Coaches Corner: Head Coach Updates with Hroch

Hey Renew Crew!

I know, I know — it’s hellishly hot. But the fan is on its way (seriously, it is). So let’s all practice some mental toughness while we wait for some Big Ass reprieve, and thanks for your continued patience!

But I’m not here to listen to you complain talk about fans. I’m here to talk about Becky Wickes.

Wait, sorry — I’m here to talk Becky Wickes, Head Coach!!

Don’t worry! Brett isn’t going anywhere. Everyone’s favorite Tall Guy is still on staff and still going to share the wonders and joys of CrossFit with you all. Turns out, having a house and a baby and a wife and a full time job and friends and all the life things can pull you in many directions. And fortunately for us, Becky has no life!

Just kidding, she does. And it’s Renew.

Just kidding, it’s not. But Becky is crazy passionate about CrossFit and the Renew Crew, and possesses the skills, capacity, and energy to really thrive in this role. I am confident that she is the perfect person to help our gym flourish. With Becky at the helm, get ready for elevated class and coaching experiences, more well-rounded programming — with performance tests and benchmarks — and next-level coaching, as she is taking on the task of helping each of us coaches, well, be better coaches.

Becky, a newly minted CrossFit Level 2 Trainer, has been with Renew since nearly the dawn of its time, and cares deeply for our community and mission. If you’ve met her, you know she invests in the people around her, and makes it her responsibility to see to it that her peers are being the best versions of themselves — and she’s exactly the type of person we want captaining our membership.

So next time you see Becky, first let her give you that technical correction, and then give her a congratulations! Well deserved, Becky Wickes!

Now leave me alone about the fan.



Coaches Corner: McKenzie’s Story

Sports have been a part of me for as long as I can remember. My mom swam in college (and is in the Auburn swimming hall of fame…what…). My grandfather swam in college and was no less than OBSESSED with it for the rest of his days. My dad played baseball for a long time. My sister currently swims for Bama. And, as a lot of you know, I was a competitive gymnast for 8 years. 20+ hours a week at practice was very normal to me. I was homeschooled for middle school and all my friends were girls in leotards (super cool, I know). I grew 3 inches in a summer, tanked my last season and was generally burned out. I quit gymnastics and, per my family history, swimming was the next logical step.

All of this is great, but I went to college as a NARP (non athletic regular person) and my only option for working out was the gym with the machines and treadmills and bros taking selfies as they do curls. A few months into school, I decided to see what it was all about.

I walked in, confidently swiped my student ID, took a lap around the floor trying to figure out what any of the machines did and landed on a treadmill between two sorority girls with full faces of makeup. It was a self propelled treadmill, so obviously I decided to sprint. I tripped at full speed, caught myself within an inch of my life, gave the sorority girls simultaneous heart attacks, got off, walked out, and didn’t return for the rest of the year.

The next time I walked into that nightmare of a place was sophomore year with a friend who had been raving about CrossFit and I wanted to give it a shot. The only skill I remember doing was wall balls because it was a hard med ball and it bounced off the wall and smacked me in the face, glasses and all. It was the hardest workout I’d ever done, I wasn’t sure if my legs were going to carry me back to my dorm 500m away, but I was forever hooked.

I’ve always done individual sports, but I love the team aspect of CrossFit. You’re working against yourself, but you’re competing with others while also encouraging them as you all suffer and sweat together. It’s constantly varied, so I’m never bored. It’s challenging and technical. As an ex-gymnast, I love the technicalities of skills like the squat snatch. How can I move my body to be the most efficient and lift the most weight? I love being upside down and sometimes am more comfortable on my hands than my feet. I love swinging on the rig and being up high after a muscle up. I can climb ropes because I want to, AND most of the time I’m allowed to use my legs. That was a luxury I didn’t often get as a gymnast.  It all just tosses me back to my glory days, challenges me, and pushes me to do new things.

More than that, it comes with a group of people that you get to become friends with. Yes, I love CrossFit itself, but I love the people that come with the sport. They’re ready to work hard. They’re there because they want to be. They get to forget the stress of work or home or kids or whatever it might be for that one hour. You get to see people at their best and their worst (sometimes in the same hour) and you get to love them in whatever state they’re in.

I love CrossFit. But I love people the most. And I freaking love the people of CrossFit Renew.

That’s all I’ve got for you.


