April 3, 2014
Trading Colorado for Costa Rica: Leonidas Jenkins
By Lauryn Lax
The two-time South West Regional competitor now leads on the Latin America Leaderboard.
The two-time South West Regional competitor now leads on the Latin America Leaderboard.

"The past two years, I was obsessed. I checked the standings every five minutes. This year is different. I am very much just enjoying myself."


What does it take to be No. 1 on the Latin America Leaderboard during the Open?


“Every Friday for the past three years I have made myself a huge stack of gourmet pancakes. I call it Pancake Friday and I make them all from scratch. Peanut butter and jelly, bacon pancakes, root beer and banana—you name it,” Leonidas Jenkins, the No. 1 seed in the Latin America Region for four weeks in a row, said.

The ritual seems to be working for the aspiring Games athlete and former South West Regional competitor (2012, 34th place and 2013, 14th place).

“I have actually gone into each of the Open workouts tired so far this year. Pancakes are truly the key,” Jenkins said. “Pancakes, naps and heavy weights.”

Entering the final week of the Open, Jenkins said pancakes were “most definitely” on tap for Friday morning before he did 14.5.

He finished the 21-18-15-12-9-6 and 3 thrusters and bar-facing burpees in 11:10 to finish in 12th in the region on the workout, and hold onto 1st overall.

“It’s been a long time since I said, ‘Ohh shit!’ when I saw a workout or a movement in a workout,” Jenkins said. “Attack your weaknesses until they are your strengths. Give me the 15-mile run or the two-minute sprint. Give me 500 burpees or 500-lb. deadlifts. I like it all.”

Jenkins also said that for the first time in his three years competing in the Open, he has changed his mentality and approach to the weekly workouts.

“Instead of stressing or building my week around the Open, I have been treating this year’s Open workouts as just another workout—one and done,” he said.

Another notable change in Jenkins’ competitive CrossFit approach to date has been his recent move to Coco Beach, Costa Rica. He’s jumped from a 30th-place finish in the South West Region in 2013, to currently first place in the Latin America Region.

No longer in the mountains of Denver, Colo., Jenkins said he’s living the “good life.”

“I came to Central America on vacation five years ago and didn’t want to leave,” he said. “The way that people approach life is different here. It seems like the culture is set more to the tone of being happy than chasing some hustle. They call it ‘Pura Vida in Costa Rica’. It’s a beer on the beach and a slow walk to the market for fresh fish and mangos. It took me five years to figure out how to get back here for good and I am loving every second of it.”

“Sundays are for surfing!” Jenkins said.

The change in scenery has been refreshing for his competitive nature, he said.

“The past two years, I was obsessed,” he recounted. “I checked the standings every five minutes. This year is different. I am very much just enjoying myself."

"It’s tough to have your nose buried in your phone when the beach is 100 m away, and I have also been able to focus more on just doing what I love: training.”

Focus is an understatement. Give 110 percent is more like it.

Jenkins is no stranger to hard work and dedication. A former MMA, ultra-endurance, triathlon athlete and Special Forces Ranger in the army, competitive CrossFit was a natural fit. He typically completes eight to nine workouts between Monday and Wednesday, trains once on Thursday, does something light on Friday—“like rowing, burpees and running”—and hits the Open workout on Saturdays.

With 10 years of CrossFit under his belt, Jenkins may as well be considered a veteran to the sport, although he said he never really had the intention of competing until 2012.

“Someone convinced me to sign up for the Open three years ago after just coming off a sixth-place Ironman finish,” he said. “I thought, ‘Why not?’ I ended up placing 18th in the Open, and the next month, was my first regionals. The energy of this sport is like nothing else.”

Regardless of how he does in this year’s competition, Jenkins said his goal has always been the same: “Consistently improve. If that improvement takes me to the Games, that would be great. But knowing that I am better than I was last year—better than yesterday—that is what I strive for.”