We have had the pleasure of working with Denise over the last year and a half, and in that time, she’s accomplished some great things. It’s been so much fun witnessing her mental and physical transformation and getting to be a part of her fitness journey.

Denise was chosen as our Figarelle’s Fitness family member of the month because she’s not only extremely supportive to everyone in our group, she’s also on time for every session and rarely misses a workout. Denise works hard on mastering each exercise we put in front of her, even if it sometimes means slowing her pace down during a workout. We are beyond proud to call Denise a friend, and we’re honored to have such an inspiring woman as part of our group. She looks out and takes care of everyone, sometimes putting their needs before her own. We interviewed Denise so we could learn a little more about what her fitness journey means to her.


Denise: December 2010.


What initially prompted you to set out on your fitness journey?

I was tired of being fat, and I knew that the only way to not be fat forever was to be fit forever.


What led you to Figarelle’s Fitness, and what about our company keeps you coming back for more?

I ended up at my first boot camp purely by luck.  My neighbor was going to try a boot camp session with a friend and asked me if I wanted to go.  I agreed to go without really thinking about it.  I had NO idea what I was in for.  I had been thinking about trying to find a trainer or something to get my butt motivated but didn’t have the self-confidence to seek something out myself.  I was hooked from day one.  It was hard, but do-able, there were other people there who looked like me (read regular, not buff), no mirrors so I didn’t have to look at myself, and the people were amazingly nice, and helpful.  My first boot camp was a whiteboard workout.  The three of you keep me coming back.  I feel like I have a personal connection with you that I wouldn’t find anywhere else.


When you have a bad day, what do you do to keep from losing motivation? 

When I have a bad day, I try hard to feed off the people around me.  Everyone works so hard, the energy really is contagious.  While I may not feel my best on some days I always know that a bad day with an hour of exercise beats a bad day without an hour of exercise.  Talking to you guys about it also helps put it in perspective (the big picture) and over time I have learned to gauge whether I am physically or mentally having a bad day.  You guys have taught me to reflect on the things I can do to improve the situation before the next boot camp, more water, better food choices, more rest etc.



You’ve managed to get your husband, Pete and your daughter, Jamie involved with Boot Camp. How has it been working out all together? 

Honestly, when each started coming there was a small period of awkwardness.  With Pete, I really wanted him to like it so it could be something we did together instead of being something that kept us apart. Our kids are mostly out of the house so it had been a priority for us to find things we like to do together.  It took him longer to “enjoy the misery” than it took me but he stuck with it and now hates it when he has to miss.  It has made our relationship better. I’m super proud of Jamie. I was nervous when she first started.  I was afraid she wasn’t doing it for the right reasons, and I’ve seen her give up many times before.  I figured out that I had to turn off the parent brain and just do my thing at boot camp.  I’m proud of the changes she has made and know that she really does have some tools to use when she goes back to school.


You have worked really hard on your form on different exercise the past several months, I’ve really noticed it. Why is this so important to you, and what advice would you give someone who’s struggling to keep good form during a movement?

I think the main reason form is important to me is because I grew up taking ballet.  In ballet, what we call form is called technique, and your entire goal is to have perfect technique.  If you don’t, you will look like a clumsy cow in the group of dancers, on the stage, in front of a whole bunch of people. (I know you would never tell someone they look like a cow, but I know you can see a few right now!)  I personally think this philosophy translates to any movement-based activity, running, skiing, lifting, body weight stuff, fencing, rowing etc.  The advice I would give others who are struggling with keeping good form includes, slowing down and trying to connect your mind to the movement.  Be purposeful in your movements.  When your mind stops being connected to the movement, stop, regroup (rest?) and start again. Don’t give up.  Everything good takes time.


Over the summer you ran a few races, and even completed your first half-marathon! How did it feel to complete such an inspiring challenge?

