Jedidiah Snelson started CrossFit to keep himself healthy after a life-changing injury that left him paralyzed in 2014. Now, Jed competes often to gain awareness for the spinal injury and seated adaptive athletes around the world. Currently, he's on the road to compete in the 2021 CrossFit Open with hopes of placing himself a spot in the Games - we got a chance to ask Jed some questions about his CrossFit journey, and this is what he had to say:
How did you get into CrossFit?
When I had my accident that left me paralyzed, I was severely weakened and damaged. I knew I had to get myself healthy again. I also knew for mental health I needed to find something to channel my competitive drive. As I looked for fitness options and discovered Adaptive CrossFit, I found something that accomplished both. I competed in my first WheelWod Open in 2015, and I've been hooked ever since.
What do you love about CrossFit?
The thing I love about CrossFit is how life-changing it can be; from a physical standpoint, the independence it has brought to my life as a paraplegic is second to none. This is an attribute that applies to all individuals being a methodology of functional fitness that I've witnessed first hand. The unexpected is the mental health and support that CrossFit provides through its sense of community and social aspects provided. There is more of a sense of support and non-judgment that I've found to exist more than in other sports.
What challenges have you faced in CrossFit?
While there have been several challenges, I think the two greatest is humility and knowledge. Humility is common to many in the sense that it's easy to get caught up in the leaderboard and lose focus of individual growth and accomplishments. A CrossFit journey should be a personal path and focus on personal goals that are based on an individual journey. The other is knowledge, with adaptive CrossFit being so new there has been a steep learning curve in movements, adaptations, and standards for our sport. While it's been a challenge, it's also been exciting and rewarding to be apart of something in its infancy and help pave the way for others that will come.
What motivates you to keep training and competing?
For me, it's my calling. Competition is what brings eyes on our sport and the number one contributor to growth. The more I compete over time, the more we learn, and the more people see what we do. Thusly the more will get involved in Crossfit, and whether they compete or not, they will see the health aspects and benefits this sport provides. That's what I want for the adaptive community.
What has CrossFit taught you?
My CrossFit journey has been synonymous with my journey as a paraplegic. The biggest lesson I have learned through both is that all adversity in life is equal. Some challenges may appear to be greater, but when faced with weakness, they can consume us all the same. CrossFit is a great illustrator of this. Whether trying to set a new PR, get your first muscle-up, or learn how to kip or butterfly proficiently, they're all equal to the beholder of that weakness wanting to overcome it. What really differentiates our adversity is our attitude in how we choose to pursue it. Whether we ignore it, accept it, or attack it causes or state of health and outcome to the path we "walk" going through challenges.
What is your message to other athletes?
Keep your journey through CrossFit about you. Whether you compete or not, your CrossFit journey should always be focused on individual goals and growth. Despite your placement or position in the community, your number one focus should be on you, your improvements, and how you as an individual can better yourself.