Q&A with Denise Francis

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It all started when Denise Francis was preparing for her 2010 wedding. Like many brides-to-be she had a weight-loss goal. Francis was looking to lose 30 pounds.

Denise Francis

Denise Francis

“During that time I learned that fitness and staying in shape doesn’t have to be boring and a chore – like being on the elliptical sometimes is,” Francis, now married to Essex native Jeff Francis, explained during an interview Monday. “I really enjoyed going to group fit classes and finding things that are fun and challenging at the same time. Group fit is also nice because it can be more of a social setting. You get to know your classmates and cheer them along.”

After graduating from the University of Vermont in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Technology, Francis took a job at Fletcher Allen as a microbiologist. Alongside this full-time career, the Essex resident has been teaching Zumba classes for the Milton recreation department for two years this fall. Early this spring, Francis decided to join Colchester’s new program, Learning Is For Everyone – or LIFE – and offer two six-week R.I.P.P.E.D. classes through December.

According to the first LIFE program brochure put out by Colchester Parks & Rec and Colchester School District, “The LIFE Program is a collaborative effort between Colchester Parks & Recreation and the Colchester School District that seeks to provide new educational opportunities for all ages, to attract local taxpayers to Colchester High School to utilize their investment in Colchester Schools, and to motivate talent in Colchester to reinvent the identity and character of our town.”

Francis took time recently to elaborate on the R.I.P.P.E.D. classes she plans to offer.

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Q: What do you like about teaching fitness classes?

Denise Francis climbs a rope during a Warrior Dash obstacle race. | PHOTO CONTRIBUTED

Denise Francis climbs a rope during a Warrior Dash obstacle race. | PHOTO CONTRIBUTED

A: Teaching is one of those fun and challenging things for me. I am actually super shy and pretty introverted. Teaching takes me out of my comfort zone and I love it. I find it so rewarding to help motivate and show people that fitness can be fun. I love being a part of people’s journey, whether it’s weight loss, staying in shape or training for something totally new. I love making new friends through fitness and hearing that I have helped them achieve a goal they set out for.

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Q: What’s your style of teaching?

A: Personally, I love the whole boot camp style; it works great for me, but I tend to be more of a goofball in my classes. Usually I try to see who is in my class and what they need. It’s all good, so long as everybody is having fun.

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Q: How would you describe your class?

A: There’s great music that keeps you pumping and motivated for the whole hour. I think it’s a lot of fun. The class is choreographed, so it comes with music from the company. Usually it’s a mix of the top 40 songs. It will take place Thursdays from 6-7 p.m. in the Colchester High School mini gym.

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Q: What does R.I.P.P.E.D. stand for?

A: Resistance, Intervals, Plyometric, Power, Endurance and Diet.

Each song of the class corresponds to a different letter. For example, the first song will be for resistance and will target small muscle groups. Then the next song will be for intervals, so it will ramp the class up and down; plyometric moves usually incorporate jumping; power works large muscles. Endurance is my favorite and the largest part of the class, which is usually a kickboxing type of exercise.

Denise Francis wades through mud during a Warrior Dash obstacle race. | PHOTO CONTRIBUTED

Denise Francis wades through mud during a Warrior Dash obstacle race. | PHOTO CONTRIBUTED

There’s also a core section, but it isn’t in the acronym. Diet is the last letter and there are lots of recipes that participants can find online (rippedplanet.com).

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Q: What is unique about your R.I.P.P.E.D. class?

A: I’m really excited to teach this class this fall because it is such a well rounded program. It sounds intimating, but you can make it as hard or easy as you want depending on how you want to modify the moves. So it really can be for everyone.

— Elsie Lynn