"There is no routine in CrossFit. Are you working hard and being consistent? If you are, then you’re doing it."
Cody Loeffler has been doing CrossFit for just a few years. Still, he’s competed several times at the regional level as well as last year’s Games with his team, CrossFit Explode.
With a reputation for having a “monster engine” and being relentless in the pursuit of his goals, the 26-year-old shows no signs of slowing.
Loeffler has been active all his life. Growing up, he helped his dad pull hay bales to local farms. People commented on his work capacity and said he had no “off” switch.
“I was always a bigger kid so I had to work hard to keep up with the smaller kids. I learned how to get work done fast,” Loeffler said. “Helping my dad was like CrossFit applied to real life.”
In his youth, Loeffler was into “every sport imaginable,” but primarily played football, basketball and baseball. His focus at Avon Grove High School in West Grove, Pa., was being an offensive lineman on the football team.
“I realized if I wanted to play (a sport) in college, football was the best option,” Loeffler said.
He went on to continue his football career and education at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pa., and earned his bachelor’s degree in English and secondary education in 2009. For the last four years, he has taught English in Pennsylvania high schools.
While teaching at West Chester East High School in West Chester, Pa., Loeffler coached the football team’s offensive line, as well as the freshman basketball team. He ran a strength and conditioning program for both teams and incorporated CrossFit into the program.
Loeffler recently left teaching English and now coaches full time at CrossFit Explode.
“It’s been a cool transition,” he said. “I’m having an absolute blast and I love my life right now. This job allows me to share my passion with everyone that walks in the gym and have it be the best part of their day. I love the interaction with them.”
During one of his teaching jobs in Souderton, Pa., Loeffler met Josh Wagner and was introduced to CrossFit. Wagner owns CrossFit Apex with his wife Tanya, the 2009 CrossFit Games champion.
Loeffler trained at CrossFit Apex for a year-and-a-half and competed on their team at the 2011 Mid Atlantic Regional, helping them to a 16th-place finish. In 2012, he competed as an individual at the Mid Atlantic Regional and finished in 24th overall.
“I thought I knew what I was doing,” he laughed about his regional experience.
“Cody has always had a monster engine, however he—like every other collegiate athlete—had some bad lifting habits on the barbell,” Wagner said. “We began to teach him proper form and technique. Having the determination and the God-given talents of athleticism, he quickly grew as a (CrossFit athlete).”
After the 2012 regional, Loeffler accepted a teaching position in West Chester and the move brought him to CrossFit Explode.
“Since the day I started training under Brian Quinlan (owner of CrossFit Explode), things have taken off. There are tremendous athletes at Explode so I wasn’t walking into the gym as the best athlete,” Loeffler said. “There’s always someone to push you and has strengths to challenge you. That’s made a big, big difference to me.”
Going into the 2013 Open, Loeffler’s goal was to qualify as an individual. But the final workout dropped him to 48thplace and “I swallowed my pride,” he said.
Although he barely qualified for regionals, Loeffler decided to compete on CrossFit Explode’s team that year. The team began the weekend unsure of what to expect but knowing they would be competitive.
In the Burpee Muscle-up Event, the team finished in fifth place. In every other event, Explode earned top three or better. They finished in first place overall and went on to compete at the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games.
“It was a dream come true,” Loeffler said. “I’d trained hard for the last two years and made it to the Games.”
Explode finished 15th at the Games.
“I’ve been to regionals and the Games. They are two different animals,” Loeffler said. “The Games was a terrific learning experience and the pinnacle of our athletic careers.”
Quinlan valued Loeffler as a teammate that year.
“Cody was a vital role to our success,” Quinlan said. “He has a tremendous work capacity and it’s easy to count on him to hang on for a lot of reps.”
After returning from the Games, Loeffler evaluated his performance.
“Overall, my performance was a reflection of good programming and hard work. At the Games, I was mad at myself for not doing well at the chest-to-bars,” he recalled. “I knew that to be taken seriously as an athlete, I couldn’t have something like chest-to-bars hold me back.”
Loeffler began to work on his weaknesses, specifically chest-to-bar pull-ups and body-weight movements.
“Cody has been ridiculously relentless in attacking his weaknesses. There is no person more on top of their diet and training than him,” Quinlan said. “He’s been effortless to coach. Cody is the perfect athlete—hard working, determined, dedicated and relentless toward his training. He makes me look good.”
Loeffler admitted he is motivated by challenges. At the 2012 Mid Atlantic Regional, he was concerned about the one-arm dumbbell snatch and was “having a heck of a time on my left side,” he said. He entered the event with the goal to win his heat. He did, and took third place overall in the event.
“Most people love the stuff they are good at and it’s a joke about me that all the stuff I’m good at I hate,” he said. “The bigger the suck factor, the more I like it.”
He typically does the gym’s daily workout with a class to maintain the community aspect. Then, he’ll do additional strength and auxiliary skills programmed by Quinlan.
“I absolutely trust and have faith in what Brian programs,” Loeffler said. “He’s instilled in us that there’s no magic potion, no special combinations or order of movements. There is no routine in CrossFit. Are you working hard and being consistent? If you are, then you’re doing it.”
He has found an excellent mentor in Quinlan.
“I’ve made improvements and I know it’s due to Brian’s programming. He’s knowledgeable and experienced as a coach and an athlete. I look up to him as an athlete, coach and person,” Loeffler said.
Quinlan credited Loeffler’s efforts for his success.
“Cody’s hit the perfect formula for getting really good at stuff. He’s on top of his nutrition, attacks his weaknesses, has the genetic capacity and has an incredible work ethic,” Quinlan said. “Cody sticks to the programming 100 percent. I’ll sometimes walk into the gym and see an athlete doing their own thing, varying from the program. Not Cody.”
Loeffler has been training consistently since the 2013 Games. He hasn’t placed a lot of pressure on himself and is enjoying the process.
“Explode is not a cutthroat gym,” Loeffler said. “All of the athletes are thankful for the opportunity to do what we do.”
Heading into this year’s Open, he was “100 percent going team” and aiming for a top-five finish. He started strong in 14.1 and was first in the Mid Atlantic and tied worldwide in seventh place with 439 reps. Loeffler continued to post solid scores, ranking 15th (271) in 14.2 and 13th(160) in 14.3. With fierce competition in the 14.4 chipper, Loeffler’s score of 199 ranked him 97th. He currently sits in eighth place regionally.
He may soon have to face the decision of whether to compete as an individual or on Team Explode.
Quinlan said he believes Loeffler would perform well at regionals as an individual competitor.
“The only thing Cody needs to improve on is his raw strength, especially within a heavier met-con to keep up with guys like Ben Smith and Nate Schrader,” Quinlan explained. “Cody has lungs for days and only knows one speed. When we train as a team, we hope the workout is short enough to give us a chance to beat or keep up with him.”
Quinlan said he would be disappointed to not have Loeffler on a regional team, but understands athletes have individual goals.
While Loeffler admitted the attention from the Open has been “fun and flattering,” he’s waiting to see how the next few weeks play out and then make a decision.
“We have impressive numbers and names in this region. I’m humble enough to know it ain’t over ‘til it’s over,” he said.
Wagner is rooting for Loeffler.
“Cody being a young athlete and new learner of CrossFit, he is only beginning to peak in this year’s Open,” Wagner said. “I look forward to seeing him continue to grow and hopefully participate in the CrossFit Games as an individual athlete in the near future."