Freestyle Instructor Spotlight: Our Anchor, Danelle Clarke

For almost as long as there has been a Freestyle Martial Arts, there has been student and instructor Danelle Clarke. She’s one of the handful of instructors playing both sides of the Freestyle field, with a “Head Instructor” business card in her wallet for her role in the adult beginner program on the martial arts side, and regular slots teaching Throwdown and Total Body for the fitness side. Authenticity is kind of our thing here at Freestyle, and as it happens, that describes Danelle through and through. The girl loves martial arts – enough to go through literal hell for that fourth line on her black belt – and it’s evident in every fitness class she teaches.

danelle-clarke-freestyle-fitness-1Danelle made a beeline for Freestyle after taking a kickboxing class at UNR in 2001. When the semester ended, she followed the instructor to her martial arts studio to keep a good thing going. And then, the martial arts bug bit her – hard. She talked her husband into giving it a go with her, and a year later, she was attending martial arts on the regular and began teaching fitness classes as well. Three years after that, Danelle and her husband Scott took over the beginner adult program, and well, they never left.

As a fitness instructor, “I have a different goal for each class,” says Danelle. “Some days, it’s ‘we are going to leave here dripping sweat.’ Other days, it’s ‘those legs are going to burn.’ Generally, I try to make sure that people go out of their comfort one. If they wanted something comfortable and easy, they would stay home.”

That kind of approach to fitness is effectively cross-training, and that makes it one of the hands-down best ways to work out. Ahem, SLOW CLAP.

She has that kind of intuitive thing going across the board, and part of it can be chalked up to personal experience.

“During my early 20s, I was fixated on my weight,” she says. “I stepped on the scale every day; I counted every single calorie; I constantly read diet magazines that were disguised as ‘fitness’ magazines; and I was always at the gym, even when I didn’t want to be. Weight and dieting were at the forefront of all my thoughts (though occasionally some math concepts would manage to push their way through). Instead of being fit and thin, my weight constantly fluctuated.”

Rough, right? But then…

danelle-clarke-freestyle-fitness“At a certain point, I decided I was done,” Danelle says, “and I just stopped. Instead of concentrating on the size and shape of my body, I began focusing on what my body could do. That slight shift in thought changed everything. I no longer obsess about dieting. My weight, whatever it is, leveled out; I’ve been wearing the same jeans for years. More importantly, I feel good about my body. Now, instead of counting calories, I count push ups, sit ups and sparring rounds – and I am a better, saner person for it.”


And that, friends, is what Danelle brings to the table. And really, it’s what makes Freestyle different from the 800 other gyms in town. And everyone who walks in the door is all the better for it.

“… That is what we can provide at Freestyle: a saner, better approach to fitness,” she says. “We focus on what people are capable of, not how many calories they eat. It may sound cheesy, but for me, Freestyle is not about getting smaller – it’s about walking taller.”

Well, we can’t say it any better than that. We’re lucky to have you, Danelle.

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