-- (2/20/2018) A fitness fanatic was temporarily paralyzed from the neck down after a gym accident.

Marcelle Mancuso, a 23-year-old from Brazil, was doing an inverted sit-up at her gym in Rio when the strap holding her legs onto the elevated bench came loose and she slipped and fell head-first onto the floor.

An inverted sit-up involves performing an abdominal crunch on a gym bench which is raised on one end.

"I lost all the movements from the neck down when I hit my head on the floor," she told SWNS. "I could move my eyes. I had to keep calm and began to pray," she recalled.

The law graduate broke the fifth vertebrae in her neck, knocked another one out of place and squashed a third, compressing her spinal cord. Doctors had to graft bone to her smashed vertebrae and fit a metal plate and screws in her spine. 

Her physicians warned she may be a quadriplegic.

"The doctors did not know if I would walk again or if I would stay on a bed forever,” Marcelle recounted to SWNS. "I was afraid, but my faith always spoke louder and I thanked God for being alive.”

It took three months after surgery for Marcelle to take her first steps on her own. "After six months I managed to walk and my legs did not sway any more," she said. 

She's now back at the gym and said she's more active than ever.

"It sometimes feels like it was a nightmare I have woken up from," she said.