Come dance your workout away with Danielle! Her Rhythm Rides are every Monday at 5:30 p.m. and 6:40 p.m., Wednesday at 6:40 p.m. and Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

Tell me about yourself. Where are you from and what brought you to Milwaukee? When you are not at SPIRE, what else keeps you busy?

I am from Minneapolis, MN. I completed my Ph.D. in astrophysics at UMN in 2013, was a visiting physics professor at Gustavus Adolphus College for the 2013-2014 academic year, but moved to Milwaukee in September of last year to work as a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Gravitation, Cosmology, and Astrophysics at University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.

My job keeps me very busy, but also affords me the opportunity to travel … so when I’m not at SPIRE or the office I am usually off seeing the world! When I’m in a new town I love to try new food, listen to live music, and run around outside.

Did / Do you compete in any type of sport or activity?

I spent most of my early years defying gravity - twisting, flipping, jumping, flying - and being addicted to gymnastics. I continued on and filled my college years with competitive Division III gymnastics, and was lucky enough to qualify and compete at the 2009 National Championships on the vault.

I was an all-around gymnast most of my life, but vault was my true love … I mean, what could be better than running as fast as you can at a stationary object, having all of your body weight impact said object at full speed, flying through the air in hopes that your eventually find your feet … all with in 5 seconds ?!?! ...

After entering graduate school, my life-long fitness routine in leotards came to an end. I used to work out all my aggression, stress, and frustrations out on a 90 foot vault runway, but now I redirect all that energy to attacking my stationary bike.  

Why did you become a teacher?

Post gymnastics career (gotta love being washed up at 22 years old), I was in search of a new hobby to keep me moving. I began attending classes at a small studio in Minneapolis and after a few weeks was complimented on my good form (gymnast) and energy and was asked if I had ever thought about teaching.

It has always been a passion and goal of mine to teach math and physics, but I had never considered directing my love of teaching to other aspects of my life. I decided to give it a go. The first class I taught was step aerobics (think Richard Simmons meets plyometrics on steroids!) and I soon became addicted to the rush of the teaching stage.

I found through group fitness that I could motivate and inspire others to do what I have always loved - MOVE!  Teaching people to move and commit to themselves and push beyond the limits of their individual workouts.

I have been a group and personal fitness instructor for six years now, with a large array of experiences from high energy aerobics and spin, to interval training such as tabata, and a variety of calisthenic exercises including barre, yet teaching in Milwaukee was not initially on my to-do list. When I discovered SPIRE, I saw the opportunity to cultivate the community I was craving here in MKE and develop music and group-energy driven spin classes. Now I cannot imagine my week without SPIRE. :)

What do you love besides cycling?

Kettlebells, calisthenics, weight lifting, running, hiking, climbing, TRX, barre, aerobics, and more. I think full spectrum fitness, and of particular interest to me - functional movement. This involves a balance of cardio, impact, strength, and flexibility/flow. There are a million ways to incorporate these aspects into your routine, and whatever gets you moving is the right one for you!

What is a one year goal you are working on right now?

Due to my gymnastics background, I like to play and challenge my body to new movements. I am currently working on my flag (extending your body horizontally from a vertical support), one-armed push-up, and a press handstand (moving into a handstand from a forward fold without jumping). The journey is more fun than the destination! I enjoy finding new creative drills and training tools and learning more about my body along the way.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Lululemon and chocolate. :)

Do you have a motto?

Yes, perhaps too many! One that has stuck with me since childhood comes from a hero of mine, Dominique Dawes: “D3 - Determination. Dedication. Dynamics.” I’m continuously amazed at how well D3 serves all aspects of life.

A favorite moto that I have adopted as an adult comes from Neil DeGrasse Tyson: “I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.”

What is your favorite restaurant in Milwaukee?

Currently my favorite restaurant in Milwaukee is Movida.


What are a few of your favorite songs to get pumped up?

A song that speaks to my heart and has always inspired me is “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield. That song “pumps up” my spirit. When I’m spinning, “Geronimo” by Sheppard, “Go Crazy!” by Armand Van Heldon, and “Love Shack” by the B52s will always get me moving, singing, and dancing … you’ve been warned! Anything by Rudimental, Haim, Robyn, Macklemore, MS MR, Bastille, Jes Glynne, Clean Bandit … I could go on forever :)

If you could retire tomorrow, what would you do?

See the world. 

Instagram: @DASTROBOT