June 2015 - Sweet Sweet Joe

Published June 8, 2015

CrossFit Roughnecks has been the only established CrossFit gym in downtown Houston since Winter 2011.  The CrossFit Roughnecks its members know today, however, isn’t the same space as it was then.  There were no showers, no graffiti, no rigs and no weightlifting platforms.  Not many new members know this about CFR, but longtime Roughneck-since-the-beginning Joe Esquivel knows it all too well.


Back then, Joe was training with Alex in martial arts, and had been for two and a half years.  Needless to say, Alex and Joe are very good friends. Such good friends that when Alex told Joe he was opening a CrossFit gym, Joe agreed to join...on certain conditions. “I told him the only way I would is if he could beat me in a one-on-one Bloodsport-esque match....so, I joined the next day,” recalls Joe.  

Long before CrossFit and martial arts, Joe had picked up lifting during college. “I had always been very thin but never very strong.  I decided to change all that and for the next three years [after high school] I lived in the gym,” said Joe. For those three years, he could be found working out between classes at Texas A&M.   

Joe reveled in his newfound strength, and how well this strength translated to playing his favorite sports and activities.  This phase of Joe’s life didn’t last long, though, as he was in a motorcycle accident.  Thankfully, the accident didn’t do any permanent damage, but Joe found himself achy and unable to lift weights and play sports like he had grown accustomed to doing every day.  “I, however, kept eating like I was lifting and playing sports 6 days a week,” said Joe of his eating habits during his recovery time after the accident. Joe’s weight before the accident was a strong and lean 190 pounds...after the accident, however, he found himself up to 250 pounds.

After college, and still living unhealthy, Joe moved to Houston.  Two years into his time in Houston, he knew he had to make a change.  Joining a “globo gym” and working out again revived Joe.  This was the change of pace he needed to get back to health and fitness.  After some time, though, he found himself bored at the gym and searched for something new, and this is where we started our story, with Joe meeting Alex at martial arts.  “I was hooked,” Joe, now a first degree black belt, said about finding martial arts after the globo gym grind.

From there, Joe has transformed into an all-around powerhouse at CrossFit Roughnecks.  His favorite Girl WOD, Linda, is also known as “Three Bars of Death” and consists of 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 rep rounds for time of: Clean ¾ bodyweight, Bench bodyweight and Deadlift 1½ bodyweight.  If you’ve been to an open gym in the past year, you can bet Joe has taken on Linda while you’ve been around.  

Anyone that knows Joe knows his greatest strength is his, well, strength.  With a clean max of 315 pounds (wearing his signature black Chuck Taylor’s) and a deadlift over 505 pounds (one of his proudest achievements), anyone that’s ever lifted with Joe knows he can clang and bang with the best of them.  While his lifts are some of the strongest in the gym, he is always willing to lift with the new person or provide guidance to the veteran Roughneck who needs help with their clean.  Joe earned the nickname “Sweet Sweet Joe” because of who he is, he’s just sweet.

What's one piece of advice you would give to someone starting CrossFit?

Don't rush!!!  Doing all the lifting in the world makes no difference if you're cheating your form.  All going too fast will do is get you injured.

What's something interesting people at the gym don't know about you?

I've traveled abroad more than I have the US.  I've been to Beijing, Shanghai, Taiwan, London, Paris, Rome, Scotland, and Mexico!

What's your favorite cheat meal?

Too many to list here so I'll  just name my favorite healthy meal, Spaghetti Squash with bison meatballs :)

What's your favorite movement?  What would be the perfect WOD for Joe?

Squat clean would have to be my favorite movement.  It incorporates the entire body and really gives you a good idea of where you are strength wise.  Perfect WOD for me is Linda.  

What's your greatest accomplishment at CFR?

All the great friendships I've made along the way!!! (also deadlifting over 505 lbs)

What does being Athlete of the Month mean to you?

It's great to be recognized for the hard work we put in.  I really enjoy all my time at CFR so getting to share a little about myself with everyone is just icing on the cake!


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