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The Power of Breath

The Power of Breath

Our physiology (body) drives a lot of our behavior and the way that we approach a situation.  

Breathing is one of the few, generally, automatic processes that we, as humans, can exercise some control over.  And it has a great deal of control over which mental state we experience, that is, which part of our central nervous system we are experiencing the world through.

  • Sympathetic Nervous System – Fight, Flight, Freeze
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System – Rest and Digest

Check out the video below for a quick tutorial on the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous Systems:

So what does that have to do with what we do at Icehouse?

In a word…”Everything”.  Understanding which state you’re in and how to bounce seamlessly between the two can be the difference between a BIG personal record lift, or a meltdown mid-workout.  And it can help you determine which of our 3 tracks is best for you for that training session.

Don’t I just want to go hard every training session?  

The short answer is…”No”.  As humans we have a limited supply of fuel for “fight or flight”.  If we stay in that state constantly, it becomes less and less potent, it loses its punch, and we just become highly alert (burned out) and exhausted.

So if going hard isn’t always the “go to”, what are my options?

To make it simple, we’ll keep it at aerobic (oxygen for fuel) and anaerobic (everything else as fuel)

Aerobic – you’re able to breathe through your nose; if you’re unable to do that you have to slow down until you can.  These workouts are designed to move your body and build that base of cardiovascular endurance (allow you to go low and slow for a long time) and are the cornerstone of training for the long haul.

Anaerobic – you’ve got to use your mouth to some extent to bring air in or get air out.  These workouts are designed to create a hormonal response that make you better at everything (quick punch of relatively hard and fast).  We don’t do these often, and to make changes, we don’t need to.

How do I know which state I am in?

One quick check is to pay attention to how your mouth is organized.  This is a quick check for efficient nasal breathing, aerobic and parasympathetic (rest and digest).  

  • Tip of your tongue is at the roof of your mouth
  • Teeth are slightly apart
  • Breathing into your belly through your nose

For more information on the fundamentals of breathwork checkout the Power Speed Endurance blog here

Fitness Outside of the Gym

Fitness Outside of the Gym

It is not about how good you are at exercising.

Even though our members do get quite good at it. There is so much more to Icehouse then just helping you get into the best shape of your life.  Our favorite success stories aren’t around the total number of pounds or inches lost, or how much strength and/or speed is gained.  Those are all awesome & amazing accomplishments, but not what it is about.

Here are 2 of my favorite changes other then just improved fitness we see in our members:

1.Gained confidence

It is not uncommon for someone new to say or think “I can’t do that” when they read the workout.  CrossFit works because it is hard work, but it is absolutely possible.  If it wasn’t it wouldn’t work, and we would not ask you to do something if we didn’t believe you were capable.  We are all capable of so much more then we think!

Slowly we lift a couple more pounds, get a little faster, and/or loose a few pounds.  Before you know it you don’t even bat an eye at the workout because you just know you can do it. You even start trying tougher versions of movements because you’ve been killin’ it.  THAT is amazing!

Even better when a big project/opportunity at work, or a challenge out in the real world shows up you roll up your sleeves and take it on.  Because you are strong.  Because you are capable.  Because you CAN!

2. Saying YES to life

This is my absolute favorite reason to be fit, and why I stick with it.  I never want to have to say no to a fun outing, vacation, or adventure because I am concerned about being fit enough.

When someone shares a post about how they were able to go for a hike with their family on their annual vacation for the first time in years, or go outside and play a game with their nieces or nephews without getting winded THAT is what it’s about.

I understand that at this point you may have back pain, or you may have some knee pain stopping you from getting in shape. We are in pain so we don’t move, and we don’t move because we are in pain, and our bodies are not meant to just sit.  Find someone who can help you with those issues (we have coaches who have experience with all of those issues and can help you build the strength needed to solve them), or check out my recent blog of 5 places to start your fitness journey if you aren’t sure where to begin.

Take care of your body, surround yourself with people who believe in you, and say YES to life!

