« "Barbara" | Main | The Bear »

February Athlete Of The Month


Rickke Mananzala


True, February is the shortest month of the year (even though this year is a leap year), but that’s not to shortchange this February’s AOM. Rickke Mananzala has been part of the Crossfit scene in NY for 3+ years now and is on track to stay part of it for years to come. I first met Rickke when he visited us at the Brooklyn Lyceum a few years back and his skills and engine made an immediate impression on me. I remember him telling me he’d be visiting more frequently, but instead it took him about 2 years to do so...It was worth the wait. A few standout reasons we chose Rickke for AOM are: his undeniable ability as an athlete (yep, there are a few leader board spots that I’ve been knocked off of by Mr. Mananzala), his ever-smiling support of fellow SBKers at competitions and classes alike, and his commitment to smarter training through mobility. In fact, Rickke was a few minutes late for our meeting due to a late running appointment with Alec H (SBK’s resident body guru). A totally acceptable reason for being late, in my book.

I hope you enjoy getting to know a bit of Rickke in this interview as much as I have over these last few months.

Fox - The beginning, how, when, and where did you find CrossFit?

Rickke - It was the end of 2008 and my friend Joseph introduced me to it. He told me there was this thing called CrossFit and I would love it so I should try it. My first taste was actually in my apartment and involved a WOD of burpees and squats or something like that. I had that classic “that was a LOT harder than I thought it would be” response and was hooked. I started perusing mainsite and tackling the “easier” WODs, ones that had a lot of bodyweight stuff. Shortly thereafter I took my first teaser class at CFNYC. Jacinto taught it and that was that. I was in. I was coming off of shoulder surgery and had this sense that if I went back to the same old Muscle and Fitness gym routines at David Barton that I would end up back under a knife again, which I didn’t want. I knew I needed something more functional and it turned out CrossFit was it.

Fox - Jacinto taught my first teaser as well! We did just about every movement under the sun, and I also was hooked. So, you were a gym rat?

Rickke - Not really, although I did have my routine. I was the only active person in my family, so I wasn’t really encouraged to play sports. I ended up joining the basketball team in middle school and played throughout high school and got convinced to play soccer and run track very late in high school. I was a keeper in soccer since my field skills were atrocious and I didn’t like the individual aspect of track so much, so I was mostly into my relay events. So, I  was physically active and tried to stay in shape but I wouldn’t say I was a prototypical gym rat.

Fox - Where did you grow up?

Rickke - My dad was a Navy guy so we moved around a lot. I was born in Oakland, California moved to Minnesota and then to Maine later on. Let’s just say I stood out in Maine way more than I did in the Bay Area. I was one of the only brown kids in school, my mom was a domestic worker, and then I came out - all of these things combined created a pretty tough high school experience. My mom cleaned the homes of kids at my school, which seemed like a respectable profession to me, but I learned very quickly that I was different than them, and not a different that they would be cool with. My folks were not very accepting of my coming out at 16, and so I ended up being on my own sooner than I anticipated. High school was tough, but since I was legally emancipated at least I was considered my own guardian and could sign myself out of school early (which I did often)! Jokes aside, the lessons I learned as a youth helped mold me into the person I am today and put me on the path to professional work that is really meaningful to me. Anyway, I eventually moved to Springfield, MA and then to Brooklyn where I’ve been for the past 10 years.

Fox - It seems like you’ve taken challenges and met them head on. How have those experiences shaped the man you’ve become?

Rickke - On a professional level, I gravitated towards social justice organizing and advocacy work. I came to NYC and started working with an organization that is still very near and dear to my heart, F.I.E.R.C.E. where I worked as an organizer and eventually the Director. I really wish FIERCE was around when I was a teenager. I think it’s really important to have spaces for young people to transform individual experiences with isolation and harassment into collective experiences of empowerment and action.

