Part of GORUCK America is meeting GRT’s who have a really cool story to tell then sharing it here. Miami was first on the list, so I reached out to the Vice City Ruckers to find out who had a great story to share. Chris Strasser tells me about a GRT that lost 70+ pounds in 6 months training for a GORUCK event. He put me in touch with Joe “Classics” Schulman who is a dad, GRT, all around cool guy, and owner of Graveyard Classics located in Hollywood, Florida.
When I spoke with Joe on the phone before heading to Miami, he was super stoked to share with us. We spent the day with him at his shop then rucked with him at his favorite spot, Oleta River State Park. Later that evening we put even more miles in with the Vice City Ruckers GORUCK America Ruck in Miami.
Nick and I meet Joe at his shop early AM on Saturday. We got the shop tour and sat down for his story.
Q: Why did you start rucking?
“I started my divorce, we were great partners for our children but not great as a couple. We are still friends and we eat dinner with the kids 2-3 times per week. I was unhappy with the way I looked and at that point was just shy of 270. I was not a fast food eater, but definitely not a good eater. I would eat very late and a lot. My goal was to get down to 225. I was walking, I tried running and could not run a mile.
It’s easy to lose 5-10 pounds, it’s the weight after that is hard. You have to buckle down. I stopped eating that late night meal and started eating lots of chicken, rice, and beans. I started increasing my routine. I realized weight loss is not a race. 5 pounds this month, 6 pounds the next, my game plan is to get in 3 small workouts per week. At my peak, while losing the most I was doing 2 workouts a day in both the morning and night. A walk/run in the morning and Crossfit in the evening mixed in with a 4-5 mile heavy Ruck at night. The hardest part is going out that first time. You have to persevere and say ‘this is not a race.’
Q. What was your timeline for you’re first event?
A. I found the GORUCK page and said ‘there is no way I could make 4-5 hours.’ So I bought a Ruck and started Rucking for an hour to burn calories. I signed up for a Tough because there was no Light the weekend I wanted to do the event. It was about a 3 month timeline and in Ft Lauderdale. Cadre Brad led the event and during the welcome party we are doing bear crawls. I almost quit. I wanted to lose weight but was thinking this is bullshit. After the welcome party everything was much easier, but only for a short period. They ran us down to the beach and we started doing our beach work, which started kicking my ass again. We started doing “I am up, he sees me. I am down” for about half a mile down the beach. I do not give up easy. I am a wise ass, but during GORUCK events I just put my head down and I love to help other people. I made it through and have done several more Toughs. The big positive to me about a GORUCK event is that it’s an endurance event, not a race. We all finish together.
Q. Tell me about your kids?
A. They are 11 and 12, and the main reason I want to be healthier and better dad. Trying to live a little bit longer for them. I loved them as babies, but each year as they get older there are more things I can do with them and I love that. They are both Boy Scouts, one is about to become a Eagle Scout. I can start taking them SCUBA diving and sky diving and doing things with them that I enjoy. My sons are total opposites, one is a brainiac who wants to be a Space Engineer and go to Mars and the other wants to be a pizza maker.
Q. What is going on now?
A. I had not been 205 pounds for 15 years and I wanted to break 200. I am around 195 right now, but know that I can get down to 189. I went to a local gym called Ninja Lounge and climbed the walls, I did the 10 foot ramp running up it with no problem. Hit the 12 foot ramp and I was having an amazing time. I tried the 14 footer and just missed the top, landed and my foot stayed planted and I twisted my knee and bruised my meniscus. I was down a few months and running again. Mentally I was out of my push, but only gained 8 pounds. I am back in the game and am only around 7 over my low. My goal is still to break 189, bike from here to Key West and back, thats around 300 miles, and to complete an HTL.
Q. How about we go for a Ruck and any last words?
A. Lets go! Losing this weight has helped me become tighter with my kids. At 270 I could never do paintball with them. Now, my son told me at dinner that if there was ever a zombie apocalypse that I would take charge and kick ass. Having your kids think that of you was a huge deal.
We finish up and take some photos at the shop then head to get some much needed caffeine. Some of y’all know I am a car guy, I was beyond stoked. Muscle cars and classics everywhere.
Joe took us to get some real Cuban coffee at the Habano Bar Cafe. The owner Miguel Villar, a US Army Veteran, made us some authentic Cuban coffee that was basically jet fuel. Gave us a quick tour of the shop after we explained what GORUCK America was and we had him sign the flag. He might have even given us a Cuban Cigar.
Joe knew I was a car guy and was kind enough to let me drive his 6-speed, twin turbo Mustang to Miami Squeeze. Where we had some some kind of green juice shots, hummus, and gyro’s.
After our meal we cruised over to the Oleta River State Park hidden in the middle of Metro Miami. It was my first visit to mangrove forests and it was awesome. We headed out in the heat of the day for a 3+ mile weighted Ruck on a single track trail with a mix of interval PT. Push-ups, squats, dips, flutter kicks, and sit-us. All the good stuff you do at a welcome party. There were mosquitos and this place looked like Gilligan’s Island. Tropical Rucking in Miami is fun stuff.
We want to thank Joe and the Vice City Ruckers for their hospitality. It was a honor to be part of Joe’s everyday routine and hear his story. We are now part of it and that is pretty awesome.