The Magic in CrossFit

There’s magic in CrossFit, have you noticed that yet? I was asked the other day how it’s possible that working out for 10 min in a day can make you in better shape. How is that possible when everything you know says to be constantly moving for over an hour? Yes it’s true.

It is possible to get in the best shape of your life in less time. That magic ingredient is called Intensity. It takes people who can barely get off the couch and transforms them into jacked unicorns. Intensity is a measurable factor, it’s Power: force multiplied by distance divided by time. To state that simply: Intensity is doing more work faster.

This doesn’t come easy for some, the idea of doing more work when all you want to do is rest, that’s a hard concept. Let’s take a look at Fran the popular CrossFit benchmark workout we completed recently (21-15-9 thursters (95/63) and pull-ups). Fran is a great workout to drive intensity if done correctly. It’s a workout that should be completed in under 7 minutes. Pushing the intensity of this workout means scaling the weight we use for most of us. Maintaining a constant push through the entire series of movements, if you need to break up a set, that rest period should be for no more than 5 seconds. Intensity is, as Coach Greg Glassman states “learning to be comfortable, being uncomfortable”.

Intensity drives favorable adaptation of the human body. Simply put intensity is what makes you a jacked unicorn! FullSizeRender (2)Let’s dive a little deeper though and chat about the do’s and don’ts of pushing your threshold. In order to get good at increasing intensity you first need to make sure your form is dialed in and solid. The workouts that are less technical (i.e. body weight movements) are a great time to test intensity. The goal is to keep pushing even when you want to stop. When you do reach that point where you need a break, it’s short and precise. You count to 5 in your head, collect your breath and you’re back in the WOD. The goal is NOT to go out so hard you can’t recover, that actually causes the workout to loose it’s intensity and its intended purpose.

A great way to achieve this intensity level is by scaling the workout. If a workout calls for 21-15-9 of 135 lb back squat and burpees, and your squat one rep max is at 200 lbs, this would be a great opportunity to scale. You could do the workout at 95 lbs and really push the intensity. Try to do the set of 21 in 2 sets and try not stopping through the burpees. This will push you to a new level verses doing this workout Rx and having to rest for 5 min of it because it’s too heavy. The latter approach makes this workout an aerobic endeavor and slows your progress to becoming a jacked unicorn.

Each workout programmed is your chance to give it everything you’ve got. We see a little too often people not giving their all in a workout, hanging out at the chalk bucket, taking a long walk to their water bottles and thus not seeing the changes that they want to see. Form, consistency, THEN intensity will get you where you want to be.

Coach Sara

Own Your Stuff

So a few weeks ago I went to TedX Fargo, and one of the speaker’s topics was “Own Your Stuff.” So here we are 🙂

As most of you know, I quit my day job 2 months ago (wow those 2 months flew!) to focus on Icehouse to try to help make it everything Coach Sara & I want it to be.  AKA I needed to stop half a$$ing 2 things, and whole a$$ one thing.

One driving factor in making that decision was the simple fact that I wasn’t owning my sh*t…I mean stuff.  I was using the day job, and lack of time it created as an excuse for how we were doing ron swansonas a business, my training, my nutrition, lack of rest, etc etc etc.  Yes the 50 hours I was spending at a job I didn’t care about, distracted constantly about the gym (which I actually DO care about) was a contributing factor, but a factor that I chose.  So if I wanted things to change, I would have to do something about it.

Now, I am not telling you to walk into your boss’s office and throw in your badge & keys, but I am urging you to step back and take a look at what is holding you back from where you want to be (this can be in your career, life, health, fitness, anywhere really), and really think about what is driving that.  And furthermore, really look at that information and see how it sits.