Now,  I’m a full-time student (Columbia - Political Science and Public Policy) but I still work as a consultant supporting a variety of grassroots organizations. My professional work is driven my personal values and what I believe about how the world should work. I know it sounds idealistic, but I feel really strongly that all people should be able to live happy, healthy, and empowered lives. Public policy should facilitate this, not create more problems or barriers for people. And public policy isn’t just for policy wonks (I swear I’m not going to school to be one). I really believe every day people can and should make the government work for them through grassroots action.

I think these personal experiences I shared have a connection to what, in part, drew me to CrossFit. Having to take care of myself early on and dealing with bullying in school pushed me to be very mentally and physically resilient. Years later, when I found CrossFit, it was a welcomed change from my boring fitness routine and it woke me up from just going through the motions at the gym. It brought me back to my desire to continue building physical and mental resilience. Now though, 17 years after I first left my house as a teenager (yeah, I'm aging myself), I feel very lucky to be getting stronger in such a fun and supportive community. CFSBK is great.

Fox - Let’s go there. How did you wind up at CFSBK in particular?

Rickke - Well, convenience was a part of it! I left my job in Manhattan and I live here in Brooklyn...Honestly though, I had been looking for a more strength-biased approach to CrossFit because I realized focusing on strength could help me avoid future injury (if I was smart about it) and knew that’s what was available here. I actually did my Level 1 Cert at the Lyceum in the summer of ‘09 and I really liked the people I met from CFSBK. I checked out the blog for some time after that and sensed the community, smart programming, and expectations of members and coaches alike that were in place here. That’s what truly drew me in. I love the community here. I’ve been to a lot of CrossFit gyms and CFSBK is so welcoming and diverse and I appreciate that I can do a tough workout with someone and then have a deep conversation with them about the flaws of our financial system and Occupy Wall Street.  I also love the commitment to mobility, especially because I came into Crossfit with some limitations from various injuries. I appreciate the mobility knowledge we have on the coaching staff, instead of the “3.2.1. MOBILIZE!” where people actually get competitive with their couch stretches (I’ve seen it elsewhere)! I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how much I love the ladies of CFSBK, they kick serious ass! One of my favorite moments is at the Subway Series event at CFLIC where Jess banged out like 10 HSPUs in a row and people just erupted in cheers.

Fox - That Jess moment gives me goosebumps remembering it. We do have a bevy of TFBAs...What are your current fitness goals?

Rickke - I want to train smarter, get stronger, and stay mobile and injury-free. I have a new perspective on training now and want to be healthy over the long haul. No more overtraining for me.

Fox - The accrued hours we’ve noticed you spending on a lacrosse call had no small part in choosing you for AOM! Any hobbies you spend time on, what with your leisurely school life?

Rickke - Ha! Really, doing work and school full-time takes up most of my time and I’m lucky to fit in CrossFit in the remaining hours of my week. I am a bit of a novice foodie and like to try new restaurants and I’m into the craft of making classic cocktails and coming up with my own. Ask Asta about the “Hot Scotty” some time. I love to travel when I get the chance - going to upstate NY to hike and I hit Miami when I can to spend time with good friends down there. I played the alto saxophone years ago and I’d like to try picking it up again at some point. What’s up with the CFSBK band by the way?

Fox - Alright, last stock question. What should we look for in a future AOM?

Rickke - I heard Shane say something recently to people in his Foundations class, “90 percent of fitness is about smiling”. He was joking around and helping them get through a tough workout, but I think there’s truth in that. In the end we should be enjoying what we do and a smile is a great way to show it.


Thanks, Rickke, for sitting with me for this interview. You’ve become an integral part of our community and it feels as if you have always been here. We look forward to you being part of our little fitness culture establishment for a long time. From all the coaching staff at SBK, congrats!