Coaches Corner with Brett: Looking Forward

Welp… the 2018 CrossFit Open has come and gone.

So many of you did things that you’ve never done before, and pushed yourselves further than you’d thought you could be pushed. And it was awesome! But, I’m guessing in this post-Open season, we now have two groups of people at Renew:

  1. One group that is coming out of the Open super encouraged and excited for more. You’ve exceeded expectations and reached new heights in your fitness and can’t wait to set new PRs!
  2. The other group is those of you who are ready for a reset. You quickly realized the Open exposed some real weaknesses that were maybe discouraging, or maybe others of you in this group haven’t been as consistent in this CrossFit thing as you wanted to be in 2018 and you’re feeling “behind”.

Regardless of the group that you find yourself in, isn’t it perfect timing that we all get to take that next step forward, together, in the brand new home of CrossFit Renew!! We’re 2 weeks away! Not only will our new home be way bigger and way nicer (#showers), but it will be everything you want/need as you take that next step away from sickness, right through wellness, and on towards a life marked with fitness.

Where do you want to be at 35? 55? 75?

I know for me, as a 35 year old, with a bad shoulder, who has always been the biggest and tallest guy in any group (you know, the ideal CrossFit body type) – CrossFit workouts can be mentally daunting on the front end, and can make me more sore than I want to be when it’s over. Not to mention going from doing most workouts Rx’d to scaling quite a bit… your ego is at stake!

But I believe in the fitness methodology more than any other workout program I’ve seen or done! Over the last 6 years, CrossFit kept me strong (enough), healthy, active, and introduced me to more great people than I can count. It pushes me to be disciplined and to work hard; I’ll always be able to come and scale and push myself to my limits. And it makes me rethink how often I drive through Whataburger… Honestly, I just want to be Michael Vasko when I grow up.

So… where do you find yourself?

Have you come to realize that it’s time to commit to being in the gym more than once a week? Do you almost have those muscle-ups? Are you ready to button up your nutrition and see changes in your body? What do you say we do all this and more, together?

It’s time. Leggo.

Coaches Corner: Consistency is Key

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Practice makes perfect!” ?

Of course you have. Everyone’s seen or heard that phrase one million times in their lives — either from our coaches in little league or our teachers trying to make us good at math, and don’t even act like you haven’t double tapped a #MondayMotivation pic on Insta with that exact phrase overlayed on top of some exhausted sportster.

But, can I be honest? No one on the earth will ever be perfect at anything; so that phrase is a frickin’ dumb lie. You can practice a thing every day of your life and never be perfect. You will be better, but you will not be perfect.

And better is just where we want to be.

AND you know what? When it comes to practicing, to being better — consistency is key.

So let’s talk about consistency

As coaches, we urge you guys to show up, work hard, be humble, and have fun. Emphasis on the showing up. Yes, practicing is great, but when it comes to almost everything, if you only practice one time a week, your road to achieving is going to be a long and frustrating one. So it’s important to set a schedule or plan for yourself to put in the work — to show up as many times as you can to see significant improvement on whatever it is you’re practicing for.

Now let’s talk about goals

And on that note, #goals. Humans are driven beings who need something to work toward. Like, why do you work? To make money and treat yo self. Why do you work out? To survive the zombie apocalypse (Gotta stay a little fat, and a little fit – Becca Harris on how to survive said zombie apocalypse). But developing goals isn’t an arbitrary thing — it requires some forethought and a systematic approach.  General goals like “I want to be better at CrossFit” is great, but you’re going to flounder a lot on the path to actually getting anywhere. Instead, think about developing SMART goals:

  • Specific – have a defined end goal
  • Measureable – numbers and timelines
  • Achievable – based on past progress
  • Relevant  – does it match up with the bigger picture
  • Timely – give yourself a deadline


An example of one of my SMART goals would be: Be able to string together 5 ring muscle ups by March 31st. Here’s why it’s ~smart~:

Specific: I want to be better at muscle ups as opposed to general “gymnastics”  

Measureable: I want to be able to do 5

Achievable: I have 2 strung together now, so I can work my way up with more

Relevant: They might be in The Open, so I will want to string as many as I can as possible

Timely: March 31st.


So like, where do you start? I realize a lot of us don’t have a ton of time outside of class (except whatever Justin Hroch is doing to juggle a family and 3 jobs and still find time to improve lifts and re-do Open workouts… do that) to put in practice work, but there are practical ways you can exercise consistency and start incrementally hitting those SMART goals. Here are some things you could start implementing next week!

