Volunteering Opportunity with the Settlement Home

Another day, another volunteer opportunity with Settlement Home!

As a reminder/general PSA: Renew has teamed up with a foster home called The Settlement Home. It’s an all-girls home where ages range from early middle school to late high school. A group of the girls come to the gym Tuesdays and Thursdays to workout and have a discussion time at the end. They’re very BA and way cooler than me.

At Renew, we’re always looking for ways to not only strengthen our gym community, but also strengthen the Austin community as a whole. That’s why we looooove volunteer opportunities — they lovingly tap two birds with one stone. If you’re on the prowl for some volunteer opportunities to join, check out the below! (ALERT: these are also great opps for friends and family to tag along to. Sharing is caring.)


Option 1: Gift giving to a specific girl (deadline to have them to the gym Dec. 14th)

We are sponsoring 3 of the girls who regularly come to the CrossFit program! Their names are Kaylea, Felicity, and Vicki. They are all incredible, and have caught on to CrossFit very quickly. They also all feel comfortable enough with me to be willing to share their life stories with me, and they deserve the whole darn world.

Click here to see their wish lists and sign up to get one of the items! While Kaylea, Felicity, and Vicki take priority, there is also an Amazon wish list for girls that come to the Settlement Home around Christmas, and for various gift needs throughout the year.


Option 2: Holiday Program (10-15 volunteers needed)

Where: Settlement Home Campus

When: Thursday, 12/14, 5:30pm-8:00pm

What: Every year, they have a big event for the girls at the Settlement Home. If you were able to volunteer for Thanksgiving, it will be similar, but on a much larger scale! They will need people to help decorate, serve food, tear down, and anything else in between. I will be at this one, so you’ll have at least one familiar face!


Option 3: Gift Drop-off (Need 5 volunteers e/day)

Where: Settlement Home Campus

When: Friday, 12/8 from 11:00am-2:00pm or Saturday, 12/16 9:00am-12:00pm

What: This is an opportunity for you to be on campus to receive gifts from people as they are dropped off. People will be bringing things from the girls’ wish lists, as well as from the Amazon page.


Option 4: Gift Wrapping

Where: Settlement Home Campus

When: Wed-Fri, 12/20-12/22 at 10am each day

What: The staff have to approve each gift that comes in to make sure it’s appropriate to give to the girls. This means that everything comes to them unwrapped. If you have a special talent or love for gift wrapping (bless you), please put that talent to use and sign up to help the staff wrap everything for each of these ladies!


These girls are great, and can use all the lovin’ they can get. It would mean a lot to them to receive something from Renew, or see some of our faces during events. If you get a gift for one of the girls, please bring it (unwrapped) to the gym as soon as you can! I’m starting a pile on the desk to bring over!

If interested, please email me at mckenzie.souther@crossfitrenew.org.

Thanks y’all!


Coaches Corner with Sadie Flynn: On Having Babies and Working Out

Just to go ahead and clear the air:

I am not a pregnant person. It’s called a food baby, ok?

Depending on your attention to detail, you may have noticed that in recent months we’ve had a handful of our lady members become pregnant and have (or soon will!) their babes. All the while barely missing a class, never skipping a beat, and just generally being way more badass than you and I will ever be.

This recent onslaught of offspring has forced the Renew staff to become fast friends with scaling for expectant women, and getting a good grip on the truths and myths around fitness and pregnancy.

Before we go on, if you’re a dude with no immediate plans for impregnating your spouse, you may just want to bookmark this for later. Unless you’re just really desperate for reading material, then by all means, join us on this journey through lady bodies and modified burpees.

All the pregnant ladies

As per the aforementioned disclaimer, I am not a pregnant person. And while I can read 1,000 articles about coaching pregnant women, I thought it best to glean some insights from the women who were (and are) actually living the pregnant/postpartum CrossFitter life. Val Harmon, Katie Michner, Jillian Myles, and Athena Newell dropped some knowledge on me.

