Our Box

Member Spotlight

April Athlete of the Month

Clayton Robertson

Congratulations to our April Member of the Month, Clayton Robertson! Clayton has been at CrossFit Manatee since 2013.  You can always count on Clayton for a smiling face and a positive attitude no matter the workout. I really enjoy that the fact that he doesn’t shy away from workouts that are not his strengths. Clayton absolutely hates burpees (most of us agree). I can’t remember the last time we had a workout with a bunch of burpees in it that Clayton didn’t show up for. I am sad to say Clayton’s time with us as a regular is coming to a close as he will be moving up north to spend more time with his family. I am sure we will see him around again when he is in town though. 

Clayton getting low in the Zombie Squat

Tell us about yourself. 

I was born in LaGrange, Georgia and grew up in Tampa and Brandon, Florida. I gradated from University of South Florida with a degree in zoology and and minor in chemistry, spent some time in the Army, and got a job as a biologist with the Manatee County Pollution Control Department. I met and married the prettiest girl in Bradenton, no really! All my friends told me I was way out of my league and they were right, but after 44 years we must be doing something right. Our son is an environmental scientist in Williamsburg, Virginia where our daughter-in-law and two granddaughters live. My partner and I owned an environmental consulting firm which was later purchased by an engineering, transportation, planning and environmental firm headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts.   I retired after a total of over 40 years as a Principal Scientist in the field of environmental consulting.

I don’t have much of an athletic background, playing the typical small town kid’s sports of little league football and baseball, but not being very good at either of them. However, I was a competitive swimmer in my early teens and our relay team held  a sate record. I did a little wrestling, boxed in the Army, and picked up running and cycling in later years. The closest thing to the CrossFit experience I have ever undertaken was a triathlon. Actually placed third one year in the St. Anthony’s Triathlon as the cycling leg of a relay team.

How did you get started at CrossFit Manatee?

My 20-something nephew told me about CrossFit and I did a drop-in at CrossFit Manatee where I was introduced to Lucas Ogden-Davis and eventually, Jayne Arbo and David and Julie King. Not a bad group to introduce you to various CrossFit perspectives! One of my most vivid early recollections was struggling to complete my first series of Burpees (imagine that!) and looking up in a semi-conscious state and seeing that I was literally surrounded by people doing Burpees with me! I’ve never forgotten that.

What has been your proudest athletic moment? 

Not a lot of “athletic moments” in my life but completing my first triathlon was a real accomplishment for me. Several of us guys formed the “First-and-Last-Triathlon-Ever” club to do a sprint triathlon at the DeSoto Monument. Most of us went on to do others over the years, but that was my introduction to high intensity training and it felt good.

What is your favorite and least favorite movement/lift/drill?

This is a no-brainer! Any Burpee over 10 and I are mortal enemies. I have tried to play nice but the Burpee wants to kick my butt no matter how nice I am. Also, movements that are either limited by or extremely difficult to execute as a result of limited mobility are very frustrating. The overhead squat falls clearly in this category.

My favorite movements include kettlebell workouts, rope climbs, power cleans and the various forms of sit-ups including the GHD. 

What do you think makes CrossFit Manatee different from other gyms that you’ve tried in the past?   

I touched on this with the community Burpee experience above, but there is much more to why CFM is different. Good people from an eclectic assemblage of backgrounds and experiences. This is not a community of jocks, gymnasts, and weight lifters. CrossFit Manatee is a group of regular people. However, some of their individual stories are mind-boggling, some laced with tragedies but all here pushing themselves to the max and helping others do the same.  Well trained and passionate coaches, each with their own style but all consistent in their coaching instruction. Something I have never experienced at other gyms is for a coach to follow-up with an e-mail of text after a particularly difficult and frustrating workout. There are many pieces that weave the fabric of the CrossFit Manatee community and make it unique.

What do you like to do when you’re not training at CrossFit Manatee?   

I love my photography, as amateur as it may be. However, now that I am retired, I hope to spend more times improving this art. I always look forward to multi-day overnight hiking, particularly various segments of the Appalachian Trail. I am in the process of selling our house here in Bradenton and moving to Williamsburg, Virginia. Yes, it’s all about the granddaughters! In Williamsburg, I hope to work with the Friends of Colonial Williamsburg and become more knowledgable of Revolutionary War and Civil War history.

Tell us a fun fact that we might not already know about you.

