The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Workout on the corner

Air Force captain 'aspires to inspire' with public exercise routine


April 20, 2018

Tony Bullocks

The horizontal beam of the crosswalk button at the intersection of 21st and Norris streets is a good place for a "planche," part of the gymnastics component of Joe Carter's "functional training."

CLOVIS — Many know him as the energetic "workout guy," who can be seen hoisting a barbell or doing handstands at the northeast corner of the busy intersection of 21st and Norris streets. If you drive by at the right time, you might even see him swinging from the crosswalk light. His dog, Precious, is usually there watching.

Joe Carter, 33, "aspires to inspire" with the very public exercises he calls "corner fitness," but the arrangement works well for him, too. The energy at the intersection fires him up, he said, especially since he sets up there most days during evening rush hour after finishing work at Cannon Air Force Base.

Moreover, the patch of grass, trees and even the light pole at the intersection make for an outdoor setting far preferable for him to the confines of a gym, a "perfect storm," of conditions for the Air Force captain and Austin, Texas, native.

"I love being creative. Out here you can be as creative as you want," he told The News on a sunny Wednesday evening. "And if the weather's like this, I've got to be out here."

That creativity comes as a unique spectacle for commuters, who might see Carter carrying a sandbag back and forth across the grass, performing "muscle ups" on a tree branch or a planche from the horizontal beam of the crosswalk button. Plenty of motorists have shouted encouragement or approached him to share their appreciation, he said, and several police officers have stopped by to do the same.

"Working out at that corner, I feel like I've gotten to indirectly meet everyone in Clovis and, in that way, I can call everyone in my town a friend," he wrote in a message to The News that followed an interview.

Among those new friends are John and Robyn Snowberger, who live next to the intersection. In March 2017, a month after moving with his wife and children to Clovis, Carter approached the homeowners for their permission to carry out his hybrid workout of gymnastics and compound exercises on their patch of land.

"He just showed up one day and started flipping his tire," John Snowberger said. "And without exaggerating, in the last year I have received a couple of hundred texts and phone calls, emails, and photographs from people saying 'Who's that guy, what's he doing?' "

In spite of others' concerns about broken tree branches or liability, Snowberger said he "couldn't care less" about the naysayers and wouldn't ask Carter to set up anywhere else.

"He's projecting a healthy lifestyle," Snowberger said. "And he's in a different league."

It was faith as much as fitness that drew him to that particular location, said Carter, who first noticed the large wooden cross near the Snowbergers' fence and later realized they both attend the church down the road where Carter is also a member of the worship team.

"I play Christian music from my car so passersby can get a quick earful of God's goodness," he wrote.

Carter calls his workout the "4 Pillars Training," corresponding to the mind, body, emotions and spirit.

More simply stated, he's out there "representing God, my family and the Air Force," he said.

"I think of those in America who can't stand up for or fight for themselves, and I always train with them in my mind and on my heart," he wrote. "I perform functional fitness, so if I am ever needed or called to save a life, rescue someone from distress or help someone in need, I am mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually ready and willing."

In his previous assignment at Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs, Carter worked out on base. In Clovis, he managed to find a good place where he can feed off some of the energy of the city while broadcasting his own example. He suffered a knee injury during a workout in January but was back the next month after surgery, wearing a leg brace for several weeks following.

The affinity for fitness has aided his recovery, he said, and he hopes the model of persistence — through injury, through 110-degree days and cold, windy ones — can be of help to others.

"If my working out inspires just one person a day and lets them know we never have to settle in life for the norm or mediocrity, (then) I feel like I've been successful that day," he wrote. "At the end of it all, I see each and every day as a gift from God, and I will never waste or take for granted such a precious gift."


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