When asked,what did you learn about yourself/body as you were working out while pregnant?” each baby-slingin’ BAMF had some really good things to say. For Val, she learned that her body is capable of more than she thought possible. “Even though I was carrying this melon on the front of me,” Val colorfully confessed, “ I was still able to push myself physically. However, I also had to learn my limits and let go of my pride. Pushing myself while pregnant had to look a lot different than when I pushed myself sans baby because there are different precautions you have to take so you don’t do any harm to yourself or the baby.”

This was Katie’s third pregnancy, but her first time staying active with CrossFit during each trimester. “The great thing about CrossFit is it’s all scaleable,” Katie said. “And as certain movements became difficult or uncomfortable the coaches were always supportive and willing to figure out a way to make the WOD still work and be beneficial.”

Similarly, Jillian’s experience was filled with learnings. “I continued to learn that my body can do more than my mind thinks it can. I was stronger than I thought. I knew continuing to exercise would be important while I was pregnant, but I think doing CrossFit while pregnant made my pregnancy more enjoyable, and my delivery easier and quicker!” Jillian raved. “It also made a HUGE impact on my recovery — I was back at pre-pregnancy weight in 2-3 weeks.”

And Athena, a fierce advocate of remaining safely fit and active during pregnancy, shed light on a common misconception: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. While doing “what feels good” is all good and well, some movements like kipping pull-ups, toes to bar, sit-ups, and even some barbell movements can have a major impact on your pregnancy, and postpartum recovery.

Straight from the source

I chatted with a fellow trainer/coach friend of mine, Bree Figgins, who’s based in California and coaches at Wine Country CrossFit ~ who happens to also be pregnant ~ about remaining active during pregnancy and, as a trainer, she’s noticed that moms typically come from two vastly different schools of thought: “In one camp, soon-to-be moms assume that because they are pregnant they are somehow unable to continue working out or that they can only do minimally intensity things like walking, yoga, etc.” Bree said. However, the countergroup is women who think they don’t need to change anything about what they currently do for fitness and press on doing movements that could be detrimental to them, their baby, and their postpartum recovery. “What this tells me.” Bree went on, “ is that we have a mindset issue more than we have an action issue.”

When I asked her what her biggest piece of advice for pregnant women who are vying to remain active during pregnancy would be, she had some choice words. For those of you who are thinking about becoming pregnant, who are currently pregnant, recovering from birth, or anywhere in between — get your notepad out:

“My advice to women is to truly seek good, real information about what is safe for both themselves and their baby. Most people freak out about pregnant women working out of fear of “hurting the baby”, however there is greater risk for the mother to be injured than there is for the baby truth be told. Educating yourself can be tough because there is a ton of information out there, some good, but honestly, most is misguided.”

Pelvis Presley

Bree continued: “Two big points pregnant moms need to be aware of is 1) how to prevent/approach/treat diastasis recti and 2) how to protect/treat the condition of their pelvic floor.

First, diastasis recti is a condition that is common in pregnancy and postpartum, it is when the connective tissue between the rectus abdominis (your “six pack”) becomes stretched from your growing belly during pregnancy. This stretching is typical, however it can become as issue postpartum if the correct measures aren’t taken during pregnancy to insure that excess stress isn’t placed on the connective tissues. We see a lot of postpartum women strive to get their bodies back to its pre-pregnancy state, but struggle to lose the “mom pooch”. Unfortunately, this isn’t just a “problem” aesthetically, but a sign there are unresolved and potentially detrimental issues within the system.

We are seeing this more and more in pregnant athletes, mostly because proper measures and techniques weren’t taken as she trained during pregnancy. Part of this proper protocol should be modifying movements, eliminating movements, learning how to create intra-abdominal pressure at the correct times and staying away from things that directly makes you crunch as your midsection, jumping, or overextension.

Ultimately, there are many considerations to be taken during the season of pregnancy and postpartum. When it comes to pelvic floor health, every woman — especially postpartum — should get evaluated. Peeing on yourself every time you jump and laugh is common, but it is not normal, and shouldn’t be your new norm just because you had a baby.

Bottom line? Women need to ask harder questions. To both themselves and folks who are much smarter than they are. And be okay with the answers — don’t settle for what’s the most appealing. As they say: “Pregnancy is temporary, postpartum is forever,” so don’t make choices in your temporary state that will put you at risk for forever consequences.

