Former Marine Finds New Purpose in CrossFit and Firefighting
Posted by: Ryan Gwaltney
Like many kids, Joe Masley spent his childhood dreaming of becoming a firefighter. Ask him what he wanted to be when he grew up and that was always the answer you’d receive—no hesitation.
You could say it was in his blood. Masley’s grandfather was a firefighter, and with the firehouse right down the street from his grandparents' house, he grew accustomed to spending his days there.
As Masley got older, though, becoming a firefighter lost a bit of its allure.
Attending college while simultaneously completing the steps to become a U.S. Marine, new passions grabbed Masley’s attention and he threw his energy into those, leaving a career as a firefighter in the background … or so he thought at the time.
“When I went to Officer Candidates School after my junior year of college, some of my instructors were saying, ‘Hey, if you guys are thinking about getting into training and keeping fit, you should really try this CrossFit stuff,’” says Masley.
It was 2008, and CrossFit was still very much in its infancy when Masley first walked into an affiliate box, CrossFit South Shore, and completed his first workout: Murph.
“I went there a week after I got back from officer candidate school confidently,” reflects Masley. “I did well in school and didn’t struggle physically compared to some of the others. It was obviously very hard, but compared to some of the other guys, I was very physically prepared for it.”
However, Murph had other plans for Masley, plans that left him feeling very unprepared for this “CrossFit stuff.”
“Murph kicked my ass,” Masley laughs.
Murph kicked my ass.
After leaving the Marines, Masley began coaching at CrossFit Southie in 2011 and then in 2012, joined the coaching staff at Reebok CrossFit ONE at Reebok's global headquarters. A year later, he was then selected to also be a Head Trainer on CrossFit Headquarters Level 1 Seminar Staff.
“Around that time, I had a lot of buddies that got out of the Marine Corps and were saying, ‘Hey man, the test for the fire department is coming up, you should think about getting in on that.’”
And just like that, the little boy in him came back.
Masley entered the Boston Fire Department in 2013, and following his graduation from the fire academy, he was assigned to Tower Ladder 10 in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood.
It was a career that married a number of his passions—saving lives, staying fit, and helping others do the same in an effort to become their best selves. It was hard for Masley not to see how complimentary his career as a firefighter was to his work as a CrossFit coach.
“Picking up ladders, hauling a line of hose, overhauling a building, pulling down ceilings, raising ladders—that’s all this pushing, pulling, squatting, deadlifting. The translation from the movements to what we do in our job is seamless. It’s very important to learn how to do these functional movements that are integral to our job safely, efficiently and effectively because lives depend on it.”
Picking up ladders, hauling a line of hose, overhauling a building, pulling down ceilings, raising ladders—that’s all this pushing, pulling, squatting, deadlifting. The translation from the movements to what we do in our job is seamless.
“Both the firehouse and the CrossFit box have an amazing community atmosphere,” Masley adds.
And recently, he’s been able to bring those two communities even closer.
Thanks to a donation from the Last Call Foundation, Masley’s firehouse is now furnished with Rogue Fitness equipment, providing him with the ideal environment to bring his CrossFit coaching experience to his fellow firefighters.
“It’s really important to work out together as a group because it increases comradery,” says Masley.
“Our lives depend on each other so it’s really cool to bring that to other guys that I work with and be able to pay it forward.”
Has CrossFit proven beneficial in your line of work as well? Tweet @Reebok to tell us about it.