Cox College alumna named “Fittest Nurse on Earth”

Story by Kyle DeVries 

Jessica Griffith, a 2013 Cox College graduate, was named the “Fittest Nurse on Earth” by the CrossFit Games Open in 2017. The open category is accessible for anyone in the world, and it categorizes scores by the competitors’ fields. In Jessica’s case, this meant competing against all of the other nurses in the world. Five workouts are released over the course of five weeks, and scores are submitted online. From there, scores are tallied and winners are named.

Jessica might make CrossFit look easy, but her lifestyle revolves around training and proper conditioning. She trains 3-5 hours a day, five days a week, not to mention all the supplemental activities that go along with the actual training. She has to spend time stretching, going to the chiropractor, preparing and cooking meals, taking Epsom salt baths, and making sure she gets an adequate amount of sleep.

With a professional bodybuilder for a father, Jessica grew up with a deep respect and love of physical fitness. The Griffith family had a home gym, where Jessica’s dad taught her how to lift using five pound dumbbells. Jessica also excelled at other physically challenging activities, such as cheerleading and gymnastics. Her family’s background and these skills planted the seed for her future CrossFit career.

Springfield, Missouri became Jessica’s new home in August of 2009 when she started classes at Evangel University. After graduating from Evangel with a BS in Health Sciences and a BSN from Cox College, Jessica discovered CrossFit. In 2016, she moved to St. Louis, to a gym with the toughest competitors and a coach who could take her training to the next level. Additionally, she checked off a box on her bucket list by accepting a position as a traveling nurse in one of downtown St. Louis’ emergency rooms. To remain tax compliant as a traveling nurse, one must go to a different location for at least 13 weeks after a year of employment. Or there is the option to just take 13 weeks off. Conveniently, the competition season in CrossFit is about 13 weeks long, making this the perfect fit for Jessica.

A career in nursing can offer great pay, benefits, and job security, but the road that comes before it can be bumpy. Jessica offered two pieces of advice for those who may be considering a nursing career or may be in nursing school now. The first is to never give up; there is light at the end of the tunnel, and that tunnel is laden with valuable information. The second is to take care of yourself. One cannot take care of patients if they cannot take care of themselves.

Jessica attributes the foundation of her successful nursing career to Cox College, and to the networking opportunities she received that resulted in her first job on a medical surgical floor. Lifelong learning is one of Cox College’s core values, and Jessica puts this value into practice every day in her workplace. The five years she spent in the emergency room opened her eyes to so many aspects of health care. She also realized that a healthy lifestyle can be a much more effective strategy for avoiding chronic diseases than many modern medicines. This has motivated her to stay active, and even sparked a new career path. Jessica plans to merge her career and passion, health and fitness, by using her CrossFit platform. She intends to help inform the public that diet and exercise is truly the least invasive intervention. Even though it may be a less traditional career path, Jessica is excited to venture outside the box and pursue what she is truly passionate about.

Jessica Griffith is a perfect example of lifelong learning and perseverance. She is currently fighting to keep her title as the fittest nurse in the world, as the 2018 CrossFit Open is currently in session. If she makes the top 20 in her region, she will move on to regionals. A top 5 finish at regionals will qualify her for the CrossFit games in July.