March 17, 2014
Q&A with Jared Stevens
By Nicole Scott Smith
"To me, it’s that savage warrior mentality that the Vikings and Indians had ... Grooming was just a pain because there were many more...
"To me, it’s that savage warrior mentality that the Vikings and Indians had ... Grooming was just a pain because there were many more...

"To me, it’s that savage warrior mentality that the Vikings and Indians had ... Grooming was just a pain because there were many more things to be done. It’s a warrior attitude." ~Jared Stevens on his hair

Photos courtesy of Jacob Neimeyer

Jared Stevens has quickly made a name for himself in the North Central Region.

After less than a year of CrossFit, the 29-year-old placed sixth at the 2012 North Central Regional and opened his own affiliate, CrossFit 417 in Ozark, Mo.

In 2013, Stevens climbed to the fourth-place spot in the region. The former European Football League player and body builder is well known for his impressive strength and engine, and currently sits in 29th place in the region after scoring 150 reps in 14.3 (unofficial).

His goal is simple: qualify for the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games.

We dug a little deeper to get to know the man who has come so close to qualifying two years in a row.

Q: How do you balance running a gym and training?

A: I have really good help. Like for instance, yesterday I had some therapy stuff I had to do. Not that I am hurt, but I am trying to keep everything in line because I’m trying to stay healthy. I had two coaches there and they all have keys so I asked, “Hey, can you guys take care of this class? I gotta jet,” and they were like, “No problem.”

It allows me to do stuff to prepare for my ultimate goal of going to the Games. I just have lots of help, really. I could not do it all by myself. No chance.

Q: Who is your favorite CrossFit athlete? Why?

A: I really like Aja Barto, even though I have never met him face-to-face. We go back and forth on text, Facebook and on Instagram. He has great hair.

Q: Do you repeat Open workouts?

A: Last year, I repeated the wall ball/muscle-up workout because I did 28 muscle-ups and it was a goal of mine to go all the way through it ... I re-did the toes-to-bars/clean and jerk because my score wasn’t very good. But this year, my goal is no repeats, no matter what, unless I crap my pants in the middle of the workout.

Q: What do you think when people hold onto their Open score and post it to the Leaderboard at the last minute?

A: I get it. It makes sense to me … Let’s just say Aja Barto was in my region and I post my score, and let’s just say I do 300 reps. Well, if he’s already done it and scored 290, he’s going to look at mine and say, “I know I can beat 10 more reps.” It just kind of gives athletes that push to go and get a little more. I’ve done the same thing.

Q: Which creates greater gains: training alone or a bro-session?

A: A bro-out. No question. For instance, Sunday had the best pump ever. Sundays are our open gym and it’s more relaxed. I got with one of our members—he’s like 40-something years old—and we just bench pressed our brains out. It was great.

Q: What’s your perfect training session like?

A: Some weakness training. So handstand push-ups and toes-to-bars mixed with something else. If I really did well and went unbroken, well, that means I’m getting better. I can’t just do the normal workouts that I’m good at and feel good about it because in the back of my head I know the weakness is there. And if I’m not beating it, I’m not beating the guy next to me.

Q: What are movements you are hoping for in the Open workouts?

A: I hope they program 30 clean and jerks at 225 lb. for time.

Q: What’s your greatest strength in CrossFit?

A: I’m going to say my back squat. The back squat is the foundation of all fitness, in my opinion. If you have a good back squat, then everything else is going to be good as far as barbell movements go. Everyone thinks my clean is really good, but my clean is nothing without my back squat.

Q: What’s your kryptonite?

A: Toes-to-bars. My legs and butt are really big and really heavy so they’re just hard for me. It’s really frustrating. I can’t stand it.

Q: Your hair is luxurious. What's with your hair?

A: To me, it’s that savage warrior mentality that the Vikings and Indians had. And in biblical days, all those guys had long hair. Grooming was just a pain because there were many more things to be done. It’s a warrior attitude.

Q: How do you keep your hair under control in a workout?

A: Well, lately I have been twisting my hair ties four times instead of three, so that’s helping. I remember competing against Nick Johnson and Jordan Chiles and I was doing kettlebell swings and my hair came loose. It was really awful, choking me, but I couldn’t put the kettlebell down. I had to finish because I knew if I put it down, they would beat me.

Q: Some call you “Fit Jesus.” Why?

A: To me, it is flattering. Christ was the savior of the entire world. He lived his life perfectly and cared about other people. But I don’t ever even compare myself to Him. I shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence as Christ. But I think it just has to do with my religious base and long hair and beard.

Q: You placed fourth last year at the North Central Regional. Have you modified your training in any way to help you get to the regional and the Games this year?

A: I’ve always trained really hard. Let’s say I train 15 times a week. Ten of those sessions are going to have my weaknesses in them. So in that aspect, no. One thing I have done is, I got my shoulder fixed.

Last year, that was a big limiting factor for me. I had a torn labrum and a torn rotator cuff on both sides. I had stem cell injections. It’s the smartest thing I’ve done. I was really skeptical, too … and sure enough, just as doctors said, in six to eight weeks I started to feel better. I’ve also been doing more pulling off the ground and rebounding 30-in. box jumps. That (event) last year at regionals really got me—the Deadlift/Box Jump (Event).

Q: What's your daily nutrition like?

A: Eighty percent of the time, I eat really well and 20 percent, really bad. I think that starch has such a bad rap because of what it is doing to our country, but that is because of the way that people are using it. I think starch is great for building muscle. It is also great for building fat so there are opportune times for eating starches so that it will not affect you badly.

Plus, training two to three times a day, you get away with way more than normal people. But, two to three times a week I will eat doughnuts, cookies and ice cream.  

Q: If you could be an athlete competing in a live Open workout announcement, who would you like to compete against and what would the workout entail?

A: This is easy: It would be Rich Froning and the workout would be King Kong.

Q: Who would win?

A: I would.

Q: What's your favorite meal?

A: Cinnamon rolls. 

Q: What is your favorite movie?

A: Oh, man, that’s a toughie. I am going to have to say, as of the last couple of years, Zombieland is probably my favorite movie. I’ve watched it so many times and it is so great. But my second would have to be The Man from Snowy River. It’s just a classic. I watched it growing up and it brings back such good memories.

Q: What is something that most people don’t know about you that they would find surprising?

A: I was home schooled through ninth grade by my mother. I’m a little off and that’s why— because home-schooled kids are weird.

Q. Anything else we should know?

A. I would like to say that there is no chance that I would ever be where I’m at without Christ in my life. And my wife is such an amazing woman. She makes everything easy for me.