Member Spotlight: Ari Olsh

When she’s not doing techy things for Ama-Whole-Foods-zon or playing with her doggo, you can likely find Ari Olsh bangin’ out back extensions on the GHD or sleeping in her bed because she signed up for the 6:30am and then cancelled last-minute.

That’s right: this month’s member spotlight is shinin’ on our resident Russian and probably coolest member, Ari Olsh!

  1. You tried a few gyms before Renew, so what made you stick around here?

I really like how tight knit and friendly Renew feels. Folks really engage and make an effort to get to know each other.

  1. What is your favorite thing about CrossFit in general?

Like many others, I love the sense of community that comes with CrossFit. The feeling that regardless of someone’s individual fitness level or ability, we all share the same goal of becoming better. And also I love the fact that I have to register for class and someone then expects me to be there because, let’s be honest, if I wasn’t held accountable in some way, I would never show up!

  1. Where are you from originally and where is your favorite place you’ve lived?

I’m originally from Odessa, a coastal city in Ukraine, but ethnically I’m Russian. My first language is Russian. (Yes, it’s true. I’m spying on all of you for Mother Russia). My favorite place I’ve lived is Atlanta. Atlanta is super diverse and very green. Similarly to Austin, it has a rich culture with lots of stuff to do, eat, and see every weekend. It was also my first Southern experience after being a lifelong Yankee, and like all firsts it holds a special place in my heart.

  1. If you had all the monies, what would you do?

Go to Iceland.  

  1. What are your fitness goals for next year?

Improve all of my gymnastic and bodyweight movements. Push-ups, pull-ups, handstand push ups, ring rows, all that stuff. I’d also like to learn to walk to my hands.

And there you have it. So next time you see Ari stroll in a few minutes after class time, first, congratulate her for showing up. And then ask her about Putin. She’ll love it.

We love you, Ari. So glad you chose (and continue to choose) Renew as your gym home! Long live Mother Russia! (Just kidding. Texas forever.)

Member Spotlight: Becca Harris

This month, we have the pleasure of highlighting one of our OG members, Becca Harris. You might know her by her bright workout garb, her abundance of supportive gear, and her “diabetes”. She also has two adopted sons (cute fam pic above) and is the BEST parent to them. Or you may not know her at all, which is totally fine and this blog is about to be super insightful for you.

Let’s jump in!

  1. How long have you been doing CrossFit at Renew?

Since January 2015.

  1. Why did you decide to join?

Because I wanted to be awesome at burpees. As you can tell, it has totally worked. OR, because I wanted to be stronger than my 2 man cubs so I needed to pump some serious iron. The CrossFit box I was a part of previously moved and it was too hard to make it consistently. I had a lot of friends that worked out at Renew and the ol’ shed was literally behind my office so rather than creepily watching everyone workout, I decided to join.

  1. Over all the years you’ve been a member, what is your favorite memory at Renew?

Oh man, how do I pick just one? There was the time I ripped my shorts doing wall-balls and Allman* made me stand in the back of the class. Then there was the time I PR’d my front squat and I peed a little. This also happened when I PR’d my deadlift. Pee and PR’s. Yup I just shared that with you all. You’re welcome.  The 2016 Open was one of my favorites.  It was my first CrossFit Open to compete in and I did it all Rx. It was the first time I did chest to bar pull-ups (!!) and I tried super hard to fake a bar muscle up because my judge was drinking a beer, but alas, we are gym that believes in honesty and dignity and stuff.

  1. What is that thing you wear in your little black pouch when you work out?

My steroids. Its how I juice before a WOD. Just kidding. It is an insulin pump. I have Type 1 Diabetes and that thing is what keeps me alive. I don’t think it is the reason I lay on the floor after EVERY WOD, but I will always use that as my fall back excuse.

These 4 questions hardly scratch the surface of who Becca is. If you’ve never met her, she usually works out at the 11:30am or 5:30pm (and occasionally the 6:30am when pressured), so get yourself there. Or ask her to hang out. She’ll say yes.

We love you, Becca!

*Chris Allman is the founder of Renew and previous owner and all around legend. Know him. Love him.

 

Member Spotlight: Alex Fleming

We remember it well.

Fresh out of Foundations, Alex Fleming faced his first WOD head-on; braving the blazing sun with a partner for a 200m, 400m, 600m sprint sesh. Because he’s a natural-born champion, he and his partner wrapped the workout ahead of time. After confirming that he was, in fact, still alive, he noticed the last team struggling with the sprints. So what does he do? He jumps in for more; using the last of his energy reserves to run alongside his classmates and help encourage them across the finish line.

And that was the last time he ever went to a 5:30pm class.

Here are some more cool things about Alex Fleming, Patron Saint of Sprints:

Q: What made you want to start CrossFit?

A: I needed something that would push me to workout on a consistent basis. Before joining Renew, I would workout maybe once a week (big fat “maybe”) and it was probably a lame workout at best.

Q: What has been your favorite workout and your least favorite workout so far?

A: Favorite… haha, you must be crazy! Maybe any that haven’t included burpees (looking at you, Brett). And of the ones I’ve done, Filthy Fifty is by far my least favorite.

