Joel Pollino

Athlete of the Month

June 2016

Joel was chosen as Athlete of the Month for his consentency and his determination to keep working on his skills (getting toes to bar!) and to even keep working on the movements that he doesn’t even like (double-unders)!

He works hard every day he comes in, participates just about every event we have and is always positive. He brings good energy and his blend of humor and wit to the 6:30 class always making it entertaining!

As coaches involved in the selection of Athlete of the Month, we all remembered Joel’s enthusiasm during our 2016 CrossFit Open / Intramural Games. He showed his integrity by being consistent under standards and proved himself as a “sleeper” athlete. (Sleepers are the athletes that  might not look like they are going to smoke the workout, but then they do.) Joel also really represented his team well most recently at the JCPD’s Battle on the Creek.

Joel Pollino, 39, Research Chemist specializing in Polymeric Materials & Organic Chemistry

I came across CrossFit accidentally on you tube where I found series of videos from CrossFit HQ called: “CrossFit – Killing the Fat Man.” After watching these and a few videos by CrossFit founder, Greg Glassman, I became very curious. It was different and almost opposite of the normal fitness stuff I had read in magazines and had been doing. As a scientist myself, it all made sense. The idea of quantifying “fitness” in terms of “work capacity” (amount of work carried out in a given period of time) and its focus on compound and functional movements which recruit large muscle groups sounded right and I wanted to give it a try. I also liked the idea that each workout was scored, which enable me to monitor progress over time.

So, I did a google search for “Crossfit Johns Creek”. After reading the coaches bios and Lara’s impressive background in powerlifting, I decided to sign up for a free class. After all, it couldn’t hurt being coached by a champion power lifter. The rest, as they say, is history….

I still do it because the alternative, falling back to the way I was (and felt) before, literally scares me. I once stopped for 6 months and when I returned I knew I would never do that again! Lol. Not to mention it’s addictive; I don’t feel the same if I miss a workout, it’s a basic need (like food and water) at this point. It is also my stress relief, something I look forward to each day that is different, and it keeps me in good enough shape to do almost anything I want to physically, even as I approach 40. Not to mention, I am still making progress and positive changes…

Where is the air?… I started in July and it was HOT and I pushed myself really hard and couldn’t breathe due to the intensity of the workout and the high humidity. I also had to scale almost everything, which the coaches helped with. Honestly, it took some time to become accustomed to this type of training and even more time and patience to acquire many of the skills. I remember thinking I am really out of shape! What did I sign up for?

Too many things…the diversity of the workouts (never boring), the community aspect (especially – honoring those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice through HERO WODS and local fundraisers), the anticipation before a workout, the endorphin rush after, the strength gains under the barbell, and the skills I have acquired (rope climbs, kipping pull ups, toes to bar, snatching, cleaning, and jerking). I guess I enjoy seeing positive improvement in all these areas.

Most recently, I got my toes-to-bar. It took TWO years to happen, but when it clicked, it was good. Real good..

I love overhead movements. Push Jerk, Push Press, Strict Press. My least favorite movement is double-unders.

Favorite: “Grace” (30 C&J for time at 135 lb). Second Favorite: “Nancy” Least Favorite: “Annie” (50-40-30-20-10 Sit-ups and Double-Unders)

So many… Some much closer to reaching than others: Double-unders and Muscle-ups top the list as skill work. I am also trying to increase my Squat to 350 lb (currently 315lb) by the end of the year and would like to get my Deadlift to 450lb (Currently 425lb).

In the Gym: I move with much better form and with full ROM. My lifts are improving as time goes on and my metcon times are also improving. I monitor these using an app and see improvements almost every time I do a “benchmark” wod.

Out of the Gym: I can do almost anything physical I want to: Sky zone with the kids (not a problem), Ninja course at Slingshot (not too bad for an “old” guy), a brisk hike up Stone Mountain with the kids (why are you kids breathing so heavy?).

Last year I signed up for a 5K with after not running for an entire year and was able to shave 8 minutes off from the year before. That is measurable progress in work capacity! I also started doing Spartan races and found most obstacles not to be problem, even the rope climbing.

Spending time with my wife and kids. I also like reading.

I handle stress much better. I think high intensity physical challenges train your attitude and the way you view the world. There is something about a physical challenge that makes you look differently at non-physical stress. If you adapt a winning attitude toward the physical, it translates to the emotional. Physical stress is real, you really have to push your body using your mind to get through it. After doing this repeatedly day in and day out, you start to encounter non-physical stress and it’s not as much of a big deal anymore. It’s just another obstacle, much easier than 21 thrusters…

Attitude and dedication is everything. For results: be patient and consistent and come ready to work as hard as you possibly can. Push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Don’t worry about your time/score. It’s you against you. If you can do the movements as prescribed, don’t sandbag your time. You won’t ever get better unless you try to advance and adapt to the next level. Monitor your times and lifts so you can stay motivated by improvement. If body composition improvement is your goal, focus on diet first, but still do the work. Weight loss is achieved by caloric reduction. How you make that happen is up to you!