Member Spotlight: the Devalls


This month’s member spotlight is shinin’ bright on the two and only Michelle and Alan DeVall! These two work so hard, day-in and day-out, and aren’t afraid of any challenge that comes their way — whether that’s triathlons, taking up a new hobby (ice skating, anyone?), running long distances in Texas at any point of the year, or otherwise.. They are also cat people and band teachers (at different schools), so that’s neat and adorable.

Let’s get to know Michelle and Alan!


What is the #1 thing that got you hooked on CrossFit?

Michelle: We were members of a regular gym that closed for remodeling. A group of teachers I ate lunch with kept talking about the CrossFit they went to nearby. I decided to check it out while our gym was closed. I really liked that I could attend classes at any time of the day and still get the same workout. I kept going back because I liked the challenge.

Alan: I got hooked on Crossfit through Michelle. In the fall of 2013 we were living in Fort Myers, FL. Michelle tried it out and told me I would like it. She was right and I was hooked. We moved to Austin 6 months later and decided we definitely didn’t want to give it up.


What made you both want to be band teachers?

Michelle: I was on the student leadership team when I was in high school marching band. I enjoyed helping other students learn how to march and play better. Teaching music seemed like a natural fit.

Alan: I was always involved in Music growing up (playing piano, guitar and trombone). My high school Band director was the main inspiration for me deciding to become a music teacher.


What is the most ridiculous thing a student has done in your time as teachers?

Michelle: I’ve been fortunate to not have too many bad things happen. The worst I can think of is that two students go into some kind of discourse, and one threw a drum stick at another.

Alan: The craziest thing that ever happened to me as a teacher was in 2013. I had two students break into the band hall after I had left. They then proceeded to climb into the drop ceiling to try to hide something, but instead they fell through causing the ceiling tiles and lighting to collapse. They had to pay a couple thousand dollars worth of damages.


Were you teachers pets in school or rebels?

Michelle: Not really either. I mostly kept to myself and just did the work.

Alan: I’m not sure I tried to be a teacher’s pet when I was in school, but I’m sure other people thought I was. I just tried to do my best. As a trombone player we always sit in the back row, so I have seen all the ways people can goof off (even as adults). Now I use it as leverage when my students goof off.


There you have it.

They CrossFit, they music, and they mold the minds of baby children to raise up the next Mozart! They are a pair of joys and if you don’t know ‘em, introduce yourself the next time you’re in the gym…

because they will most likely be there.


So, if you read last month’s blog, you heard from Hroch that I have stepped into the role of Head Coach at CrossFit Renew and I am SO THRILLED!

If you didn’t read last month’s, then you’re probably not reading this either because you don’t care about our newsletters and just want a place to work out everyday and that’s all, and that’s okay, but I would still like to know you and everything about your childhood and how your parents parented you and how that has shaped you into the person you are today BUT that’s for another day and a different blog.

Today, we’re talking about what’s going on in the gym. You may notice a few changes here and there, and I want to tell you why. I’ve been told once or twice that I take things too seriously in life, but I like to think of it more as being intentional. I’m serious because most of the things I do have been picked apart in my brain in more detail than the average individual would enjoy or care to do. It’s a little obnoxious what goes on in my head, but sometimes it’s helpful. Like, for instance, leading a CrossFit coaching staff to deliver the best possible experience for our members.

Meaning, every detail of what gets put into a one-hour class has been thoroughly thought through; from the warm-up, to the time it’s going to take all you jokers to put plates on your barbell, to the newly instated cool-down laps that you’re growing to embrace. It’s all intentional because we want to give you the best fitness experience we possibly can, not just because we want to be the best, but because our staff is made up of awesome, caring, thoughtful people who want what you do in the gym to impact the rest of your life, both today and in the future. So, if Sadie yells at you to get lower in your squat, it’s not just because she likes to yell or is super passionate about the squat (though, that is also appropriate) but it’s because we want you to take your joints through the full range of motion that they were designed to do to prepare you for what’s outside of the gym. If you can’t squat past parallel now, it’s not going to improve when you’re 75 and you fall on the floor and cannot stand up because you literally can’t get your knees and hips in a position to do so. We don’t want that!

Our programming is designed to be advantageous to a 22 year old collegiate athlete and 65 year old retiree. I may have different reasons for wanting you both to get upside down and work on some version of a handstand walk, but I promise you, there IS a reason, and if you ever want to know why, just ask! I’ll tell you more than you want to know, and will make sure our coaches do the same

In addition to some things looking different in class, we’re also working on ongoing training for our coaching staff! I’m really pumped about this as well because there is a wealth of knowledge out there about CrossFit and its methodology and any movement you can think of, and researching it so that I can teach it to our coaches gets me FIRED UP about fitness and the way CrossFit accomplishes it. There’s a lot of really smart people behind this sport. You’ve probably felt a similar spurt of energy in your own profession after attending a really great conference for continuing education, and that revived passion then makes you better at your job! That’s what I want for all my coaches, too. To be the best coach they can be for you guys, they have to be excited about CrossFit and in a place where they’re hungry to improve. Some of the ways we’re doing that is by running through drills together, reading lots of articles, doing online courses, and more!

The point is, these changes are because I care. I care about our coaches, I care about CrossFit, and, perhaps most importantly, I care about you guys! Every day, the coaches collectively make decisions about how to give you the best experience and make you the fittest, healthiest versions of yourselves — and I hope it shows. Again, if you have any questions about why we do what we’re doing, or why it’s relevant to you, please do not hesitate to ask.

We’re here for you, and happy to chat!

See you under the big ass fan,


Coaches Corner: Head Coach Updates with Hroch

Hey Renew Crew!

I know, I know — it’s hellishly hot. But the fan is on its way (seriously, it is). So let’s all practice some mental toughness while we wait for some Big Ass reprieve, and thanks for your continued patience!

But I’m not here to listen to you complain talk about fans. I’m here to talk about Becky Wickes.

Wait, sorry — I’m here to talk Becky Wickes, Head Coach!!

Don’t worry! Brett isn’t going anywhere. Everyone’s favorite Tall Guy is still on staff and still going to share the wonders and joys of CrossFit with you all. Turns out, having a house and a baby and a wife and a full time job and friends and all the life things can pull you in many directions. And fortunately for us, Becky has no life!

Just kidding, she does. And it’s Renew.

Just kidding, it’s not. But Becky is crazy passionate about CrossFit and the Renew Crew, and possesses the skills, capacity, and energy to really thrive in this role. I am confident that she is the perfect person to help our gym flourish. With Becky at the helm, get ready for elevated class and coaching experiences, more well-rounded programming — with performance tests and benchmarks — and next-level coaching, as she is taking on the task of helping each of us coaches, well, be better coaches.

Becky, a newly minted CrossFit Level 2 Trainer, has been with Renew since nearly the dawn of its time, and cares deeply for our community and mission. If you’ve met her, you know she invests in the people around her, and makes it her responsibility to see to it that her peers are being the best versions of themselves — and she’s exactly the type of person we want captaining our membership.

So next time you see Becky, first let her give you that technical correction, and then give her a congratulations! Well deserved, Becky Wickes!

Now leave me alone about the fan.



Member Spotlight: Kim Hernandez

It’s safe to say that Kimberly Hernandez has never met a stranger in her entire life. If you haven’t met her, don’t worry, she’ll meet you, and then she’ll ask you how you got to Renew, what you do for a living, how many dogs you have, why you don’t have any dogs yet, what your relationship with your dad is like, what you ate for lunch last week, what your biggest regrets in life are, and who your celebrity crush is.

If you’re looking for a boost in your day, make sure to sign up for a class that Kim is attending. She’ll boost you right up.

Wanna know more about Lil Kim? Keep reading.

Q: What has been your proudest moment in CrossFit Renew to date?

A: Murph. Hands down.  I had a pretty bad back injury three years ago, and it took about three years of rehab before I could go up and down stairs without hurting.  While I’m proud of every workout, Murph was a testament of how much stronger I have become since joining Renew.

Q: What is the most rebellious thing you did as a child?

A: I just had strict Asian parents that wouldn’t let me into the backyard by myself. I was seriously sheltered. They were like, well she’s either gonna be super weird or use drugs. I think that’s why they let me be weird.

Q: If you had one meal left on this earth, what would it be?

A: OH MAN. Am I on death row for this?  I’d take a magic shroom burger from Hopdoddy, a red velvet shake, and the biggest portion of fried okra known to man.

Q: What is one fun fact about yourself that we don’t already know?

A: I don’t think this is fun, but I HATE liquid sunscreen.  I mean, I know you guys know I’m an ICU nurse, and I do all sorts of things at work involving certain liquids… but liquid sunscreen is the only thing that makes me gag and that I refuse to ever touch it.

Q: True or False: you have a tattoo on your body forever of your dog’s tooth. If true, please elaborate.

A: Beyond true.  I didn’t have a dog growing up, so I never understood true unconditional love and companionship until he was having diarrhea in my bed (which I cleaned up no problem but if it was liquid sunscreen….) and trying to cuddle with me the next second.

We love you, Kim! We’d gather up all of the liquid sunscreen and launch it into space for you.

My name is Haley Hall, and I did a thing.

Guys, I did a thing…

I bought protein powder.

If you know me, you know that’s a new, big deal. For years I’ve felt like I can recover just fine with real food. And I still think that is mostly true, but I’m ready to experiment. Specifically, I want to know if protein powder has a positive/significant impact on my recovery.

People choose to use protein powders for a variety of reasons, some legit and others maybe not so much. In my opinion, protein powders have their place but they are not necessary for optimal health, performance or muscle growth. You can get plenty of protein from a balanced diet with real food.

Here are a handful of reasons why you may consider using protein powder:

  1. You don’t have an appetite immediately following exercise and can’t stomach the
    idea of eating but you’re down to chug down a protein shake.
  2. You’re busy or on the go and don’t have access to real food post-exercise.
  3. Someone on the internet said you should.
  4. You’ve been doing it so long you can’t remember why you considered it in the first place.
  5. Or, like me, you just want to experiment and see how it impacts your body,
    performance and recovery.

If you’re thinking about trying protein powder or if you converted long ago, there are a some important things to know about protein powders:

  1. They can be very processed. Don’t choose a protein powder by the front label. The front is going to use as many buzzwords (natural, organic, protein, etc) as possible to catch your attention. Don’t stop there – check the ingredient list and choose a product with very few and mostly recognizable ingredients.
  2. They often tout false claims. Supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA so there’s not always a big brother making them back up their claims. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  3. When consumed alone, they don’t provide all you need post-workout. Specifically, they most often lack carbohydrates, an essential nutrient after a workout. When using protein powder post-WOD, mix with a carb-containing drink (milk, juice, coconut water) or have some fruit or dried fruit with it.
  4. Your day to day nutrition still matters. You can’t out-exercise or out-supplement a poor diet. Sorry I’m not sorry.

So knowing these things… let’s do this! I’ll check back in and report how I’m feeling here in a week or two. But until then, see you at the gym pouring powder into a shaker cup full of milk.


Coaches Corner: McKenzie’s Story

Sports have been a part of me for as long as I can remember. My mom swam in college (and is in the Auburn swimming hall of fame…what…). My grandfather swam in college and was no less than OBSESSED with it for the rest of his days. My dad played baseball for a long time. My sister currently swims for Bama. And, as a lot of you know, I was a competitive gymnast for 8 years. 20+ hours a week at practice was very normal to me. I was homeschooled for middle school and all my friends were girls in leotards (super cool, I know). I grew 3 inches in a summer, tanked my last season and was generally burned out. I quit gymnastics and, per my family history, swimming was the next logical step.

All of this is great, but I went to college as a NARP (non athletic regular person) and my only option for working out was the gym with the machines and treadmills and bros taking selfies as they do curls. A few months into school, I decided to see what it was all about.

I walked in, confidently swiped my student ID, took a lap around the floor trying to figure out what any of the machines did and landed on a treadmill between two sorority girls with full faces of makeup. It was a self propelled treadmill, so obviously I decided to sprint. I tripped at full speed, caught myself within an inch of my life, gave the sorority girls simultaneous heart attacks, got off, walked out, and didn’t return for the rest of the year.

The next time I walked into that nightmare of a place was sophomore year with a friend who had been raving about CrossFit and I wanted to give it a shot. The only skill I remember doing was wall balls because it was a hard med ball and it bounced off the wall and smacked me in the face, glasses and all. It was the hardest workout I’d ever done, I wasn’t sure if my legs were going to carry me back to my dorm 500m away, but I was forever hooked.

I’ve always done individual sports, but I love the team aspect of CrossFit. You’re working against yourself, but you’re competing with others while also encouraging them as you all suffer and sweat together. It’s constantly varied, so I’m never bored. It’s challenging and technical. As an ex-gymnast, I love the technicalities of skills like the squat snatch. How can I move my body to be the most efficient and lift the most weight? I love being upside down and sometimes am more comfortable on my hands than my feet. I love swinging on the rig and being up high after a muscle up. I can climb ropes because I want to, AND most of the time I’m allowed to use my legs. That was a luxury I didn’t often get as a gymnast.  It all just tosses me back to my glory days, challenges me, and pushes me to do new things.

More than that, it comes with a group of people that you get to become friends with. Yes, I love CrossFit itself, but I love the people that come with the sport. They’re ready to work hard. They’re there because they want to be. They get to forget the stress of work or home or kids or whatever it might be for that one hour. You get to see people at their best and their worst (sometimes in the same hour) and you get to love them in whatever state they’re in.

I love CrossFit. But I love people the most. And I freaking love the people of CrossFit Renew.

That’s all I’ve got for you.


Member Spotlight: The Guertins

Hello and welcome to the May Member Spotlight, ft. The Guertins.

Cali natives and relatively new to Austin and swampy Texas heat, the Guertins have two fur children that they love maybe more than each other, and they both will talk to just about anyone. Check out this Q&A to learn a little more about them!

Q:  Why did you decide to start CrossFit?

A: We moved to Austin from San Diego and had always wanted to try Crossfit, and decided this would be a great time to not only get started, get in shape, but also meet new people! Cause we knew no one, so we were really hurting for some friends.

Q: Why Renew?

A: We took a look at a few other boxes in the area, and this one seemed the most inviting, plus it was close to our place. So I filled out the form online for foundations! Then Justin wouldn’t leave us alone, so here we are!

Q: What is your favorite memory at Renew?

Tatiana: 12 Days of Christmas WOD. I remember looking at that thing and thinking I was going to die, and I did, but I finished it, and everyone was super encouraging! I was just excited to have finished it and been such of a large group.

Simon: The Open. The way everyone came prepared to work followed by their cheers and chants while drinking! It made me feel part of a team, and you never want to disappoint your team.

Q:  If you could have as many dogs as you wanted, and taking care of them wasn’t an issue, how many would you get?

A: We would have a whole freakin’ farm of dogs! Probably 8 max, because they’d of course be primarily inside dogs, and for some reason 8 seems like a manageable amount. But they would be huge! Huge labs and a few newfies! We want all the slobber and all the cuddles!

Q: As relatively new Austinites, what’s your favorite thing about living here?

Tatiana: All the trees, the lakes and rivers, and all the fun outdoor activities!

Simon:The great beer selection and nature — just like Tatiana said. But I think we both agree that our least favorite thing about living here is the humidity. Tatiana is just sweaty in Texas.

We love you Guertins!

Member Spotlight: Julie Crowley

Here are some fun facts about Julie Crowley:

  • Julie is from Jersey. You may call her Jersey Julie.
  • You can catch her at every 5:30am class, occasionally the 11:30am when she’s working from home, and sometimes she tries to come to both and the coaches have to tell her to go home and rest.
  • She has a dog and she’s obsessed with her. Like… really obsessed.
  • She smells good, pre and post-workout, every time. No one knows how. If you find out, let us know.
  • We love her a lot.

Here’s the Spotlight (2 years in the making) for more on Jules, aka Jersey Jules, aka Julie from Jersey aka we could go on:

Q: What do you do when you’re not killing it at CrossFit or bro’ing out at Gold’s Gym?

A: Eating, haha! Well I really enjoy meal prepping – if you don’t have the Tasty app by now, you’re welcome. Dorothy, the most amazing Olde English Bulldoggie, has got me spending A LOT of time at Zilker these days, mimosas and sun rays for days, or exploring Texas with my partner in crime*… and also trying to beat him in every WOD possible. Love ya Gabe!!

*She means her boyfriend, Gabe, not Dorothy.

Q: How has CrossFit impacted your life?

A: Short answer: it actually challenged me to get comfortable with the uncomfortable – best decision I could have ever made. I have this sense of accomplishment and gratitude for the PRs, relationships, and experiences I’ve gained that I hold very dear to me.

Q: What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you? (In or out of the gym)

A: Let’s just say double-unders, needed go to the restroom, but also needed to get 1st place soooo… you make sacrifices, and you multitask. I’ll let you figure it out.  Sorry not sorry.

Q: So you moved here from New Jersey, why Renew?

A: Honestly, I dabbled at a couple other boxes before Renew but they just didn’t click. When I walked into the Renew box for the first time, the energy, atmosphere and friendly nature completely sold me from the get go. I felt so welcomed, encouraged, and comfortable with everyone that was participating that day, and signed up immediately.

While there are a great deal of things I could say about Renew, I know for a fact that the community is second to none – I’ll be here for as long as humanly possible.

Q: Now that The Open is over, if you could tell Dave Castro anything to his face, what would it be?

A: You. Suck. Really though, this year he literally pointed out all my weaknesses so while I have to say “thanks” for making me work, mostly it’s a just a big “YOU SUCK” to him.

There you have it! If think you see her at the gym, but aren’t sure if it’s her, just wait for her to say words like “coffee” or “talk”. Or! If you want to be extra creepy, just wait until she walks by and give her scent a waft. So good.

You’re the best, Jersey Jules! Sorry for all the people who are about to sniff you!

Coaches Corner with Brett: Looking Forward

Welp… the 2018 CrossFit Open has come and gone.

So many of you did things that you’ve never done before, and pushed yourselves further than you’d thought you could be pushed. And it was awesome! But, I’m guessing in this post-Open season, we now have two groups of people at Renew:

  1. One group that is coming out of the Open super encouraged and excited for more. You’ve exceeded expectations and reached new heights in your fitness and can’t wait to set new PRs!
  2. The other group is those of you who are ready for a reset. You quickly realized the Open exposed some real weaknesses that were maybe discouraging, or maybe others of you in this group haven’t been as consistent in this CrossFit thing as you wanted to be in 2018 and you’re feeling “behind”.

Regardless of the group that you find yourself in, isn’t it perfect timing that we all get to take that next step forward, together, in the brand new home of CrossFit Renew!! We’re 2 weeks away! Not only will our new home be way bigger and way nicer (#showers), but it will be everything you want/need as you take that next step away from sickness, right through wellness, and on towards a life marked with fitness.

Where do you want to be at 35? 55? 75?

I know for me, as a 35 year old, with a bad shoulder, who has always been the biggest and tallest guy in any group (you know, the ideal CrossFit body type) – CrossFit workouts can be mentally daunting on the front end, and can make me more sore than I want to be when it’s over. Not to mention going from doing most workouts Rx’d to scaling quite a bit… your ego is at stake!

But I believe in the fitness methodology more than any other workout program I’ve seen or done! Over the last 6 years, CrossFit kept me strong (enough), healthy, active, and introduced me to more great people than I can count. It pushes me to be disciplined and to work hard; I’ll always be able to come and scale and push myself to my limits. And it makes me rethink how often I drive through Whataburger… Honestly, I just want to be Michael Vasko when I grow up.

So… where do you find yourself?

Have you come to realize that it’s time to commit to being in the gym more than once a week? Do you almost have those muscle-ups? Are you ready to button up your nutrition and see changes in your body? What do you say we do all this and more, together?

It’s time. Leggo.

Last but not least… the 18.5 Highlight Reel

18.5 is over. The Reebok 2018 CrossFit Open is finished. We did it. We made it. Dave Castro did not defeat us. We will survive.

Here are the 18.5 highlights:

  • Andi Lozano scaled on Friday, and came in Monday to bust it out RX. She wanted to get past the round of 9 and got to the pullups on the round of 12.
  • Shannon Frawley got her first chest to bar during warmup, and then did 4 more in the workout!
  • Jordan Elder’s goal was to hold his spot in 10th, and he absolutely did. Check that leaderboard, Jordan!
  • Kim Hernandez’s goal was to get to the round of 12. She got to the round of 18.  
  • Haley and Whitney were tied going into 18.5, and Whitney pulled out two extra reps to push her ahead. Both performances were truly heroic!
  • Gerry Flynn got a whopping 64 reps, fell asleep immediately after, and then told his doting wife that “maybe 3 glasses of champagne at brunch weren’t a good idea”. Brunch so hard.
  • Justin made it to pullups in the round of 21. Need we say more?


Bonus highlights!!

  • Haley Hall is sooooo cloooooose to a muscle up we can taste it. Keep at it, Haley!
  • Steven Harmon got his first bar muscle up!


What are the standings?

Women’s RX

Men’s RX

Women’s Scaled

Men’s Scaled

Women’s Masters

Men’s Masters

The year’s Open was such a fun one. We had so many people dragging their feet on signups, dreading Friday Night Lights, not knowing what to expect, who then came to love every week.

You are the real MVPs.

There were a lot of firsts — first muscle ups, first double unders, first RX’d workout, first Open back from 2 years of injuries… but you know what’s neat? These firsts are exactly what they are: firsts. Not lasts. You guys (slash we all) grew substantially throughout this Open Season, and the tone it’s set for the remainder of the year is exciting!!

CrossFit is fun, but community is better. And we sure do have a lot of good people inside the walls of CrossFit Renew.

Now, rest! Recover. And get ready for a whole new Renew.