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.