Dirt, weeds, sweat, and a bucket. It may seem like an unlikely formula for success, but for Joby Shreckhise, owner of Crossfit 3xF in Fishersville, Virginia it’s the foundation on which he builds his dreams.
An Augusta County native, Joby’s entrepreneurial enthusiasm began among the weeds of Shreckhise Shrubbery and Landscaping, a business his father started in 1978. Joby’s first job as a weed puller set the stage for the multitude of lessons he would learn from working at the family business. “Of course I was pulling the biggest weeds I could find and leaving the small stuff since I was being paid by the bucket load,” Joby recalls, “I had the entrepreneurial spirit even when I was young. I remember I would come in with a fluffed up bucket of weeds and my dad would put his foot in the bucket pressing
them down and telling me to come back when the bucket was full. I’m pretty thankful for that now.”
“I had the entrepreneurial spirit even when I was young.”
An Athlete Emerges, A Leader is Born
Joby also had an early start in developing his work ethic, sportsmanship, and physical strength through athletics. Football and martial arts began in elementary school where Joby quickly earned his black belt. Middle school and high school solidified his passion for wrestling. However, success in the sport didn’t come quickly. After tough freshman and sophomore seasons at Fort Defiance High School where he remembers being “absolutely crushed,” Joby worked his way to fifth place in the state his junior year, and state runner-up his senior year.
Focused on a career in medicine, Joby attended Limestone College in Gaffney, South Carolina, where he double majored in biology and chemistry and helped forge the way for the school’s first year wrestling program. At Limestone, Joby distinguished himself as a superb athlete and a natural leader. He was not only chosen by his teammates as captain that first year, but every year he wrestled there.
By his senior year, Joby achieved an impressive 22-6 record, 3rd place regional ranking, and 8th place in the NCAA National Championship in the 174 lbs. weight class. His wrestling ability and leadership also earned him the Tom Pettit Sportsmanship Award, “The Rock” Award given to the most reliable and resilient team member, and was honored as Most Valuable Player. He also achieved the coveted status of All-American in both athletics and academics.
During this time, a seemingly simple moment occurred that would change the course of Joby’s career from medicine to fitness and health. He was introduced to CrossFit through an online video where he completed his first seven-minute workout that left him “doubled over and exhausted” and loving it. It was the closest workout to wrestling training that he’d found. He was hooked.
The Leap of Faith
After graduation, Joby returned for a year to Virginia and debated opening a CrossFit “Box,” a word that replaces “gym” in the CrossFit lexicon. However, life had other plans, and Joby was recruited back to Limestone College as a wrestling assistant coach for the next four years. In a twist of fate, Joby would help coach wrestler Dan Scanlan, the wrestler who defeated him for state champion his senior year of high school. With Joby’s help, Scanlan went on to become a national wrestling champion.
After four years of coaching, Joby made his way back to Virginia and taught kettlebell classes at a gym and worked at the family business while he formulated his next move. The dream of opening a CrossFit Box was still alive and well. Joby clearly remembers, “When I went from wanting to be a physician to opening a CrossFit Box, I was pretty confident that it was going to happen.” A smart real estate investment and a leap of faith added the traction he needed. After recruiting about twenty students from his kettlebell class to CrossFit, he was in business.
“When I went from wanting to be a physician to opening a
Crossfit Box, I was pretty sure it was going to happen.”
Thinking Inside and Outside the Box
From the beginning, Joby envisioned an inclusive, real world workout atmosphere, something not always associated with the CrossFit brand. Joby explains, “We’ve welcomed in the average person. We’ve made a place that is friendly to just about anybody that wants to lose some weight, get stronger, and feel great about themselves again. We’re approachable in the way that we not only structure our classes and do our programming but also from a cultural standpoint. If you ask any member about CrossFit 3xF, I think the first thing they would mention is the family atmosphere, the community, the way they feel when they walk in the doors, the way they feel when they finish a workout, and the sense of accomplishment and camaraderie.” During the past two and a half years, this approach grew CrossFit 3XF to a full team of coaches, over two hundred members, and required moving to a larger facility.
“We’ve welcomed in the average person. We’ve made a place that is friendly to just about anybody that wants to lose some weight,
get stronger, and feel great about themselves.”
Joby is also honest about his success. Looking back on the early days he admits, “The biggest challenge was getting to the point where I didn’t have to work 100 hours per week. It was just me when we opened up. So it was wake up and coach the 5:30 and 6:30 a.m. classes, do administrative work, sleep for an hour on the lobby furniture, wake up, do administrative work, coach the evening classes, go home, wake up, do it again.” Make no mistake though, Joby is keenly aware of what made those early days more bearable. He considers his family, his upbringing in the Shenandoah Valley, and the support of his fiancée among the things for which he’s most grateful.
When asked for words of wisdom for the next generation of entrepreneurs Joby offers, “You better have a clear understanding of your purpose and why you’re doing it because it’s going to be hard. If you don’t have a clear purpose, if you don’t know what you’re ultimately working towards then it’s going to be hard to stay motivated long enough to be successful.”
“You better have a clear understanding of your purpose and
why you’re doing it because it’s going to be hard.”
All Roads Lead Home
It’s not often that someone’s character can be described as both strong and humble. Joby Shreckhise is the exception. It’s especially evident when he reminisces about his upbringing and where he is now, “I never thought I would look back and appreciate it as much as I do. I attribute a lot of my success to the foundational years when I was an adolescent, and we were working long days of manual labor. I think that translated to becoming a college All-American. I attribute those years to being able to grind through the first six months of being a business owner and growing the box from zero to several hundred members in a couple of years. I never thought while I was scooping rock into wheelbarrows, and mulching, and digging holes that I would look back on that and appreciate it as much.”
Not bad for a kid who started with a bucket of weeds.
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