The Secrets of Coach Janke

Kurt Janke

It happened while Kurt Janke was in college, weight training on his own. One day, on the last few reps of a set, he injured his shoulder. For the next six months, he was out.

Going to see a physical therapist, Janke expressed how he wanted to do something pretty intense once his shoulder was good as new. That was when the physical therapist introduced him to CrossFit.

Fast-forward nearly eight years and Janke is a Coach at CrossFit Chicago. In fact, it’s the same Box he initially joined. “I fell in love with it because it was exactly the intensity I was looking for. It was a challenge, and I totally didn’t anticipate the group atmosphere,” he explained. “[It] really propelled me in my workouts and I came to really look for that community aspect and I think that’s what really led me to the coaching side. I was drawn in by the community aspect.”

Janke’s painful journey into the world of CrossFit was one of the things he mentioned has molded him into the Coach he is today. “The first thing that colors or has shaped my coaching style or the way I approach it is overcoming injuries or setbacks,” he said. “My CrossFit experience started out of an injury from a previous physical activity, and along the way I’ve had to overcome previous injuries from playing football in high school and stuff like that.”

If he can overcome such obstacles, Janke has been instilled with the belief that so can his athletes. “Nothing really is impossible,” he stated. “It’s just finding out what it’s going to take to get you better or improve your situation so you can ultimately do what it is your goal is to do.”

This has managed to mold another belief of Janke’s when it comes to making him the best Coach he can be. In the beginning of his coaching career, when an athlete walked in the door he used to set his own goals for each person. In his mind, Janke knew what he wanted them to be able to do and where he wanted them to go. “I learned to stop putting whatever it was I wanted to get out of CrossFit onto other people and just try to see them for who they are and what they want to get out of it,” he admitted.

One of the experiences that taught Janke this was when he started CrossFit Chicago’s barbell club. A member who joined had little weightlifting experience and had been doing CrossFit for only six months, and yet she blew them all away.

Janke spoke about how she increased her squat weight by an incredible amount, all because she worked hard. “When you stop assuming things about people, they can achieve way more than you ever thought or they thought,” he said.

But on top of it all, Janke stressed continuing to learn and push yourself. CrossFit Chicago recently took its staff to an adult gymnastics class, and Janke said it was important to walk in assuming you knew nothing. There is always room for growth, he said, and room to learn from masters of other knowledge bases.

“You have a lot to learn and be humble about,” he said.

Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at