Calling all Vita Mix users!
I'm a Vita Mix owner too. I love it!
I always start my smoothies with enough liquid to cover the blades, then add fresh or frozen fruit or ice and any other ingredients I'm using. Sometimes you may need to use the tamper to help push the fruit or ice on top down into the blades.
The ratio of liquids to frozen ingredients will determine how thick or thin your smoothie is. If you have just a little liquid and mostly frozen ingredients, you will end up with ice cream or sorbet instead of a smoothie.
I recommend reading the basic recipes from the Vita Mix recipe book or watching the dvd or video that came in the box.
We have the old metal square "pitchers" that come with a wooden tamper. Ours can be run in reverse, don't know about the newer ones.
We make our smoothies with oj, frozen bananas, and other frozen fruit (cherries, mango, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc), no ice.
There's a great potato salad recipe in Pure & Simple by Tami A. Benton. It has a cashew-based dressing which we make in the VitaMix. We use the VitaMix for a variety of blended soups, sauces, pesto, and hummus.
If you are putting ice on the bottom and starting at high speed, the ice is turning into something like ice cream and making a "tunnel" around or over the blades and not letting it "whirlpool." Try starting at low speed until the ice beaks up and mixes in a little, then raise the speed. Or you could push it down with the plunger. Sometimes I just take the pitcher off and give it a good shake.
Are you pulsing it a bit at first? Sometimes I have to scrape the sides to get things going, especially really thick stuff.
Try hot tomato soup in it...really great. I find that I can make most creamed vegetable soups with only stock. You will need very little (if any) cream. They turn out smooth as silk and you would never know they didn't have cream in them. That is really nice!
I use the dry blade/container to grind my own flours for bread items. Really makes nice barley and oat flour to add to rolls or biscuits.