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.)

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

McKenzie

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

 

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.

 

Monster Mash Recap

Last weekend marked the first of many annual Monster Mashes, and it was a SMASH! There were costumes, there was fake blood, and there was an all out brawl *sprint* for the winning spot. It truly was quite the finish!

Here were the highlights:

Best costume: Tyler and Brooke as the cast of Frozen. Tyler was supposed to wear the dress, but they didn’t know if people would think that was funny or not. It’s like they’ve never met anyone at Renew or something?

Fastest Floater (250m row) time went to the Flynns at 1:31:30! Looks like all their time of being Gym Rats paid off!

The runner up team, Are You Afraid of the Dark with Shannon and Zach, fought HARD for that top spot. Despite their valiant efforts, they finished just a few seconds after the winners. Shannon rowed her little heart out and Zach lept over that box with vigor during burpee box jumps.

WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER! Coming in first was team Pup N Suds with Claire and Russ! If you would like their autograph, I will supply sharpies at the desk so you don’t miss an opportunity. Also, I plan to order life size cardboard cutouts of them and station them around the gym as encouragement to us all. Also, feel free to clap every time they enter the gym until next year. They love that.

All very dramatic, but also it was a lot of fun and you’ll have a bad case of FOMO if you don’t participate next year — so mark your calendars! Monster Mash 2k18 will be slated for Saturday, 10/27.

Thanks to all of you who came out and worked out or cheered or both! Next year is going to be even better now that we’ve got one run under our belts.

See y’all at the box!

Shannon can’t keep her eyes open in any picture, ever, so it was only fitting to include this. 

Find and tag yourself in all the cool photos here!!

Early Thanksgiving with the Settlement Home

When CrossFit Renew started, our goal was to be more than just a room full of people that lifted heavy things and sweat a lot. As fun as that is, there’s a lot more to life than the workouts we do. We wanted to be a community of people that pushed each other inside of the gym to be better humans outside the gym.

In January 2017, we launched a CrossFit program in partnership with a foster home down the road called The Settlement Home. This nonprofit houses approximately 60 girls — from late elementary school to high school — who have come from abusive or neglectful backgrounds. While living at the Settlement Home, the girls have access to programs and resources they’ve never had before — so they may heal and grow and move onward. I wanted to help with that process using a sport that I love. And thus, this program was formed.

The goals of the Settlement Home/CrossFit Renew program are to:

  1. Give them a productive outlet to release energy and frustration.
  2. Allow them to participate in a sport unlike most things available to them.
  3. Show them that hard work is valuable and will help them accomplish things they never thought they would be able to do, as well as apply that hard work to their lives outside the box.
  4. Care for them in a way that is contradictory from what their past tells them; in a way that shows them that they are valuable, talented, strong, and worth caring about.

Most of you probably don’t know about this program because I haven’t advertised it a lot. I wanted to make sure it was stable enough to bring other people (relationships) into it so the girls didn’t form bonds and have them broken again if things didn’t work out.

My long-term goal with this program is to have it be a major part of the Renew pulse — not just something that happens at the gym twice a week (though I am grateful for that time). I would love for our members (that’s you!) to get involved in whatever capacity you can. Ideally, I would love for some of you to mentor these girls and be that healthy adult relationship in their lives.

In an effort to get that rolling, I’d like to invite you to volunteer at a Thanksgiving celebration on their campus. Here are the details:

When: Tuesday, November 14th

Shift 1: 3:00-5:00 pm – Set up table/decorations and transport food

Shift 2: 6:00-8:00 pm – Help serve on buffet line/breakdown tables and clean up decorations after the event

**You can pick one shift, or both. Whatever you are able to do.

Where: At the Settlement Home campus. Right behind the Target on Research Blvd.

Please let me know as soon as you can. They are starting to line up volunteers and they need a head count.

I think this could be a really great first step towards further integrating these girls into the gym, as well as our culture/community. I love all of you, I love these girls, and I think they could learn so much from y’all. If you have any interest at all, please email me at mckenzie.souther@crossfitrenew.org. I’m sure this email probably brought up more questions than answers, and I would love to clear things up for you.

I’ve had the privilege of getting to know these girls over the past 10 months now, and they truly are incredible. They’re hard workers and they catch on really fast. Sometimes they’re in terrible moods and have a lot of feelings, but what teenager doesn’t? Their stories are full of unfathomable suffering and rejection, but they are so strong, physically and mentally, and I think I have learned just as much from them as they have from me.

Let me know if you have any interest in this volunteer opportunity or being involved in any other way. I would be honored to help you get connected.

Thanks,

McKenzie

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.

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.

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.

Care

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!

Consistency

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.

Courage

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

barbell

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!