of funny that I have
suffered significantly more injuries at adult tee ball than I have at crossfit (**knocks on
3. How did you get started with CrossFit?
This is kind of a two part story. My wife and I started doing cross training/
strongman workouts with the late strongman Mike Jenkins sometime around October
2011. We did that for a few months and it was much better than lifting in the dungeon at
The East Shore Y. Additionally (this is the 2nd some crossfit inspired videos of people doing
overhead squats on YouTube. Obviously, my initial reaction to those videos was that overhead
squats are the greatest exercise ever and I wanted to do them. So I did an intro class at
another box and when I almost threw up, I knew I was in the right place.
4. How long have you been at CrossFit 717?
Continuing from above, the box I where I did the intro class was just too far from
home and 717 was very close to home so in February of 2012, I signed up for an intro
class at 717 and joined immediately afterwards.
5. What are your favorite exercises/WODs?
I like to do the things that I’m better at, so the list is pretty short. I think I have
some unique features. I have good flexibility and mobility and the ratio of my arm length
to my body height is similar to that of an orangutan. So basically, any movement where
long arms or good mobility provide an advantage is better for me. Like I said, it’s a short
list. So to actually answer the question, I would say rowing, overhead squats and maybe,
just maybe, pistols.
6. What exercises/WODs do you dislike?
Oh my. Where do I start? Is it sufficient to just give the opposite of the answer
above? I don’t like any benchmark WODs because they are just a vehicle to remind me of
my ineptitude (ignorance is bliss). I also really don’t like handstand pushups very much. I
also really dislike it when the coaches pretend there is only one round of a workout when
there are actually two. Six months ago this would have been a two word answer that rhymed
with bubble blunders but that situation seems to have finally resolved itself.
7. What are you goals with regards to CrossFit and what accomplishments/PRs are
you most proud of?
I have achieved a lot of PRs since starting Crossfit but that is mostly because I
didn’t really even know what PR was prior to Crossfit. Regardless, I try not to be too
proud of myself. My accomplishments are very modest but with that said, the 285lb clean
I managed the other day felt pretty good. I would love to add 30 lbs to that. I would also
like to be able to back squat 405 lbs and get a 2,000m row in under 7:00.
8. In your perfect world, what would you be doing in 10 years?
I have 2 answers for this question depending on what is meant by perfect world.
If we are being realistic, then I will be happy to still be married to my current wife Sarah and
have a healthy happy daughter, Cleo. If we are talking about
fantasy land, the previous sentence would apply, obviously but there would be some
other awesomeness. That awesomeness would include a farm, a sailboat, a house near the
shore and a sweet tractor.
9. Where did you go to high school/college?
I went to Central Cambria High School and Penn State University. I got a B.S. in
chemical engineering from Penn State. Now I work as an environmental engineer.
10. What is your current occupation?
I work at Pennsylvania DEP. DEP stands for Department of Environmental
Protection. That’s all I have to say about that.
11. If you could eat dinner with 3 people past or present, who would you choose and
why? Furthermore, what would you order for dinner?
I had a tough time with this one because it is a very odd thing to think about for
me. I decided I would just pick people who I thought would be entertaining. I would go
with Dave Attell, Stephen Lynch and Mike Rowe. I think that would be good fun. I
would order steak or ribs or steak and ribs. Side dishes are irrelevant.
12. Who is your celebrity crush?
Wow, I’m having a lot of trouble coming up with an answer on this on. 10-15
years ago I would have said Brooke Burke. I don’t really pay enough attention to
celebrities these days to have a crush on one.
13. What is your favorite movie and why?
I like a lot of movies. I don’t think I can pick a favorite.
14. What is your favorite thing about CrossFit 717?
I like that I can just show up to class and I get told what to do and how to do it for
an hour. I don’t have to think and I don’t have to plan. It is fantastic.
15. If you could have any car, what would you choose?
I will assume that when you say “car” you mean any kind of vehicle. This is a
tough question because I really like cars. If it had to be a production car, I’d probably
pick a Porsche 911 because I think they are cool. If it could be any car, I would pick my
Jeep which I have been building for the past 2.5 years. The only exception is that I would
build it with a significantly expanded budget and a significantly expanded workshop. It
would be even more fantastic than it already is.
16. Tell us something interesting about yourself that we would be surprised to know.
I have probably done more than my fair share of karaoke singing but after several
beers, I just get the urge to sing. In 2009, only a month or two after I had met my wife,
we went out with my friends for wings and karaoke at Moe’s. I did not drink several
beers prior but I still sang ‘Material Girl’ by Madonna and totally killed it. I’m pretty sure
that ‘Material Girl’ is what sold her. My talents aren’t limited to Madonna songs either; I
can sing almost any song poorly.
17. What kind of shampoo do you use and why?
I use Pantene because that is what my mom would buy when I was a kid. It just
stuck with me.
18. Have you ever been out of the country? If so, where and what was your favorite
Other than Niagra Falls, Canada, which I’m pretty sure doesn’t count since you
can still see America from there, I have been out of the country once. We went to St.
Kitts/Nevis for our honeymoon. During that trip we also made an unplanned stop at St.
Maarten for a couple of hours. So by default, St. Kitts was my favorite. It was a nice
place, very tropical.
19. What were your best and worst subjects in school?
I was generally better at math/science and worse at english/grammar/history. It is
interesting because most of my job duties involve writing documents regarding technical
matters for public consumption.
20. What would you say is your worst personality trait and why?
Well that’s a tough one because I have so many bad traits but I would have to go
with my excessive “hangry-ness” which is anger that is induced by being hungry. When I
get hangry, I become the biggest asshole you have ever met. It is terrible.
21. If you won $100 million in the lottery, what would you do with the money? What
is the first frivolous thing you would buy?
I would definitely buy a nice big workshop and outfit it with all of the tools I wish
I had now so that I could build awesome things like motorcycles or go-karts or wooden
6-pack holders or hydraulic jerk blocks. That would be a cool job. Depending on who
you talk to, that’s all pretty frivolous stuff but if you are talking about unquestionably
frivolous stuff, I would just refer you to all the stuff I wrote above about the Porsche, the
house near the shore, the farm and the tractor.
22. You are banished to a deserted island for a month and can only bring one person
(fictional or real) and one album with you. Who do you bring and what album do
you choose (keep in mind I said album, not song)?
I would bring Cody Lundin because he is super cool and as a survival expert, he
would be able to keep my candy-ass alive. He hasn’t worn shoes in 20 years, that’s pretty
hardcore. I would probably take one of the newer Red Hot Chili Pepper albums but I
doubt I would listen to it on a deserted island.
23. Who do you consider your role model or inspiration and why?
I’ve always been very impressed with my dad so I would have to say him. He has
unlimited work ethic and integrity. I would like to be that way too.
24. What do you feel is the most important invention in the past 100 years and why?
I would have to go with all of the vaccines that were invented in the past 100
years. I have some hypochondriacal tendencies so it probably best for me that all of those
crazy diseases have been mitigated.
25. What are your favorite sports teams (you can list all teams for all sports you are a
I am a fan of Pittsburgh sports teams and Penn State sports teams.
26. What are your hobbies and interests outside of the box?
I like to build things and grow things. I have a pretty long list of stuff I would like
to build someday. After I finish the jeep, my next project has to be some sort of small
motorcycle or moped. I enjoy playing sports but mostly just slow pitch softball these
days. I also enjoy drinking beer and hanging out with my friends. If there is a camp fire
involved, it’s even better.