If you want to read further and you’re hunting for resources about this, check these out:

  1. The CrossFit Journal’s video series (training for two, pregnant, not dead, etc.)
  2. NPR’s dissection on diastasis recti
  3. This free eBook from Bri Battles, a pro in the field of pregnancy and fitness
  4. The whole kit and caboodle from BirthFit 
  5. Fit Pregnancy for generally all the things


Deja Vu

If you participated in The Open last year, you know that 17.4 was also 16.4. I think Becky summed up everyone’s feelings pretty nicely with, “I didn’t want to do this workout last year…and I still don’t want to do it this year.” Well, everyone except Becca Harris, who had been itching for some heavy deadlifts since 17.1.

As all of you know, this workout was not a joke. Josh’s face below is a great representation of this. Those deadlifts were not light, AND there were 55 of them. I know I got to about rep 25 and thought, “wait…this is literally just the beginning of this workout. I still have wall balls, rowing, and if a miracle happens, handstand pushups.” 17.4 was a great test of not only physical strength, but also endurance and stamina.


As usual, our crew gave 110% during what was probably the longest 13:00 of our lives and we all lived to tell about it.

Here are the highlights from 17.4:

  1. Last year in 16.4, Cara Griswold did RX and only got through 48 deadlifts. This year, she also did RX and got to 34 Calories! That is 96 more reps than last year!!! 96 PEOPLE! THAT’S AMAZING!
  2. An actual quote from Becky when I asked if anyone did cool things on Friday – “Luke continues to be a general badass and pushes through pain like a champ.” Enough said.
  3. Jillian Myles’s baby bump has grown exponentially in the last few weeks and she almost finished the calorie rowing at 7 months preggo.
  4. Julie Crowley and Haley Hall were our only females to get to the handstand pushups. Naturally.
  5. John Wickes finished with 5 reps of HSPU and said, “I truly have never tried so hard in any workout than I just did.” Somewhere out there, Becky is grimacing with pride.
  6. Crawford and Matt have been close since college, and continue to stay close — even in their workouts. While in the end, Matt pushed ahead with three more HSPU than Crawford, but even their tiebreak time was almost the same!
  7. Becca Harris motored through those deadlifts and finished the 55 cal row with a few seconds to spare. 13 Seconds faster than her previous time. She managed to stay on the rower this year.
  8. Hroch was the only one to attempt this workout a second time, and got 19 reps better than his first try. He was our only athlete to get back to the deadlifts, and none of us are surprised (but we’re all super duper proud).
  9. Also, last but not least, I want to give a shout out to Donnie Newell. He rolls in every week, warms up a little, cranks out the workout (usually crushes it), and then immediately goes to hang out with his daughter. He and Athena are a great team and I’ve loved having little mini CrossFitters running around the gym!


What are the current standings?

For the ladies:

17.4 girls

For the dudes:

17.4 boys

Seriously, great job to everyone that did 17.4. Y’all worked your tails off, and from what I’ve heard, pretty much everyone that did 16.4 saw improvements in 17.4! That is a big deal!


This Friday is 17.5. The last workout of The Open. I think it’s easy to get burned out in a long series like this, but don’t let exhaustion get the best of you. Pay attention to your body and know what days to rest before Friday. Now let’s get amped for 17.5!!


17.3: Heavy stuff, man.


“Everyone struggles with snatches, right? And chest-to-bar pull ups? Cool, yes, let’s put those in the Open and then add a ton of weight to the snatches and make them do both really quickly. It’ll be horrible.” – Dave Castro, probably

The Open has this cute way of humbling you. Think you’ve got a full snatch? Try doing 15 of them at your max weight in under 8 minutes. Snatches are one of those movements that have the keen ability to highlight your immobility and pinpoint your weakness. That one movement alone in any WOD is tough, not to mention tossing in chest-to-bars.

And yet, we saw member after member make those squat snatches sit down, shut up, and take names.