  • OPEN GYM. It’s basically a free class, y’all. Come.
  • Coordinate with a coach and come a little early or stay a little late — talking 15-20 minutes to just practice what you need to in order to get a little bit better every day.
  • YouTube. The internet is magical — utilize YouTube or follow relevant Insta accounts that can give you some extra tips, tricks, or drills to work on at home. (Or ask your highly trained and intelligent coach!)


Basically, progress won’t happen once a week. You won’t get stronger if you don’t work out. You won’t get faster if you don’t run. You won’t get more mobile if you don’t stretch. Set up a plan, stay consistent, show up, work hard, stay humble, go to the Games.

You might never be perfect, but you will be better.

Why I’m #InTheOpen: Coach Russ

Every year The Open comes around, I’m always tempted to make the same excuses:

“My body hurts.”

“I don’t want to do thrusters ever again in my life.”

“I already beat Hroch in The Open once, I’m good now.”

And yet every year, without fail, I come limping back for more. Buckle up and prepare for way too many GIFs as I tell you why I’m #InTheOpen:

First things first (shoutout to Iggy Iz): The Open is a great competition. Participating in the open allows you to embrace whatever level of competitive spirit you possess. If you’re Hroch, that means being first in the gym, and never speaking of that L he took a couple of years ago.. Or if you’re Makayla Garrison (aka the nicest/most encouraging person among us), it’s a fun way to see where you stack up against everyone else in our gym family. But actually, I’m convinced we all want to beat our competition all the time but maybe we don’t vocalize it. Just me? No?

The CrossFit Open will bring you together under an umbrella of suffering unlike anything else.. You might be wondering why I’m telling you this… but if you are an active member of the CrossFit community then you already willingly inflict pain upon yourself all for the greater good of #Gainz — or maybe for some other cardio-related reason that I’ll never understand. . But it’s the persevering through each Open WOD that bonds you among peers — and is the reason why we keep coming back to the box in the first place — because it’s terrible and we’re weird.

Also, I guarantee you will surprise yourself in some way. In the 5 years I’ve been around crossfit I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone accomplish something during The Open they thought they would never be able to  do. Maybe now is the time to get your first muscle up, or maybe it’s your first time to try RX wallballs with the heavy ball — wherever you fall on the scale, The Open is the time to push yourself on movements and reap the benefits of all the work you’ve been putting in.

And we’ve said this before, but The Open presents itself the opportunity to really show you how much you suck. And it’s great.  Maybe you’re like me, and anything endurance-related is your biggest weakness. Or maybe your endurance is great, but you struggle with squats because your mobility game is not so strong. No matter how fit you think you are, The Open will expose your weaknesses.  But instead of shying away from the stuff that sucks, embrace it! Use The Open as a time to improve and achieve.

Just remember, all of these movements are for functional fitness.

All to be said, I registered for the 2018 CrossFit Open — marking my 6th time to compete, to rejoice in suffering, to work my weaknesses. Will I get to passive aggressively wish I was beating you?

Coaches Corner with Becky: The drive to be better

In case you don’t know this about me, I’m a rule follower. I have this innate need for justice and it shows up in a lot of places but especially in my work in child welfare and… CrossFit.

According to the OG CrossFitters, fitness is made up of 10 recognized general physical skills if your goal is optimum physical competence. They are cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility (LOOKIN’ AT YOU, BROS), power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy (read more in Greg Glassman’s article in the CrossFit journal). So, CrossFit is designed to encompass all of these things over a period of time. And, we know it works because Rich Froning showed us it does. Four times.

So, while CrossFit is about getting stronger, it’s about a lot of other things as well, and if you make strength paramount, other things are going to suffer, thus is your overall fitness. CrossFit is about technique and variation and intensity, as well. So, if all you want to do is the things you’re good at, or only do half a back squat when we’re testing our 1-rep max and hope no one saw that you didn’t go past parallel, you’re not really doing yourself any favors.

For fitness, we don’t just want to move, we want to move WELL. Sometimes this means doing things that are less exciting like overhead squatting with the barbell for four months before you increase the weight while working on shoulder and hip mobility to get past parallel, or doing push-ups on your knees to develop the core and pectoral strength to do them correctly. I can think of endless examples but the point is, if you can’t do the movement how it is intended to be done, don’t shortcut it. Do the work it takes to do it correctly because people much smarter than us included all the movements we do to make us the most physically competent people we can be.