Competition Highlight: Kalista Pappas, age 14, 2008 CrossFit Games Clean and Jerk Event
Are You Ready To Compete? CrossFit 208
How to Think About CrossFit CrossFit Merge
First Aid Skills Tests. Would you know what to do in these Situation? BBC

References (7)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Film Streaming :film Francais, film arabe , film maroc, films maroccains, film tunisiens, film algeriens, film etranger en streaming gratuitement,
  • Response
    Thank You!, Clonazepam, =-OO, Buy Cialis Online, %PPP, Cheap Ambien, gmyu, Klonopin, htbjl, Phentermine, zbwqtd,
  • Response
    Response: www.swankybaby.com
    Get up-to-date news for computer technology.
  • Response
    Response: www.easyimplant.de
    rtIpIMI ha ha ha
  • Response
    We specialize in web site design and development, as well as web based business applications. We have web design packages to meet everybodys needs. We can create a basic template for your business or a cutting edge masterpiece with flash or videos. You name it, we do it!
  • Response
    Response: fYfaEVhv
    Crossfit South Brooklyn - Workout of the Day - February Athlete Of The Month
  • Response
    Response: this contact form
    Excellent Web-site, Maintain the excellent work. Appreciate it.

Reader Comments (60)

Rickke is DA BOMB! Congrats dude, you rock. Looking forward to getting back to squatting with you.

I'll never forget Rickke doing 50 burpees for time as an accessory WOD, and then doing it again "just to give the second heat company". And still scorching through them. Un-freaking-believable.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSamir Chopra

Congrats Rickke. Both in Crossfit and in ones personal life, you've surmounted barriers people can only dream of. I can say when I do a WOD, I look at what Mcdowell, Josh and Rickkie did as a benchmark.. If I'm doing what they did, I'm going too heavy. As a fellow Crossfitter, and as a fellow Latino, I say keep breaking the mold and set the example for others to follow. Bravo primo!

February 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterEarl

The box is much richer for you, Rickke. I'm so glad you're with us.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermichele

Awesome, just awesome. It's kind of weird to remember that I was at CFSBK before Rickke was there, because he's just such a part of the fabric of the place.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoel w

I love you too Rickke and grateful for you in my life. Thank you for always being you.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChristine D

Congrats Rickke!

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeb

Congratulations Rickke! Love your answer to the last question :)

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStella

Rickke, you are a real inspiration. I am always psyched to see you doin'.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Congratulations, Rickke, always looks like you're giving it a full effort in there. Chasing those front squats on open gym Fridays. Nice work!

@Dh3, where are you surfing, Maria's? have a great time over there!

@Sarah H, looking forward to a fun card at Gleason's!

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJR

Yeah, what everyone else said. Rickke you are an inspiration!

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

YEA Rickke!!!

The CFSB community is lucky to have you -- every time you come into the gym there are more smiles all around-- it's just a pleasure to work in the same room as you.

Last night's workout was tough, but digging in with Samir, Ben and Nick made it fun.

Squat: 280x5x4
My legs were tired! There were many "no-bounce" squats which did not help. Nick queued me to sit back into my heels when he saw me come forward yet again and that really helped.

Bench: 190x5x4
This went well.

My singlet arrived. I tried it on and immediately felt self-conscious and silly. Is that part of the competition?

February 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterRob Is

Excellent choice for AOTM! Working out with this guy is always both humbling and inspiring. Big congrats, Riccke. You deserve it!

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris A.

Congrats Rickke! You're a stand up a guy and a stellar training buddy!!!

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike Mishik

Congrats Rickke! You're a stand up a guy and a stellar training buddy!!!

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike Mishik

Congrats Rickke! You're a stand up a guy and a stellar training buddy!!!

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike Mishik

btw, I know it's two ks & one c. ;-)

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris A.

Unrelated, but I put together a gallery of CFSBK dogs, pulled from our Flikr page. If you've got a pic of your dog that you'd like added, feel free to let me know.


February 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterRoss Tucker

Congrats Rickke! I remember being so intimidated by this TFBA when I first saw him squatting at a random noon class a few months ago..."Who's *that*??" I whispered to someone. We ended up being on adjacent platforms and when I introduced myself I got that thousand-watt smile--no more intimidation. You really bring so much light and great energy to the gym, I'm only sorry I don't get to work out with you more. Great to learn more about you--you're a real inspiration.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCharlotte

congrats rickke.

