Tony Sarenpa – SISU Featured Athlete


Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

I grew up in Plymouth, went to Wayzata High School, and met my wife Nicole (who is also from MN) as freshman at The University of Denver. Since 2010 we have lived in Orono on 4 acres and love raising our kids among the nature and wildlife! We have 2 energetic little girls Halle (4.5 years old) and Amelia (2.5 years old) that are already getting excited about CrossFit, especially when it involves the rings, push ups, and rope climbs.  Since 2006, Nicole and I have owned and operate The Sarenpa Team; a residential real estate team that serves Minneapolis and its West Metro communities. We take great pride that our business consistently ranks locally and nationally in the top 1% of our industry. We are in constant growth mode. My work is less a job and more of a lifestyle, and I get great joy in serving our clients and mentoring the top talent that joins our team. Crossfit and Real Estate have many similarities. You have never really arrived. There is always something bigger to master and another ceiling to break through. I see both a way to push myself, remove my limiting beliefs, become more accountable, and to be better than I was yesterday.


When and why did you start doing CrossFit?

In June of 2010 I started at CrossFit SISU Wayzata. I lived across the street for a short time, so the location was very convenient.  I have fun memories of that first location, with it’s crumbling concrete, exposed rebar and sweat stained stinky carpet :). It’s been fun to see Crossfit grow!  At first when CrossFit was explained to me it didn’t sound that different or exciting until I realized that it could be just what I was missing to push me out of the rut I was in.  I had been working inefficient 12 hour days while growing my real estate business and hadn’t worked out in almost 5 years. My waist was up to a size 40 and in hindsight, it felt horrible. I weighed 225 lbs when I first started, and today I weigh 182 lbs. It feels great that I have reached the point where my weight is stable. Today I’m in the best shape of my life and feel amazing other than I sometimes having trouble counting! ; )


What made you decide to come to CrossFit SISU?

I was feeling so terrible a family friend urged me to go to the doctor and get a checkup. The doctor said I was overweight / out of shape and might start to have serious health issues if I didn’t make some changes.  So I listened and found CrossFit Sisu because it was close to home and sounded like fun.


What were you doing before and what apprehensions did you have before starting CrossFit?

About all I was doing was getting in and out of my car while showing houses. My main apprehension was not wanting to puke. I remember the one time I puked back in college when I thought I was in good shape.  My wife Nicole (D1 gymnast) and another athlete (D1 lacrosse player) decided it would be fun to show me what circuit training was all about. I was dizzy for the following 3 hours and got in bed with shivers.  For the first 3 months of starting CrossFit I would have to go back home to shower and cool down for what felt like an hour and my nausea would stop about the time I dried off after showering. Then I’d go to work for the day and feel amazing! It kept me coming back.  The feeling of pushing my overweight, weak body to the max was amazing and felt like a healthy addiction that I couldn’t get enough of.


What were your thoughts after your first CrossFit SISU Intro class?

This sucks, and I am humbled. I have a long way to go!  I first used a green band to do one pull up.

I set a goal last year to get trim enough to see the amazing 6 pack that’s been hiding all these years.  Today I can kind of see a 4 pack.  My habits have plateaued, so I’ll have to get a little more strict with my diet to get the rest of the way there.


What’s the greatest benefits you see so far since starting at CrossFit SISU?

I have so much more energy. I am healthier, and I feel and look better. I no longer am worried about my health. Things really started to change for me when I discovered Origin Meals.  Eating a planned diet most of time allowed me to shed almost 40 lbs in 18 months. Slow and steady is my speed for weight loss.  My goal was to get lighter so crossfit could get easier. That hasn’t really been the case – I can just do more and lift more than before. It’s still hard and I love it.


How has being at CrossFit SISU enriched your life outside of the box?

I am proud of the accountability and healthy habits I have made a part of my daily life. I have proven to myself that this isn’t a passing phase, it’s my new lifestyle. I am setting a good example for my kids. I have also made great friends and am part of a community of Crossfitters that I enjoy hanging around and share the same lifestyle that I love.


Please share any special memories or achievements during your time at CrossFit SISU?

 Fran 3:47

Jackie 6:51

1st muscle up about 6 months ago. It took 6-8 solid months of working on high chest/stomach to bars.  Then about 2 months ago I did my first strict MU on the rings after my brother in law (former competitive gymnast now yoga instructor ) showed me it was possible. It took me about 2 weeks after that.  Lately I want to do the best I can and be as fast as possible but don’t really care much about lifting heavy weight.


What advice would you give to a person thinking about joining our SISU Community?

 Don’t worry.  You can scale ANYTHING and everyone is supportive and will encourage you.  Don’t you dare give up until you give it 3 solid months and 3 workouts a week.  Eat paleo 75% of the time. The workouts will never get easier. They are always hard as long as you push it.  You will get less sore in between workouts after you push through that initial stage. That part gets way better. I think the length of time it takes for the soreness to improve depends on your starting condition. For me it took about a year. I was in really bad shape so it took a ton of time.

 Favorite WOD?

14.2 and 15.2

 Secret Ninja exercise is?

I don’t have a secret anything.

 My not so secret sucky is?


 My favorite cheat meal is?

 Pizza, carbs, chicken tenders, burgers and fries, you name it anything not paleo J