— Founder / CEO
Zionna Hanson, or “Z” as she is more commonly known, is the Founder and CEO of Barbells for Boobs®.
Z grew up in Southern California, with strong ties to the Long Beach area. After going to college on the East Coast to study dance, she discovered CrossFit® in 2007. Completely hooked on this revolutionary fitness philosophy, she eventually returned to the west coast starting the next phase of her life.
In 2009, Z’s world changed. After opening her own CrossFit gym, she received the news that her best friend Cecy was diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 26. Although she had insurance and a referral from her physician, Cecy was initially denied screening services and advised by medical professionals to simply come back when she turned 40. Not satisfied with this answer, Cecy insisted on being screened and was diagnosed with stage 0 DCIS breast cancer. The shock of her diagnosis at this young age and frustration towards the dismissive medical community fueled Z’s fire to take action. Not knowing how else to help, she did what she does best. She lifted a barbell in her honor. 30 times. Joined by 60 loyal friends and supporters of her passion in a small parking lot, she raised $4,000 and Barbells for Boobs was born.
Aside from being a mom, wife, and competitive weightlifter; in just 5 short years Z has grown Barbells for Boobs into a multi-million dollar organization that drives social change. She tells her story to as many people as possible, connecting with athletes and supporters by visiting gyms and sending personal handwritten thank you notes with her “Z” signature to make sure people know it’s directly from her.
Staying small while we grow big is so important. I’ll never be too busy that I wouldn’t have time to throw down in a WOD with the people that have done the same for Barbells for Boobs.
Her positive approach to life is heavily influenced by her love of the Rasta Culture and Reggae. “Being a Rasta is saying you stand for truth, love and positive change,” says Z. With this in mind, coupled with her strong drive, Z continues to instill this as the foundation of her organization. Her focus on people and making a difference in the world has attracted so many to support the mission and cause, that ultimately stemmed from her commitment to her best friend.