Honestly, it was anticlimactic.  While I felt a sense of accomplishment, and had lots of fun on race day, the process of getting there was hard.  It ended up being a very solitary venture and that made it less awesome.  Training took way more time and energy than I ever imagined.  No one else in the family was running so I spent many miles alone with Taylor Swift and the traffic noise.  Basically while I was training I missed the group energy that always exists at boot camp.  It was hard to motivate knowing it was always a solo adventure.  I didn’t have enough confidence to go on training runs with other people because I was focused on making sure I ran the pace I needed to and didn’t want to hold someone else up, or be forced to run too fast, and given the opportunity I always chose boot camp over a run because it was more fun!  I will run again this spring, but I will try hard to just run for fun and less to prove something to myself.  I know I am fit enough to do that now, and I have learned that my body really can do whatever I set my mind to.


You’re often one of the most encouraging, supportive people during a workout and you seem to really enjoy helping others succeed. Why is it so important to you to help other people during their workout?

LOL, I think it’s sorta like you Pit owners.  Pits get a bad rap, you love yours so it’s important to you to share the pit love and convince others right?  Well it’s the same for exercise.  It gets a bad rap.  I want others to realize it’s a bad rap and learn to enjoy it as much as I do.  It does go back to that thing about feeding off others energy on bad days too.  I feed off others positive energy as well.


What’s been your biggest success since starting with Figarelle’s Fitness?   I have to say the drop in body fat.  You guys have helped me get rid of most of the last bit of excess weight I have been toting around.  The other changes are just the icing on the cake.


What are some of the nutrition habits that you’ve changed over the last several months? 

Increased protein for sure, and I have been building a much stronger awareness of how I feel when I eat Carbs versus Protein versus Fats.  I struggled this summer with finding that right balance while I was running, and still attending boot camp 3 times a week.  I’m not sure I ever really did find the right balance, which may have contributed to part of the less than positive feelings surrounding the whole running thing.

Denise and fellow Boot Camper, Sabrina, after running The Her Tern half-marathon in July, 2013.

Denise (right) and fellow Boot Camper, Sabrina (left), after running The Her Tern half-marathon July, 2013.

How do you manage work, family, and still stay on track with your diet and workout routine each week? 

I have finally learned that manage doesn’t mean control.  For many years those words were synonymous.  In my life management plan, food and nutrition comes first, workouts are my second priority, family third and my job is my last priority.  It took me MANY years to learn that I have to put myself first.  I ask for help and I don’t try to do it all anymore.


What advice would you give a woman who is afraid to strength train? How has weight lifting helped you? 

My suggestion would be to try it, if it doesn’t work for you then don’t keep doing it.  The two times in my life when I lifted weights (for about a year when I was 20, and now) it has only been a positive thing for me.  I enjoy being physically strong.  I like the looks I get when I toss heavy things around at Costco.  I like not having to rely on other peoples help for what should be simple things.  Strong is good.  Strength training is good.


Is age only a number? Can you talk a little about your fitness level now, vs. when you were in your 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s? 

I don’t think age is only a number.  I think it’s an important part of who we are.  It rubs me the wrong way when people minimize the importance or lack of importance of a person’s age.  I totally understand the reason that people have latched onto that notion, because we do so often set ourselves up for failure by creating negative thoughts in our mind, but the years you have lived mean so much.  That number speaks to our life experiences and defines much about who we are, it should never be an excuse for why someone can’t do something, but it is a factor that contributes to everything about a person.   That said, I don’t think age should ever be a deterrent to someone achieving their goals, or limiting the goals they set for themselves. I was very fit for the first half of my twenties, When I met Pete at 22 we played softball, racquetball, competed in triathlons, bowled, and lifted some weights.  Then we had kids and all that fun went away and was replaced by different fun!  I wouldn’t trade those days for anything in the world, because I wouldn’t be where I am today if any of it was different.


So, what’s your next BIG goal? 

I’m not sure, I’m still working on that one.  There are so many cool things to do.  I don’t feel limited at all in what I can do physically thanks to you guys!  I’ll take suggestions!