Here’s the highlight reel:

  1. This is Luke Voss’ first Open, and he threw those snatches overhead like they were nothing. He almost finished the round of 115# despite the clock accidentally being stopped before he was done. You’re our champion, Luke.
  2. One of Drew Darby’s friends, Carolina, joined us for her first Open workout. She didn’t have a lot of experience with the squat snatch, but after about 10 minutes of practicing, she jumped into the workout and ended up adding way more weight than she thought she was capable of. Boom. CrossFit.
  3. Bossmom Cara Griswold got to the round of 95lb scaled. She PR’d on Wednesday at 85# for the first time, and then after all the other previous work, she gave 95# a run for it’s money.
  4. Likewise, fellow Bossmom Athena Newell did the workout RX and got to the 95# as well. She came into it with the goal to get at least 1 rep at 95# and walked away casually from 17.3 with 3 reps at 95#.
  5. Shannon Frawley, who kind of has an irrational fear of anything overhead, cranked through the scaled version and almost finished the round at 75#!
  6. Becca Harris, otherwise known as DJ LaRae, basically muscle snatched a rep at 95#.
  7. And if you missed it, Hroch emceed the evening. And I think at one point he even danced.


Below is the Renew leaderboard. We want to be sure of two things here: 1) That those who are not showcased here don’t feel their effort is any less valued, or important. You guys are putting in some hard work this Open, and it doesn’t go unnoticed. We want you to feel motivated, encouraged, and supported. 2) That those who are showcased here feel proud of their accomplishments and humbled to be among such hardworking men and women. Also, don’t let it go to your head. Remember: you’ll never be as cool as the Dottirs.

Top 5 women at Renew:


Top 5 dudes at Renew:


There you have it. Now, rest and recover — 17.4 is right around the corner. We’re over halfway done, y’all. Stay strong!



Why do you guys keep yelling at me about Open Gym?

The CrossFit Open is this special time when Dave Castro and the broheads at CrossFit HQ get together and come up with workouts that highlight our weaknesses with neon permanent markers, forcing us to get out of our comfort zones and push our limits. Those jerks!  

So, we decided to re-establish Open Gym as an opportunity for all of us to come together and work those weaknesses. And we mean it – it’s 2 extra hours a week you get to freely work on whatever ails you. We have a coach there ready to give you drills, or help correct form, or give you accessory work to build strength.

“Yeah okay I get it but like what will I actually gain from a measly 2 extra hours a week?” So glad you asked, let me tell you a story:

Steven Harmon is a baller, and as such, wanted to do 17.2 RX. But he kept getting stuck on those muscle ups (and today in shocking news…). Defeated but determined, he was back at the gym Saturday morning to work on his kips, cues, and master the basics of the movement so he wouldn’t find himself stuck later. He did countless sets of kips – each bigger than the last – and then moved into assisted muscle ups with a band.

And check this the freak out:

His second banded MU ever! His first was about 3 minutes before this. Boom. Can you smell unassisted MUs yet? I can. Smells like joy and ripped hands.

But Super Steven doesn’t stop there – muscle ups are a trouble area, and double unders have always been a battle. After his muscle up work, he moved to DUs. After being beaten with his rope, we worked together to identify that his issues were elbow placement and rhythm during the jumps. After some slow single-under accessory work, it clicked. Steve finally got the rhythm. Pretty soon you’ll see this guy doing 100 DUs in a row. I can feel it.

Remembering to celebrate small victories is so important. 99% of the time, you will not be able to waltz into the gym and do something new the right way on your first attempt. You start with the basics and work your way up until you have mastered that skill. Learning to love the process will help avoid so much frustration and make it fun at the same time.

So, see you Saturday – 10am at the gym. We’re ready for ya.

17.2: Will we ever walk comfortably again?

Hopefully everyone has had a chance to stretch their hammies and glutes and also ice their hands and pride after 17.2. I am so proud of all of you for lunging and cleaning your way through that workout and entertaining Dave Castro with his dumbbell madness. He’s the worst, y’all are the best.

The highlights!

