Five Questions with Joy Cox
For Joy Cox, ‘Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge’ is just one more adventure.
Name: Joy Cox
Position: Social/clinical research assistant with the Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC)
Years at Gillings: Six (I graduated from UNC in 2009 with a degree in romance languages, and was already taking some nutrition classes at that point.)
What I do at Gillings (and why I love it): At NORC, we collect and clean diet data for research purposes. My role is to coordinate study participants with the data collectors in our office. I also oversee data cleaning, scheduling, training of new staff and the day-to-day nuts and bolts of each study. A lot of our interviews are conducted in Spanish, so my fluency comes in handy there.
I love the people I work with because we make a great team. It’s also really nice that NORC gets so many nutrition students involved in hand-on research. Finally, I love the flexibility my job offers to work from home when needed. I have a ten-year-old son named Aidan, and sometimes shifting my schedule is key.
When I’m not at work: I’m either rock climbing, trail running, cooking or hanging out with Aidan. I mostly climb outdoors but train indoors, and I teach a climbing workout class at Progression Climbing in Chapel Hill. I’ve been doing less climbing of late, though, because I’ve been really focused on specific training for obstacle course races. When it comes to cooking, I’m all about anything that’s in season at the Farmers Market. I enjoy eating whole foods – my favorite thing is a big bowl of greens, veggies and grains all mixed together. I like to bake, as well, and always try to get my son to taste new and different foods. Feta cheese is his current obsession!
My next big adventure is: Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge. It’s a show on NBC (from the producers of American Ninja Warrior) that I applied for in a spur of the moment decision. I’d never done an obstacle race before, but a fellow rock climber encouraged me to join his team. So, I sent in an audition tape! I felt pretty confident because of my background with climbing and trail running, which have taught me how to deal with fear and to persevere, but the race was still more challenging that I expected it to be.
You can watch me compete if you want – my team, called “Free Spirit,” is featured in the episode that will air Thursday, July 14, at 9 p.m. It’s so funny to think that I will just now be appearing on television, because we actually competed back in December. We were on a horse farm in Georgia, and it was cold! Now I’ve got the obstacle race bug, so I’ve been running more Spartan races and actually qualified for the world championship in the elite class. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll attend, but of course my son wants me to. Back in April, he ran a Spartan with me, doing the kid’s course – that was a great experience to share.
If I could have one superpower: I would be The Flash. I like to get where I’m going and not waste time. I guess that would disqualify me from races, though… maybe I could tone it down for competition!
Describe yourself in three words: Energetic. Motivated. Lover of green stuff. (Sorry that last one is a phrase!)
Joy was nominated by Kate Sayre, an outreach services coordinator with the Department of Nutrition, who said, “Joy nominated me, and I have to return the favor! She’s amazing – a great cook, a rock climber and an all-around incredible athlete.”