1. Hi Denise! Please tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin (we’re all Packer fans – cheeseheads and all!), but when I was about 18 months old my family drove to Alaska. Besides going to college in California, I’ve always lived in Alaska. All my close family members still live in Alaska so we’ve been really fortunate to have a great family support system all these years! This year I turned 50!! (I still can’t believe that) and my husband Shawn and I just celebrated our 20th anniversary. We have two awesome kids – my son is a 19-year-old in his 2nd year at UAA and my daughter is 17 and is a senior at Service High School. I feel blessed that they have been good kids and haven’t given us any trouble through their teenage years! I’ve worked for the State of Alaska since 1989 – after almost 14 years at DMV, I started working for the State Ombudsman.
2. What prompted you to seek out Figarelle’s Fitness?
I connected with FF through my awesome sister-in-law Monica Duff. We’re married to brothers. It took me a little bit to take the plunge because I was scared to start after several years of not taking care of my body, but Monica had been working out at FF and loved it. I was impressed by her results and she knew I wanted to start exercising, so she convinced me to give it a try. I needed to start doing something about some unhealthy habits I had developed so it was all perfect timing. I was ready to start making changes and Monica introduced me to a way to make the changes.
3. How long have you been working with FF, and in that time what have been 2 of your greatest accomplishments?
I started working out with FF the middle of February 2014. My first greatest accomplishment is dropping almost 30 pounds by making exercise and healthy eating a number one priority in my life! I look forward to seeing if I’ve reached my second greatest accomplishment when I get my yearly physical this year. At my last physical, I was considered pre-diabetic. My father has diabetes that he controls with medication. I didn’t want to go down that path when I knew there were physical changes I could make to prevent it from happening. I’m feeling pretty confident that I will have good news from my doctor during my next physical and I won’t be in the pre-diabetic category any longer.
4. Before working with us, had you ever been a part of an exercise plan before? If so, what did you do?
That was a long time ago! When I was in my early 20’s (in the 80’s), I worked at Gary King’s Sporting Goods. Of course, I was 20-something and pretty fit, but my life was all about athletics back then. I’d downhill ski every chance I got because we got free ski passes, I played volleyball in an adult league, I played softball, and I did the 80’s step-aerobics (in my fashionable 80’s Flash Dance leotard and tights!) at a gym all the time. Then I got married, had two kids, and that Denise slowly started changing. We still did some activities as a family like skiing and biking and occasionally I’d go walking with a friend, but it became more about the kids’ activities and sitting and watching them.
5. You attend both small group personal training and boot camp classes each week. What are a few of your favorite things about both programs?
What I like best about small group is having the challenge of working more with weights. It also helps me better understand proper form when performing the exercises because we get a lot of attention in small group and it’s easy to ask questions if I need clarification on anything. I also like getting more one-on-one time with other FF members.
What I like about boot camp is the work out is a fast pace, has a lot of variety and has high energy. I remember some of my first times at boot camp and being totally lost – loving it, but totally lost. Now, I get excited thinking about how great it’s going to be. I really like working with everyone and doing so many different exercises in just 50 minutes!
6. We just started our FF Winter Transformation Challenge. What are some goals you’d like to achieve in the next 7 weeks?
During the last challenge I was able to lose 5.2% body fat, which is way beyond what I ever expected. During this challenge, I’d like to accomplish a body fat loss of 4% and hope I can do it without any holiday excuses. I also plan to do more self-care kind of stuff and focus on my own mental health. My job can be very stressful because pretty much everyone I talk to is complaining about something. Some of the situations are not good and some of the people are really difficult. To top it off, it’s completely sedentary. At least at DMV, I was walking around the office constantly. So for this challenge, I want to do things that will help me relieve stress like get a massage, start meditating, make time to engage with my relatives – things that will make me feel good instead of feeling like there are only problems in this world. ooohhhmmmmmm!
7. You’ve mentioned to me several times how much you really enjoy the camaraderie at FF and how different we are from other places you’ve been. In your opinion, what do you think sets us apart from other gyms/fitness classes that you’ve been to?
I knew FF was a great place because I think the energy at FF is amazing! However, I don’t know if this really hit me until we were at our home in Arizona on vacation. I went with a friend to five days of boot camp at a fitness center and the instructor/owner was nice, the other people were welcoming to me as a newbie to the group and it was a good workout. What I noticed was you came in, you did your workout, and you left. No one gave us information that we could use before or after the workout, they didn’t make sure we stretched when we were done working out – I just didn’t feel like they really cared.
When I joined FF, I received an email the day after my first workout asking how I was doing. You talk about things that are important and real to each of us. You took the time to ask me if I was interested in small group because you saw I was ready for something extra. You, Lela and Charlene know when I need to be pushed – “you can do more, here’s an extra 5 pounds” or “Here, you’re using the 30 lb kettlebell this time.”
I also really enjoy how FF clients are like one big family, which was pretty evident in the collective support from everyone when Chamene competed in her physique competition, the emotional stories that other people have shared about their FF transformations, and even the awesome party at the end of the last challenge! Those are the kinds of things that I believe set FF apart.
8. Do you have any favorite exercises at Boot Camp and Small Group? If so, what are they and why do you like them so much?
Hmmm… that’s a real tough one. I guess one of my favorites is the TRX. I remember how difficult exercises like the pike or knee tucks used to be on the TRX. Now that I’m able to do more, I enjoy them more. I also like the bosu ball exercises that Charlene recently introduced us to during small group. I like that it helps me improve my balance and I feel like it works a lot of muscle groups.
9. How has your life changed since exercise has become a part of your regular routine?
Wow! It’s changed so much! We eat healthier as a family and they love it. I feel better – physically and mentally – because I am active. I have so much more energy!
10. What kind of changes have you made to your nutrition since starting with FF?
Nutritionally, I’ve made huge changes. I seriously do not remember the last time I ate at a fast food restaurant – whereas before FF, we’d probably have fast food at least once a week. I pay attention to what I put in my body. Honestly, it’s not always perfect, but if it’s not, I don’t let myself overindulge. I also notice that my good choices are now my kids’ good choices. What a good thing to pass on!