5 Steps to Become a Better Runner

Running season is here in Fargo! Here are 5 tips to help you get back into running after a long winter.

5 Steps to Become a Better Runner

1) Start Slow

I know you are anxious to get back into running, but be sure to have a plan that fits your current ability level. When someone decides to train for a marathon, they don’t start out by running 26.2 miles on the first day. Select a distance that you can comfortably cover, and slowly bring that volume up. For someone just learning about running or getting back into running I recommend starting out with a 20 minute walk a few days a week. For a beginner, a sample program would look something like 20 minutes, run 1 minute, walk 90 seconds. For an intermediate it may look like 2 miles 3 days a week. For advanced runners there are several different variations and programs to get the volume you need. After you get more comfortable with your baseline you can start to add volume by adding in an extra day of running each week, or adding miles to one of the days. Be sure to stay with this new volume for a few weeks to allow your body to adjust, that way you will be able to recover in time for your next run.

2) Warm Up & Cool Down

It’s easy to just jum right into a run and think “I’ll just warm up as I go.” Thats not the best plan, you wouldn’t load up the bar with your 1 Rep Max squat without any warm up, and you shouldnt do that for running either. A good warm up for running that wont add much time to your workout is 5 minutes of stretching, followed by 5 minutes of walking leading into a light jog and eventually into your running pace. A proper warm up is critical to preventing injuries. Cooling down can be just as important to your injury prevention as your warm up. A proper cool down gradually brings your body back to its pre-exercise state. A good cool down can be as simple as a 10 minute walk at the end of your run followed by 5 minutes of stretching. The extra time is well spent on a proper warm up and cool down.

3) Explore the Area Parks

There are several parks in Fargo that offer great running opportunities. Believe me, a run is much more enjoyable when the scenery consists of more than your neighborhood block or city buildings. Check out an interactive map of Fargo Parks. My personal favorite is any of the trails along the Red River, as long as they are not under water of course!

4) Be Consistent

It is extremely unlikely to set out and be an all star runner on your very first day. Determine what days you can work running into your schedule. Make a plan and stick to it! No mater where you are on your running journey, a dedicated plan that you are consistent with will get you where you want to be. If your goal is to run a marathon or a 5k or even just to get outside you have to commit. Be sure to warm up and cool down each and every time you run. If the weather stops your run try your best to fit it in another day. A good way to make sure you stay consistent is by telling your self what you DO want to do instead of what you don’t want to do. Instead of “I don’t want to go for a run today because it’s raining.” Tell yourself “I feel like doing extra recovery today so that I can run more on Saturday.”

5) Find a Running Partner

Finding someone to run with can be great fun. You can hold eachother accountable and challenge one another to push toward your goals. There are several members around our gym who would be willing to help you find a running buddy. Another great resource is Beyond Running, not only can they help you get all of the apparel and shoes you may need, they are extremely knowledgable and will point you in the right direction when it comes to finding running groups as well as some advanced tecniques to improve even more.

 

If you found this blog helpful, leave us a comment with your running plan!
I Need to Get Healthy!  Where Do I Even Begin?!

I Need to Get Healthy! Where Do I Even Begin?!

I’ve got to do something, but what?!

There are SO MANY conflicting ads, posts, diets, cleanses, wraps, shakes, lollipops (seriously don’t get us started on that one) workouts, out there.  No wonder we don’t know where to start or who to trust.

If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.

When reading an ad, or considering trying a product or program, first ask yourself “Does this option seem realistic?”

  • “Loose 20 lbs in 1 week!”
  • “Loose inches overnight!”
  • “You won’t feel hungry”

These are tempting because who hasn’t wanted to loose 20lbs in one week 🙋‍♀️?! However they do not sound realistic.  If they are promising a quick fix, they are likely a hoax.  They may even get you some quick results, but often times the more drastic/quickly these quick fixes work the faster the weight or inches will come back, often with some long term effects making the next time we try it even harder/less effective/more damaging.

If it doesn’t pass a good ol’ fashioned gut check, it’s likely “too go to be true.”