One of my (many) personal examples: nutrition. The base of the fitness pyramid, it is ridiculously important, yet I was saying “I’m too tired too cook, I forgot to meal prep, I lost track of time between classes, etc etc.” If I as a gym owner can’t own my sh*t and get my nutrition in line, how could I possibly be expecting our members who work full time, have kids, spouses, and lives outside of the gym to also deal with do reign in their nutrition when I was half a$$ing it myself?  When I actually sat with that information, it did not sit well AT ALL.  That is so hypocritical it’s embarrassing.  pyramid

While I was okay with my overall nutrition, not like I was washing down Sandy’s with a 6 pack on the reg, I still needed to be more dialed in and consistent. I now spend my Sunday afternoons meal prepping for the week, and it’s already made a huge difference.  A few hours on a Sunday = less scrambling during the week, eating the right foods, more energy, and already some big PR’s. Even some better sleep to boot!  Every Sunday I still have to make myself go in the kitchen and do it, but damn does it feel good when it’s done!

So, what is holding you back?  Here are a few common ones we hear:

jerkNot enough time? – How many hours of TV are you watching a day?  How long do you spend scrolling through Facebook every evening?  Maybe that time would be better spent reading, or at the gym…

Not enough money? – How much are you spending monthly on eating out?  Happy hour?  Amazon splurges?  A simple budget & plan can easily cover a gym membership and real food.

I’m too out of shape? – How did it get this way?  What can you do to change it?  All you have to do is start. Go for a walk.  Get the bike out of the garage. Do SOMETHING!

It’s summer, I’ll start in the fall – Now I get it, beer seems to taste better on a hot day, but if you are waiting to start something fall will turn into winter, winter will turn into spring, then it’ll be too nice to start again before you know it.  So go for a walk.  Get out the bike…see where I’m going 🙂

So I ask again, what is holding you back?  What can YOU do to change it?

Fish Oil

What’s This Fish Oil Thing all About?

Ready to take your training to the next level? Whether that’s competitions or maybe adding one more day a week to the regimen, let’s talk about adding Fish Oil. For both athletes and non-athletes fish oil has so fish oilmany huge benefits. It contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic (EHA) which keep you brain and nervous system functioning like a well-oiled machine.

DHA & EHA also keep the bad fats from floating around in your circulatory system. In addition fish oil will help improve the health of your skin and eyes, increase your mood and concentration. Our bodies produce very little DHA and no EPA so it is imperative to get these fatty acids from an outside source.

For the CrossFit community fish oil has a greater benefit and that is it’s anti-inflammatory properties. Fish oil helps combat inflammation in the body which can accumulate causing arthritis, chronic pain and is linked to several auto immune issues. Pushing your body to new levels in the gym can add stress to the body. A good healthy diet will decrease this stress to a point but adding fish oil to your diet will drastically reduce the amount of stress on the body. This will allow you to recover faster and reduce the soreness you feel after workouts.

There are many different options when it comes to fish oil. For a good reference on how much and what type you should be taking look here

Not all fish oils are created equally and you need to be careful about which brand you chose. Many brands contain contaminates such as mercury and PCBs depending on where the fish were raised. Look for a product that has been through molecular distillation. Do your research before purchasing to make sure you get the highest quality products.

We will be doing a pre-order for some fish oil in August from our favorite brands, to help you keep on the gain train. We’ll have some for samples coming soon. This will allow you try each product and decide for yourself. I have tried both and no fish burps I promise. Start adding this to your training regimen and reduce soreness, greater recovery and who knows maybe better skin and hair.

Lift Heavy Be Awesome
Coach Mo

*Image credit to

Coach Why Am I Sore?

For a lot of you at the gym this last two weeks has felt like your first 2 weeks of CrossFit, except you’re probably just more familiar with that sore feeling. Believe it or not in this constantly varied, functional fitness world, there is a method behind the madness. At Icehouse we do training cycles, to keep making you better athletes. Each cycle is roughly 12 weeks long with our training pinnacle being the CrossFit Open (even if you’re not a games athlete, it’s a lot of fun).

