By Dance Aoki
Co-owner of Get Fit CNMI
Guilty pleasure: A pint of ice cream, once a week
Workout music: Top 40 hits
Favorite app: Facebook and Instagram
At first sight, Joseph “Joey” Tudela may seem like any normal young man at the beginning of his adult life, hanging out with his buddies at one of Saipan’s many beautiful beaches or taking a solo expedition on his standup surf board.
Tudela is one of the leaders for a fitness movement in the Northern Mariana Islands that has already swept across the states and Guam. He is one of the owners of Get Fit CNMI, one of the few gyms on Saipan dedicated to the CrossFit program, a fitness regimen that includes strength training and high-intensity conditioning. With a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from the California Maritime Academy, he is also an aspiring engineer working as an assistant project manager with a local civil engineer based on Saipan.
The CrossFit gym might be a side project for Tudela, but the gym has been in operation for about five years, and it has been a labor of love for him since he moved back to Saipan after graduating with his bachelor’s in 2010.
The gym life didn’t always appeal to Tudela.
“It was new until around college, when I started getting into fitness,” he says. “I started doing a regular body building routine. It was good for like three months, and then it became boring.”
Jose Quan, Tudela’s business partner and friend, introduced their group of friends to the CrossFit routines, and soon they began training together at Gold’s Gym.
“I just fell in love with it and became passionate about it,” he says. “Everything is different every day. I never get bored of it, never get tired.”
He is one of the teachers at Get Fit CNMI, leading classes full of other CrossFit fans in the morning before he goes to his desk job. As soon as his work day is done, he is back in the gym teaching another class.
In between work and studying for the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam, a test he would need to pass in order to become a certified engineer, he somehow finds time to spend with his sister’s children, hike with his friends or spend a day at East Bay in Lao Lao Bay.
There is not very much for young men to do in Saipan, Tudela says, so his work and his business keep him busy and keep him out of trouble.
He is driven by the community created by the members of Get Fit CNMI. A group that started out with just him and a few friends has grown into a solid membership of people who work out together, motivating each other.
“When you’re suffering together, there’s a bond you create; you see the person next to you breathing and sweating as bad as you, you feel motivated by them and maybe they look at you and they see you not quitting, so they’re not going to quit. You build a bond with people through working and suffering and trying to reach an end goal,” he says.
His goals are to pass the engineering exam, gain more experience in the field and progress as an engineer, all while growing his gym.
“Being from a small island with a small population, we don’t get as much exposure to CrossFit as in the states or in Guam,” he says. “Guam has seven [CrossFit gyms] right now; everyone’s crazy about it. Here, not too much.”
Get Fit CNMI’s Facebook page has more than 800 followers, and Tudela’s team makes sure they’re at fitness events being coordinated throughout their community. The gym relies on word of mouth to reach more people, generate more interest and encourage people to try it out.
His longer term goals are still a little fuzzy. When he imagines his life 10 years from now, he says he hopes that he is still growing Get Fit CNMI, hopefully into a bigger gym with more members so that it can play a bigger role in his life.
The young bachelor added that he’d like to settle down with a family by the time he is 37.
Until then, he’ll be hard at work or hard at play, enjoying everything Saipan has to offer, even if island life can be slow.
“I’d rather be productive and do stuff to better myself and others,” he says.