My first 3 training partners in CrossFit were Scott Jenkins, Nic Nichols, and Richard Vanmeerbeek.  Scott is from England, Nic from USA, and Rich from Belgium.

    A little context-
    When I started CrossFit back in 2009 I didn’t even know CrossFit gyms existed. I followed crossfit.com, 3 days on 1 day off. I scoured the internet and all the resources I could find on mainsite and that was sort of how I learned. I’d been working out in gyms since I was 16, and pretty comfortable knowing my way around- but as is the case with anyone- there was SO MUCH new stuff to learn.
    I started with a 350ish back squat, but was relatively quite weak on the front squat (under 250), and couldn’t overhead squat to save my life.

    I had 20 unbroken handstand pushups the first time I tried them, and could walk on my hands, but was very weak at knees to elbows (those were sort of the norm before toes to bar came around), and workouts with those always came to a screeching halt. Muscle ups? I didn’t even know how to go about doing one other than just try (and fail), and I’d never even seen gymnastics rings.

    Around January of 2010 I found the message boards on crossfit.com, and there was a specific area to keep training logs. I already had my own word document going, but I liked the idea of this, so I poked around.
    I found these three guys (Scott, Nic, and Rich) that seemed to be posting all the time. From daily workouts and giving each other feedback- it just felt like a training group. I started posting, and these guys started taking notice. I followed their training logs just as much as they did mine.

    I started competing that year and they helped me out a ton. Rich actually made the CrossFit Games in 2010 out of Europe so it was pretty cool go along that journey with him.

    We racked up thousands and thousands of posts over the years.

    One thing I really remember- especially about Scott and Nic- was that they always talked about “working on their goats”, with goat meaning weaknesses. I’m not sure exactly where that saying came from, but we rolled with it.
    Scott was around 40 years old,  and a former bodybuilding guy. He was strong- really strong on things that carried over from bodybuilding training. He’d also built up quite the engine and was great on long metcons. He wasn’t quite as fluid on the higher skill movements we see in CrossFit.

    Nic was not quite as strong with the barbell. In fact his numbers on things like squats and deadlifts were nowhere near mine or Scott’s, or Rich’s. Same with olympic lifts.

    Nic was awesome at pulling though- he had us all on strict pullups, had great strict muscle ups, and I believe had something like a 130-150lbs weighted pullup (something I still haven’t been able to do).

    The vibe I really liked from these guys was that while they each had their strengths, they didn’t go on the messages boards to show them off. They almost didn’t even care that much, like “yeah, well I’ve put in the work- but THIS is what I’m excited to get better at now”. They were much more interested in areas where they could improve and continue to develop themselves. It was very evident in how they wrote their training notes. They still worked their strengths and seemed to really enjoy seeing what they could do each time those movements came up- but what really fired them up was when a workout was posted the night before that they saw could expose some weaknesses.
    How can I improve? What can I maybe try differently? Who is doing this better than me that I can learn from? (CF affiliates were few and far between back then- Scott was the only one that would periodically drop into an affiliated gym in his town to be coached)

    I challenge you all to do the same.

    When things come up that are strengths come in and smash them.

    But never avoid things that need work. Get excited about them. Take them head on. They are the days that will benefit your fitness and mental strength the most.

    Jay & Rich at the 2012 CrossFit Games

  • Posted by Richard Vanmeerbeek on February 13, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    Great memories, it is nice to see this perspective ! Amazing to see that we are running our own gym now and what not. You have a real point right there, it’s an important think I try to share and teach with my members. Weakest links need to be fully embraced !


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