So back to why you are feeling a little bit sore lately, this might seem like words from the nerdery but stay with me. Last training cycle we stayed in the heavier weight ranges, slowed things down, shortened the reps and worked on building strength. Now we’ve switched gears and this cycle is all about gaining muscle mass, endurance, while continuing to gain strength, and it’s called hypertrophy.


Image Credit to

Hypertrophy involves enlarging a muscle by overloading it from a strength standpoint. We have added reps while keeping the weight in the 60-80% of our 1 RM. This make our muscles grow to the size of Arnold Schwarzeneggers (just kidding…kind of). This type of volume, weight combination has several advantages to it, one being muscular endurance. Not like the marathon running endurance but the “hold on to the bar for 5 more squats in a metcon” type of endurance. After a few weeks of this style of training you’ll be able to push a little bit harder during the mid range workouts (i.e 20 Push Press, 20 Box Jumps, 20 Front Squat). As you’re learning this does not mean they get easier, it  means your time should get a little faster.

This style of training also gives you yet another opportunity, to perfect your form. As always it’s Form, Function and then Intensity. Staying in these lower weight ranges allows you to feel the movement and how you are moving. You can work the little things like weight in your heals, chest tall or getting your head through the window, while still getting stronger.

IMG_3749In the fitness world any type of variation in your training will leave those muscles feeling sore. In this case we have increased your volume of training pretty significantly. Things will start to adapt over the next week or so and your body will adjust to this new volume and every step wont remind you that you’re a CrossFit athlete.

Keep Being Awesome
Coach Mo


Since we know you have been following along this goal setting series, you no know why ya need them, what they are, and how to start.  So what is the plan to keep on track at Icehouse?

As Coach Sara alluded to on Facebook, next week is test out week. If you’ve been with us a while this is a great way to see progress!  If you are newer and haven’t done a test out week this is an excellent time to baseline, so do what you can do make it in Monday, Wednesday & Friday of next week!

We will be using some of that time in class to set our goals for the next quarter/6 months. We know time is limited for lots of folks, so we are going to use some class time to get these set, we think they are that important!

Here is something new we are adding, you will give a copy to your Primary Coach.  What is that you say?  Well each of you will be designated a Primary Coach (PC) to help you on your path here at Icehouse, and we’ll help you crush those goals.  Your PC will help to keep you on track and accountable.  We are both obviously still here for any questions and to support all of you, we have just added another layer to make sure you have what you need at all times to be successful.

FullSizeRender (4)

Once we have our initial goals set, you will sit down with your Primary Coach quarterly for one on one goal setting sessions to make sure you are on track, and get new goals set regularly.  So the first round we’ll do together, then it’ll be one on one going forward.  Your PC will also be checking in with you regularly to see how things are going, not only at the gym, but in life as a whole.

We are excited to be able to add this to your memberships. We want to make sure you are getting everything you need and to help you stay on track with your health and wellness goals!  As always, thanks for being awesome!  

Coach Shoe

How do I actually pick the right goals for me?

We hope you’ve been following along and now know how important goals are to staying on track, and even what SMART goals are.  But how do you actually set the right goals for you?

As discussed in our last post, start with your why.  Depending on what that why is for you, it might already be a long term goal just waiting for a plan!  From there, I would recommend making a list of things you’d like to accomplish right under it. For Example:

Why: I want to be a jacked unicorn


  • 5 strict pull ups
  • 30 second handstand hold
  • 10 double unders
  • Lose body fat
  • Get promoted at work (Surprise, not all goals have to be fitness goals!)


