With just under 3.5 billion females on the planet, being able to claim you are the 6th fittest woman in the world is certainly something to be acknowledged. Once you stack on intellect, poise and good looks, a simple “acknowledgment” seems a bit short-changed. However, anyone who knows Jenn Jones understands that boasting just isn’t her cup of tea. Nope, she would rather let her WOD performances do the talking. But Jenn hasn’t always been one of the best CrossFitters around. In fact, just three short years ago she hadn’t even stepped into a box – which makes her story that much more interesting.
Jenn was born and raised in the small city of Novi, Michigan, a Detroit suburb known for, well, not much at all (until now). At 3 years old Jenn was enrolled in the arduous sport of gymnastics, a niche that would soon be the focus of her athletic passion. At age 7 she was competing with the best of them and, by the end of her collegiate career at Western Michigan University, had more than 100 competitions behind her – including a Conference Championship and two NCAA qualifications.
So how did gymnastics help her in CrossFit? Here’s what she had to say:
“I feel like the spatial awareness I learned in gymnastics has been huge for me in CrossFit. Being able to pick up different key techniques and knowing my body through space is a really important skill that has carried over. The other big component is upper body strength. Something that the average female might struggle with was easy for me because I’ve been on my hands my entire life. So, the upper body component has been fairly easy to adapt to.”
After graduating with a nursing degree, Jenn often found herself in the monotonous gym routine many of us have experienced – running on the treadmill for hours on end while watching the various reality shows chosen by the daydreaming front-desker. Lucky for us, in the Spring of 2010 a close friend asked Jenn to try the WOD at a nearby box. Despite the fact that Diane would end up getting the best of her-19 minutes-Jenn was hooked. After just a few weeks of CrossFit training Jenn considered competing – after all, it was what she was used to, and training just to train didn’t sound like much fun.
“I wanted to train for something, anything – so my coach signed me up for my first CrossFit competition in February. It was my birthday… and it was horrible. I dropped the bar on my shin, got lightheaded and ended up not being able to finish. I thought to myself, ‘I want to be better than this.’ I was embarrassed. Christy (Phillips) really helped me get back in it and has served as inspiration and motivation for me ever since.”
Although Jenn’s story thus far is very atypical, it could be argued as unsurprising. A girl has a gymnastics background, tries CrossFit and does well, the end. However, it’s not that simple – or easy. During the entire time of dropping weights on herself and racking up the CrossFit stats, Jenn worked, full time, at the hospital. Now the not-so-typical component becomes evident.
“When I started CrossFit I was working full time as a nurse. Although I’m only part time now, I still enjoy going to work at the hospital. It can be very stressful but it’s always rewarding – and there’s a balance with CrossFit, of course. I get to help save lives through nursing and help transform lives by coaching. It’s awesome.”
Still, like most of us, the gym is her “happy place” – and those at CrossFit Eado in Houston, TX are more than happy to have her. Here’s what one of the members had to say.
“Jenn has been a blessing. She’s a great coach and even greater inspiration. Her accomplishments in and out of CrossFit Eado are amazing.”
So what exactly has she accomplished? Let’s take a look at the short, but phenomenal, CrossFit career of Jenn Jones so far.
4th place – 2011 Mid Atlantic Regionals
1st place – 2012 SuperFit Championships
1st place – 2012 Mid Atlantic Regionals
28th place – 2012 CrossFit Games
8th place – 2013 OC Throwdown
1st place – 2013 South Central Regionals
6th place – 2013 CrossFit Games
As we revisited each of the competitions I couldn’t help but ask what she found most enjoyable about competing, specifically at the Games. Without hesitation she revealed a remarkable humility – one I would dare say sport is direly deficient of outside of CrossFit.
“I liked getting to know the other athletes on a personal level. Everyone is so nice and they just want you to be successful. In the end, each of us wants the ‘best’ to win. Lindsey Valenzuela is just one of the many girls I really enjoyed getting to know. In fact, I think most of the female athletes bring a really good, positive energy about fitness, physique, and why it’s OK to have muscle.”
Just to be fair, the “other athletes” aren’t the only one’s sending a positive message. I was able to interview Christina Morianti, a childhood friend of Jenn’s who gave me the scoop on who Ms. Jones really is, Jenn is where she is because she’s far more competitive than the average person… and she has been as long as I can remember. She’s always willing to do what it takes to win. But what I think what really matters is how incredibly gracious she is. She’s never been one to look down on others… and I think that’s what really impressive.”
I think it’s fair to say that Jenn Jones is proving to be a model CrossFitter: humble, grateful and let’s not forget, insanely fit. So what does the future hold for Jenn? Will she continue coaching as she builds her competition resume? Is she eyeing the podium in 2014? Here’s her response:
“As far as coaching, I have a passion for working with others. I love helping people get to their potential, learn something new, and watching them get ‘aha’ moments. Their success never ceases to amaze me and I will always want to coach. As far as my CrossFit training goes, I believe the driving factor to training is an innate characteristic trait. Some people have it, some people don’t. I want to win… and I think I have the capacity to be number one.”
A Day in the Life of Jenn Jones
7am: Alarm goes off. Sleep in to the snooze button for the next hour in 9min increments.
8am: Wake up. Feed my pup and myself. Breakfast: Sweet potato hash made up of sweet potatoes, sausage, coconut oil, cinnamon topped with a fried egg.
8:45am: Arrive at the gym. Check e-mails and programming for the day.
9:30am: Warm-up and mobilize.
10-11:30am: Training Session Part 1
12:15pm: Home for lunch. Pick an Eatology meal and play with my pup.
1:30-2pm: Nap time
2:30-4pm: Training Session part 2
4-4:30pm: Private Skill Session
Work days at the hospital are much different…
5:30 – Alarm goes off. Fingers crossed for a phone call to be called off.
5:45 – Breakfasts for me : 3 eggs scrambled with basal tomatoes. Topped with avocado. Feed the Dog
6:05 – Out the door to make it to the hospital to start work at 6:30
6:30 – in the staffing office to see what unit of the hospital I’m in for the day
6:45 -7:15ish – Get report on my patient assignment
7:15-8:15 – First rounds on all my patients. Initial assessments, vital signs, Important medications.
8:15-10 – Charting assessments on everyone and passing all morning medications. Answering call lights and making phone calls to the Docs.
10:30 – Eat a bar of choice and try to drink some water
11-12 – Round on all patients again making sure their pain, position, toiliting needs, and room orientation are acceptable while taking blood sugars for the diabetic patients.
13 – Try to avoid the break room where a patient has brought the unit pizza
14:00 Hourly rounds again, more charting
15:30 Realize I have had one sip of water all day, I have a headache and low blood sugar and need to sit and eat lunch. Easy grab and go Eatology meal.
16:00 Discharge a patient to a Skilled Nursing Facility. Give report to the EMT who are transferring the patient. Call the Facility to give report to the nurse who will be receiving the patient on the other end. Check everyone’s vitals and blood sugars as they come in.
17:00 Administer pre-dinner medications.
18:00 Try to wrap up any additional charting that I had fell behind on during the day. Drink some water
18:30 Watch the door for the next shift to start arriving
1845 Report to the on coming shift
2000 – Finally back at home, feet up. Fed the pup Burger Salad for dinner with a glass of red wine and a movie on my comfy couch before falling a sleep.
Photos by Nik Martinez