At CrossFit Renew we believe fitness is for more than just looking good or being really competitive, but it’s about being better dads, teachers, friends, teammates, etc. As a believer of that myself, that’s why I want to uphold the “rules” of CrossFit with great veracity. Not only can you be better at all of those things with good physical fitness, but I think we all have experienced challenges in CrossFit, and with those challenges we have an opportunity to build character. With self-discipline, we can choose to do the less cool modification of what is prescribed to meet the workout’s intended stimulus. With honor, we can record our score honestly even when we’re not proud of it. With humility, we can continue to give our best in a workout even when we’re not meeting our own expectations in the middle of a WOD.

In summary, CrossFit can make you a better person—physically, mentally, and emotionally, but you have to CHOOSE it. Everyday that you go into the gym, you have to choose why you’re there, and ask yourself, are you there to win no matter what it takes? Or are you there because you want to have some fun, take care of yourself, and encourage others around you? Unfortunately we don’t always choose the latter, but that’s okay, because we’re human and we’ve always got tomorrow’s workout to try again. Get back in there and work hard as coach Brett awkwardly yells “C’mon, Baby!” because he never truly left his baseball days.

When RX (or RX+) isn’t sexy.

Listen, I get it. Those two little letters are enticing.

The weight is heavier, the skills are more technical, and you get that validation of walking up to the kiosk, finding your name, and ticking that tiny RX or RX+ circle next to your name. You click save, and you immediately ascend to the top of the leaderboard soaring past all other athletes — prescribed or otherwise.

But RX/RX+ is like a drug, and as we well know, addictions aren’t good for us…

The truth is, most people shouldn’t do RX, let alone RX+. And yes, even our coaches. Here are 3 things I want you to consider next time you’re thinking about doing RX or RX+.

Intended stimulus

Every workout has an intended stimulus. Some workouts are intended to push you to lift heavy weights requiring short bursts of strength and power, some require sustaining a high level of intensity (aka spiked heart rate) for 10-20 minutes to build stamina and endurance, and others are a long, slow grind to help you train volume and longevity.

When considering how to scale a workout, you need to understand the intended stimulus. If the workout is intended to be done at a high intensity, but the weight you are doing makes you stand over the bar for 30-60 seconds then you probably aren’t scaling appropriately, and you probably aren’t maximizing your workout.

Movement proficiency

Similar to the intended stimulus, you need to ask yourself, “how proficient am I at these prescribed movements?” If the workout requires a high number of double unders performed quickly, and you can only string together 3-5 at a time, then it’s probably best to scale and visit us at open gym to work on those. During most CrossFit workouts is not the time to hone your skills, as skill building is something we want to be performed at a slow, controlled pace — with thoughtful mechanics.

And guess what? Doing RX+ weight but scaling the gymnastics portion does not equal an RX+ score. If you want to take the credit, you must do the work. All of the work.

Do as we say, and as we do

To err is human. But to blatantly ignore your coach’s instruction is, well, thoughtless.

As a staff, we have had the privilege of watching and coaching most of you for months, and for some, years. So needless to say,  we have a pretty good grip on your capabilities and limitations. If one of our coaches recommends you scale the weight or suggests RX+ will not help you achieve the intended stimulus of a workout, it’s because we care, not because we don’t think you’re capable. It’s not our job to feed your ego and fist-bump your inner bro. It’s our job to make sure you’re moving safely, efficiently, and to make sure you’re achieving the intended stimulus of the workout; to  help you get better as an athlete.

My point of all this is: ain’t no shame in the scaling game.

As a gym, we scale load and intensity to achieve the intended stimulus of what’s programmed. Try to consider this for every workout we do and be willing to scale as-needed to maximize the work you put in day in and day out. We’ll be here to help you, every WOD of the way.

Coaches Corner: The Three C’s of CrossFit with Brett Myles

For my first Coaches’ Corner, I decided we’re gonna talk about something slightly more philosophical than instructional. So whether you’ve been doing CrossFit for 6 years, 6 months, or 6 weeks… I believe there are three things that, if you’ll commit to them, will not only get you better in the gym, but give you more out of life.


