Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

County Firefighter opens CrossFit in Hilo

Firefighter, Joel Tesser, open Crossfit in Hilo
Firefighter, Joel Tessier, opened Crossfit in Hilo

Several weeks ago I took part in the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) 9th Annual Run/Walk that was held at Liliuokalani Gardens in Hilo.

    The event was the brainchild of Fire Chief Darryl Oliveira who wanted the Fire Department to annually recognize EMS Week, a time to educate the public’s awareness to what EMS provides on our island.

    I’m always impressed and comforted by the fact that the vast majority of our firefighters are in top physical shape as their job can be high stress and quite demanding.  Everywhere I turned I saw people within the department that are accomplished swimmers, runners, paddlers and triathletes.

   Chief Oliveira pointed me in the direction of Firefighter/EMT-1, Joel Tessier, who was putting on a demonstration for a new company that he had just formed called CrossFit.

   Tessier, who was born in Montreal, Canada and grew up in Miami, Florida, has always been active in sports and exercises.  “I was very active with the Boy Scouts all the way through adolescence,” Tessier said.

    It was through his involvement with the Boy Scouts that Tessier became interested in First Aid and water safety which lead to a high school job as a pool lifeguard and a post high school job as a beach lifeguard while he still lived in Florida.

   “I started competitive swimming, tennis, and martial arts in my early teens and continued through high school, where I also added wrestling,” he said.

   After high school Tessier went on to get involved in endurance sports such as triathlons, mountain biking and adventure racing, but at the heart of all his activities was always surfing.

   Tessier believes that his lifeguard experience became a natural progression to becoming a Firefighter/EMT.  “I moved to North Carolina shortly after high school to become a firefighter, and I also continued to lifeguard at the local YMCA,” he said.

   During his four years in North Carolina Tessier became a personal trainer and started teaching fitness classes which included core strengthening and spinning.

   “I moved to the Big Island in pursuit of my childhood dream of becoming a firefighter in Hawaii,” Tessier said.

    Two years ago Tessier was assigned to the Kailua-Kona station #7 where he also took a job as a trainer for the Club in Kona.  “The Club in Kona was a great place to work, but they didn’t agree with my training methods.  This is where I first got the motivation to start my own training facility and to follow the CrossFit philosophy of training,” he said.

   “CrossFit aims to change the way people think and feel about fitness.  We believe in functional skill based training, with a focus on athletics and injury prevention, which revolves around physical capabilities,” Tessier said.

   Tessier believes that the emphasis on workouts should be placed on how much a person can accomplish and not on what that person looks like.  “We shy away from the bodybuilding elements, which is mostly about image and aesthetics, not the actual functionality of the body,” he said.

   “Our goals for the business are simple; create community, reach out to those who really need this, and find ways to hopefully give back,” Tessier said.

   And for Tessier staying in shape is just a part of life.  “Although I’m not training for anything in particular right now, I always try to train for life,” he said. 

   “My exercise week varies a lot and my first priority is surfing,” he said.  Tessier will surf at least twice per week, for about two hours each time.  “I crossfit three days a week and my sessions are usually an hour and typically touch on all areas of fitness which includes strength, metabolic condition, endurance, flexibility, speed, coordination and agility.”

   A big part of his motivation for staying in shape is his love of surfing.  “While at work I always want to be prepared for the unexpected.  I generally train so I can be sure I’m ready for anything,” Tessier said.

   At work in the fire department Tessier will participate in PT (physical training) everyday which usually consists of some type of short run of two miles and swim of 1000 meters in the morning and at least two hours of volleyball in the afternoons.  “We work ten days a month so that comes out to three days a week,” he said.

   As for diet Tessier strives to eat as organic as possible.  “I want my foods to be chemical free, but I don’t want my preference to control my life.  I always try and eat using the principles of the paleo and zone diets, but I’m human so I try and eat good most of the time and I don’t beat myself up about the fact that I am less than perfect,” he said.

  (The “paleo diet” refers to Professor Loren Cordian’s belief that we should return the diets of our Paleolithic ancestors and the “zone diet” introduced by Dr. Barry Sears wants us to get rid of the “toxic fats” in our daily diet.)

   For Tessier his goals in life are simple, “enjoy life and surf more.” 

   I for one am happy that we have Fire personnel of this physical caliber providing service to our community.  Tessier is a prime example of how fit and prepared our fire personnel are by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  

   For more information about Tessier’s CrossFit training you can visit them at 18 Pohaku Street in Hilo or you can reach him at crossfitbigisland@hotmail.com.


July 21, 2009 Posted by | Health and Fitness, Profiles | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment