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

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Member Spotlight: Michelle Kwan

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**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!

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.
SEE YOU AT OPEN GYM,

McKenzie

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…

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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.

 

And just like that, the Open is closed.

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The 2017 CrossFit Open is finished. In a unanimous sigh of relief; we are no longer at the mercy of Dave Castro. IMO, I thought 17.5 was the worst one. So bad that I think Dave’s brother, Ronnie, sums up all of our feelings in this video.

Thrusters and double unders are the stuff of nightmares, man. Programming 10 rounds of 9 thrusters (that’s ninety thrusters in case you were wondering. 90. 9-0.) leaves us sucking air after approximately the 2nd round. And THEN, tossing in 35 of potentially one of the most frustrating skills in all the CrossFit land can be (read: was) downright defeating.

HOWEVER, from what I heard (because vacation), everyone at Renew not only rose to the challenge, but crushed it. Coach Becky even wrote a sentimental insta post about it. That’s how you know it’s real. I would link it here, but I’m scared of her.

This is where I leave you:

  1. Everyone beat the time cap by a landslide. I think that’s an accomplishment in and of itself.
  2. Becky did all 10 sets of the thrusters UNBROKEN like the superhuman she is. I still can’t get over that. She was also really nervous about the double unders, but from what she said, they went better than she anticipated!
  3. Brian Lange went to happy hour before competing and finished in 11:31 scaled. Maybe that’s the key to a successful workout? Jury’s still out.
  4. Shannon and Val went sub 10:00 scaled! Sub 10:00!! Reminder: 90 thrusters. Even a PVC pipe would be miserable.
  5. Cara looked at Hroch halfway through the workout and said, “I will die from this.” She finished in 21:28 Rx and is, in fact, still carrying a pulse.
  6. Charles thought it was only 9 rounds, so after his 9th set of double unders, he threw his rope and laid on the ground. Jon had to break the news that he wasn’t actually done, and Charles continued to lay on the ground for about another minute. He eventually finished at 26:46 RX.
  7. Hroch finished first in our gym, at 10:27 RX with Matt Williamson hot on his tails at 13:08 RX. Kbye see you both at Regionals, probably.

And now, the moment you’ve long been waiting for… THE FINAL LEADERBOARD:

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End of The Open shoutouts:

  1. I want to give a huge thank you to Becca Harris for DJing and keeping the hype alive throughout the nights!
  2. Also, mega thank you to all the members who helped judge! Shannon jumped right on it every week! Also, Andrew, Jess, and Jon were there for just about every time I needed a last minute judge and were more than willing. Love and blessings to you all.

Congratulations and GREAT JOB to everyone who participated in The Open this year! I know I haven’t been around Renew for as long as most of you, but it truly was an honor to compete alongside all of you. I loved seeing everyone jump in with both feet and tackle these workouts.

Also, thank you for sticking around after your heats and cheering everyone else on! I love when the morning and evening crews collide; coming together as the little amazing community we are. I greatly enjoyed meeting all the new faces, high fiving old faces, and sucking wind alongside both.

Let’s keep this community bonding streak rolling with the Community WOD this Saturday from 10-11ish! Get some R&R today and tomorrow, and I’ll see you guys on Saturday!

McKenzie

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!!

McKenzie

17.3: Heavy stuff, man.

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“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.

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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:

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Top 5 dudes at Renew:

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

McKenzie

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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.
-McKenzie