It did not take us 1 month, or even 1 year to get to where we are, so it will take some time to get to where we want to be. And we likely picked up some bad habits along the way.

Habits are hard to break, especially the bad ones. If we want a different result, we have to take different actions.  But trying to overhaul your entire life all at once rarely works.  It’s overwhelming & confusing, so start small.

5 Places to Get Started

There are more parts to being healthy then just working out and eating well (though those are HUGE pieces of the puzzle). Decide what is a realistic area of your life you are willing to make a few changes with TODAY, and focus on that until you have some new, healthier habits in place.

Choose just 1 of the following options to begin. Once you crushed that, THEN pickup another.

  1. Get a Fit Bit (AKA Just Move).  If money is a factor and a gym membership is truly not in the budget, Fit bit has some affordable options.  Buy one, put it on and hit 10,000 steps EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
  2. Drink More Water. I can guarantee just about all of us are not hydrating properly.  We should drink 1/2 of our body weight in oz of water every single day.  There are A TON of benefits with hydrating properly. Bonus points for subbing out 1 sugary drink/caffeinated/alcoholic drink per day for a glass of water.
  3. Go the F*ck To Sleep. We need 7-9 hours per sleep every night.  Even if you already are crushing workouts and your nutrition lack of sleep can wreck havoc on your body & metabolism.  Plan your day around your sleep schedule and make it non negotiable.
  4. Practice Mindfulness (Reduce Stress) This ranges anywhere from meditating or journaling for 5 minutes to finally making an appointment with a Therapist (I have a great one if you need a referral!).  When we make changes in our life, we have to work on our internal dialogue to get our mind & bodies in sync to stay successful long term.
  5. Get a Coach If you are looking at this list and thinking “sure that seems easy, but I’ve tried all those things and quit after a week” you may need a coach.  Why Icehouse works is greatly due to the accountability having a coach provides to our athletes.  Having someone expecting us at the gym, or helping us set the right goals for us and then having the tough conversation when we didn’t show up and ate a whole wheel of cheese and getting us back on track quickly has saved a lot of us from backsliding. Even our coaches have a coach because we too are human, and need someone to hold our feet to the fire occasionally.

Still unsure?  We offer a Free Intro to get to know you, discuss your goals and recommend the best place to start to ensure you will be successful long term.  Chat with a Coach HERE

You do not have to start all of it today, but pick a place to start, THEN GET STARTED!  Good Luck!

More info on Icehouse

One Week Left of FNL…What’s Next?

One Week Left of FNL…What’s Next?

We have one week left of Friday Night Lights and if you have been participating along with us this year you should be feeling very proud of yourself.  The CrossFit Open (A.K.A Friday Night Lights) is a very taxing experience, both physically and emotionally!  There’s so much excitement leading up to one workout, there’s also the game of do I go scaled or Rx and dabbling in movements you may not have tried up until then.

So with one week left what happens next?  Well don’t worry Icehouse has some plans on Friday nights coming up this spring to keep you hanging out with your strong peeps and I’ve also put together a list of things to help you use all you’ve learned during Friday Night Lights…

1. Practice These Skills

Friday Night Lights has shown us some lesser programed skills like, bar muscle ups and overhead lunges. These are skills that take a lot of practice to nail down.  Taking time before and after class to practice these movements can make a huge difference for next year.  If there’s a workout that didn’t go your way, ask a coach some drills that will make that better for next time.

2. Local Competitions

Did you get bit by the competition bug?  Check out some of the local competitions and sign up!  There’s Granite Games Qualifiers, Festivus Games and Dakota Games all in our back yard.  Check out the standards, find some teammates and go participate in a CrossFit competition.

3. Dial In Your Nutrition

If you’re anything like me with the craziness of Friday Night Lights my nutrition sometimes takes a back seat, like in the trunk.  Thankfully we have already planned out a nutrition challenge for this reason.  If you’re looking to really dial in your skills and make big leaps in next years FNL then nutrition is the place to start.  Plus we might see spring soon which always makes eating well a bit easier.

