Fit Sisters: Francesca and Gabriella

Tell us about yourselves! Where are you from? What brought you all to Milwaukee?

Francesca: We’re from Des Plaines, IL and Marquette University brought us both to Milwaukee. I came first...

Gabriella: ...and I followed a few years later. I'm now starting my junior year. 

Francesca: During my undergraduate time at Marquette I studied marketing and got my first job before graduation working for the Milwaukee Bucks. Milwaukee had really become my home at that point. Now, I work for Marquette University and am also a graduate student pursuing my MBA. 

Gabriella: I'm a digital media major, with a writing minor, and I’m an intern in the Office of Marketing and Communication at Marquette University.

Francesca: I got married last year here in Milwaukee and we were fortunate to have most of my family from Peru come to the wedding. Gabriella was my maid of honor, of course! Some of my hobbies include volunteering at Sojourner Family Peace Center and playing with my puppy Michael Jordan. 

Gabriella: Aside from school I like to do service projects with the MARDI GRAS organization at Marquette and musical theater is my guilty pleasure. I really enjoy practicing yoga and running, as well.

You both come several times a week, sometimes twice a day, what keeps you inspired for your workouts? Do you have a motto? 

Francesca: What keeps me inspired is, honestly, just competing with my husband and sister and always trying to beat what I did in my last workout. I don't like to lose.

Gabriella: The environment is fun and full of so much energy. When you start to discover who your favorite instructors are and what your favorite classes are, it makes going to class even more exciting. Something Melissa said the other day that I remember is "keep going because you never know who you are inspiring," and I think that's a really cool thing to remember.

Francesca: Also, if I'm signed up for a class, then that motivates Gabby to attend the class and vice versa. That’s a big motivating factor for us - being able to do this together!

Now Francesca you started coming in January and Gabby you started coming in June. What made you decided to come to SPIRE and what keeps you coming back? 

Francesca: First, I did a lot of rowing in CrossFit and I wanted to improve my rowing. SPIRE was the only rowing studio I found in the area, so that was what initially brought me in. Then, of course, Jenell immediately kicked my butt in crew class and she kept me coming back! Also, your SPIRE Ride classes were incredibly motivating and made me love cycling...which I had never done before SPIRE!

Gabriella: I was looking for something different. I was doing yoga every day at the time, but I didn’t feel like I was getting enough of a cardiovascular workout. I wanted something more challenging and different. I heard about SPIRE from my sister and soon after, I did Melissa's Monster's of Rap themed ride. After that I signed up for my first month and now I can't get enough.

What goals has SPIRE helped you all to achieve?

Francesca: It has definitely increased my endurance. Both the crew and ride have strengthened me mentally, and my capacity for pushing my body has increased. Before, I would hit a point where I was too tired and couldn’t do it, but then I came to SPIRE and it’s a combination of the instructors pushing you and the music that really keeps you going. You're building endurance and pushing your body past your mental limits.

Gabriella: When I first started at SPIRE I would have moments in my cycling classes where I didn’t think I could keep going, or I couldn’t keep up with the rhythm of the music when we were running but the great thing about SPIRE is you are constantly encouraged and pushed because you are capable of so much, you just have to push yourself. Now I feel like I have definitely increased my endurance and have become stronger both mentally and physically. 

Francesca: A consistent thread with all the instructors is the “yes you can!” attitude. When the workout gets hard I try not to think about quitting anymore, but rather, how much harder or faster can I go. I’ve learned that your body can usually push harder than your mind thinks it can.

Gabriella: The instructors have all helped me build confidence in the ride classes. Both Melissa’s and Danielle’s classes are my favorite because they really push you and even after the first two weeks, I could see myself getting better. 

What is your favorite class here at SPIRE?

Gabriella: Rhythm Ride with Danielle, tied with Ride Plus with Melissa. The boxing is beyond cool and I always love the music...I stalk them on Spotify after class because I can’t get enough of the music. (Hahaha)

Francesca: For me, it's hard to pick between Brandon's and Jenell's crew class. They keep you motivated and don't let you rest, they just keep pushing you. Both do a good job of pushing you past what you think you can do. Melissa's Ride Plus class is probably my favorite - her music is awesome and the weights add an extra challenge.

You all are one of several families that come to SPIRE. Do you all try to make it a group activity?

Francesca: I think so. Especially with both our busy schedules, it's both our time to hang out and catch up.

Gabriella: Yes, and sometimes we go to different classes and don’t even know it. One time we were there at the same time and she was in a crew class and I was in a ride class, and we bumped into each other on the way out. 

Francesca: It's fun when my husband is able to join too- he works a lot, so sometimes SPIRE is the first time we see each other all day. 

Gabriella: It is a lot of fun when all three of us are able to go together.

Where does your motivation come from to make sure you’re attending classes regularly? Do you try to come together?

Francesca: I think my motivation comes from seeing gradual improvements. I get hungry for more results, faster split times, and quicker tap-backs! 

Gabriella: I’ll say it again; I get so motivated to go, because even when I'm tired, once you're there, you just feel so good and I actually have fun. 

Has it been better having family with you, more motivating?

Francesca: It’s been really nice, we're both really different people, but it’s something we can do together and we can both enjoy. She is my best friend, so it's great to spend that time sweating it out with her.

Gabriella: And it's awesome we can do something together that we both enjoy, since we are both very busy outside the gym.

What other fitness activities keep you active? 

Gabriella: I love to do yoga and go for runs down to the lake. Working out is a way for me to relieve stress, so I just love trying new things.

Francesca: I enjoy being active and playing sports, whether it's golf or volleyball. I also do CrossFit and Olympic lifting.

Gabriella: And we run 5k's! SPIRE has helped us both improve our performance in all of those things we do.

Tell us a fun fact about yourselves. 

Francesca: Well, I've never had a peanut and butter and jelly sandwich, I do not like Peanut Butter...but I love peanuts.

Gabriella: When I was 15 I was in this commercial ad for an app that launched but never aired, so there was that. I'm also in that MU Homecoming video that just aired.

Francesca: She plays the ukulele too.

What is your favorite post-workout snack or meal?

Francesca: I really like the Blueberry Fage Greek Yogurt with KIND granola.

Gabriella: I usually go with an apple smeared with peanut butter.

Do you have any advice for someone who is looking to start classes at SPIRE?

Gabriella: Come, come, come! It's such a great experience, even if you aren’t athletic, everything’s great and it will be worth it.

Francesca: Don’t be intimidated, by the shoes or the straps! Like Coach Brandon says, "You can do anything for 30 seconds!"

Gabriella: The hardest part is getting there, but it's such a great community. Don’t let fear get in the way of fun.

What is your favorite way to relax?

Francesca: I like a nice glass of red wine and cuddling up with my dog and a book.

Gabriela: If I really need to relax, yoga is my go-to and burning incense is always calming too. Listening to music is another big way that I like to relieve stress.