Ardent Fitness and Education: Training Through COVID-19


COVID-19 has created a lot of chaos, but we still have Bright Spots, and considering it is Friday, I think it is a great time to point them out #BSF:

  1. If you’re reading this, you have probably prioritized your health and wellness. You have done everything you can to prepare for anything.  Strong, healthy, and hard to kill are not just words, but adjectives you can probably use when describing yourself.
  2. We had time to prepare.  Gyms in Italy, Denmark, and other places have been shut down, but we could plan. We are prepared to help our client base stay fit as the government works on containing and managing this pandemic.
  3. Spring is coming and this means we will be able to use large and well ventilated outside areas soon!
  4. We are in contact with the best gym owners, mentors, and medical staff daily to learn how we safely serve our clients during this unprecedented time.

Standard Operating Procedures:

  • The BIG One: If you are feeling ill or have symptoms please do not come to the gym. If you want to train, email Coach Austin with your equipment list and a description of your space. He will get you moving. Please use this option if you feel under the weather, our best line of defense is being proactive with this illness.
  • Wash your hands. Pretty self explanatory. Wash them when you show up, wash them after the workout, and hell…wash them in the middle of the workout if you feel the need!
  • Cover your face if you’re going to cough or sneeze.  Either a tissue or elbow is your best bet and then go wash your hands again.
  • If you touch it, clean it.

Learn more about COVID-19 Here.

Preparing for the worst case scenario: A government mandated shut down. We have access to a huge network of resources and we are using them to make a solid plan.

If forced to close, we will not stop providing you with programming, coaching, and inspiration. We will use Wodify and our private members page to program and instruct workouts. We will make sure you keep working out, even if the government wants you to do it at home. You pay us for coaching, and we plan to deliver it without interruption.

Using Wodify, we will program workouts everyday with precise instruction. We will tell you how to use household items, and we will leverage technology to coach you. We are prepared for this!

This list will help you prepare:

  1. Get a kettlebell or set of dumbbells.  You can go to Play It Again Sports and get some cheap ones!  Select a weight you would use in a conditioning workout (26, 35, or 53lb kettlebells are common or 20, 25, 35, or 40lb dumbbells). This will be your primary piece of at-home fitness equipment. You can stay very fit with just that equipment.
  2. If you can swing it, buy a heavy and a light object. You can get creative and fill some jugs with water, clean off an old tire, or something of that nature.
  3. Make a space to workout with the “Ardent Members Only” group.  Just watch out for your dog (I am assuming you have a dog, because we all know most people at the gym are that awesome!)
  4. Create a FB account if you do not have one. This is the platform we are going to use to administer the workouts.
  5. Make sure you have a way to set up your phone or device so you can see and hear us during the online session.

We truly hope this passes quickly with minimal disruption to our lives, but if not, we will be ready!

You will be taken care of. We will show you the same care and enthusiasm over the internet. Maybe we won’t fist bump, or our most recent foot bumping after your workout, but our meme, likes, and emoji game is freaking on point!

To learn more about a program which can truly help you “Live Your Best Life” click the button for change!

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A CrossFitter Vegan: What Do You Talk About First?

A CrossFitting Vegan: What Do You Talk About First? 

 First I want to say, this is a 100% opinion piece based on subjective feelings and thoughts. If you’re looking for fodder to either support or thrash veganism or CrossFit, you’re in the wrong place. Next I want to tell the story about why I am toying with veganism, how it has impacted me in only two weeks, and how I plan to move forward.


 No matter what you think about health and wellness, if nutrition is not at the top of your to do list you’re missing a huge piece of the puzzle. You can’t out run, out WOD, out lift, or out anything a bad diet (trust me, I have tried). Now, my nutrition has always been decent to sometimes excellent. I am a CrossFit Coach and I truly believe you have to live what you preach. This is why I always do the nutrition challenges with our gym. 


DIY Wyoming 2019

For me, doing the nutrition challenge is not a huge change. I usually just need to be a bit more cognizant of what I am putting in my body. This time, I was challenged by a member (Lowell) to participate in the nutrition challenge but do it as a vegan. I have never entertained being a vegan. I did not watch some “documentary” about veganism and decide this is the way for me. My favorite thing to do in the fall is hunt, so it is not some moral stand I am taking. I attached a picture of my pronghorn from last season for good measure, and I will be back out there next year. I am always up for a good challenge, though, and getting uncomfortable once in awhile.