Now that you have your list (also I’d recommend getting any and all things you want to accomplish in the next year or so down on paper so your list will likely be quite a bit longer to begin with) pick 2-3 to work on as short term goals and 1-2 as mid term goals.  Your why will be your overall goal called your long term goal.  This can seem a bit tricky, so let’s see how to break down our long term goal, of being a jacked unicorn, throughout the year:

I want to be a jacked unicorn (I wanted to be lean and good at body weight movements)

  • 1 year goal (Long Term)

5 strict pull ups

  • 1 strict pull ups – Will accomplish by end of July (Short Term)
  • 3 strict pull ups – September (Mid Term)
  • 5 strict pull ups – End of 2016

30 second freestanding handstand hold

  • 15 second hold on wall – Short Term by end of June
  • 10 second free standing handstand – Sept (Mid Term)
  • 30 freestanding- Long term end of 2016

10 double unders

  • 1 double under by July (Short Term)
  • 5 by August (Mid Term)
  • 10 by September (Mid Term)

Lose body fat

  • Meet with coaches and track all food intake by July (short term)
  • Eat Quality Clean Food and continue to track July (short term)
  • Meet with coach to Set & Track Macros and focus on cutting August (mid term)

Get promoted at work

  • Finish Quarterly presentation early -June 30th (short term)
  • Meet and exceed all of my set job expectations
  • Be positive and set an example through my work

You now have 5 solid short term goals to pick from (all bolded).  Now how many you choose largely varies on how much time you plan to dedicate to all of them.  In this example you have 3 gym goals, 1 nutrition goal, and 1 work goal.  Doable, but will require a lot of dedication.


The nice thing about breaking goals down this way is that once you have accomplished one of them, your next one is already outlined for you so you can keep on your path of de-crush-tion!

Finally, once you have your goals chosen, put them somewhere visible and tell your friends.  Put them on our goals board, on your bathroom mirror, or even throw them out for the world on Facebook!  Having them written down and visible keeps you on track and more accountable.  You’ll also want to make sure we get a copy of your up and coming goals so we can help you set a plan, and stay on track!

For this week – Grab a pen & paper and make a list of all of your goals!

Coach Shoe

What is a Smart Goal?

Yay you came back to read part 2 of our goal setting series! Welcome back, let’s jump right in!

In order to set yourself up for success, the goals that you set need to be SMART…. soo what does that mean? SMART goals are ones that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely (I apologize for the acronym…I’m still trying to shake off corporate America). Lets break out each of those pieces to give you a few things to think about when setting SMRART goals:

goal setting

This one is pretty self explanatory, but can be challenging in practice. What do you want to accomplish? “I want to get in shape” – Great goal…not specific. “I was to loose belly fat”-another common one, but again not specific. “I’m a unicorn, but I want to be a JACKED unicorn,”-Obvi. You need to find exactly WHAT you want to accomplish, and find a way to narrow it down to something very clear.

A few good examples are “I want to be able to do a strict pull up/push up/ring dip/double under/etc,” or “I want to to be 12% body fat,” or maybe even “I want to run an 8 minute mile.”


This is why we track our workouts! In order to set a measurable goal, it is important to know where you are today. If you want to run a faster mile or lift a heavier barbell, then run one today/or perform that lift today and make sure to add your time/weight into Zenplanner so you have a baseline. If you want to be at 12% body fat, then we need to baseline your BF % today.

Understanding where you are now is critical in measuring your progress. Otherwise, how will you know when you’ve hit your goal? Please don’t say memory…can you tell me what you had for breakfast last Tuesday morning? Exactly.

There are 2 important pieces here. Putting a plan in place, and confirming that you have set a realistic goal. You won’t magically be able to do muscle ups next week if you do not have pull ups yet, or walk on your hands 50 ft if you have never been upside down. Your initial goals might be “1 strict pull up” or “hold a handstand against the wall for 20 seconds.” Then you would progress your goals to the point of working on those muscle ups and walking on your hands.


So you’ve set some Specific Goals, and you have Measured your starting point, now what? Now you need to create a plan to accomplish that goal. This is where the rubber meets the road as far as accomplishing goals. This is also where your coaches come into play, if you need help creating a plan to build up that back squat, or cut time off that mile, we’re here.  Sometimes the answer is consistently showing up to meet that goal, and sometimes it is meal prep or some after class negatives or mobility to supplement your training.