    1. Luke Voss went into 17.2 with 0 unassisted pull ups and ended up cranking out not 1, not 2, but 13!!
    2. Val Harmon was going to do RX and nix the muscle ups, but instead did scaled and got her first 2 unassisted pull ups! Pregnant!
    3. Shannon Frawley powered through the workout by herself on Monday even though she was sick, because though she be small she be mighty.
    4. Brian Lange might as well have just done jumping muscle ups on the tallest bar we have.
    5. Matt Williamson got the farthest and finished one full round (really 4 rounds)!

What else happened?

  1. Coach Russ judged Matt Williamson and didn’t like that Matt’s score was higher, so Russ attempted 17.2 a second time. Matt still beat him.
  2. A little known fact about Andrew Greenwood is that he needs someone to yell at him to make him work to his potential. Jess was his judge, and if anyone knows Jess, she is the last person in the world that would yell at Andrew like he needs. I politely spoke very sternly at him after the workout and he decided to come back for round two. Russ judged him and it looks like whatever yelling he did worked. He went from 91 reps to 113. 
  3. Justin Hroch did 17.2 twice, and tore 90% of his skin off his hands to squeeze out three more reps and likely bump his rankings up ahead of all the other plebeians. 


What are the current standings?

As of right now, below are the top 5 girls and top 5 guys!



I really am so proud of all of you. We’re two workouts in and we’ve already had so many awesome milestones in our gym. Can’t wait for the remaining weeks!

Rest and repair your body, and we’ll see you Friday for 17.3!

In love and lunges,


17.1 In the Books!


Hey guys, remember that one time we did a million snatches and a bunch of burpee box jump overs and then our backs caught on fire but we all just nervously laughed about it in anticipation??

Great job to everyone who gave 17.1 a shot! Friday Night Lights was AWESOME and we want to give a big thank you to all the last minute judges who jumped in!

Here are some of the highlights:

  1. Becca Harris honed her not-so-secret DJ skillz and owned the mic and rocked the house.
  2. Charles the Bearded Wonder (WHO SHAVED HIS FACE, GUYS) closed down the party with his bartending skills. “Alcohol makes people happy, and I like making people happy.” – an actual quote from Charles the Bearded Wonder
  3. Brendan burpee box jumped his way right onto his butt and he took the box down with him. But the good news is no one recorded it.
  4. Shoutout to Jillian and Athena! Those supermoms/preggo girlbosses worked out for two last Friday. They both gave it their all, despite getting winded faster than usual because of the child inside them.
  5. Also, the Wickeses got off a plane from LA Sunday night and headed straight to the box. Becky got one more rep than Jon and victory punched the air as they both gasped for air flat on their backs.

Q: But wait, did anyone actually finish this workout?



  1. Hroch – obviously – with an incredible time of 13:57 RX
  2. Matt Williamson motored through with a time of 18:05 RX
  3. Andrew Greenwood finished right behind Matt at 18:10 RX
  4. Drew Darby used to be a member at Renew and moved too far away to come regularly, but he wanted to join the fam again for The Open. He finished at 18:19 RX
  5. Last but not least, the only registered woman at Renew to finish. The one, the only, JULIE CROWLEYYYYYYY (and the crowd goes wild) with a time of 19:21 Rx.
  6. Not registered, but also not to be overlooked, Jess Rhodes finished at 19:50 Rx and Jamie Kampman (a mom of 1,000) finished at 17:33 Rx. Wut.

Q: Was anyone crazy enough to make a second attempt at 17.1?

A: Yes. Lewis was not satisfied with his capped score, so Sunday night, he came back for a second round. He also quickly realized this was a mistake, but pushed through until there was no way he was going to get a better score than his first attempt.

Also Russ wasn’t satisfied with his capped score either and came back for round two at 19:58. Nice job, Russ!

Q: Who put on the most stressful screamo playlist in all the land?

A: Steven Harmon waltzed into the gym Sunday night and said, “I have a playlist. I need it. You’re going to hate it, but I need it.” It consisted of screamo “tear your throat out”  **an actual lyric from one of his songs** music and he cranked out the workout with 199 reps scaled.

Q: What are the standings after 17.1?