 I am two weeks into being a vegan and I actually feel great. I am not missing meat as much as I thought I would but I do have to plan out my meals a little more carefully. I can’t just grab some ground turkey and toss it on some veggies. I have to make sure I have something ready like beans, Beyond Meat, tofu, or any other vegan protein source I can find. The biggest thing for me, though, is the tangible numbers which are associated with my change

Body scan showing weekly results

 I have lost 1.3% body fat, gained 1.5 lbs of muscle mass, and gained a ½ pound of total weight. My weight is irrelevant to me. This is why we use a body scanner and not a scale when measuring success. There are other factors contributing to my success too, so I can’t tell you, “go vegan and you will see the same results!” 


 A few other factors: I am using the plate method to make sure I am getting a good balance in my meals. I am making sure to drink at least 80oz of water a day. I am also making sure to TRY and get 7 hours of sleep a night, I say “try”, because sometimes I miss the mark.  I am also hitting three to 4 CrossFit classes a week. This comes out to being only 2% of my week spent working out. This means I am advocating a more holistic approach when it comes to health and wellness. It is not killing yourself at the gym or starving yourself out of the gym. It is finding balance in everything you do. This is something I believe and I will stand behind because it truly supports my “why.”


The only change mad was switching lean protein for a vegan protein source.

 At one point in my life I considered myself a “semi-professional competitive amateur CrossFit athlete. “ This meant I put long hours in the gym to be just a little bit better and stronger than I am now. Here is a picture of what that looks like, I also did terrible at this workout because I thought I was more fit than I really was. At 39, my priorities have shifted and spending two to 3 hours a day working out is not my cup of tea. Now I value time. After having my son, my shift went from being the best “semi-professional competitive amateur crossfit athlete” I could be to thinking about longevity. I want to be able to take him hunting out west and be able to traverse ridge tops. And maybe he won’t want to hunt and wants to do some other physical activity. I will be damned if I will be sitting on the sidelines watching him. I will have my old ass out there participating. That is my “why” and if you don’t have one it is going to make your journey way more difficult. It is 100% ok for your “why” to be the best you can be, or maxing the new fitness test for the Army. It only has to be what makes you willing to put some effort into something.


Losing a workout

 So what is next? I am going to finish out this six weeks as a vegan and I will put my final results up, but I am not going to stay a vegan. My plan is to cycle my proteins a little more often, which is easy, because before I just had lean meats. This has shown me there are other options, maybe I alternate weeks? I am not sure yet. I am going to find what is best for me and for my goals. Long story and not short, you need to find your “why.” You NEED to focus on a holistic approach to your health and wellness, and you need to make changes if you want to see different results. Let yourself get uncomfortable for a little while and see what happens or you will never know what you can truly accomplish. 



If you are looking to make a change, challenge yourself, or work towards your “why” follow this link and sign up for a “No Sweat Intro”

If you have any questions or concerns feel free to email me at

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My “Why”

Nutrition 2020 Kickoff: Everyone Needs Someone In Their Corner

Have you heard the phrase, “You can’t outrun a bad diet?”

This is more important than you may think.  Most of the population can use help in the nutrition category. Most of us eat too much or eat too little, eat the “wrong” things, or do not know how to pay attention to labels. Most of us think if we put more time in the gym it is going to get us the body we desire while the truth is that we need to put more time in the kitchen.

We need to start paying attention to what we eat and the amount we eat. We need to make sure we are drinking enough water. We must decide when and where to put our effort in and I am willing to bet, if you’re like me, you have always put MORE effort into the gym and not into the nutrition side of things.  This is why I need someone in my corner, an accountabili-buddy.

The last six years I have had the greatest accountability partner, my wife, Sue. I would say, “Lets get some chicken wings” and she would say, “EF Off, eat your premade food!” It was a great symbiotic relationship based on mutualism.  Long story short, Sue is pretty deep into her third trimester so now when I say that line she says, “Cool, pick up or eat in?” So, now what? 

Lucky for me I am surrounded by people who love this stuff on a daily basis. Lucky for me I know some nutrition coaches who are going to be putting on an AWESOME challenge. Our first big nutrition outing of 2020 with new and improved information, but the best part? It is a partner challenge. Sometimes you need someone in your corner all the time, someone who can tell you to put down the cookie.  This accountability based challenge will challenge you in new ways and force your hand on some old habits.

We are almost one month into a new decade and if you find yourself struggling it is time to make some changes. This challenge is for members and non-members alike.  We are going to Kick start this on 17 February, so mark your calendars. 