A couple of tidbits: Sarah and I took a group of “college and career” young people to Puerto Rico as part of our church missionary effort to build houses from the slab up for families in some very poor areas of that country. A very unique experience. I also appeared in magazine as a model for tee shirts. There’s more to that story, but that’s all you get.

March Athlete of the Month

Jennifer Hambrick

Summer of 2014

Congratulations to our March Member of the Month, Jennifer Hambrick! Jen has been with us for a few years now and is always a positive friendly face.  She is also the newly crowned winner of the Whole Life Challenge we did at the gym. Jennifer embraces the healthy living lifestyle and it shows in gym. She has recently been hitting a bunch of strength PR’s and has been doing great in the open workouts. 

Tell us about yourself. 

I was born and raised in Northeastern Ohio. Brrr! I don’t miss the cold at all. I grew up taking ballet lessons. Then in high school, I switched over to sports. I played both volleyball and basketball. Later, I graduated from The University of Akron with a double major in Spanish and in Education. My husband, Allen, was a professor at the University when we met (not my professor though!) I have been teaching Spanish for the past 14 years and absolutely love my job! I just get to play and be silly with kids all day – it doesn’t get any better than that!

How did you get started at CrossFit Manatee? 

I am friends with the original owner and founder of CrossFit Manatee. I actually attended the grand opening of the gym. At that time, I thought there was absolutely no way that I could do a CrossFit workout; I was suffering from both planter fasciitis and chronic back and neck pain. On of my colleagues at the time was a member at CrossFit Manatee and she encouraged me to give it a try anyways. She shared with me that she was able to get past some of her own back issues by strengthening her body. So I figured if it worked for her, I might as well give it a try. I’ve been coming ever since! No longer does picking up a bag of kitty litter throw out my back!
 

What has been your proudest athletic moment? 

Winter of 2017

I don’t want to jinx myself since there is still one open workout left, but I’ve been pretty excited about my performance in this year’s Open. This is only my second Open, and so far this year I’ve been able to do every workout Rx. I’m just excited that I can actually do the Rx weights. Also during this year’s Open, I did my first handstand push up. Not an Rx one though, so it didn’t count, but I was still excited.

What is your favorite and least favorite movement/lift/drill? 

I may be the only person on earth to say this, but I really love doing overhead squats. Shoulder mobility pays off on that particular movement. My least favorite? I absolutely despise doing negative pull-ups! Every time I think how cool it would be to do a pull-up, I rethink that goal the second I do a negative. So painful!
 

What do you think makes CrossFit Manatee different from other gyms that you’ve tried in the past?   

With CrossFit you actually can see your progress as well as the changes in your body. Whether is a 5lb PR or a new muscle that appears that you never knew you had, you constantly surprise yourself.

What do you like to do when you’re not training at CrossFit Manatee?   

I love nature and being outdoors. On the weekends, you can find me hiking or kayaking. I also camp as much as possible at nearby State Parks. We have a little 10ft trailer, Betty, that is like a second home. Over the summer, I usually hit the road for all two months of summer break. I like to collect passport stamps J I’ve visited 31 different countries on 5 different continents. So many more still to explore!
 

Tell us a fun fact that we might not already know about you.

I won a hula-hooping contest in college. My record time is 22 minutes.
 

January Athlete of the Month

Priscilla Austin

Congratulations to our January Member of the Month, Priscilla Austin! Priscilla came to us just this past summer and has been killing from Day 1. She isn’t afraid of the hard work that comes with the earned results. She has been hitting PR after PR in the gym and still keeps the ego in check knowing she has more work to do!

Tell us about yourself. 

My name is Priscilla Austin. Born in Boston Mass and I was raised in New Hampshire and Vermont. A gypsy of sorts. I grew up with the dream of never getting off my mountain bike, making the downhill circuit with my favorite team…. I went to school instead perusing a career in veterinary medicine, only to have life take another turn and I had a son instead which was the best thing I could have ever done. 

How did you get started at CrossFit Manatee? 

I got interested in Crossfit when I read an article in the newspaper years ago about what Crossfit is doing to our bodies. I have always been athletic but never any lifting or anything close to Crossfit. I moved to Bradenton last year and found Crossfit Manatee. I knew I had to join. This is where I met Julie and Mike and they were awesome. 
 

What has been your proudest athletic moment? 