A: Drumroll please…andddd the top 10 are currently

17.1 stats

We are so proud of everyone that came out and pushed through the first workout of The Open. Whether you went sub 14 or got capped, did scaled or RX, everyone did such an amazing job and truly made all the coaches so proud. And can we get a whoop whoop for all the cheerleaders and spectators?! The Renew community is so unique, and I can’t wait to spend the next 4 Fridays with everyone!

Now rest those backs, ice, stretch, heat, drink water, eat well this week and get pumped for this Friday!! 17.2!!


2017 Open Logistics

Again, said best by Allman and updated for THIS Friday.


Ok, you’re in for the Open and your ready to be the fittest man or woman on Earth (or in your household). Here is all you need to know about the 2017 Open.

Continue reading →

2017 CrossFit Games Open: What and Why

PSA: Chris Allman might have moved to Waco, but his voice still reigns at Renew. Specifically in this blog post. This is technically from last year, but we thought it captured the rhyme and reason for The Open. We will let him explain things. Take it away, Chris. 

*dates and information have been edited and are current*


The CrossFit Games Open officially kicks off the 2017 Games season that includes the Open (Feb. 25 through March 28), Regionals (May 19-June 4), and the CrossFit Games (August 1-6). For any CrossFit enthusiast, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Continue reading →

If you’re not #InTheOpen, then what are you even doing?

In less than a week, 17.1 will be announced. Which, for those of you who don’t know, this highly complex numerical structure is how the Reebok CrossFit Executives Elite organize The Open every year — it’s the year plus which workout is being completed. So, “17.1” is the first workout of the 2017 Open.

Advanced Calculus is now adjourned.

ANYWAY, next Thursday, 2/23 the first workout of the 2017 CrossFit Open will be announced and our collective emotional stability will balance in the calloused hands of two of the world’s best athletes as they compete head-to-head for sponsored glory.

Then, it’s Renew’s time to shine. And by shine, I mean sweat a lot and probably drink beer together afterwards. Because FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, Y’ALL!! You are not gonna wanna miss out on this, so let’s just get this outta the way:

  • Register here on CrossFit’s official site to compete in the 2017 Open!!
  • Then, sign up for your heat during Friday Night Lights here.

Last year was so, so fun. I mean that’s what I hear. I wasn’t actually there. But I totally believe it!! Look at some of the cool stuff that happened:

  • – All the Open athletes got really cool shirts and tanks to wear as badges of honor and they continue to        wear them every day to memorialize their accomplishments.
  • – The always smiley, bubbly coach Becky *Wickes* got her very first bar muscle up.
  • – At 63 years old, Michael Vasko did 16.5 prescribed and clapped his happy self the whole way                  through it.
  • – Doug Phillips did 16.2 twice and ended up lying on the ground in front of the gym as his young son              stood over him and feared for his father’s life.
  • – Paige Jones and Jess Rhodes were neck-and-neck most of the weeks and it was a super exciting and          brutal showdown and the entire gym went in on a high-stakes bet.
  • – Sadie completed 16.2 scaled and was the only girl in the gym to do so.
  • – Hroch almost qualified for Regionals because why wouldn’t he?
  • – And apparently Whitney talked a lot of smack but couldn’t actually do any of the workouts because she      was still broken.

And that was just at our little gym! One of the coolest things about The Open is that athletes from literally all over the world play a part in this thing. Unlike normal professional-level sports, CrossFit is the only sport where anyone and everyone can participate – from your tip top Grade-A All Star superhumans, to your coworker, Janet. To compete in the Super Bowl you have to be Tom Brady, but to compete in the CrossFit Open you can just be you. This is truly a worldwide community event that facilitates camaraderie and competition like nobody’s business.


So seriously, what are you even doing? Register TODAY here on CrossFit’s official site, and then secure your shot at the workout with your Renew fam at Friday Night Lights here.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to build a better, stronger community with the amazing people that make up the CrossFit Renew family. We work hard. We sweat hard. We cheer hard. And sometimes we fall to the floor and scare children.


Also if you don’t participate in The Open this year Charles made some threatening comments over on our Instagram. You have been warned.

Friday. February 24th. The Open begins with 17.1 at Friday Night Lights at CrossFit Renew. See you there.