Springfield FitLife
Interview with Jeremy Mhire conducted by Matthew Nelson for Springfield FitLife - Cover photo by Rockafellow Photography

Jeremy grew up playing basketball, football, and track. At 19, he spent a 4-year stint as an Atlantic Records recording artist. On tour, he always made it a point to get a workout in prior to shows. No matter where he was in the world, he’d find a gym or training facility. This is where he developed his love of training, fitness, and interest in the industry.

After getting married and leaving the music industry around 2003, he and his wife, Jenny, moved back to Springfield, MO. He enrolled at Missouri State University, eventually earning a degree in Sports Medicine & Athletic Training, and passing the national board-certification ATC exam to be allowed to practice as a Licensed Athletic Trainer. While in college he also began taking personal training clients.

How did you get your start in the fitness industry?

Around the same time, I started personal training clients, I discovered the CrossFit Method. I attended my CrossFit L1 trainer’s certification course in June of 2007 in San Diego, CA. The experience showed me how valuable and critical my ATC knowledge was and how it could be utilized in the long term to effectively implement, coach, and teach the CrossFit Method. My goal was and still is to bridge the gap between injury prevention and the highest orders of fitness and human performance.

We signed a licensing agreement, affiliated with CrossFit, and opened “CrossFit Springfield” in 2008. By then, America was in the midst of a massive recession and the greatest housing crisis since the Great Depression. Despite poor economic circumstances, we grew so rapidly that CrossFit Springfield went from a 500sq ft facility to a 2,500 sq ft facility and then again grew into a 5,000 sq ft industrial gym space within only 2 years.

Today, we have a 12,500 sq ft space in Proximal Strength and we are one of the longest-tenured and most well-equipped CrossFit gyms in the world in CrossFit Springfield.

How has the industry changed over the last 10 years?

A ton. Social media has made information more readily available, making the average consumer generally more educated now as opposed to 10 years ago when it comes to their basic and general understanding of exercise and nutrition practices.

Advances in technology have also allowed athletes, coaches, and trainers the ability to observe and objectively quantify every conceivable metric: Heart rate, Respiration rate, tracking and logging of PRs and weightlifting percentages, etc. In my opinion, the most important improvement over the past 10 years is better sports nutrition, supplementation, and recovery techniques.

Another huge shift in the industry over the past decade is that you now have orthopedists, physical therapists, massage therapists, and chiropractors partnering up with Fitness Centers and CrossFit Gyms to provide pre-hab, rehab, and ongoing bodywork/training recovery treatment sessions for athletes.

Lastly, from the perspective of a CrossFit Affiliate entering its 15th year of business, The CrossFit method has completely normalized the concept and practice of “functional fitness”. CrossFit has undeniably elevated the bar for human work capacity and solidified the now-commonplace use of mixed-modal training within the group-fitness class model. The CrossFit method has proven that it is absolutely possible to lead people of all ages, abilities, skill levels, and backgrounds to higher proficiency in the domains of Strength, Cardiovascular Endurance, Power, Speed, Agility, Coordination, Accuracy, Balance, Flexibility, and Stamina.

What does it take to stay relevant in the fitness space?

Easy! Substance never goes out of style; trends do! You remain relevant in ANY industry by constantly adding value to OTHERS’ lives. The delivery modes, workout trends, marketing mechanisms, and technologies may change over time, but the inherent desire to serve and edify others using your gifts, talents, products, and/or services (i.e. SUBSTANCE) is what separates long-term success VS short-term gain, money-grab fads, and ultimate failure.

What differentiates Proximal Strength from other gyms?

Just about everything from the top down: We are fully engaged and we reinvest into our people, our community, our culture, and our facilities.

Warren Buffett’s #1 rule of entrepreneurship is: “Reinvest your profits”. I’ve seen more gyms, and other entrepreneurial endeavors for that matter, fail simply because they do not wholeheartedly subscribe to this principle.

While we are far from perfect, we are constantly seeking to invest and add value to our members, coaches, and facilities at Proximal Strength. This occurs via community-building initiatives, purchasing and upgrading of the best and newest training equipment, small groups for skills/lifting/mobility workshops, and our hosting of the nation’s longest-running functional fitness competition outside of The CrossFit Games: The Heart of America Team Competition, and our on-ramping process for new members and coaches.

Additionally, our members take ownership to care for each other. Through weddings, funerals, major life accomplishments, victories, failures, graduations, births, sporting wins, good times, and bad, our people have always been so authentically willing to serve, support, and uplift one another.

What is the most common misconception about CrossFit?

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You have to already be in great shape to begin. This is the exact OPPOSITE of how CrossFit, or any other exercise regimen, works effectively. No matter what industry, sporting activity, or profession you assess, when it comes to its efficacy, it always comes down to thoughtful and appropriate implementation. Period.

Also, that you’re “too old”. Our eldest member, Gene, is 79 years young with a way stronger mindset than most 29-year-olds. She is literally in here every morning getting in movement, mobility, and strength training. The “too old” excuse makes me laugh and is absolute garbage. This excuse encourages old people to simply rot. Which seems like poor stewardship to me if the individual is still of sound mind, has a movable body, and has a basic desire to improve.

