We are so excited to name Manna Stevens as our November Athlete of the Month. This chic is so sweet, gentle and kind, but she’s got this edge, this drive that makes her a force. Manna came to us in July of 2021. She already had a well-established workout and powerlifting routine at home, but was looking for a place where she could workout and her daughter could socialize, as well.
She quickly became an important part of our Blackbird community. Ever-supportive of others, coachable, and hard-working. During the pandemic, she was consistent in getting in her work outs via Zoom and continuing to build her strength from her basement. During the CrossFit Open, she truly stepped out of her comfort zone, pushed through fear, and realized a new strength within. She brought this same work ethic to the gym over the past 9 months during her second pregnancy. She’s such a great example of working through adversity, both in her personal life and in the gym. Manna fought through many weeks of extreme morning sickness to come in and move her body. SHE JUST SHOWED UP. No expectations, no pressure; just showing up to give herself the physical and mental release that had become so important to her overall wellness.
Manna has found a passion in working with people with special needs, working within the schools and volunteering with the Special Olympics Powerlifting Team. If you know her, you know this is a perfect way to use her gifts and compassion for others.
We are ready to meet our newest Baby Blackbird next week. And look forward to having Manna come back to classes and gently go back to kicking ass and helping others through fitness. Check out her inspiring story…
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF.
My name is Manna! I’m 32 (had to think about that!) I’m married with one beautiful daughter and a little boy on the way! I love working with people with special needs and want to combine that with my love for fitness one day!
WHAT MADE YOU START CROSSFIT? WHAT HAS KEPT YOU DOING IT?
I’ll be honest, I joined CrossFit because I wanted Lydia to have a place to thrive while I worked out. I trained at home and thought joining a gym would allow her to meet friends, but I didn’t realize how much I needed the environment too. After the first day, I stopped all training at home and put my everything into it and never looked back. It changed my life. In more ways than just grit and determination, but also the people. The camaraderie. I had never felt anything like that before.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED SINCE JOINING BLACKBIRD CROSSFIT?
I’ve learned that there’s a time and place for everything. Some days you push yourself and some days you just take it easy. It’s not a race between anyone but yourself but it’s nice to have that competitive energy when you are able to push yourself. Like hey, are we hitting a PR today, Let’s go! or hey, are we taking it easy today? Let’s go! No matter what, you’ll have support around you.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BLACKBIRD?
Everything! Seriously though. To me, and maybe I’m biased, but CrossFit would not be CrossFit to me without Blackbird. It will always be the reason I fell in love with the sport and the community around me, around my family, that’s something money can’t buy. These people don’t have to care about me or my family, but they choose to, and that’s something I will forever carry in my heart.
WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST CROSSFIT MOMENT?
I think my proudest moment would have to be the open. I was so nervous and so doubtful. I am very anxious even though I hide it well and I just couldn’t get out of my head. I knew I could do it, but I had never pushed myself that far. I could not have done it without everyone supporting me but I guess I have to give myself credit for being brave enough to try.
WHAT IMPACT HAS CROSSFIT HAD ON YOUR LIFE IN AND OUT OF THE GYM?
I feel proud of myself and feel happy to always have a sense of belonging.
WHAT CROSSFIT GOALS ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING TOWARDS?
My goals shifted from trying to be the strongest version of myself, to being the healthiest for baby Luca. Once he is born, my goal is to continue listening to my body and knowing there’s a time and place and if I want to make a comeback to that strongest version, I can with due time. I just want to be happy and content with the seasons of my journey.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LIFT, MOVEMENT, OR WOD? LEAST FAVORITE?
My favorite would have to be pull ups and deadlifts. My least favorite would definitely be thrusters!
WHAT IS YOUR DIET LIKE? HAS IT CHANGED SINCE STARTING CROSSFIT?
My diet has come a long way. When I was in high school, I struggled with Anorexia and when I recovered, I wrote a blog to try and reach others and share my story. Over the years I would say I have had seasons in that journey as well. When I joined CrossFit, I had been eating a balanced diet, but what I wanted out of the gym meant I needed to eat even more. I would say that my little voice was truly silenced when I joined the gym and instead of being afraid to eat more, I knew that it was necessary.
WHEN YOU’RE NOT CROSSFITTING WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO?
Well, that depends on the month of my pregnancy, but currently you can find me eating weird concoctions of food I won’t mention! haha But I love volunteering and I love spending time with my family.
WHAT IS ONE TIP YOU WOULD GIVE SOMEONE CONSIDERING CROSSFIT OR NEW TO CROSSFIT?
Try it for a week. Don’t compare yourself and understand your journey is not anyone else’s.
WHAT IS ONE FUN THING WE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU?
I had dreams of becoming a model! When I first moved to California after I got married, I had a lot of fun experiences and worked with some cool people. I tried out for America’s Next Top Model when they had a season for short people (HAHA) and the video I sent for tryouts is me doing a little rap on top of my red Honda Civic. Rudy watched it once and then my Mom’s laptop was stolen. So either it’s gone forever (Please god) or I will be trending one day.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WORKOUT FUEL? WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE SPECIAL TREAT?
I love having a banana before the gym! and my favorite indulgence…. definitely cake. Just plain ole birthday cake.
RESULTS! TELL US ABOUT YOUR RESULTS!
I remember telling Rebekah I wanted to get stronger and she told me “Oh, you will!” I was hesitant at first because the program was so different from what I did at home. I also remember Steve telling me that CrossFit was kind of like everything melded into one. Gymnastics, Powerlifting, Weightlifting and Cardio.They were both right. In the first year I added at least 10 pounds onto every lift and did it with an elevated heart rate. I was faster, stronger and all around healthier. I just wanted to be strong before I joined, but now I want to be strong, but I want to be able to be fast while doing it. Lifting heavy isn’t as appealing if it’s the only thing I’m able to do. It has helped me tremendously in my pregnancy and I know it will continue to help me recover after.