How This Dad Went from a Sedentary Lifestyle to Rock Climbing with His Teenage Son
By prioritizing his own health, Tonal member Joseph Mapa gained the strength and confidence to show up for the people he loves.
By Joseph Mapa as told to Karen Iorio Adelson
As a police officer and Marine Corps veteran, fitness should have always been part of my life, but it never really was.
In the Marines, I ran because I had to, but I never enjoyed it. My current job is relatively sedentary. When I first became a police officer, I worked in the dispatch department and wasn’t out and about much. Now I’m a supervisor, so I’m mostly at my desk setting schedules and filing reports.
Over the years, I got heavier and heavier. My clothes weren’t fitting anymore, and I felt increasingly uncomfortable. I’d see myself in photos and be surprised by how I looked. My wake-up moment came in January 2021 when I realized my uniform pants were getting too small. I had to call the supply officer at work and order pants the next size up—although I hoped I wouldn’t actually need to wear them. That’s when I knew I needed to take action.
If I was going to be consistent, I needed a way to work out at home. Going to the gym isn’t easy for me since I work 12-hour shifts and commute an hour each way. I have to be at work by 5 a.m., and I want to spend time with my family when I get home.
I knew I wanted to strength train, but I wasn’t sure what exercises to do or how to structure a lifting session. With workouts and programs led by expert coaches, Tonal made it easy to get started. After a month of working out regularly on Tonal, I began seeing muscle definition. My clothes were fitting better, and I had to make my work belt tighter. I lost 30 pounds in seven months, and even though I’ve gained some of it back, it must be muscle because I didn’t have to loosen my belt again, and all my clothes still fit.
Tonal has given me the confidence to try a totally new-to-me activity: indoor rock climbing with my 16-year-old son. I never thought I could keep up with my son climbing, because I don’t have that lean body type you typically see at the climbing gym.
But we’ve been going together weekly for a couple of months now, and I can see the connection between lifting weights on Tonal and climbing. When I’m pulling myself up on the rock face, I’m using the same motions. I do on Tonal. Even learning how to activate my hips in recovery workouts has helped me use them more in my climbs. I’ve also gained so much muscular endurance and I can hold myself up longer. I don’t get tired as quickly, and I don’t feel that sore afterward.
There’s one vertical climb at the gym that I’d always struggled with in the past. I just couldn’t grab the holds on it. It didn’t feel comfortable, and I didn’t feel strong. But after finishing the Go Big or Go Home 3 program on Tonal along with some custom workouts I created based on my favorite workouts in the program, I was able to do that climb on my first try when I was at the gym recently. And I went on to do it a second and third time. It was an amazing feeling. Another climber at the gym with a similar body type as mine actually saw me do it and asked for my help. I demonstrated my technique to him and showed him how I move my body. It felt good to help him out and celebrate with him when he did the climb.
I know how important it is to inspire others because I’ve drawn so much support from the Official Tonal Community on Facebook. The biggest challenge for me has been carving out the time to exercise. I knew that just buying Tonal wouldn’t get me in shape—I had to make a commitment to myself. Seeing others in the community getting in their workouts, gives me the confidence that I can do it, too. I love how we’re all just regular people who’ve decided to change our lives. We’re all on our own journeys. Someone can lift 100,000 pounds or 5,000 pounds in a workout, and we still support them. Now, I post my daily workouts hoping that I can be that inspiration for someone else.
Besides the physical changes, Tonal has also made it easier for me to show up for the people in my life. Putting my own health first gives me the energy to be a better leader at work. I feel like I can motivate and inspire my officers more because I’m proud of what I accomplish each day in my workout. It’s also helped me keep up with my kids. Since I lost my own dad when I was very young, it’s important for me to be there for them, whether that means rock climbing with my son or going to a concert with my 18-year-old daughter.
I’ve now been working out on Tonal for two years and my goal is to keep it up as long as possible so I can keep being there for my family. Objectively, I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been. I genetically have very high triglycerides, but since I started on Tonal, my numbers have dropped to the lowest they’ve ever been. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to lower my risk of different health problems.
As for those bigger uniform pants I ordered back in 2021, I ended up never having to wear them. I still keep them, though, as a reminder of how far I’ve come.