May 21, 2012
The Return of Jenna Dodge
By Jessica Sena and Wendy Wilson

Three years ago, Jenna Dodge competed among the elite. This year, she's back to win.

Barista turned badass Jenna Dodge of Bozeman, Mt., has got to be one of the most mentally tough athletes on the CrossFit circuit. Little else could explain the Bridger CrossFit co-owner’s uncanny ability to set personal records on a weekly, almost daily, basis.

Her unstoppable drive has taken her to 22nd place in the North West’s 2012 Open. She hammered out 112 burpees during 12.1, 90 reps during 12.2, 9 rounds, plus 9 push presses during 12.3, 247 reps during 12.4, and 114 reps during 12.5.

And now, with Regionals quickly approaching, Dodge is geared up compete – and win.

Competitive By Nature

As a former Ironman racer who completed her first triathlon and century ride at 17 years old, competition is nothing new to Dodge. But CrossFit proved to be a challenge.

When she tackled her first workout in February 2008, Dodge says she couldn’t pull herself over the bar for a pull-up or touch her chest to the ground for a push-up. She couldn’t even do an overhead squat with an empty 45-pound bar. Today, Dodge can steady 175 pounds overhead, do 31 pull-ups without stopping, clean and jerk 160 pounds, deadlift 245 pounds, back squat 220 pounds and snatch 135 pounds.

“I actually beat Cheryl Brost in the 2012 Open’s snatch workout,” Dodge says, adding that her Helen time is 8:10. “It’s one of the fastest out there,” she says.

Needless to say, what Dodge may have lacked in physical strength in the beginning she has made up for with a mindset that refuses to acknowledge the existence of limits.

“I definitely set goals,” she says. “I actually don’t expect a PR every time I get under the bar because they don’t happen all the time. But as far as a met-con, you can almost always set PRs and find ways to be more efficient.”

The Trek Back to the Games

In 2009, shortly after a year of training, Dodge (then Rettenmeyer) competed at the CrossFit Games for the first time. She made it through all five grueling workouts on the first day, but her performance wasn’t enough to move her on in the competition.

A lot has happened since then.

She and sweetheart Ben Dodge, who started CrossFit on the same day and now coaches alongside her, married and had a son, Morgan, in May 2010. Following his birth, the new mom fought to “get her six-pack back,” and even started writing a blog about it. “It didn’t last long because it didn’t take long,” she laughs. In September, she PR’d Fight Gone Bad with 300 reps, and in December, she PR’d “Fran,” clocking in a 3:46.

Besides raising her young son, Dodge is also a graduate student with the goal of attending medical school and has been coaching with Ben at Bridger CrossFit, of which they are part owners.  

“On days that Ben programs workouts, he usually chooses workouts that will crush me,” Dodge says.

Add to all that super-intense daily training, and Dodge is one busy – though determined – athlete.

“I’m really competitive,” she says. “And I still haven’t plateaued. I’m in better shape now than I was when I went to the Games in 2009.”

A Brawny Brainy Badass

There’s no doubt that Dodge has the sheer power, strength and agility to threaten the 21 women ahead of her at the North West Regionals. The 5-foot-4, 130-pound athlete embodies a drive to win and be the best and fastest at what she does – and that translates to her mental training, too.  

Dodge holds training certificates in CrossFit Levels 1 and 2, CrossFit Kids, Gymnastics, Running and Endurance Level 1, Mobility, Olympic Weightlifting, Nutrition and Power Lifting, not to mention CPR and being a AFPA Pre/Post-Natal Exercise Specialist. She also has Bachelor of Science degrees in math and physics with plans to attend medical school in the near future.

It’s no wonder Dodge has been able to wrap her brain around the sport of CrossFit and its competition element more than most.

“Mental toughness sets me apart from other athletes,” she says. “It comes from the sports I used to do, like the Ironman and triathlons, where it’s 99 percent mental and 1 percent physical.”

We’ll see how this brawny brainy badass fairs in Puyallup, Wash., on May 25 – 27.