20 years in the fitness and wellness industry has taught me that CrossFit actually provides the best opportunity for the LEAST fit individual in the room to gain the MOST benefit from wholeheartedly prescribing the method. At Proximal Strength | CrossFit Springfield, we do this by teaching the basics, prioritizing mechanics, reinforcing consistency in technique, and then appropriately prescribing intensity relative to the athletes’ current workload capacity.

By teaching, empowering, and implementing appropriate modification and scaling techniques to even the MOST very out-of-shape beginner, add in the support of a strong-minded and loving community, and CrossFit is the most fool-proof, effective, results-based, and PROVEN method in the world to improve an individual’s work capacity over broad time and modal domains.

How would you describe the culture of Proximal Strength?

Our mission is to build and strengthen lives Mentally, Physically, and Spiritually through the platforms of fitness and community.

We’re relentless. We’re positive and uplifting. We never quit.  We’ve come so far and we’re just getting started. Our culture is UNIFIED despite our differences, STRONG of Heart, Mind, Body, and Will, and ROOTED in both Faith & Love.

What are the most important qualities a fitness coach should have?

High emotional intelligence, a deep understanding of all personality types, and the ability to effectively and concisely communicate with all of them. Likewise, a great fitness coach understands the concept of threshold training: e.g., an athlete must train just beyond their point of familiarity and comfort in order to be challenged towards positive growth. Conversely, a great coach uses empathy, discernment, and intuition to keep the athlete from pushing too far beyond their threshold into pain, poor mechanics, and potential injury.

Can you describe your morning routine?

1st: Bible App Devotional

2nd: Coffee

3rd: Get ready

4th: Jesus Calling App Devotional

5th: Drive to work/Prayer time/Worship-Music time

How would you describe your mission in life, your calling?

My mission in life is to use all the gifts, skills, resources, time, and opportunities God affords me to strengthen lives around me and point others to God’s goodness, strength, power, love, and grace.

My calling is as a husband, father, son, brother, gym owner, event director, public speaker, sometimes counselor, always listener, strength & conditioning coach, competitor, and full-time CrossFit coach and programmer.

What does your personal fitness and nutrition program look like?

I typically run 1-3 miles every single day and almost always hit the Proximal Strength | CrossFit Springfield Daily Group Workout.

My nutrition is not very organized. I do not track macros or count calories. This works for me. I eat intuitively: Lean meats, fish, veggies, nuts, seeds, fruits, and little starch, and I mostly avoid sugar. I’m personally all for “cheat meals” once or twice a week. However, even when I do eat a cheat meal, it’s almost always still possible to dial it back in some way, shape, or form (e.g., portion control, light on extra sauces, etc.).

How do you balance your career and family life?

I don’t. In the past, I’ve tried “balancing”. It doesn’t work. Life does not and will not magically balance itself out no matter how hard you try. My focus is to MANAGE my time, talent, energy, and resources. I create margin whenever and wherever necessary to spend quality time with God, my wife, and my kids. I create appropriate margins to pour into the gym, our staff, our programs, my private training clients, and our members. It’s an ongoing process. I have moments of great satisfaction and moments of great dissatisfaction; however, I can honestly say that I am ALWAYS fulfilled. This concept is key to faithfully and effectively walking in your mission and your calling.

What personal accomplishments are you most proud of?

As a Husband, I am most proud to be married to my beautiful wife and best friend, Jenny, of 19 years.

As a father, I couldn’t be prouder of my children. They are so talented, smart, funny, and beautiful inside and out.

As an athlete and competitor, I am proud of my 5 CrossFit Games Regional appearances. Also, the fact that at 42 years of age, I’m strong, mobile, able-bodied, and in damn good shape.

As a coach, I am proud to see the thousands of lives positively impacted physically, mentally, and spiritually by the work of our gym, programming, leadership, instruction, and our incredible community.

As an entrepreneur, I am extremely proud to be entering our 15th year of business operation.

Rockafellow Photography

What would you say to someone that wants to make a positive change in their life?

Use the triage method: What is the one lifestyle trait you currently have that if played out over the next decade of your life could cause the worst outcomes? Start by making a change there. Don’t focus on a week, month, or year from today. Just focus on making a difference TODAY. It’s important to remember that you’re only going to be as successful, strong, and effective in the PERIPHERY of your life as you are at the CORE of your life. That’s how God made us: To be strong from core to extremity; from PROXIMAL to distal!

What motivates you to keep pushing forward in business?

#1. My desire to pursue excellence in all things because I believe that is what God calls each of us to do by His Spirit.

#2. My family: My beautiful wife, Jenny, and my two awesome kids, Vincent and Emille. These 3 are my best friends.

#3. Our coaches and members at Proximal Strength home of CrossFit Springfield.

#4. My desire to serve the greater community of SWMO through fitness.

#5. My very intrinsic, personal, and deeply rooted desire to win, become a better version of myself, outwork, out-hustle, and out-love everyone around me. I absolutely love Springfield and the 417-Area and I wouldn’t trade being here for anywhere else in the world.

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