If you want to know more email

You do not need to be a member to participate.

If you don’t have a partner, we will find one for you!

I am still looking for a partner…just throwing that out there. 

We all need someone in our corner.

Only 14 Team Spots Left!  

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It is what happened outside of the gym which made the difference.

A Third Place: Neutral and Welcoming

The “Third Place” was coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg. It is the place where people spend their time between home (1st place), and work (2nd place). We strive to be the third place for our clients but what does it take to be a third place and how do we accomplish this?

Justin making a comeback after leaving for the military

A third place is where people conjugate together besides work and home. This could be a bar, barber shop, library, or any other social location. Third places have a few needs in order to fall into this category but to make sure I keep this post under 500 words, I will focus on one or two categories per post. First we are going to talk about how a third place is neutral.

When I talk about a neutral place, I mean that you can come and go without penalty. Work is not neutral; you cannot, usually, come and go as you please. Home is not neutral; especially if you have a significant other, kids, or pets. There are consequences for not showing up, but with us we will take you back if you have been gone one week or five years. 

We want to help as many people as we can. We want you to be successful, have fun, and engage in a healthy community based on fun and progress, but we also know life happens. Do not let neutral make you think disengaged. If you do not show up, we will contact you. We will call you, and we will text you. Not because there are negative repercussions, but because we want to make sure you are ok. 

In a perfect world your days would be filled with laughter, and fun, and donuts would be calorie free. Alas, this is not the case, but we can offer you a place where everyone knows your name and the coaches truly care about your wellness and success. We can be your third place. Next time, in our third place excursion, we will talk about mood and laughter.

If you’re looking for a place to call your third place, click the button and find out how to start your journey. If you’re looking to come back and continue your fitness journey email to set up your membership or a time to sit down and talk!

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Understanding the Relationship Between Stress & Eating Habits

“The doctor is the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” -Thomas Edison

Stress can cause a spiral of issues that relate to health and wellness, but we can help solve/prevent some of those with the food we eat- gut health and mental health being two of the most prominent.

It has been shown that when we are stressed we tend to crave processed foods, sweets and just junk in general which then can cause issues with our gut and digestion! We start missing out on any micronutrients our body needs, and then our hormones tend to get out of wack which can lead to a variety of mental health issues.

In the article Diet and Mental Health from the Mental Health Foundation, we can start to get a glimpse of the connection between our eating habits and mental health.

“Eating well (i.e. a well-balanced diet rich in vegetables and nutrients) may be associated with feelings of wellbeing. One 2014 study found high levels of wellbeing were reported by individuals who ate more fruit and vegetables 1.  A recent study found that a Mediterranean-style diet (a diet high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil.) supplemented with fish oil led to a reduction in depression among participants, which was sustained six months after the intervention. 2.  The importance of good nutritional intake at an early age is explored in multiple studies, including a systematic review in 2014, which found that a poor diet (with high levels of saturated fat, refined carbohydrates and processed food products) is linked to poorer mental health in children and adolescents”.

And check out these other statistics from the same article linked below.

“Poor nutrition can lead to physical health problems such as obesity, though there are a number of demographic variables that could affect the direction and/or strength of the association with mental health including severity of obesity, socioeconomic status and level of education, gender, age and ethnicity.7  The relationship between obesity and mental health problems is complex.  Results from a 2010 systematic review found two-way associations between depression and obesity, finding that people who were obese had a 55% increased risk of developing depression over time, whereas people experiencing depression had a 58% increased risk of becoming obese. 8”

Read more here

So what are some things we can do? When you know a stressful time is coming or you are in the middle of one, I challenge you to take a step back and put yourself first and clean up your diet and sleep patterns! This doesn’t mean 100% prefect, but make a small goal of eating a vegetable with every meal, cut processed food, and give yourself a bedtime! You may still end up eating out (because we are humans and not perfect!) but make a conscious choice and pick the grilled chicken and steamed broccoli over the fried chicken with mashed potatoes and Mac n’ cheese! When we are stressed we we more than likely tired, and when we are tired we will more than likely over eat! See this post from Evelyn Anderson, FNP-C  on how many calories we could be over eating just because we are tired!

Let’s remember that food has more power to effect our lives than most other things we have control of!