My proudest athletic moments one here at CrossFit Manatee where I tried my hardest to complete a workout that included a lot of pull-ups. Although I didn’t finish, I am so proud for saying to myself just do it, and In my mind I changed my view of effort vs strength and how effort is more powerful than my physical strength. I love that CrossFit has taught me this. And my other most proud moment is the first marathon I finished. It was hell, but I did it.

What is your favorite and least favorite movement/lift/drill? 

My least favorite movements are thrusters. To me, and my brain a thruster just doesnt make sense. And squat snatch. Yuck!
My favorite’s box jumps, sprinting, and well anything that has to do with jumping and running fast.
 

What do you think makes CrossFit Manatee different from other gyms that you’ve tried in the past?   

I’ve never been a member of any other gym before. I cannot compare however, I can say I’m so proud to be a member of CrossFit Manatee. I feel part of a family like non other. I’ve been in recovery for 6 years now and being a member of CrossFit Manatee has made me grow so much more. Taught me deeper lessons than just a work out.

What do you like to do when you’re not training at CrossFit Manatee?   

What I like to do when I’m not at my gym is spending a lot of time at the park. I love all sports, and I try to stay moving. I enjoy movies and relaxing as well. And getting to spend time with my son. 
Even though he hates anything that has to do with moving anything other than moving his thumbs on a controller.
 

Tell us a fun fact that we might not already know about you.

Fun fact about me……..
I can write a whole score for a symphony ensemble. 
 
 

November Athlete of the Month

Cameron Stewart

Congratulations to our November Member of the Month, Cameron Stewart! Cam embraces what the CrossFit community is really all about by being friendly, inviting, and encouraging to other members. You’ll see him in the gym working on his weaknesses and never letting them get in the way of getting a good sweat. 

Tell us about yourself. 

I was born and raised in the San Francisco bay area. I’m married to my wonderful wife Nancy and we have two grown kids Ian and Victoria. I went to San Jose State University for one year prior to transferring to art school in Santa Barbara, California. My athletic background included high school football and golf as well as a brief stint on the San Jose State golf team. In addition, I played some rugby on a private club team during my time at San Jose State. I’m retired now 18 months after selling my businesses in New York and Los Angeles. I worked as a photographer for magazines and Fortune 500 companies before changing directions and pursuing photo laboratory services to fashion publications. These included all of the international Vogue and Harpers Bazaar magazines and fashion photographers and designers including, but not limited to, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Guess Jeans. In addition, I’m the former president of an international consortium of fine art digital printmakers servicing galleries and museums internationally. The business that I sold provided headshot-printing services to actors and actresses on a national scale. I’ve had a lifelong love affair with working out and had done some cross training at times, but the discovery of “CrossFit” was a revelation.

How did you get started at CrossFit Manatee? 

Nancy and I ran into old acquaintances out on Anna Maria four years ago, Laura and Brett Gallagher. The subject came up about our desperate search for a new gym and Laura spoke up about “Crossfit Manatee” and how wonderful it was. Nancy and I were immediately struck at how passionate they were about the entire crossfit experience and we “needed” to see for ourselves.

What has been your proudest athletic moment? 

My proudest personal athletic accomplishment was competing and completing my first “century” (100 mile) bike race. It was a culmination of lot of training, effort and endurance and I actually placed very well for my relative inexperience. However, my proudest accomplishment was with my son Ian.
I coached his Little League All Star team. The 2003 Westport Little League team accomplished a district championship that had eluded our town’s kids for the entire 50-year history of the program. It was not only special for the kids, but became a source of pride for the town and the program. A truly unbeatable moment shared with families and friends

What is your favorite and least favorite movement/lift/drill? 

My least favorite movements are those that escape my abilities due to mobility issues … squat snatches … I have no shoulder mobility.
My favorite movements include front and back squats and rowing.

What do you think makes CrossFit Manatee different from other gyms that you’ve tried in the past?   

This is the easiest question to answer for those in the “crossfit” community and the most difficult to explain to those who don’t know. Camaraderie, espirit de corps and a genuine affection for the “crossfit” athletes and the program. When you sweat and bleed together as we do … it fosters a common bond of caring, respect and admiration that transcends the everyday relations we have.
One can step away from their own self and enter a place of genuinely caring for others. This is a place often ignored by many, yet so important towards leading a happy life.

What do you like to do when you’re not training at CrossFit Manatee?   