Hold on, sh*ts about to get real. What is your WHY? As you may already be able to tell based on this blog series, setting & crushing goals is work. The bigger the goal, the more work you’ll need to put in to obtain it. You need to truly understand your why in order to stick with it. I would recommend finding out what your why truly is, and putting it somewhere visible to you everyday.

Why do you want to run faster? Is it to PR an upcoming race? Why do you want to be able to clean 100 lbs? Is it so you can pick up and/or keep up with your kids without pain? Why do you want to be at 12% body fat? To get off of your heart medication? To be more confident? Everyone has a different why, spend some time really diving into yours!


In order to keep yourself accountable, it is important to set target dates/deadlines for these goals. They are simply meant to keep you on track and motivated. This also helps make sure you are setting attainable and relevant goals for the appropriate time domain. “1 pull up by August” or “10 unbroken double unders by 7/15” are both great examples. You have already set your goal above, now just commit to a date on when you can get it done, and set bigger and better goals!

In our next post we will discuss more specifically about how to set goals. For next week, start thinking about your “Why,” as well as what some short term (1-3 month) goals are for you!

-Coach Shoe

Goals, Goals, Goals, Blah, Blah, Blah

You may, or may not, have heard us preaching about GOALS, and putting GOALS on the board, and working on your GOALS, etc etc etc.  Up until now we have been pretty informal about them, but as part of the upcoming revamp of our schedule and things, we are going to spend more time on these GOAL things with you, all of you. Most day jobs force you to pick goals for your upcoming year/quarter/day whatever that might be, so I understand if you are sick of the word.  However, they are just as (in my opinion more so) important in your personal health as they are in your career.

Photo credit @clbjackedunicorns

Photo credit @clbjackedunicorns

Why bother, I just want to workout?

Goals are important to keep you motivated.  There are some people, who can just show up and grind day in and day out with no real motivation required… I like to call them unicorns (because they are both rare and magnificent).  But even these unicorns could benefit from setting goals.  If you are a unicorn who is a self starter, why not put a plan in place to become a jacked unicorn…that’s be even more awesome!

Sure you can just show up for the workout everyday, but that alone won’t help you reach your potential.  Yes there will be some increase in your strength, endurance, mobility, etc from just being consistent, but if you aren’t working towards something what is stopping you from getting bored and just not coming anymore?  If you don’t have any real accomplishments you want to make, are you working as hard during the classes as you would be if you were chasing that 200 lbs squat, or those pesky double unders?


Goals are basically little boxes you can check so you can see your progress above and beyond the “yup I showed up 3 days/week all month.”  They help you to learn what you body is capable of, and expand those capabilities.  Measuring them helps you see just how far you have come, especially on days where showing up might be the hardest part of the workout (cough cough, row/run workout from Wednesday, cough cough).

Get to the Point Coach Shoe

This post is the first of a 4 part series on Goal Setting, and how to work towards being a jacked unicorn!  Next up we will break down what SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) Goals are, and why they are so necessary in your fitness journey.

Until Next Week!

-Coach Shoe

3 Tips For Living a Healthier Lifestyle

As our garage doors open for the season, we see lots more runners and bikers out and about now that the weather finally broke. There are a lot of reasons for that, maybe they are training for an upcoming race, or maybe they are trying to kick start their fitness again that may have slipped over the winter months. Whatever it is, that’s great that people are getting out there and moving! But what happens once that race day has come and gone? Or once that winter weight is gone and you rocked your 2 piece over Memorial Day at the lake?

A lot of people will start working out with some sort of a goal be it to just finish a 5k without dying, or to like what they see in the mirror a little more. But what people often lack are longer term goals, or any reason to keep them going to the gym or heading out for those runs once that initial box has been checked. As a former (extremely slow) marathon runner I was in that cycle for years of feeling better and looking better briefly, then quickly face planting off the wagon the day after whatever race I had trained for.


The days have become much easier to stay motivated because I have changed three things. They seem simple, but making the mental transition for all of them definitely took some time (especially #2). Here are my three tips on how to get on a healthy path, and actually enjoy the journey too!

