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Week of January 31, 2011

Staff Spotlight

Administrative assistant 
dreams of owning fitness studio

Emily Manship is a fitness buff. When she’s not working as an administrative assistant at UM-Flint’s Psychology Department or spending time with family, she stays active doing yoga, training with kettlebell weights or hiking.

“In time I’ve become more and more interested in physical fitness and found what I really enjoy. It doesn’t seem like one more chore on my list, but activity makes me feel good,” Manship says.

Photo by Mel Serow, UM-Flint.

Her focus on fitness began after the birth of her son, Hakeem. She had been a fairly sedentary person, enjoying reading and watching movies over hitting the gym. But when she had difficulty shedding her weight, Manship says she knew she needed to change her lifestyle to take control of her health and wellness.

Manship started with small steps like rollerblading, with Hakeem in a stroller, and biking. Over the years she tried out many athletic activities and found yoga and kettlebells — bell-shaped weights with a handle — to be her favorites. Now Manship competes in 5K and other races, and recently took up paddleboarding. She completed school to be a personal trainer, and is in training to become a yoga instructor.

Five years ago Manship competed in an adventure race with a friend. They had to use a compass to locate checkpoints along a trail, and hike, bike or swim from one checkpoint to the next. She had to swim across a lake fully clothed, carrying all of her gear on her back, and at one point had to carry her bike across a creek over her shoulders.

“I felt good about it, a huge sense of accomplishment … but my body took a week or two to recover,” Manship says.

In October Manship also competed in the Men’s Health Urbanathalon in Chicago with her husband, Scott. They ran a nine-mile long course with obstacles like hurdling over taxi cabs and jogging up and down the stadium stairs at Soldier Field. The event gave Manship an opportunity to bond with Scott and share her passion for fitness with him.

Manship has worked at U-M for seven years, starting in the catering department at the Ann Arbor campus, then working in the Department of Epidemiology. She has been in her current position at the Flint campus since August.

She works at the front desk; greeting and assisting students, answering phones, and responding to questions. She also manages the department’s finances. The job’s fast pace brings satisfaction and an opportunity for personal growth, she says.

“I’ve been learning a lot of new things, gaining a lot of responsibilities that I didn’t have previously. So it keeps me busy and keeps my mind active,” Manship says.

Manship lives near Grand Blanc with Scott and Hakeem. They spend time each summer at Scott’s family’s lake home in Indiana, where they hike, bike and go boating. They also have family night each Friday during which they watch movies and often eat pizza.

“Family is important. It’s a good support system,” Manship says. “People like that term ‘it takes a village,’ and family is part of that village. You all have to work together to raise the family and support each other and help each other out.”

With the support of her family in raising her son and pursuing her dreams to be a fitness instructor, Manship says she has learned the importance of having support to accomplish goals. She hopes to support others in getting active by one day owning her own fitness studio.

“Ultimately I like helping people find what they enjoy doing physically, something that makes them feel good emotionally and not like one more chore they have to take care of,” Manship says. “I want to help people help themselves to feel good in life.”

The weekly Spotlight features staff members at the university. To nominate a candidate, please contact the Record staff at



Emily Manship, administrative assistant, Psychology Department, UM-Flint, on becoming a personal trainer: “I want to help people help themselves to feel good in their life.”


The Spirit of Chinese Brush exhibit by Christine (Yia-Shun) Yen, through Feb. 7, Gifts of Art Gallery, University Hospital Main Corridor, Floor 2.

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