This has been a break out year for me as I have discovered “power walking”. Power walking differs from race walking in that the athlete walks at a fast pace of 4-5 miles per hour as opposed to race walking which can be up to 8 miles + an hour.
The techniques are similar yet different. So far this year I have logged in 800+ miles of walking. My goal next year is to try to go 100 miles per month or 1200 miles for the year. The beauty of it is you keep your heartbeat at a healthy 80% of your max beats per minute for a prolonged workout of just over an hour for 5 miles. In addition, at my age it reduces the wear and tear on knees, hips and back.

Tell us a fun fact that we might not already know about you.

Some “Manatees” already know … but I’m a beekeeper. I don’t really do it for the honey … and thousands of stinging insects do provide “entertainment” … however … I enjoy the stimulation provided in understanding their community and providing the care necessary for them to thrive. Bees are an absolute necessity to our everyday lives

 

August Athlete of the Month

Jen Raymer

Meet our athlete of the month for August, Jen Raymer!

A long time member of the #manateemuscle, Jen has recently shown us what consistency can do! She shows up to class everyday with a positive attitude and a willingness to work hard. We love watching her interact within the community by offering support to the last athletes working and she is always a staple in our outside the box events. She pushes herself by going to competition and testing what she is capable of. She makes nutrition a priority and leads by example with her weekly food prep! Follow her on Instagram and check it out! Congrats Jen! We are so proud of how far you’ve come! Keep up the great work.

Tell us about yourself. 

I was born and raised here in the lovely Bradentucky! I work as a Production and Client Relations Manager at a local advertising and marketing agency. I never played any sports in high school, but about 2010 I decided it was time that I start doing something more for me vs everyone else (kids, husband at the time) and I joined a local all women’s gym called Shapes. It was there that I started doing cycling classes and group classes such as Body Pump and started running. You can’t really see it nowadays, but I actually used to be a runner. I started doing 5ks, 10ks, ran my first and last half marathon and ran in the Ragnar Relay from Miami to Key West. I will say that Ragnar Relay had to of been the MOST epic thing I have done.

How did you get started at CrossFit Manatee? 

After wanting to try out crossfit for a while I finally gave it a try with a couple of friends that used to attend CFM. From that moment on I drank the Koolaid.

What has been your proudest athletic moment? 

When I finally got pullups after FOREVER!!! Now if I can just start stringing them together!

What is your favorite and least favorite movement/lift/drill? 

Favorite is back squats

My least favorite? Snatch

What do you think makes CrossFit Manatee different from other gyms that you’ve tried in the past?   

The community is awesome!! Everyone is so supportive and encouraging. I have met some awesome new friends here! It is a second family!

What do you like to do when you’re not training at CrossFit Manatee?   

Besides working and and taking care of kids, I love  being outside. We recently got kayaks so we have been doing that often on the weekends.

Tell us a fun fact that we might not already know about you.

When I was a kid I used to clog dance! Yes, yes that is right I was a clogger, which is folk dance! Like River Dance.

 

July Athlete of the Month

Tisha Grant

Meet our athlete of the month for July, Tisha Grant!

Traditionally, we choose a member (not a coach) as our athlete of the month, but this time, we chose Coach Tisha. Her hard work and dedication to health and wellness cannot be ignored. You’ll see Tisha in the box working on her weakness (Hey RomWod)  and building strength 6 days a week. She’s a shining example of what setting and achieving personal goals can look like. Over the past few years, Tisha has made huge changes to her nutrition, as well as how she spends her time in the gym and it shows. Congrats Tisha! We’re so proud you’re leading the manatee muscle by example. Below is a before and after of Tisha. CrossFit and changing daily habits can change your life. Tisha is a shining example of that.

 

Tell us about yourself.

I was born and raised on a farm in Southeastern Ohio, moved to Bradenton June 2015. I work as an occupational therapy assistant at a local Nursing and rehab center. In my youth I played basketball and softball, but didn’t really do much after high school and during college. Started running a little after college, eventually got into 5Ks, then onto P90x and other home workouts.

How did you get started at CrossFit Manatee?

I started as soon as I moved here. I had been doing crossfit for 2 years in Ohio and couldn’t wait to get back in the gym after moving. I did creep CFM on Facebook for a few weeks prior to moving through.

What has been your proudest athletic moment?

My proudest athletic moment was when I did my first strict pull-up!!

What is your favorite and least favorite movement/lift/drill?

Favorite is the snatch.

My least favorite?Front squats!!!!!

What do you think makes CrossFit Manatee different from other gyms that you’ve tried in the past?

