The Viking tradition lives on in Iceland, where CrossFit Reykjavik is thick with Magnuses, Olavs, and Gunnars looking to achieve something akin to the power of their axe-wielding, long ship-rowing forebears. According to Frederik Aegidius, the Denmark-born CrossFit circuit competitor who coaches at the gym, staying active despite low temperatures and short days is a major priority largely because surrender is viewed as unacceptable. “Viking blood is still evident in the culture,” says Aegidius. “Icelanders are notoriously fearless in tackling difficult challenges and are unstoppable when they are on a mission, especially regarding fitness.”
In order to keep the island nation’s CrossFit faithful fit, Aegidius takes advantage of Iceland’s geological bounty. He runs up Esjan Mountain, a 2,999-foot volcanic peak north of the capital, stopping only when the grade becomes too steep, and swims in the thermal heated outdoor pools that seem to steam on every block. His students pull weighted sleds to build their thighs and carry weights to improve arm and shoulder strength. Because endurance sports like marathons and long-distance biking are not part of the island’s athletic heritage, locals tend to take to these extreme workouts quickly.
“CrossFit is especially appealing to Icelanders because everything is measurable,” says Aegidius, who is currently helping to promote Icelandic Glacial bottled water with fitness videos. “They like to track their progress and see improvement.”
Aegidius, a former professional Football player with the Copenhagen Towers, has seen some positive improvement himself. He and his number one-ranked girlfriend Annie Thorisdottir have become fixtures on the CrossFit Games circuit in Europe, where he says competition is getting stiffer as a broader audience gets interested in the idea of overall fitness.
He shared what he calls “Linda,” one of the workouts he uses to build upper body strength, with Men’s Journal and advised that Americans try to emulate the men up north.
-Clean (weight is taken from the floor and ends on the shoulders with elbows in front of the bar)
-Clean = 75% of bodyweight
-Bench = 100% of bodyweight
–Deadlift = 150% of bodyweight
1) 3 sets of 10 reps done for time
2) 3 sets of 9 reps
3) 3 sets of 8 reps
4) Continue until you’re only doing one rep.