Preventing The Winter Blues

It’s that time of year again. The clock gets pushed back and the amount of sun during the day is significantly less than what it was just a few months ago. When it gets colder and the days get shorter, it can feel like a real chore to get up and do anything other than lay on the couch under some cozy blankets. For many people this can spark SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). The CDC says that around 14 percent of people in the United States experience this and exercise can help prevent it. 

Staying active during the winter months is extremely important. Follow these tips and try to avoid SAD, and stay happy throughout Wisconsin’s long winter!

  • Try getting 30-60 minutes of exercise per day
  • Make sure you are getting 20 minutes of sunlight (even when it’s overcast you can still reap the benefits of the good ole sun).
  • If you have a break for lunch, getting outside for a quick walk can help with sun exposure.
  • Make sure you are still eating balanced meals of protein, carbs and fats and drinking plenty of water. 

Push through that urge to skip your daily workout and get in your daily exercise! We promise you’ll feel so much better once you’re finished.



Health and Wellness Despite Yourself

I remember when I first fell in love with fitness and what it could do for people. When I realized health and wellness would have a lasting impact on my life. We were “deployed” to Kuwait on a security mission in 2005. The gym became a place to get away, a place to socialize, and a place to let out frustration. Watching people transform over the course of a year was amazing. What contributed to their success? There was nothing else to do. Our mission was like a job, but we had nothing to do after work and the gym filled the void for a lot of us.

“No matter what your exercise or athletic ability is…” Health and wellness is not a “one size fits all” solution.

I watched people create a habit over the course of a year. A great and healthy habit which would obviously reverberate throughout their life, right? Wrong, I watched most individuals come home and return to their lives where there was no time for fitness. They ended up where they started, and sometimes worse off than before. I watched this happen again in 2009 in Iraq and 2011 in Afghanistan. This experience shaped what we stand for, what we do, and who we are as a gym.

Our baseline is our mission and purpose, read it here, but there is an underlying issue which reverberates just below the surface. An issue of which is negated in times where your freedom is taken from you, like deployments with the military or prison. A culture shift where exercise doesn’t become an obligation but an escape. A culture, where eating healthy, and getting enough sleep is not a weakness or frowned upon. A culture we try to emulate in regards to creating a program in which <2% of your week is spent in the gym. A program which emphasizes nutrition and a support system to help guide you to success. 

We are not an access gym; we are a coaching gym. We do not sell access, if this is what you are looking for shoot us an email and we will point you in the right direction. We have class times, we have coached classes, personal training, nutrition, and we have a community. We have a shared belief in which health and wellness are a priority. We have decided to give up <2% of our week and in return gain freedom in other aspects of our lives. We are passionate about what we do, hence the name Ardent, and we are changing people’s lives. 

No matter what your take on fitness is, what your preferred method is, one thing you can’t deny is that we are changing lives. This brings us to what we stand for. We stand for inclusivity in fitness. We think there is a program for everyone, and if we can’t meet your needs we will send you somewhere which can. We have societal issues, self image issues, obesity issues, and nutritional issues overflowing our lives. We have gyms who think this is a zero-sum game, but it is not. We have skewed priorities as a whole. While we can work with anyone, we are not going to be for everyone. 

 What we do is hard and your journey will be difficult. You may fail from time to time, but we will be there to help you get back on track. You can read about our clients success in their own words here. We truly believe we can help you, even if we do not know you…yet. For this reason, we will continue to persevere, even if it is not a popular movement (health and wellness.) Even if telling you that you could do better on your nutrition or make better choices during the weekend is not what you are looking to hear, we will tell you. We are not here to sugar coat your journey. If you do not see changes in six weeks of starting your journey, something was going on in the background. 

 We are not a free gym and this is not a quick challenge, we focus on your health and wellness. Our program starts YOUR journey, even if that journey branches off from us at some point. We feel we can help you find what lights your fire. We will help find what makes you put your health as a priority. I work out because I want to be active well into old age. I want to hunt, fish, and hike my way through my 80’s, if I am lucky enough to make it that long. I want to arm wrestle my grandkids, if I have any, and win. I do not want my later years to be stagnant because I didn’t put my health as a priority when I was younger. This is what we stand for and we want you to “Live Your Best Life.” We want you to find your why and let that be your motivation to show up for three to five hours a week. 

 Sign up for your free No Sweat Intro to speak with a coach. We will sit down and discuss our programs, how we can help you, and what your personalized journey will look like.  



