Meet Your Newest OCF Coach – Zack Jankiewicz

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Dear OCF members,


It’s everyone’s new favorite coach, Zack, also known as New Zack or Zack with a k (just kidding, I can’t compete with all of our incredible coaches yet).  Now felt like the right time to share with everyone a little bit about myself.  I’m just your ordinary middle child, future-puppy-owner, football-fanatic, and fitness-enthusiast.  I grew up here in Chicago right around Harlem and Foster so not to far away from OCF.  Growing up, I played all types of sports from basketball to football to volleyball.  As time went on and as I grew taller to displace my chubbiness, football became my sport.  I started playing at 10 years old and continued to play all the way through my years at St. Patrick High School.  I could have played in college but I ultimately decided not to, which is a choice I still regret at times.  I love football.  Obviously I am a little biased, but in my opinion it’s the best sport.  It builds character inside of you as well as toughness outside.  Your team turns into a brotherhood that goes to battle every Friday or Saturday night.  It’s violent but beautiful.  I’ll stop myself now because I could go on for hours.


Deciding against playing football, led me to attend the University of Iowa.  Go Hawkeyes!  I spent four years there graduating in May of 2016 with a degree in Human Physiology.  It’s a degree that requires you to take all of the science classes and helps prepare students for medical school or another professional program like physical therapy.  I had the time of my life at Iowa, which made me feel better about giving up football.  I made a bunch of friends, learned a lot and grew up a bit, or at least tried to.  The summer between my freshman and sophomore year I found Crossfit with my buddy here in Chicago.  We were doing typical bodybuilding stuff until one day he saw a video about CrossFit and shared it with me.  The next day at the gym, we tried the workout of the day and both died.  From that day, I was hooked.


As my years in college went on I kept doing CrossFit while trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.  I went to school thinking I wanted to be an athletic trainer.  That didn’t work out.  I then thought about physical therapy, which led to chiropractic and then I wasn’t sure about either of those.  At this point in college my senior year was approaching. I began to freak out.  I needed a plan.  I did not want to graduate with no idea what to do.  That’s when it hit me.  Something I was passionate about was there all along and I never really noticed.  All the careers I was interested in had to do with helping people get healthy and be active and out of pain.  CrossFit had helped me tremendously so I thought to myself, why not become a coach.  This way I could help people be active and healthy doing something I love.  It was the perfect solution.  So that summer, I graduated, I got my level 1 certification and started applying for jobs.  I got a job shortly there after in North Liberty, Iowa, which is right outside of Iowa City where the University of Iowa is.  So I moved back to Iowa after moving home last summer to coach at my new gym, CrossFit Philia.  I coached there since September of last year until this past July.  I moved back home to Chicago in July because life in Iowa on my own was tough.  I really enjoyed coaching but living on my own became expensive and working two jobs was not enough.  Plus, all my family is here in Chicago or the suburbs so its good to be back close to them.  Luckily enough, I applied for a coaching job here at OCF and Angelo liked me enough to offer me a position.  This brings me to where I am at today.


As a coach, the body intrigues me.  The way it moves, the way it functions, and the way each body differs from somebody else.  What intrigues me even more than all of that is pain or injuries.  What is pain?  Why is this movement painful but this one isn’t?  There are so many questions, but sometimes it feels like there is never an answer.  It’s as if pain is a puzzle.  I have been there myself in terms of pain and it’s frustrating.  It makes you think and get creative with some stuff that may help fight the pain. With that said, attending physical therapy school could be extremely beneficial to me as a coach.  So in a year or two, I may be off to physical therapy school, while hopefully still coaching simultaneously because I am not quite ready to give it up.  Being a football player, I was always strong with my legs so I really enjoy Olympic lifting and moving heavy weight, especially, squatting.  Since those movements are my strengths I learned a lot about them and feel very confident in coaching those movements.  So if any of you are hurting or need advice when it comes to the Olympic lifts or squatting, I would be glad to help!


Coaching is something I am truly passionate about.  The feeling inside when someone you’re coaching hits the weight they have been struggling with for so long, or when someone gets their first strict pull-up or rope climb is indescribable.  The look of joy on their face makes me know I made the right choice of becoming a coach.  I am constantly inspired by so many of you who come in day after day and put the work in to move better and be active.  I hope one day when I’m older (I’m 23 for those that don’t know), I can do what each of you do in the gym and in life.  It truly amazes me.  I have met so many great people here already and I look forward to getting to know everyone here at OCF more!


Whether I am in the gym struggling with gymnastics, or big man-nastics as Rocio calls it, or just hanging out waiting to coach, feel free to say hi and have a chat!


Thanks for reading this unnecessarily long post,