4. Use Your Fitness

The weather is getting warmer and it makes it so much easier to use your fitness.  Start looking for things you can do to show off all of your hard work.  The Fargo Marathon is coming up and I know they have a 5K, 10K and a relay option for those of you looking for a new test.  There are also different bike clubs, hiking clubs and dog walking groups you could join in on as you are a fit strong human!

5. Take a Moment to Celebrate

Like for real, celebrate all that you have just accomplished.  There aren’t many people out there who sign up to give everything they have for five Friday’s in a row.  Celebrate all the little wins from signing up to crushing a workout.  What you just did was really awesome!

I hope these tips are helpful.  I know I have had a blast this year watching all of you crush these workouts.  Let’s make this last one the loudest and most fun of them all!

 

10 Components of Fitness

10 Components of Fitness

Continuing on with our exploration into the heart of what CrossFit is, today we’ll chat about the concepts that remain in the forefront of developing our athletes, the 10 Components of Fitness.

“Having a balanced ability across the all 10 components of fitness will ensure that you’ll be both athletic and durable.”

What does that really mean to you and me?  You’ll be able to do whatever you want, whenever you want, without specifically training for it and you’ll remain pain-free.

What are the 10 Components of Fitness?

Cardiovascular/Respiratory Endurance The ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen.

    • Think cardio, cardio, cardio….We’re talking about getting your blood to deliver oxygen throughout your body more efficiently.

Stamina – The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy.

    • Similar to endurance, but not the same.  This is having “gas in the tank” rather than being able to breathe and deliver oxygen throughout your body.

Strength – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force.

    • Straight up ability to pick up heavy weights.

Flexibility – The ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint.

    • Moving your body the way it was designed to move

Power – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.

    • Emphasizes strength applied in a very short amount of time.

Speed – The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.

    • Emphasizes raw turnover, fast as possible running, biking, rowing

Coordination – The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.

    • Moving your body in a specific pattern.  Think of this as learning the pattern of movement to achieve an olympic lift

Agility – The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.

    • Kids do this all the time, think of a 3 year-old bouncing around a playroom.

Balance – The ability to control the placement of the body’s center of gravity in relation to its support base.

    • This is keeping your center of gravity over whatever base of support you have at any given moment (this is why it’s harder to balance on one foot rather than two)

Accuracy – The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity

    • This is both knowing what to do and having the coordination to do it.

Holy smokes, that’s a lot…How do I get better at ALL of them?

Great question!  Improvement breaks down to a couple different adaptations.  Once is physiological (your body), the other is neurological (the pathways between your brain and your muscles).  We’ll talk about them in the sections below.

Forged through Training

The components below get better because your body adapts without you having to think about any of it.  By adding this new stress to your body, your body adapts, it’s as easy as that. You’ll often recognize these improvements first as you start training.

  • Cardiovascular/Respiratory Endurance

  • Stamina

  • Strength

  • Flexibility

Forged through Practice

The components below get better because you build the connection between your brain and your muscles.  These improve through thoughtful practice. Think about closing your eyes and standing on one leg. You will get better with practice, but it will take a lot of thought in the early stages.  Building a superhighway between your brain and your muscles takes thoughtful practice, and it is often overlooked. I would contend that these components are the most vital for life outside the gym, and living independently as long as possible.

  • Agility

  • Balance

  • Accuracy

Forged through Both Training and Practice

The components below are improved with a mixture of both training and practice.  We’re taking newly gained strength, stamina, endurance or flexibility and coupling it with newly gained accuracy, balance and agility and display speed and power.  For example, you gain leg strength, balance and coordination, you turn into a faster sprinter.

  • Power

  • Speed

What does that all mean to me?

It means there are multiple ways to reflect improvement and celebrate achievement.  It means our training includes a super heavy back squat and also being able to stand on one foot and bounce a ball against a wall.  It means there are multiple times within every hour you train with us to achieve a win for the day, week, month and year.