6am with coach lady fox.

droms hip openers and intros

the bear wu

THE BEAR with björn
135 4rnds
should have/could have gotten this.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMcGrath

Congrats Rikke! You are truly a wonderful addition to the SBK community. Thanks for sharing your story, you are a wonderful role model and I'm sure will inspire many today and in the years to come.

February 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterSarah H

Fantastic choice for AOM! Recently, I was personally impressed with Rickke for the 'reward' he chose for his donation to my art installation -- 25 shoulder dislocates rather than burpees! Such a thoughtful guy. Congrats! And keep on being awesome!

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLana Z

Congrats Rickke. Well said.

February 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterJoe

It's been awesome getting to know Rickke a little bit more, and his encouragement with all of SBK is not unnoticed. What a well deserved accolade. Also great write up fox, its great learning more about some of the folks we spend time with.

Congrats rickke.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDH3

Although this post may indeed set the "comments PR" Mishik do you really have to post 3 times? :)

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDH3

@Ross, that dog post is amazingly cute!

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLana Z

Rickke is good people through and through. It has been a pleasure to work with you and gab with you on Friday nights. You were an obvious choice and clearly much beloved by all. Cheers!

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMargie

DH3...For some reason the screen kept saying your post will not upload, naturally, I kept clicking and then saw emails from myself coming in...oops!

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike Mishik

Rickke is one of those people who can change the energy in the room. It's amazing to watch. On Sunday he somberly insisted, over groans, on playing Whitney Houston during the warmup, and then danced to the music. And this was in the lead-up to Rahoi! Awesome awesome awesome.

Rickke, I hadn't known about your teenage years, and reading about your experience brought tears to my eyes. You're a true inspiration. And, of course, a total bad-ass.

February 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterNick Peterson

I just bought an erg, to pick up post-CRASH-Bs. What. Is. My. Problem???

February 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterNick Peterson

Congrats Rickke, only know you in passing really, but you're a nice guy and always doing impressive and inspiring stuff.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeffZ

All I want to know is, who was groaning at the idea of playing Whitney on Sunday morning? I pretty much haven't been listening to anything else since she passed (and I would WOD to "Queen of the Night" any day, any way). RIP.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStella

Congrats, Rickke! His mental toughness is always so visible. Observing his calm intensity has helped me get closer to quieting my own mind and executing the task at hand aggressively without losing my head. Plus he's just fun to have in the gym. Richly deserved.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlex T.

stella, that would have been me bitching about whitney

ross, you missed the what is arguably herschel's best pic http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4102/4820518727_a4dcab61c4.jpg

and congrats rickke

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLuca

A few months ago, I was the odd woman out and had no partner for a WOD, so the coaches grabbed Rickke and made him count for me. I think that was probably the best I've ever done on a WOD. He was so encouraging that even though I couldn't breath, I felt like I had to keep going for HIM. It was awesome and I think it was my first experience really learning how to cheer for someone without just saying "Good job" "Keep going" and sounding like an idiot.

And I was super excited about the Whitney Houston playing on Sunday! Excellent choice!

February 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterChristine Naclerio

@mishik figured. happens all the time.

Todays PR work.

Warm up: 15minutes of plank/abdominal work, jumping jacks, and lunges.

followed by 10 rounds of 10 pushups with 100m sand sprints. Rest as long as it took to do the sprint.

Then made a Makeshift Kettlebell and did 3 rds of 400m run with 21 kb swings and 20 pushups. Untimed. Got my friends to join in.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDH3

Rickke, you are a pretty amazing guy. Like others have said, it really does feel like you've been a part of this community from the beginning. Thank you for letting us into a little bit more of your life. Congrats on the well deserved honors!

dh3--I'm loving your PR wods and your makeshift kettlebell...though that is alot of pushups! I hope Fox and I can be just as creative when we're there in April!

