Karla Solum is nothing short of inspiring. This young entrepreneur has many titles to her name and over 15 competition awards under her belt, and only at age 33. Solum is owner of EHP CrossFit and Elevate Human Potential in Moorhead—a facility that offers group training, personalized coaching, sports chiropractic and rehabilitation, 1-on-1 nutrition counseling and youth programs. And she does it all with the help of just three other coaches, a few interns and her mother, who helps out in the office.
Solum is no stranger to the sports industry. She went to school initially for sports chiropractic, and soon began training athletes. When she wasn’t able to find a job in the F-M area that fit her style of practice, she did what any motivated entrepreneur would do – she started her own business. Shortly into the journey, she noticed the need for a CrossFit facility in Moorhead (as all the others in town are located in Fargo), so she combined the two concepts into one building.
Her passion for health is infectious, and it’s clear that she’s built a highly functional place for people to feel safe, welcomed and motivated. “I want to inspire people to be better than they were yesterday,” Solum said. “It doesn’t mean that you’re better than the person next to you. It means you’re better because you’re here, both mentally and physically. What we’re trying to do is elevate your human potential, and that’s where the company name came from.”
Through her coaching, chiropractic and counseling, she is able to bring awareness and education to her clients and patients – and she reminds that it also extends to what they do outside of the facility. “I like to educate my patients on what they can do outside my office to improve their health and well-being. What they do outside during the week is much more important than what they do while here.”
Aside from educating her athletes, EHP CrossFit is also able to educate students through a 100-hour internship program that allows them to observe and critique others’ coaching, co-coach, and finally to coach on their own. Solum says many students do this program before they become CrossFit training I certified.
There are a few things that Solum says makes EHP unique. One is a focus on small class sizes with a limit of 15:1 athlete to coach ratio. She also places focus on learning proper motion before adding any weights. “Once you learn how to move your body in a more efficient way, what you can do with your body is endless,” she said.
Another pillar of EHP is a warm, welcoming environment where you can feel comfortable in your own skin. Solum says has that egos have no place in her gym, and rather than the sole focus being on great physiques, EHP is really about overall wellness.
An additional benefit EHP offers to both members and non-members is access to a recovery room with state-of-the-art equipment. This includes a power plate, which is a full body vibration plate that allows for faster recovery, decreases swelling in the legs and can increase bone density and mobility. Solum’s favorite item, though, is the NormaTec recovery boots that Olympic and beach volleyball athletes use, which offers a compressive massage on your legs to get blood flow back to your heart.
EHP also utilizes an app called Wodify in which members can register for classes, sign in, review workouts for the next day and track personal accomplishments. This gives you an easily searchable history instead of relying on a whiteboard or notebook. Members also are invited to a closed group on Facebook to share information—whether related to EHP or not, encouragement or sometimes just a place to vent about the day’s workout.
What differentiates CrossFit from group fitness? “CrossFit is like a small group training session with a coach where everyone’s movements are reviewed. In group fitness classes, an instructor tells you what to do, but usually doesn’t tell you if you’re doing them right,” she said.
Solum advises that people check their insecurities and embrace who they are. No one is too old or too slow, etc., to work toward better wellness. All movements can be scaled and modified to fit your individual needs. “Not everything we do in these doors is like what you see on ESPN,” she said.
Solum has seen countless success stories with CrossFit. Of course there are weight loss stories, but she’s also seen people struggling with addiction or depression excel in CrossFit because it offers a sense of satisfaction with exercise. “If I can make it through this workout, I can make it through anything,” she said. “That’s the power of CrossFit.”
What keeps Solum motivated is being a strong female role model for others. CrossFit taught her that weight is just a number on the scale, and if she can teach others to view their body as a machine, you’ll treat it differently because you learn respect for it. “I played college sports, but I never knew what it was like to push beyond my comfort zone, and CrossFit taught me just that,” she said. “Now I’m able to push outside my comfort zone in business and my personal life.”
Solum’s goals for EHP’s future include growing into a larger facility so they can hold multiple indoor classes at the same time, as well as partnering with local functional medicine practitioners so that all of an athlete’s needs could be met under one roof.