“I approach each workout planning to go to complete exhaustion because I do not want to finish with the regret of feeling like I could have done more.”
It’s 9:30 p.m. and Jimmy St. Louis has just landed in Tampa, Fla., after a business trip to Nashville, Tenn. His plan is to go home, say hello to his wife, kiss his 16-month-old baby girl, jog to the gym and hit Open Workout 12.1 – seven minutes of burpees.
“113. It was OK,” St. Louis says about his late workout.
Not bad for this man on the go who currently sits in third place in the South East and 24th worldwide after completing an impressive 190 reps on the first workout of the 2013 Open.
St. Louis is the founder and CEO of a health care management company, which requires him to travel frequently. Last year during the Open, St. Louis did three of the five workouts outside of his home box, CrossFit HAF, and two of them outside of the country.
In fact, St. Louis did not even know about the CrossFit Games until early January 2012 when a friend mentioned the Open competition. Despite being only a few months into CrossFit, St. Louis, no stranger to competition as a 6-foot-5, 225-pound former Auburn University Tiger and Tennessee Titan tight end, found himself having immediate success.
He qualified for the South East Regional, even though there were a number of movements he had never tried. At Regionals, Jimmy finished in 26th place overall, despite starting with one of his least favorite workouts, Diane.
“As a tall guy, I am constantly working on bodyweight movements. A year ago, I hated handstand push-ups and could barely do butterfly pull-ups,” St. Louis says of his early scuffles with CrossFit.
Now, he works hard to make sure that neither his tall frame, nor his busy schedule interferes with his opportunity to compete for the crown of fittest in the South East.
“A few weeks before the Open last year, we realized we needed to be better at programming, and then we, my coach Wes Tompkins and I, started to see that I could do well, and this past year’s preparation has reflected that new focus,” St. Louis says.
St. Louis’s typical day begins at 4:30 a.m. when he does some mobility work, followed by a strength session, some bodyweight skill-work and ending with Olympic lifting or a short workout. Skill sessions focus on the common bodyweight movements that appear in the Open and Regional workouts, such as handstand push-ups, muscle-ups and double-unders. He frequently returns to the gym in the evening to hit another workout, between 10 to 15 minutes in length.
“My weeks consist of about six days on with one day off, and I typically hit two or three workouts in a day,” St. Louis says.
St. Louis has taken more control of his schedule this year in preparation for a second run at Regionals.
“I schedule my work trips early in the week, so I know I can get back and maintain a training routine,” he says.
He frequently drops in at other boxes, but more often chooses to simply make use of the outside space when he travels. On a recent trip to Atlanta, St. Louis decided to run a steep climb in Centennial Park. It quickly turned into 20 sprints up the climb.
“My strength is the longer chippers because I feel like I can always come back if I get behind,” he says.
St. Louis ran cross-country in high school on top of playing football, and his favorite workouts include running: Murph, Helen and Nancy.
“After football, before finding CrossFit, I competed in triathlons, so the long grind of Murph does not really bother me,” he says. “I relish the chance to catch up to others.”
St. Louis says one of his goals this season is to ensure that no workout could be thrown at him that would make him feel like he is “screwed.”
“I couldn’t say that last year, that I was comfortable with whatever came out of the hopper, but now I am more prepared,” he says.
His performance on Open Workout 13.1 suggests he’s ready. St. Louis performed the workout twice and finished with 190 reps both times.
“I watched the demo video and focused on how they were moving — the pace, the technique — then I replicated it. It worked out pretty well,” he says, adding that he formulated a plan on where he wanted to be at each interval of the workout and managed to maintain that pace throughout.
At the end of every workout, St. Louis does 10 burpees and 20 chest-to-bar pull-ups because his frame causes him to have longer cycle times. That bit of consistent “extra credit,” as he calls it, paid off in the first Open workout and in his overall conditioning.
“I approach each workout planning to go to complete exhaustion because I do not want to finish with the regret of feeling like I could have done more,” St. Louis says of his mental approach.
While he says much of his strength and technique have come after his football career, he attributes his mental toughness to his time playing football at Auburn.
“We beat Florida when they were the No. 1 team in the country because we were willing to push ourselves to the absolute limit and not leave any doubts or room for regrets,” he says.
St. Louis applies this same philosophy to CrossFit because, as he says, there is an end to every workout.
“The bottom line is you have to commit,” he says of CrossFit training.
St. Louis could easily choose to sleep in past his 4 a.m. alarm because he was at work late the night before or traveling, but that would mean he has to sacrifice time at home with his wife and daughter.
“I could choose to sit on the couch for a while and watch television, but that means I will need to train another time, which could mean I miss out on family time,” he says.
Right now, he chooses to workout at 4:30 a.m. because it means he can have the best of both worlds.
“I can train early, come home and see my family, then go work.”
His commitment and unwillingness to compromise time with family, time for work and time in the gym, just might pay off this season.
“Listen, in CrossFit there is no reason to complain about anything because we are all making a choice to be there, we are all making a choice to compete,” he says.