Ross--I also love the dog post! Thanks for putting that together.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlady fox

congrats rickke.

6am with coach lady fox

droms, hip openers, intros

the bear wu
45, 65
mid hang cleans
front squat
push press
back squat

95, 125
135x4 shoulda/coulda got this.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMcGrath

HOORAY for Rickke!! GREAT choice and very well deserved!

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTeresa B.

You're the gold standard, Rickke. You make everyone in the gym better. Keep it up!

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRob N

Like many others, I was impressed by Rickke's story and attitude. Then I read the first comment by Samir: "I'll never forget Rickke doing 50 burpees for time as an accessory WOD, and then doing it again 'just to give the second heat company'. And still scorching through them. Un-freaking-believable."

Now it's obvious that Rickke is just a show off. I mean it was an entire heat, not one or two people, I'm sure they had plenty of company. Did they really need a guy taunting them by easily knocking off a second set of 50 burpees? Why not throw in some triple unders in between burpees?

Just kidding of course, congrats. Nice job at the gym and in life.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBen W

Congrats Rickke, well deserved AOTM for someone who always conducts himself with intention, grace, and humor.

Note: Despite Rickke being a super nice guy, avoid partner rest interval WODs with him at all cost. He is blindingly fast and doesn't rest, so your work intervals are paced incredibly close together and they never stop coming. Its like setting a treadmill to 30mph and then jumping on it and trying to keep up. And he smiles and ecourages you the whole time too, the bastard.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNoah

Alright, Rickke! I still can't believe that dude's 50 burpee time.

Made up the bear at 6am and got my ass kicked:

* 95
* 135
* 155 *FAIL* (3)
* 155 *FAIL* (2)
* 95

Next time I'll try two light warmups, like 65 and then 95, then go right for 155. That set at 135 took it out of me. I found it most difficult to control the weight from the last push press back down to the floor.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBetz

YAY Rickke!!! One of my most favorite CF peeps - Rickke embodies all of the things that I love about the CF community and shows dedication to improving himself as an athlete every opportunity he gets. There is no ego with Rickke - I have seen him hang with the fire breathers and support beginners, usually all in the same workout.

Congrats on being chosen as AOTM - It has been a pleasure to spend time and get to know you these past few years!

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAvery W

Congratulations, Rickke!

Very much enjoy your addition to the CFSBK community. :)


I will be giving a Ragnar Relay Info Session at the gym on 2/18 at 1pm. I encourage anyone who is interested to come! I am also putting together a team for the Cape Code Ragnar on 05/11-12 and we still have 3 lovely spots open. :) Come run, all night, with me, and then spend saturday evening/sunday in cape cod at an enormous house rental with a hot tub recovering. Wahoo!

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterasta

Great Read on Rickke. I was waiting for this to happen sooner or later. Riccke puts in a lot of work in the gym and it shows. Good to see he also does some great work outside of the gym.

Rickke for Prez!

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commentershawn$

Awesome interview!! Congratulations Rickke!

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAllen

I got to deadlift to I Will Always Love You today. It was pretty terrific.

February 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterJoe

RM is a top notch athlete and guy. He's kind, compassionate, a dedicated athlete, an excellent teammate and a snazzy dresser to boot. Viva Mananzala!

Amazing post on the Dogs of CFSBK! I love it. Herschel does too, she emailed it to her whole family.

If you've never seen the Kalista Pappas video, I highly recommend watching it. Reallllly inspiring.

I also want to shout out Mike G and Christine N who really impressed me with their solid technique and resolve during the bear yesterday. Doin thangs!

February 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

tried posting this earlier but didn't go through

Ross you're missing herschel's best pic! http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4102/4820518727_a4dcab61c4.jpg

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLuca

Adding one more voice to the chorus... Congratulations, Rickke!! Great choice, coaches.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatie Mohr

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>