May 7, 2013
Jeremy Kinnick's Butter Nation
By Ashley Van Horne

“I am extremely passionate about helping others through CrossFit and proper nutrition. I’ve been there and can relate ... sometimes you just need someone to turn the lights on and show you the way back.”

Photos by: Nick Robles

As a four-time Games competitor, 31st-place finisher at the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games and owner of CrossFit Kinnick, Jeremy Kinnick is no stranger to competition. As he prepares for his fourth Games season, Kinnick continues to lean on family, faith and consistent training for support.

Kinnick finished this year’s Open tied for 18th place in SoCal. His affiliate landed a fifth-place finish in the region. Although Kinnick was excited about his performance in the Open, his true passion was focusing on his members.

“I love the Open for the general overall CrossFit community,” he says. “We utilize that time to get people excited, get the fire going, experience competing and for a lot of people, that’s their Games, so to speak.”

Although the 2013 Open was a busy time for Kinnick, he found himself thriving off of the energy of his community.

“What’s cool is since my training partner, Nick Robles, and I did the workouts on Wednesday nights, a lot of people came out and cheered us on,” he says. “Having people that I train and am usually yelling at there, and seeing them when I’m tired, motivated me to not want to let them down. It’s so huge for me to have our members there, rooting me on.”

Kinnick is passionate about the spirit at his affiliate. One member, Josh Acosta, recently lost 76 pounds. Acosta’s Facebook post detailing his weight-loss journey went viral.

Such testimonials highlight the transformations Kinnick inspires.

“I am extremely passionate about helping others through CrossFit and proper nutrition. I’ve been there and can relate. Once you head down that road, it gets dark out, and sometimes you just need someone to turn the lights on and show you the way back,” Kinnick says. “I consider every member of CrossFit Kinnick to be an extension of my family. Stories like Josh’s move me beyond words. I am a very emotionally driven person and feed off of that energy. Seeing people make radical changes to their lives reminds me of where I came from and reignites the fire inside that burns and moves me to continue down this path of pushing my limits and guiding others to do the same.”

Kinnick endured major life changes prior to becoming a Games-level athlete.

“When I picked up CrossFit I was fat and out of shape (235 pounds), and I was a mess,” Kinnick recalls. “I had played sports my entire life, but I had a big seven-year gap of stopping baseball in college to starting CrossFit. When I started CrossFit, it was because I was overweight, not because I wanted to go to the Games. The Games have never been my original motivation; it’s always been about getting in shape and being healthy.”

Kinnick’s members have taken on their own persona that Kinnick has dubbed “Butter Nation.”

“Butter Nation is just something fun for us. I’m very serious about training. Everything I do is to make me better. But that can get kind of stressful; it can get monotonous,” Kinnick says. “Two years ago, I was lifting with one of our members and after I did a big lift, I yelled ‘Butter!’ The dude was like, ‘Butter? What does that even mean?’ I said ‘Yeah, like a hot knife cutting through butter — like it was supposed to be hard and then it was easy.’

“It kind of turned into something we would say constantly, posting on Beyond the Whiteboard, Facebook, and people started using the term more. It just morphed into ‘Kinnick Butter’ and then ‘Kinnick Butter Nation,’” he laughs. “It’s just another cool thing that has happened to me because of CrossFit. I have people from other parts of the world asking for #ButterNation shirts.”

Butter Nation will soon be called on to show their support for Kinnick and the team at the SoCal Regional. Kinnick feels confident heading into the ring, but doesn’t count any athletes out as competition for the podium — experienced or rookies.

“I keep my eyes out for up-and-coming athletes, as well as the guys who have been around for a while, like myself. Kenny Leverich, Josh Bridges, Bill Grundler, Ryan Fischer and a few other guys who always do well at Regionals,” Kinnick says. “I don’t think ‘concerned’ is the right word for how I look at other athletes at Regionals. It’s hard to say who will do well and who won’t without knowing the workouts yet. What I do know is that I am a completely different athlete from last year in every sense of the word, especially between my ears.”

In the ultra-competitive SoCal Region, there are athletes who have proven they will challenge Kinnick, but there is one notable athlete missing this year — Jon Pera.

“I enjoy competing against Jon Pera and on one hand, I’m sad he won’t be there this year. But if I were in his shoes, I would do the exact same thing,” Kinnick says. “Bridges is a pure savage, as we all know. I am pretty sure every region has five to 10 top athletes who have a legit shot at making the podium.”

Kinnick isn’t nervous to see any movements at Regionals, including Olympic lifting. After posting videos of PRs to social media where he caught snatches on his knees and finished by standing up, Kinnick drew criticism.

“I know what I am getting myself into when I post videos of what others would consider bad technique. But I post it because that’s really how I lift,” Kinnick says. “I am a real person and I push my limits. I am not trying to fool anyone or hide that. I am always working on improving my technique. When I started CrossFit in 2007, I had never Olympic lifted before, so just the fact that I can snatch 250 lb. is mind blowing to me.”

Kinnick is hoping to see his strength pay off on the competition floor.

“For a guy like me, I need Regionals to be a little heavier to separate myself … we’ve been hitting a lot of lifts and just combinations that I struggle with. The goal is that when Regionals come, it’s going to be easier than a normal training day,” Kinnick says.

“For the first time, I am OK with seeing anything this year. I don’t feel like I’m going to win every event, but I’m not worried about any movement coming up. That’s an exciting feeling for me.”