This spring, Jacob Schmidt will be among the thousands of University of Missouri graduates ready to leave campus and make his mark on the world. Earlier this spring, the Columbia native left his mark in the world of CrossFit with his performance in the Open, a competition of thousands of athletes around the world. Of the 195,562 men competing, the 23-year-old finished the competition ranked 173rd in the world and 86th in the U.S.

Considering Schmidt’s competitive drive and work ethic, his success in the sport is not at all surprising. After playing baseball for two years at William Woods University, Schmidt transferred to Mizzou. He took a few CrossFit classes and soon realized there was much more to the sport than just intense workouts.

Schmidt coaching an individual during a bench press

Schmidt’s passion for personal training has allowed him to coach CrossFit classes of more than 20 individuals and make connections with others in the CrossFit community.

“When you go to a traditional gym, most people have their headphones in and are doing their own individual workouts, but with CrossFit, it’s one big community where you build relationships and really get to know people on a deeper level,” Schmidt said. “The athletes are in it together, and I really wanted to be a part of a community with that kind of support system.”

A senior at Mizzou, Schmidt is majoring in physical activity, nutrition and human performance in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology. Schmidt has used the knowledge he has gained in the classroom, such as how to design workout programs and tailor training methodologies for individual clients, to excel in his job as a CrossFit coach at MKT Fit, a CrossFit affiliate in Columbia.

“CrossFit is like creating a mini super hero by combining gymnastics, powerlifting, Olympic lifting and endurance training into one well-rounded sport,” Schmidt said. “I can bench, squat, deadlift, walk on my hands and do handstand pushups.”

Schmidt starts off each morning by working out before class. After class, he works out again before coaching classes in the evening.

“It’s impressive to see someone at Jacob’s age who is so committed to helping others,” said John Stull, owner of MKT Fit. “Every day, Jacob comes in and works hard, applying what he learns in the classroom at Mizzou to help our members achieve their health goals. To see him do so well in the CrossFit Open is a testament to his drive. He is a great representative for not only our fitness community but the entire state of Missouri.”

Schmidt’s ultimate goal is to qualify for the CrossFit Games, an athletic competition held each summer to determine the “fittest on Earth.” He is currently training for CrossFit-sanctioned competitions that could lead to an invitation to compete at the Games.

“I weigh out all my food, stay hydrated, avoid alcohol and try to go to bed at the right time,” Schmidt said. “My lifestyle is aligned with my goals and gives me a sense of accomplishment knowing that CrossFit has kept my life organized. That work ethic has helped me balance school, fitness and my jobs.”

On the weekends, Schmidt works at Rusk Rehabilitation Hospital as a therapy technician where he assists rehabilitation nurses as well as physical, speech and occupational therapists. After graduating in May, Schmidt hopes to pursue a career in personal training. Last summer, Schmidt had an internship at South Loop Strength and Conditioning in Chicago, allowing him to coach CrossFit classes of more than 20 participants and make connections with others in the CrossFit community.

Group photo of MKT Fit members during the CrossFit Open

Through CrossFit, Schmidt found a community of people dedicated to fitness and was given the opportunity to coach while still pursuing his degree. He joined the other coaches and members for a photo after completing the 2019 Open.

“I love being able to help people find something in themselves they that they never thought was possible because the best reward in coaching is helping people reach their goals and the happiness it brings to their lives,” Schmidt said. “The sport changed my life and now I want to help others change theirs.”

The Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology is administered by the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, the College of Human Environmental Sciences and the School of Medicine.