April 15, 2013
Leading a Team: John Meeks
By Laura Gonzo

After at first-place finish for CrossFit Greensboro in 2012, John Meeks is hoping to lead the team to another victory in 2013.

John Meeks, co-owner and head coach of CrossFit Greensboro, led his team to the Mid Atlantic Regional for the first time in 2012. 

They dominated the team competition and walked away with first place, securing a trip to compete at the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games. 

A year later, Meeks will see his team advance to Regionals once again.

“The Games last year were eye opening, humbling, and inspiring,” Meeks says. “We were just happy to be able to compete at such a high level.”

Meeks knows successfully coaching a competitive team takes a different approach than coaching an individual. The coach must look at the entire picture, remove personal bias, and help the athletes based on their needs.

“As an example, last year I thought it would be better for me not to compete so I could spend more time coaching and helping. In the overall scheme of things, the coach needs to set aside their ego and do what’s best for the team,” Meeks explains.

Meeks approached 2013 differently. He says CrossFit has grown tremendously as a sport and has become more competitive. CrossFit Greensboro has seen an influx in higher-level athletes, but Meeks recognizes these athletes are still less experienced in CrossFit and his focus is to best prepare them for regional competition.

 “I’m not going to let the Open ruin five weeks of training. I know we need to keep a strategic plan for training throughout the Open and let the Open workouts be a small piece of the whole picture,” he says. “The Open measures capacity and certain skills, whereas Regionals have historically been heavier. We can’t get so focused on the Open that we miss five weeks of strength training for our athletes.”

Meeks also believes CrossFit athletes should have an offseason because CrossFit loses its effectiveness as a year-round sport. 

“CrossFit sport is different than day-to-day CrossFit. CrossFit as a sport entails specialization in certain movements. Yes, it focuses on capacity, but in specific movements,” Meeks says. “A lot of times we get caught up in doing high-level stuff like muscle-ups, handstand push-ups, pistols and snatches. We get out of basic CrossFit stuff like running and air squats.”

Every professional sport has an offseason and there is a need for recovery from the constant neuromuscular stress of competition. 

“If we go back to the original prescription for CrossFit, we see that Greg Glassman is proponent of learning new sports,” Meeks says. “Between the end of the Games and December/January, athletes should have fun, learn new skills and try new sports.”

Meeks doesn’t have any predictions on which athletes or teams will make it to Regionals. 

“I don’t count anyone out. The X-factor is that we now have twice as many athletes jumping in to the Open,” he says. “There are lots of good boxes with good athletes. Anyone can show up game day and perform. We’re the same way. We’re fighting and working just like anyone else to get better.”

Meeks advises fellow coaches to use the many resources available, but ultimately, a successful coach is one who knows himself and his athletes.

“Learn from others, but don’t follow. You can learn a ton from coaches that are out there, but you and your athletes need to find your own path. As a coach, you’ll know your athletes better than anybody else. You should trust your judgment in helping them prepare and train for the Open.”

Finishing in 27th place, right inside the top 30, CrossFit Greensboro will be making a return trip to Regionals.