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November 2013 Athlete of the Month: Joy Mele
I was fortunate to sit down with Joy recently to pick her brain about her past, her Long Island accent, her injuries, and her uncanny ability to show up time and time again for 6 am classes under all circumstances. I learned a lot about her that I hope you enjoy hearing about as well. My favorite part was that we decided to meet over a bourbon (or two?) ...and that I wasn’t punched in the face in my least favorite third avenue bar.
Fox - So let’s start where we always start these things...When and how did you first find CrossFit?
Joy - It was summer 2011, so just over 2 years ago. Jess and you actually taught my foundations cycle and I think it was Jess’ first one. I’m really not sure how exactly I heard about CrossFit, probably online somewhere. I’d been doing a bootcamp and Pilates and was looking for a different challenge, and I definitely found it with CrossFit.. I took a teaser with David and signed up right away.
Fox - You got to experience firsthand the early dynamics of Jess and I working together! We’re really glad you stayed anyway ;) You said you were looking for a different type of challenge. What about CrossFit South Brooklyn appealed to you and has kept you involved?
Joy - I really liked the atmosphere of the gym from the start, the feel, the people, and the types of movements that we do. Weightlifting, and weight training in general, was new to me. I remember in my teaser and then in Foundations watching regular classes going on and being excited that I was going to be doing that stuff soon. I used to go to the YMCA and would take classes there but I was never involved. I mean that to say that I would go to the gym and take my class and leave without any real interaction at all. The experience at CFSBK is entirely different. I get coached, I get stronger, I learn new things, and I meet a lot of great people in the process.
Fox - That’s always good to hear, that people feel the value of their experience here. You mention meeting great people and you seem to be pretty active in the community and social events that surround CFSBK. Can you talk a bit about that?
Joy - It’s pretty easy to be attracted to a fun, bright, diverse community such as we have here. I like that we can talk about CrossFit, but also not talk about CrossFit. I really enjoy being at and helping out at gym events for a few reasons. For one, I think it’s important to support all aspects of this place. It fosters cohesiveness among our different sub-populations. I get to meet people from the Strength program when I come to a Total, competitive CFers when I volunteer at a competition, and even chat with members who are solely private training clients. I really enjoy those interactions. For another, I’ve met some people who’ve become close friends. A few of us from the gym get together for Sunday Suppers, and I recently visited Corbett (who moved away from NYC for a while) down in North Carolina. Corbett is doing very well, by the way.
Fox - There’s a lot to get out of a gym like ours other than what happens in classes, and I think you’re a great example of that. Speaking of that, lets hear a bit about you outside of the gym.
Joy - Well, I’m the Korean born daughter of Irish-Italian-Greek parents and was raised in Massapequa, Long Island. So yes, I was adopted. My older sister Donna also lives here in Brooklyn. So I’m a native New Yorker and a Long Island girl, hence the accent. I went to Fordham University in the Bronx, and then to CUNY Law and am currently working in labor law as a union side lawyer. After college and before law school I spent a year living and working at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. I had a yearning to live in a non-urban environment outside of NY and to do meaningful volunteer work. I satisfied both things that year. I taught Montessori pre-school and kindergarten and was a school bus driver. I still maintain some of the relationships I developed there and hold that place dear to my heart. Even though it was nothing like the romanticized notions people have about Native American life, there’s an incredibly rich sense of tradition and pervasive humor that the people interject into life on the reservation.
Fox - Sounds like an amazing experience! Native New Yorker, huh? I knew there was something I liked about you off the bat. How about hobbies outside of CrossFit? What do you do to relax?
Joy - I’m a big foodie, so I like to try new restaurants with friends and also cook at home. Sundays are a big food prep day for mer. Like most people, I also like to travel. My favorite trip so far has to be the two weeks I spent in Spain in 2001. Such great people and food! This summer I traveled around Colorado visiting Ouray, the ice climbing capital of the world, and Telluride.
Fox - Spain is definitely on my short list of places to visit. I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up your history of injury and your perseverance in training through them. Foot, arm, how did you keep at it?
Joy - Yeah, those experiences actually furthered my love for this place. When I had the stress fracture in my foot I was able to train five time a week almost right away. David wrote me a program that would keep me progressing and keep me in the gym and everyone including the coaches was so supportive and helped me with space and equipment throughout those 11 weeks. Then there was the spiral fracture of my humerus and another 11-12 weeks of alternate programming. The x-ray tech at Methodist was horrified at the break but even in the ER I was discussing with Corbett and Michele (who were with me) my rehab workout program. Granted there were some drugs administered at that point but still...I never really doubted that I’d be back in the gym in no time. It was a natural and comforting thought.
Fox - Amazing. I’ve definitely used you and others who train through injury to put a little fire in someone else’s training. Like, “if they can train in a boot with a broken foot, you can probably finish your last set of squats and work on your double unders”. Cheers to you for being so positive about setbacks. Last stock question: What do you think we should look for in a future AOM?
Joy - A willingness and enthusiasm to learn. Someone who respects members but also respects the space itself. Things like putting away equipment where it belongs, cleaning up after yourself or someone else, and helping maintain order are all important in my opinion. Also someone who gets that CFSBK is about more than what you pay for, i.e. the classes, programming, and coaching. It’s about things like the Memorial Day Murph barbecue, the Tough Titsday meet, Competition Class, private clients, Strength Cycle...it’s about all those things even if you’re not participating directly in them.
Fox - Thanks so much Joy, for meeting up with me. You’ve just won a special place in the entire staff’s heart for that comment about keeping order in the gym, I ensure you!
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