Find something you actually want to do

I know I know, everyone says “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Blah Blah Blah. Well I’m here to tell you if you find something you love, you will still work your ass off, BUT you will actually want to do it.

happy mo

I put in soooooo many miles training for races I didn’t really want to do because I thought that is what you are supposed to do. I liked weight training but it was lonely being in the weight room as a lady so I’d opt for the cardio bunny route because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do. I HATED IT! I think a dreadmill (whoops, I mean treadmill) minute is maybe the longest minute known to mankind (only 2nd too a microwave minute). Finally a friend convinced me to try CrossFit, and I found what I had been missing since being a high school athlete almost instantly.

happy kayla

What I love is always having something to improve upon. There are still the boxes to check, but they are always followed up with bigger and more badass boxes to work towards! Oh you got pull ups figured out, now let’s work on muscle ups. You can run a half mile without stopping, now let’s work on getting that time a little better. You can do box jumps to 20″, let’s work towards 22″! There is always something more to improve upon in the gym, and your weight and pant size improve as side effect instead of being front and center.

Break up with your scale
This probably took a solid year to truly end that toxic relationship, but oh to be free! I have always had an “athletic” build, and had always been self conscious of it, because I am not supposed to weigh more than a buck twenty at 5′ 4″ (my soccer thighs probably account for half of that on their own). After that first year of CrossFit and the scale strike I finally realized that I was actually able to eat food instead of be on some ridiculous diet, and I fit into some of those ol’ college jean! And best yet I felt amazing!


Around that time I took a health assessment at work and my BMI came back as overweight… WHAT THE HELL?! I would get regular emails from my insurance company asking me “how my weight loss was coming.” SERIOUSLY? That one almost sent me running back to my scale but then I realized I can lift more, run faster, eat better, get better sleep, and actually FEEL good. That scale was full of crap and so was that health assessment. As hard as it can be, focus on how you FEEL instead of what you weigh! The fit of your clothes and the way you feel is a way better gauge than the numbers on a scale.

Surround yourself with like minded people
In a world where you are judged more for eating a healthy meal at lunch that for crushing a Big Mac, this can be challenging. BUT, if you can find some supportive folks to go through this fitness journey with, it will make it so much easier to stay accountable. Yes I know Planet Fitness costs $10 a month but when was the last time you went there? Does anyone give a shit when you don’t show up for a week? A month? A year? No. They actually prefer it (more pizza and bagels for to go around!)


Find a gym, a class, a biking club, SOMETHING that you enjoy and can do with supportive people that will help keep you accountable. There will always be days or weeks where things just aren’t going your way and you fall of the wagon or out of your routine. Having someone to say “missed you at this week’s ride” or “let’s catch up the 5:30 class tomorrow” can be what you need to make that day or week you missed not turn into a month or even year. The community at Icehouse is my favorite part, it’s so great to be surrounded by like minded folks both pushing you harder when you are there, and keeping you coming back for more when you are not.

Coach Shoe

No Return Policy

I booked a flight the other day and just before you hit “complete order” there’s a little button that says,“no refund”. It really got me thinking about the gym and fitness in general. There is no return policy on this good ol’ life of ours, we don’t get a redo (beliefs pending on this one). I think Socrates said it best “No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” This is one of my favorite quotes because it’s so true.


CrossFit gives us that path to explore what our bodies are capable,it gives us knowledge of how to use this very powerful machine. It seems the one thing getting in the way of finding our true human potential is in our mind. What if we took that out, what if we really got real with ourselves. Are you happy with where you are in fitness, career or life overall? If the answer to that is no, are you on the path to making it a yes? If the answer to that is no maybe it’s time to get there.


At CrossFit Icehouse, in this tiny box on the edge of downtown, that’s what we do. We help you find that path. All that you have to do is walk in the door. There is no return policy on life. We as a community, can help become as strong as you want to be.