Can do 386 full push ups in less than 25 minutes
Registered & Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist
ISSA Certified Fitness Instructor
ISSA Transformation Specialist
ISSA Group Fitness Instructor
Certified Micronutrient Specialist
Freestyle Fitness and Nutrition, LLC is literally my dream come true. My name is Denise Coots and I am a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer and I strive to help men, women and children improve or maintain their nutrition and fitness.
A little bit of background about me: I became interested in nutrition and fitness shortly after I married my husband (in 2002) who was in the army at the time. He was stationed in Alaska and we would go to the local chow hall for dinner occasionally. One of the first nights there, while I was grabbing pizza and fries for dinner, he was getting collard greens and chicken breast. I was confused; after all, we had the same preferences before (i.e. junk food) he joined the army, so I asked him what had changed. I will never forget his answer, “I jump out of planes now for a living, and eating this way makes me feel better.” Those words stuck and they stuck hard. And so my journey began. I began reading every food label I could. I spent hours in the grocery store. I began to dabble in cooking. I started working out regularly and it felt great! I went from a very young and unhealthy smoking woman to running miles and cooking healthier meals. Never in a million years did I fathom that I would end up being an expert within the world of nutrition and fitness at that time. After moving back home to Missouri, I attended the University of Missouri with the hopes and dreams of owning my own gym. I was super focused and knew that is what I wanted to do. While in the nutrition and fitness program, the director of the dietetic program suggested I look into becoming a dietitian. I will be perfectly honest; I had NO idea what a dietitian even did at that time. After some explanation and some long thinking and changing of life plans, I decided to pursue dual degrees in both medical dietetics and in nutrition and fitness, along with a minor in business. Throughout my dietetics program, I was the one who always said, "I'll never work in a hospital, I want to own my own gym." Life had something else in store for me. During my last semester of the dietetics program, I accepted a part-time job at the hospital where I was born. I was planning to get "maybe a year of clinical work" under my belt. The part-time job evolved into a full-time job quickly. I became the lead clinical dietitian soon thereafter and then obtained a few advanced certifications (Certified Micronutrient Specialist and Certified Nutrition Support Clinician). I treasured my clinical job, dearly. I loved advanced practice, coordinating the dietitians' roles, and most of all, caring for our patients. Throughout my 12 years working as a clinical dietitian, there was a slight nagging feeling that would come up from time to time, almost like a little voice saying things like, "You are supposed to change the world!" "You should be helping people in another way." "Hey, remember the gym, NOW is your time." Life was just never right for me to pursue it. That is until life WAS right.
After a lot of consideration and some rough trial and error, I started my small business, Freestyle Fitness, and Nutrition in early 2020. That's right. I started a small business FLAT smack dab in the middle of a pandemic. I went from working my full-time clinical dietetics lead position with benefits and the whole nine yards to owning my own business. It is odd how those little conversations you have with people you are close to can have SUCH a huge impact. Of all people, my hairdresser who has cut my hair for over ten years is the one who said to me in November of 2019, "You need to do it; you just need to open your gym. You have talked about it for so long. You should just do it. Women will follow you, they look up to you and they listen to you!" I honestly had not realized how much I had talked about it with her. But after that appointment, it was go time. I started out by becoming a certified personal trainer from ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association). Then I obtained a few more certifications from ISSA including transformation specialist and a certified group fitness instructor. I then began trialing out workouts from my garage with my friends and family. Before long, I had a waitlist.
And then, out of nowhere, COVID-19 hit and it hit hard. Our community was of course shut down. Our trial workouts ceased. I began working remotely for the hospital which allowed me extra time I needed to invest in coming up with my business plan. I gritted my teeth and was determined by the time our community reopened, I would be ready to launch my small group fitness classes out of my garage again. On May 4, 2020, I officially opened for classes. The response from my small hometown (population 1200) was phenomenal. My class sizes have grown exponentially.
In September 2019, I realized I needed a change. Despite the fact that I had been working out regularly and eating healthy for years, I found myself in the grips of alcohol addiction. It started slowly and simply grew over time. I had several instances that made me question if I had a problem. My wake-up call came after several weekday mornings of waking up early in the wee hours of the morning and asking myself, "How did I get to bed?" I was so ashamed. I decided it was time for a change. I stopped drinking alcohol in September of 2019 and have not touched it since then. I found myself with an unspeakable drive and determination to help others in a new way soon thereafter. I KNEW it was time to pursue my passion for opening a gym. And that is just exactly what I did. Freestyle and Fitness were created shortly thereafter!
Starting and operating Freestyle Fitness and Nutrition is my dream come true. I wake up at 3:50 am every morning pinching myself, wondering if this is really happening. When I realize it is, I smile and I smile BIG. The countless text messages, emails, phone calls I have received telling me how much my business has improved my members' lives lights the fire inside me to keep working hard. Each time someone thanks me for helping them, my heart is warmed so incredibly much. I say this at least once a week while I am recording the workout for the At Home Program, "You guys are the ones who keep ME motivated!"