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Ty Jenkins, a 15-year-old from Branson High School, is competing in the CrossFit Games in Madison, Wisconsin, at the end of July. Jenkins will compete against other 14- and 15-year-old boys to see who is the "fittest in the world."

Ty Jenkins grew up in a CrossFit gym. He spent hours there with his dad, mostly trying to climb ropes. One day, he decided to try to workout. He went to the The Trials Finals when he was 14 years old. He won.

Now he’s preparing for the CrossFit Games, the most elite CrossFit competition in determining the fittest athletes in the world.


Meet the competitor

Jenkins is a sophomore at Branson High School. He plays baseball for the Pirates but balances those workouts with CrossFit. When he’s not playing baseball and in school, he’s spending anywhere from six to eight hours working out.

“It’s like school but way more fun,” Jenkins said with a laugh. 

Jenkins spends his mornings at Table Rock CrossFit — he’s there up to six days a week. He’s there for three and a half hours or so, depending on what type of training he plans to do, and then he comes back in the evening for a few more hours of work. He also swims often.

Jenkins said he loves CrossFit and all the competition involved.

“I’ve always been a super competitive person,” Jenkins said. “Everyday is a race and a competition. I always have people to go up against, which makes it fun for me.”

The Trials Finals was one of his first competitions. Since then, he’s grown even more. Jenkins’ coach, Carl Butts, said that was the moment he realized how good Jenkins was. Jenkins, on the other hand, realized his progress this past March in the Open competition.

The competition, scheduled for the second half of March, was a virtual event. He was working the second of four workouts for the competition. He didn’t feel well going in, but there was a moment when he felt a switch flip.

“I had people next to me trying to push me, and I found a second gear almost,” Jenkins said. “It was one of the best workouts of my life. I think that’s when I realized there may be a lot more down the road for me.”

Jenkins placed fourth overall in the Open, fifth in the second workout.

“At the Trials, I never really said anything to him, but my expectation was that he would probably win,” Butts said. “He was up against some really tough kids there, and he won. I knew he would be good.”


Join the family

The gym, located at 1000 Pat Nash Drive, Building 1-3, in Branson, is located on the campus of Ballparks of America, one of the area’s top competitive youth baseball complexes, and it’s grown even since Jenkins joined.

Butts has been a CrossFit coach for about seven years. He works one-on-one with Jenkins to prepare him for competitions like the CrossFit Games. Despite having the relationship of coach-athlete, the two have also developed a familial bond — as has the rest of the gym.

“You walk in here, and you have eight to 10 people who know you by name,” Jenkins said. “That goes for everyone. It’s a great community to be in.”

The gym hosts holiday parties for the members for Christmas, Halloween and New Years Eve. It’s not uncommon to see fellow members at what might be considered “family events” like birthdays too.

The tight-knit community was founded at the gym’s original location about 100 yards away. It was much smaller than the new facility, which is approximately 6,000 square feet.

“The classes just got progressively bigger, and we kind of outgrew where we were,” Butts said. “Now, we have space to work with people off to the side. It’s always good to be able to work with people on their weaknesses, and since we always have multiple coaches in every class, we can do a little bit more one-on-one.”

Owner Dan Heil said the growth for the gym has been great. They often get baseball families who are in town for tournaments at Ballparks of America that will stop in for classes.

The members are a close knit community, but Heil said anyone from out of town or anyone who wants to try can visit the gym.


Learn the competition

Jenkins finished eighth in the Online Qualifier for the Games being held in Madison, Wisconsin. He completed five separate workouts — all include various movements for time or weight. Each workout is predetermined by the event.

For example, Workout 1 required 5 rounds of 15 handstand push-ups, 15 dumbbell shoulder-to-overheads with 35-pound dumbbells, and 15-calorie rows — which means the competitor uses a rowing machine until 15 calories have been burned. The workout is done for time with a cap of 20 minutes.

Jenkins placed 11th in Workout 1 with a time of 11:14.

Workout 4 was for weight rather than time. He was required to do 4 repetitions at max front squat load in 20 minutes. He placed sixth at 280 pounds.

Each competition has different workouts that vary in difficulty.

For Jenkins, he’s looking forward to machine workouts, like rowing and biking. Butts said there will likely be an open water event, which he thinks will be one of the biggest advantages for Jenkins.

“If they pair swimming with something like a bike, a rower, a skier, I think he could be up there,” Butts said.

Jenkins and Butts said double unders are Jenkins’ biggest struggle. Double unders are a form of jumping rope where the rope passes under the feet twice before the person’s touches the ground again.

“We say it’s his weakness, but he’s still really good at it — this is just in comparison to the other competitors that will be at the Games,” Butts said.

Jenkins will compete at the Coliseum at Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin. The competition starts July 27 and runs through Aug. 1. He will compete July 27-29.

“I’m super excited to see how I do in front of a crowd and just get to put on a show and compete against other people live,” Jenkins said. “I think it’s gonna make a big difference. I’m super excited. It’s the real deal.”

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