“Just show up. That’s what I love about CrossFit.”
Jacob Munez started from the bottom in the US Army, and worked his way up from a Private to become one of the youngest Sergeant NCO’s (Non-Comissioned Officer) during his six years of service. Since going back to his roots in the Philippines, he is now a proud father, part of the management behind PBA’s Blackwater Bossing and Gilas Pilipinas-Women, and co-owner of a new fitness gym in Quezon City called Lokal Active.
He did not know what he was getting into when he enlisted for the US military’s basic training back in 2010. In fact, his mom, Jeannie, was strongly against the idea because of her concern and worry for his safety. Jeannie admits, “I was scared and shocked,” but still extended full support for her eldest son.
At 18 years old, he flew to Fort Knox in Kentucky where he trained for six months before finally graduating from US Army boot camp. “It’s a once in a lifetime experience that I honestly never knew I would be able to survive. I maybe even cried a little out of happiness,” Munez quips.
Thankfully, he was able to visit his mom in San Francisco again in March 2011 before being sent to his first station of assignment at the Schofield Barracks in Hawaii.
Life in Hawaii was very enjoyable for Jacob who served as a 92 Yankee (military jargon for Army Unit Supply Specialist) in the infantry unit. He was directly accountable for various army related supplies, equipment, and firearms valued at over USD100 million.
Outside their day job, soldiers were also given assignments like 24-hour staff security duties, as well as field training exercises that aimed to prepare them for battle across all levels—from company to battalion to brigade and divisions.
Soldiers were also recommended to participate in other physical and professional development activities, like leadership, combatives, marksmanship, and airborne courses, among others. One time, he was sent by his unit for jump school in Fort Benning in Georgia where he parachuted off a 250-ft tower. Unfortunately, he sustained a knee injury after landing incorrectly, and had to undergo ACL surgery to recover.
He was also relocated to Korea for a few months as part of the ROK/US Military joint military exercise to train the Korean army. His last stop before deployment was at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) in Tacoma, Washington under the medical unit.
Life in deployment
Upon receiving the order to go to Kuwait, Jacob had 48 hours to pack everything and leave with his company. In his almost one year of stay in Kuwait, he had also taken emergency missions to Iraq and Afghanistan.
He recounts the day he thought might be his last when a Shia mosque was bombed just minutes away from Camp Arifjan where he resided. He confides the feeling of his heart racing as he rushed to inspect the site of explosion in a Humvee (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle). Munez considers his deployment “very humbling,” as he realized how fleeting life is, having witnessed war first-hand.
To help pass time and cope with stress while on combat deployment, Jacob joined a CrossFit affiliate in Camp Arifjan. The box was run by fellow deployed soldiers who volunteered their coaching services for free, which further strengthened the feeling of camaraderie and brotherhood among his peers.
He shares that CrossFit’s extreme full-body functional fitness enabled him to see progress in his fitness level faster, as well as be part of a community that had genuine care for his and his co-athletes’ overall betterment. “I liked that we needed minimal complicated gym equipment, and even achieve better and more holistic results in our health.”
Shortly post-deployment, Munez decided to retire early from the armed forces and come home to the Philippines to settle down.
Back in the Philippines
Time flew by quickly once Jacob returned to his motherland. After getting engaged in November 2016, and tying the knot in February 2018, Jacob welcomed his son, Jake Dean, exactly a year later.
Jake Dean quickly became his “everything.” He states that “it’s actually Jake that inspired me to work even harder” so that he can be a good example to his son.
In 2019, the same year Jake was born, Munez became involved with the management team behind PBA’s Blackwater Bossing. He also currently has active leadership participation with Gilas women operations and National University’s Women’s Basketball.
He thought running the teams were very comparable to his stint in the US Army sans the life threatening risks. “It’s kind of the same management and coordination skills in a different environment. You have to know your players like you know your soldiers, and have relationships with them and their families plus other constituents, to ensure a peaceful and united team environment.”
As a father, he says he also looks at things with more empathy now. “I understand the struggles behind raising a family, having a fairly young family myself. I think this perspective also helps me assess situations more holistically.”
As an army veteran, physical fitness continues to be part of Munez’s lifestyle. CrossFit in particular has remained relevant in Jacob’s health routine, which he says helps not only his overall health but also for better mental clarity and resilience.
He was an active member of a few CrossFit outfits in Metro Manila before the gyms started closing down, some for good, due to the pandemic. “Just show up,” he says, “that’s what I love about CrossFit.” Thus, when the opportunity to open his own box was brought up to him by a co-athlete, he was quick to jump on the prospect.
The business idea came into fruition in January 2021 when Jacob and his partners officially launched Lokal Active. He refers to the venture more as a “passion project,” as it is primarily his love for the sport that inspired them to run the gym.
For him, “What we find important now is to be able to give athletes like myself an option to train for the sport that we love, while, of course, keeping our bottom line green!” Lokal Active has been attracting CrossFit athletes since the establishment started operations, especially because there are only limited gyms of its kind that are open.
Six years after leaving the army, Jacob continues to reap the benefits of his military experience. His army mindset and supply chain expertise have helped in pushing excellence for Lokal Active’s quality of coaches and choice of gym materials, weights, and other equipment.
Now that the economy is starting to recover, Jacob is excited for more people to discover Lokal Active, of course as he pursues his entrepreneurship journey getting their first ROI (return of investment).
*Lokal Active is located at the ground floor of Aero Center in Quezon Avenue, QC. Both the Blackwater Bossings and the Gilas women teams also happen to currently hold their basketball practice on the top floor of the same building.