The Colossus of Rhodes

March 15, 2012

Chris Cooper

"I'd almost rather lose and know that I went as hard as possible, than win too easily."

Photos by: Chrissie Wu

A perennial podium finisher in local CrossFit events, Jay Rhodes is poised to move up in 2012. With a growing list of high-level accomplishments, Rhodes is using ramp-up events for one purpose - to train for the CrossFit Games.

As a former star on the track at the University of Western Ontario, Rhodes dabbled in CrossFit in college but didn't understand it.  “I was more interested in golf and beer at the time,” he quips.

It wasn't until a serious illness struck his father, that he decided to get serious. "My parents were coming to visit, and my dad got this weird blood infection. It almost killed him. I was working all week, driving five hours to be with him, and driving home Sunday night to go right back to work. But while I was sitting there in the hospital, something clicked in me,” he recalls. "Don't let life pass you by. Do something with what you've got."

What he had, he says, was "a lot of competitive drive, but no focus. I'd broken my feet twice, so I couldn't run competitively anymore."

Instead, he began applying those physical and mental gifts to CrossFit, where he's thrived in the heat of battle. "It doesn't matter if I'm sore, if my hands are ripped, if the gym is closed or the weather's crappy, I'll find a way to make it happen,” he says. “I want to get everything out of myself that I possibly can.”

Beyond qualifying for the Games, Rhodes doesn't focus on winning or losing. "If I pushed myself to the limit, that's when I'm satisfied,” Rhodes says. "I'd almost rather lose and know that I went as hard as possible, than win too easily."

Rhodes has found a permanent home at CrossFit Altitude. "They made space for me as a trainer right away," Rhodes says. He trains clients two to three days per week, and has his own Coach – Rudy Nielsen of Outlaw CrossFit – for his own training. "I want to be the athlete, not the coach, when I'm training."

It's paying dividends. After being virtually off training from September through December with a back injury, Rhodes has regained his strength numbers.  At 170 pounds, he's snatching 240 and cleaning 305. He's back-squatting 380 for reps and he's deadlifted more than 500 pounds at his current bodyweight. 

But Rhodes’ real superiority has always been met-con work. He has a 5:04 “Elizabeth,” and he recently completed 100 muscle-ups in 19:05.

Despite these PRs and successes, Rhodes says he still feels like he has to prove himself. "Going into Overdose and Firebreather (both local non-sanctioned events), I wanted to prove to myself that I still belonged with the best there."

Rhodes has picked up a few sponsors along the way – 2Pood and Redefined Fit – and credits his girlfriend, Lacey, with much of his success. "It's so critical to have a partner who supports and loves CrossFit too.”

Heading into the fourth workout, Rhodes is ranked 4th in his region. His best performance so far was on 12.3, where he amassed 423 reps - good for 8th place in the region on the workout. In a region where the top 2 from Regionals qualify for the Games, Rhodes is a strong contender to represent Canada East at the Home Depot Center.