Why do you do this? Why do you invest your time, money, and energy into CrossFit Renew? I imagine the answers vary from person to person,  but I’d have to think that all of you care about your health, fitness, and surrounding community. If you didn’t value your health and fitness, you wouldn’t exercise or strive to eat well. If you didn’t value having community, you’d be at Planet Fitness jogging on a treadmill by yourself while they dole out congratulatory donuts.

But how much do you care? My dad used to always say: “You only get out of something what you put into it!” I hated hearing it, but that’s because I was a teenager and he was always right. I want to encourage all of you to care enough about yourself and about each other to really make the most of your time at CrossFit Renew. Make it matter. Prioritize your time. No regrets. We’re rooting for you!


Show up. Even when you’re tired, even when it’s 1,000 degrees outside, even when the workout looks horrible… show up. In order to take hold of your health and fitness, consistency is key. To only come when the circumstances are convenient will surely drive you to plateau. Want to see real change? Consistently fight to show up regardless of your roadblocks. Rain won’t melt your run, a box jump tumble won’t break your spirit, and Fran won’t kill you 🙂 Trust the process. Trust us.


The last thing I want to leave you with is this: be courageous. Don’t let fear dictate your success. Want to know what it takes to get a bar muscle-up? Working at it and failing at it, then working harder at it and failing again. Over and over until one day – you get it. But the difference between successful people and those who long to be successful is the number of damns successful people give along the way. Be courageous, without fear, and just keep working.

Care about the process, stay consistent, and remain courageous until you achieve your goals. (Then do it all over again.) Love you guys, and I’m so proud to be your coach.

As always, “Get your mind right!”,

Coach Brett Myles


Coaches Corner: The Muscle Up with Coach McKenzie

Introducing: the Coaches Corner.

Every month, we’re going to feature one of our tip top coaches, sharing tip top fitness advice or general merriment. Whether it’s their favorite lift, their favorite workout, their favorite drill, or maybe just a story about their fitness journey – it’s gonna be awesome.

First coach up? Me. Talking about muscle ups.

For pretty much my entire childhood, gymnastics was life. 4 hours a day, 5 days a week, 100 weeks a year.  So as an adult CrossFitter, I am definitely trying to relive my glory days. I looooooove kipping, swinging, walking on my hands, being upside-down, and I especially love muscle ups. For the first Coaches Corner, I wanted to give those of you actively working to master the muscle up some tips and drills that are simple and effective.

It’s easy to understand the general concept of muscle ups, but unless you practice the movement and build that muscle memory *cough OPEN GYM cough*, you’ll never get one.

And that’s a promise, folks.

Before you read on, watch this video on bar muscle ups. The first half is about technique, and the second half talks about common mistakes people make. A few key things to take away from the vid, and keep in your brain for your next attempt:

  1. As you keep your gaze fixed forward (pick a place you can focus on that’s forward and slightly down), start to harness a powerful kip. Arch first, then hollow. If you haven’t mastered this yet, watch this quick tutorial for some pointers.
  2. Swing back, engage your lats and pull the bar down towards your hips as hard as you can while simultaneously popping your hips up towards the bar.
  3. Make sure to pull the bar into your hips and not into your chest. Think about leading with your hips, not with your legs, feet, or shoulders. This will help create enough space to pop your shoulders up and over the bar.
  4. When you’re in that moment of weightlessness and you’re ready to transition over the bar, sit up, find your toes, throw your shoulders over the bar, and end in an upright position with your arms locked out and a SMILE ON YOUR FACE.
  5. Remember: the higher you can get your hips up, the more momentum you will have to get your shoulders up and over into the catch position. The higher the hips, the straighter your arms, the more efficient the movement.

As you can see, muscle are all about your core, shoulders, and hips. That magical trio does 95% of the work and with their powers combined allow you to float over the bar like the CrossFit angel you are. Remember, strength comes from the shoulders, power comes from the hips.


Here’s a simple drill to work on all the mechanics:

  1. Loop a purple band around the rig.
  2. Dominant foot in band, cross other foot over to secure.
  3. Practice getting BIG kips – press that bar away from you on the hollow and try to lay flat
  4. If you are comfortable, let go of the bar for a second on the hollow. This will help you feel your weightlessness and show you where to start sitting up.
  5. Once you master the big kip, move towards throwing your shoulders over the bar to practice banded muscle ups.

It’s probably not going to come on the first time, or the second, or the 10th, but maybe on that 100th try, things will click and you will find yourself at the top of the bar. Start with drills, and then work your way up to the real thing.