We are kicking off 2021 with a very special Member Spotlight. Not only is Denise Golden our January Member Spotlight, she is our 2020 Member of the Year!
Each year we choose a member who exemplifies what Forward Fitness stands for. We choose someone who encourages others, shows up with a positive attitude, faces challenges head on, and chooses to live a healthy life.
Denise joined Forward Fitness at the age of 53. She had just been to the doctor and was told she had high blood pressure and was put on medication. She was surprised it took her that long to get the diagnosis since high blood pressure ran in her family.
Her good friend Lisa, one of our founding members and our current admin, had been encouraging her to join Forward Fitness for years, but her skepticism kept her from trying. Denise had never really been to the gym and was intimidated of them. She wanted to find a place she would feel accepted and be challenged.
I remember Denise coming in for her initial strategy session. We were starting a challenge and Denise hopped right in to it and become a member. Denise recounted, “It was a little daunting at first, but the coaches and the members were so helpful and encouraging- I felt like I found a good fit.”
Denise values her health and fitness so much. She painfully watched her mother’s health decline and eventually pass away from Alzheimer’s disease. Knowing exercise is one action she can take to curtail this disease has made it an important part of her life. She wants to do everything possible to prevent her family having to go through what she went through. Denise has also made it known that she wants to live until she is 126 years old and enjoy all she has saved for in retirement. She said, “There was no way I would make it (to 126) before joining Forward Fitness. I’m not sure I will make it now, but I can dream. Also, if I do reach that age, I am not yet middle-aged.”
All health journeys have their challenges. For Denise, it’s been her knees. Denise has had knee issues her whole life. She used to be more active, playing football. As she aged her knees got worse, so she quit doing things blaming it on her knees. With the proper guidance Denise learned to work around her knee issues and not use it as a limitation. Denise explains, “I worked with the coaches to find alternatives to exercises that bother my knees. I have worked on different squats and lunges to try and complete them without pain. In working with the staff, I found that lateral movements do not hurt and use them in place of other exercises. I have also embraced the mobility classes. I can now do bodyweight squats and can walk long distances. I can honestly say, this would not have happened without joining Forward Fitness.”
A key element to success is consistency! We will be celebrating Denise’s 5-Year Anniversary in September! What an accomplishment! She was an OG of the #5AMClub and brings the energy every morning. When asked what keeps her coming, Denise explained, “Forward Fitness makes you feel like you belong. This is a one stop gym. You get the tools needed for fitness and a dietician for nutrition. Also, the coaches hold accountability groups and make you feel like you are not alone on whatever path you are on. This support along with the camaraderie with the members (#5amclub) keeps me coming every day! I am a 5 a.m. club OG and love it. The members have changed over the years, but they are always supportive and inspiring. You don’t go to the gym at 5 a.m. to goof off! During COVID, I appreciated all the on-line courses and accountability sessions. These not only helped me keep the weight off but really helped to motivate me to keep moving. Working at your home office you can get dormant. Even with the pandemic the coaches have worked tirelessly making sure we keep training at home and still feel that sense of family.”
Denise’s consistency has definitely paid off and she has celebrated so many wins! After a year and a half at Forward Fitness Denise was able to stop taking her blood pressure medication!!!!! What a hug win! Each year she completes the 100 Workout Challenge (100 workouts between July and December). This year she got over 200 workouts! Denise also started walking a lot. The past two years she has completed a 30 miles in 3 days walk to support breast cancer research. This was something she never would have attempted before the confidence she now has. This past year she has joined many virtual walks and even completed a virtual walk from Busch Stadium to Wrigley Field, over 300 miles in less than 3 months!
Denise’s advice to anyone considering adding fitness to their life, “Everyone should add some fitness to their life. I now concentrate at work better. I used to get distracted and extremely tired. Since getting into a fitness routine, I have a lot more focus. I also enjoy better sleep. I used to wake up quite often, I now only wake up once or twice a night. Any fitness routine will add a lot to your life. Forward Fitness just adds more! You get the fitness, nutrition, competitions and an extended family you never knew you needed. Thanks to everyone for keeping me motivated and on a fitness track to last a lifetime.”
Cheers to another year of health and fitness!