Two days before having to shut down due to COVID-19 restrictions, Sara Mozingo bought out her business partner. It was inconvenient timing, but Sara is first and foremost a coach who looks out for her team. She spoke with us about keeping her fitness center afloat during COVID, how to stay healthy amidst a global pandemic, and the importance of finding a really good coach, or two, or three.
Q. Tell us a bit about yourself.
A. Hi! I’m Sara. I’m the owner of Icehouse Fit. I opened Icehouse Fit over five years ago with my business partner at the time. I have been coaching fitness for almost 10 years, starting in Minneapolis and then opening Icehouse Fit in Fargo. My mission is to be at the forefront of health and fitness. I really believe that fitness is underrated in our society and only recently, with a global pandemic, are people starting to really look at their health and how that can affect their future. I want to transform that, I want people to have a professional coach to help them. Whether they need help to lose some weight, to be able to move without pain, or to build healthy habits so they can continue to do the things they love. I want to help people invest in their health so they can live the fittest years of their life.
Q. How did you get involved in your work?
A. I grew up playing all kinds of sports. I played five sports in high school and was fortunate enough to play basketball in college. After I graduated, I struggled a bit with the loss of my team. I have been a team sport athlete most of my life and losing that really affected me, I gained weight and I didn’t understand how nutrition worked without three hours of practice. It was rough for a bit. I was invited to a CrossFit class in 2011 and I fell in love. It had the energy and passion that I felt playing basketball. I knew, almost instantly, I wanted to coach in a gym. I made that a reality two years later and was able to make owning a gym a reality two years after that. Icehouse Fit has since left the CrossFit world and we have transitioned to a more goals-focused gym. It is a place where we can really meet people where they are in their fitness journey and help them make progress and see results by focusing on their fitness, nutrition, mindset and recovery.
Q. Gyms and fitness studios have been hit especially hard during the pandemic. How have you been able to pivot and keep your head above water?
A. We had a unique experience in that I bought out my business partner two days before we closed down because of COVID-19 in March. We were able to sit down as a staff and really rework our business model. We asked ourselves, ‘how can we add value to our members?’ ‘How can we really help each person achieve their individual goals?’ ‘Is there a way we can help people get out of those everyday aches and pains that keep them from working out?’ What we came up with was a very personalized approach to fitness. We kept the group class model because it is really fun to workout with your friends in class, and added customized workout programming to it. This personalized approach gave us several ways to serve our members. We can help members that come to the gym through group class, one-on-one training or we can even help members that aren’t comfortable coming to the gym with at-home workout plans. We have also placed a lot of focus on reaching out to our members personally to ensure that they’re staying healthy through this all.
Q. Health is at the forefront of everyone’s minds right now. How are mental and physical health closely connected?
A. This is something we love to talk about at Icehouse Fit. I really believe that the mental gains happen before the physical gains do. There are thousands of studies out there about how exercise releases endorphins and can help with anxiety, depression and in a host of other mental health areas. What we talk a lot about in our classes and one on-ones is about how our thoughts can deeply affect our reactions. We also take all of our clients through something called the Positivity Tree, because we want to focus on the good things people are doing in the areas of health, fitness, nutrition and recovery.
Q. Who inspires you?
A. Lots of people inspire me. Our clients at Icehouse Fit inspire me daily with their work ethic and how they show up for themselves every day. My Mom inspires me, she’s a fierce lady. My wife Ashley inspires me with her creativity and her drive to make the world a better place. Our coaches at Icehouse and their relentless effort to be the best at their craft inspires me. My personal coaches, as entrepreneurs they keep crushing it in their fields. In the fitness space, Dana Lynn Bailey and Tia Clare Toomey and all the women in strength sports that are fighting for a seat at the table. They show up every day in a very male-dominated arena and their voices are being heard.
Q. How are you taking care of yourself right now?
A. I really believe in the power of having a coach so I have three currently. I have a fitness coach that helps me with my nutrition and accountability to workouts. Even as a gym owner I know the struggle of getting to the gym! I have a business/life coach that helps me dream big and keep moving forward and take big leaps even in unknown times. We also have a business coach at Icehouse that helps keep us accountable and helps us lead the charge into making gym spaces the health care clinic of the future.
Q. For those who feel like they’ve lost touch with their health throughout the pandemic, what do you suggest as the first step to getting back in control?
A. Start asking yourself questions. ‘Why do you want to start?’ Dig deep for that answer. Once you know that, it will make the journey easier when you don’t want to do the thing you need to do. Start with the lowest hanging fruit, for example; do you drink soda? Start by cutting that down till it’s not a thing you do anymore. Do you eat out every meal or does every meal come from a box? Learn how to cook one meal, with all real food, and sub one meal at a time until you are cooking at home more than you are eating out. Small changes over time. If you are really overwhelmed with making those changes, find a coach that can help you.
Q. What do you think women need most right now?
A. To be heard and to take a moment for themselves. Women are doing crazy hard work right now, and all the moms out there are doing double that! Living in a COVID-19 world is not easy and women are showing up every day, taking care of their families, homeschooling kids and doing their day jobs at the same time. Take the time you need for you, give yourself some love so you can continue to show up like you have been.