Q: What is the strangest food you’ve ever eaten?

A: Oh man, I’ve eaten some weird stuff… probably cow brains.*

Q: If we got our hands on your old iPod, what’s the most embarrassing song/artist we’d find?

A: What’s worse, Destiny’s Child or Uncle Kracker? #noshame

Q: If you were an animal, what kind would you be and why?

A: Let’s go with the elusive Honey Badger. I’ve heard he’s a badass so i’ll roll with that.

So, in summary:

Sir Alex Fleming, the cow brain-eating Honey Badger who will serenade you with “Survivor” from the sidelines of Filthy Fifty.

Keep up the good work, Alex. We love having you around Renew!

*Gross, Alex.

Member Spotlight: Michelle Kwan

MichelleKwan (1)

**Refraining from Michelle Kwan figure skater references and jokes because our Michelle Kwan probably gets 24/7/365 and is already rolling her eyes**

She’s quiet.

She’s quick.

She’s deeply loyal to her 8am ex-BVMer class (and often leads the pack!).

She’s… Michelle Kwan!

Q: When did you start CrossFit?

A: I’ve been CrossFitting (can that be a verb?) on and off for three-ish years.  I hope to keep the “on” streak going for awhile.

Q: What is your favorite thing about CrossFit?

A: Some days, CrossFit inspires me to dig deep, test my mental and physical fortitude and push myself to new levels.  Other mornings, my favorite thing is just jaw-jacking with the 8am’ers during the post-WOD pigeon stretch.  Either way though, I’m always glad that I showed up.

Q: What are your favorite ways to pass the time?

A: Hanging out with my daughter is at the top of my list for how I like to spend my free time.  (She’s twelve; I’m not sure she’d give the same answer.)  My second choice is hanging out with our puppy.  (She’s one; I’m more confident that she feels likewise.)  I also like to read, travel and occasionally binge-watch Netflix.

Q: What is one thing about you that would surprise us if we knew?

A: I’m a pretty private person; I’m actually kind of shy.  People who know me would be surprised I agreed to answer these questions.

Q: Please describe the craziest thing you’ve ever done.

A: I dove the Blue Hole in Belize as a newbie scuba diver (and lifelong scaredy-cat).  I descended 130 feet into the deep, dark abyss of a giant sinkhole, just to impress a boy.  I’m wiser now.  I might still do something crazy like that, but not for the same reason.    

There you have it, people. A little glimpse into Michelle Kwan. You’re probably wondering if she ended up marrying that boy for whom she dove into the abyss…

The answer is I have no idea but love is crazy amirite?

Michelle, we are so glad you are a part of our community. See you at 8am!

Member Spotlight: Michael Vasko

Every month, we’re going to be spotlighting one of you guys. Maybe you’ve been a member since the Renew dawn, or maybe you just finished foundations — no one is immune to our public displays of affection. To kick off our new segment, we thought we would start with one of our beloved veteran members…

Vasko

Michael Vasko

AKA the old(er) guy who claps during his workouts. Let’s jump in!

Q: How long have you been doing CrossFit?

A: I have been doing CrossFit for 6 years! Easy question!

Q: How many marathons have you run?

A: Philadelphia 1/2 Marathon, Austin full Marathon with my daughter Noelle, and Austin 1/2 Marathon with my son and my son-in-law. Oh yeah, a 10 mile beach race in Wildwood NJ with Noelle.  They said running on the hard sand by the ocean would be easy. They lied!

Q: What do you love about CrossFit and why do you clap so much?

A: Crossfit is like church, yes I said that, and it is why I love it soooo much. When I started Crossfit I was broken and there was no shame attached to the fact I could not do what everyone else could. The coaches led me, mentored me, were patient, kind and motivated me to be a better version of me. They took 2 years of patient mentoring, after 2 years of training I could finally do 1 overhead squat with a PVC pipe. They applauded and my classmates cheered.

I have always been humbled by the care shown to me and I love to return that care to others. I clap because I am so grateful that I can be at the gym, that I can participate, that I can make those that are new to Crossfit Renew feel welcomed. I also want them to know that, just as I was cared for, that we will care for them as well. I will tell them about Burpees later. I enjoy and admire what the young people can lift, can move, can leap and be pregnant at the same time. It is great watching people mature into wonderful athletes. I clap because I know I will never catch up to everyone’s athleticism and their strength, but I also know that they will catch up to me! Yeah!

Q: What is one thing about you that would surprise us if we knew it?

A:  He gave us a huge list (of course) so we narrowed it town to our favorites!

  1. I am an ex-con in Mexico. I was arrested in Mexico city at age 14 and put in jail (and lived).
  2. At age 13, I was stabbed in the back, and the Catholic Church gave me Last Rites (but I lived).
  3. I once passed out in 120′ of water while wreck diving off the Long Island (but I lived).

Next time you see Vasko around the box, give him a high five and a few extra claps during his workout. His positive attitude and impressive endurance should be motivation for all of us.

Clap on, Vasko! We can’t wait for more stories from you.