The community is awesome!! Everyone is so supportive and encouraging. I love the monthly social gatherings too!!

What do you like to do when you’re not training at CrossFit Manatee?

I love the beach and being outside. I recently bought a paddle board so I’ve been doing that lately. I also like to shop, and I love to read.

Tell us a fun fact that we might not already know about  

People are sometimes surprised by the wide variety of song lyrics I have memorized.

June Athlete of the Month

Stephanie Woodcock

Meet our athlete of the month for June, Stephanie Woodcock! 

Stephanie came to us a little over a year ago. You could tell right away that she was an athlete with a ton of potential. Fast forward a year and she is really starting to hit her stride in CrossFit. The more hard work a workout involves the more she seems to enjoy it. It is also a lot of fun to see her competitive side come out in wods from time to time. 

Tell us about yourself. 

I am from Harpursville, New York. I moved to Florida a little over 3 years ago to escape the snow and I fell in love with the beaches. I am a Pre-K teacher for the school district of Manatee County.  

How did you get started at CrossFit Manatee? 

After playing sports all through high school and college, I began running. I completed many 5ks and 4 half marathons. I enjoyed running, but I was looking for a change and another athletic outlet. I wanted to strengthen my shoulder that was damaged through old sport injuries and push myself to try something new.

What has been your proudest athletic moment?

My proudest athletic moment is when I completed my last half marathon in under 2 hours.

What is your favorite and least favorite movement/lift/drill?

My favorite is anything that includes running and pull-ups.  

My least favorite? Any movement to “Sally Up” and snatches.

What do you think makes CrossFit Manatee different from other gyms that you’ve tried in the past?

What makes CrossFit Manatee different is the atmosphere. The owners, trainers, and athletes have created a place where anyone and everyone is encouraged and accepted. You are there to better yourself and challenge yourself with the support of the entire gym. You are exhausted when you leave, but you can’t wait to go back for more.

What do you like to do when you’re not training at CrossFit Manatee?

When I am not at CrossFit Manatee I love to complete obstacle races, read, be with family and friends, and visit the beach.

Tell us a fun fact that we might not already know about you.

My bucket list includes swimming with sharks in open water.

 


Meet our Member of the Month for April–Alex Kilby!


Why we think Alex earned this!

Alex came into our box with a few big goals. His biggest was to get his body in shape for his wedding. Let’s just say Alex has been crushing his goals in a big way. His strength numbers are way up, his cardio keeps improving, and if you have seen Alex recently you can easily see the transformation his body has taken. Awesome results from a guy who comes in early to mobilize and always puts in the work. Earned…Not Given! 

About Alex

I’m originally from a small town in central Illinois named Virginia. I graduated with a class of 33 from Virginia High School and attended college at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. I am currently engaged to my fiancé Jacki, and we are getting married at the end of May. We have a four-legged dog child named Luna. I work as a consumer banker for Suntrust Bank in Bradenton. I was a three sport athlete in high school, and played a few intramural sports in college. After college I got away from athletics, but getting into crossfit has really brought back that competitiveness.

How did you get started at CrossFit Manatee?

Before moving here I was doing crossfit for about 10 months. After the move though, I took a year off. After getting engaged, I realized that I needed to get back into shape for my wedding, and also be healthier in general. I started searching for boxes to try out. Crossfit Manatee was my first box I tried, and after Coach Julie worked me so hard the first day I almost puked. I was instantly hooked again! I have been coming almost every morning at 545 am since!

What has been your proudest athletic moment?

One of my proudest athletic moments so far was when I strung together my first set of strict pull-ups. I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal to some, but I’m not a small guy and getting that first couple was such a great feeling of accomplishment.

What is your favorite and least favorite movement/lift/drill?

My favorite lift is probably any of the shoulder-to-overhead movements, especially split jerk. It’s such a great feeling when you have great form and the bar feels weightless for that split second.

My least favorite would have to be overhead squats.

What do you think makes CrossFit Manatee different from other gyms that you’ve tried in the past?

Crossfit Manatee is different because the coaches and other athletes truly care about you and your well-being. They push you to be the best “you” that you can be and cheer you on the whole way.

What do you like to do when you’re not training at CrossFit Manatee?

When I’m not training you can most likely find me on the golf course or sitting poolside with my fiancé, my dog, and a good book.

Tell us a fun fact that we might not already know.

I am about to start working toward my career goal which is to be a firefighter. I start the first step this fall.

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