Hunting, Heart Health, and the Real Risk

Hunting is just around the corner and while all of us take time to sight in our firearms, clean our gear, and make sure we have all the supplies we need, how many of us make sure we are physically ready for the hunt? According to Mayo Clinic, “the excitement of seeing a deer can send a hunter’s heart rate soaring. This combined with the strenuous activity can put an unfit hunter at risk of a heart attack.”

Training for Wyoming
Picked up a tough GMU this year. There will be a lot of walking at elevation and hopefully a pack out. Did a mile with a 35lb pack and pulling 90lbs after my strength training.

At 38, I am not going to slow down my younger hunting party. We have three hunts we are training for this year: Wyoming antelope, Wisconsin deer, and intermittent upland game bird hunting. While each of these hunts are unique, a broad-spectrum training program can prepare you for anything you may encounter.

Most of us are not kids anymore, but we have been hunting since we were kids. In our youth, it was easy to plan and execute a hunt since we did not have to worry about heart health. We could just pack up and go. As we age this all changes.

If you have known risk factors such as, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes you need to be aware that this puts you at greater risk of having an episode while hunting. According to Dr. Good, a cardiologist from the University of Michigan, “Heart attacks are three times more likely to take a life than a gunshot injury.” This means, you need to be budgeting time and money into fitness and nutrition into your time before the season starts.

We offer a few different avenues to make sure you are ready to hunt this upcoming season. We have personal training, nutrition, and group classes. We also offer individual program design if you are taking part in a specific hunt you need to prepare for.

Don’t let your fitness level be the factor which holds you back from having the time of your life this fall.  Your personal fitness level should be just as, if not more important than, the zero on your rifle.

Side note: if you know you have high cholesterol, diabetes, or high blood pressure, please get checked out by your physician before hunting season.  Also, never hunt alone!

Want to begin your own fitness story? Start by signing up for a free No Sweat Intro today:

Click the button below to start your Journey

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Exercising Your Mental Muscles

If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my 6 years of CrossFit, it’s that mindset does absolutely matter. This is something I’ve greatly struggled with, but strive to improve with every workout. Whether it’s wanting to give up during a hard workout, getting upset when you miss a lift, or leaving the gym feeling frustrated because the progress isn’t flowing as you would hope; it’s important to train your mind to snap out of those emotions and instead feel confident, positive, and eager to keep growing as an athlete.

While browsing through Instagram, I found this little piece written by Jim Taylor Ph.D. titled 5 Mental Muscles for Athletic Success. I’ve kept this saved on my phone and read it quite often to help me strengthen my mental game! I wanted to share so you all could begin, or continue to start training your mind and become a better athlete not only physically, but mentally too.

The 5 Mental Muscles for Athletic Success 

  • Motivation is not how committed you say you are, but whether you are actually doing what is necessary to accomplish your goals.
  • Confidence is how strongly you believe in your ability to perform your best and achieve your competitive and long-term goals.
  • Intensity is the level of physiological activity you feel in your body including heart rate, respiration, blood flow, and adrenaline
  • Focus involves paying attention to things that will help you perform your best (e.g., technique, tactics, effort) and avoiding distractions that interfere with your performing well (e.g., results, other athletes, an upcoming stressor).
  • Mindset is what is going through your mind in the 30 seconds before you begin a workout.

After your next workout, do a check of your 5 mental muscles. Did some perform stronger than others? Did any hold back? What can you focus and improve next time? The voice that matter the most to your success is right in between your own two ears – make sure it is on your side and helping you achieve success, rather than tearing you down and deterring you from your goals.

-Coach Mary


Have A Purpose Behind Your Training

Have a purpose behind your training…
Not only should we always remember why we started this crazy fitness journey, but we should also approach each week, each day, and each workout with a purpose or intent!
When we set goals for ourselves, it not only gives us something to focus on and some statistic to hold ourselves accountable for, but it makes it a lot harder for us to give up on ourselves mid-workout!
Imagine if you approached a workout that had running in it, and say you HATE running (like a good majority of us do!) and decided you were going to wing the workout, there’s probably a pretty good chance of you wanting to walk or slow down when the workout gets mildly uncomfortable.
BUT what if you approached it in a way of “I’m going to do all my 400m in under 2:20 today”, that, my friends, will push you to keep going, and fight the pain to run through it instead of walk, because you CAN do it!
Find something to be your parameter, something measurable, so you know what the intent is. You’ll work much harder to achieve those goals!
What are your goals?! Drop them in the comments below!
Need those parameters laid out for you? We can help! Talk to us about any of our programs and what we can do to help you achieve you goals!