March 9, 2012
Jeff Leonard Returns
By Austin Einhorn

Watching him compete is like watching an unstoppable force move an immovable object.

Jeff Leonard has returned to CrossFit after taking three years off, and everyone competing in the Northern California Region should be warned. The fittest firefighter in North America is on a mission to be the Fittest on Earth.

Leonard's CrossFit sabbatical was centered on training for the Firefighter Combat Challenge, often called the toughest two minutes in sport. Even to stalwart CrossFitters, this challenge proves to be a daunting task. However for Leonard, he took home the gold with a time of 1:26.61.

Leonard prefers task-oriented workouts, like the wheelbarrow event in the 2010 CrossFit Games, to repetition-based workouts like "Fran." For instance, in 12.1, the 6-feet 3-inch, 235-pound Leonard quips, "I didn't stop moving, but I had to go 104 inches from top to bottom. No matter how fast I move, it's gonna be slower."

Although he may not like these kinds of workouts, he doesn't have much of an issue completing them. In 2009, he eclipsed the competition at the CrossFit Games Regional Qualifier. In the weekend's three workouts, he placed 1st, 1st, and a very close 2nd.

His next moment of dominance was that year at the Games in Aromas, Calif., where he won the max weight snatch event. He is coming back now to continue his love of competition and success in CrossFit.

As with taller competitors, gymnastic skills don't come easy. Leonard says he can do all the technical skills, such as muscle-ups and handstand walks, but as fatigue sets in they become increasingly difficult. It may slow him down, but it will not stop him. Watching him compete is like watching an unstoppable force move an immovable object.

Leonard’s Firefighter Combat Challenge training has certainly helped different facets of his fitness.  With the 40 pounds of gear he has to wear, including an oxygen mask, this kind of anaerobic training with limited oxygen supply has without a doubt helped his fitness.

Leonard says training has made him more mentally tenacious, as well. With such specific tasks in such a small time domain, "any small mistake can make all the difference."

Leonard is coming back to CrossFit to satiate his competitive desires. While he has considered doing the team event, this year he is focusing on the individual competition. One of his biggest attractions to CrossFit is the community and camaraderie prevalent in each box and competition. It's this one-of-a-kind atmosphere that has put the team competition on his radar.

The man fueled by fire, Jeff Leonard, is back.