Friday, November 14, 2014

Toronto Fitness Coach Makes Giant Leap from the Gym to the Silver Screen

By Paul Fitzgerald

Passion, determination, and drive are qualities many people desire and strive for as they are fundamental in the true definition of success.

For Francisca Dennis, a popular fitness coach, these traits come naturally and are the key reason why she is such a positive influence on others and successful in so many ways.

Simply put, she is a one-of-a-kind person – genuine, outgoing and charismatic, and her energy is downright contagious.

And when it comes to being in shape, she is a tough match to beat: from head to toe her body is in perfect form, which is complimented by her stunning smile and her elegant complexion.

I have always been internally motivated and driven. I’m in love with the process. It turns my crank to have a goal no matter what it is and step to it every day,” says Dennis during an interview at a local gym in Burlington, ON. 

The founder and owner of FD Lifestyle in Toronto, ON, has a long list of clients that she trains daily throughout the Greater Toronto Area and Toronto for that matter, and she is hailed as an icon in the fitness world.

And while the 44 year-old is a champion in her own right in the world of fitness, she is set to prove herself as an actor on the silver screen.

It’s a big leap from the gym, but she is ready for the challenge and the adventure.

Yes, she will no doubt be a star on the silver screen, but she is humble and yet poised to embark on a new and inimitable sort of excursion.

Dennis is gearing up to play a star role in the Road of the Dead, starring the notable Dan Richardson. The Nighthawk Production, directed by David Bispham and Danny Albury, will be filmed in the UK in 2015.

“I am the lead female and will play a kick-butt lieutenant opposite Dan Richardson, in this post-apocalyptic action movie,” she smiles. “I am super excited about this opportunity; I am simply elated.”

“My physicality and fitness background definitely helped me land this role. My character is a strong woman both mentally and physically. The directors saw that I could bring this to help bring my character to life and I was fortunate enough to get the job.”

Last fall the charming fitness guru also starred in X-Species, a FreeSpark Production, and she says it was an incredible experience working on the set in New Mexico.
“The scenery there was absolutely breathtaking,” she recalls.

“For one of the scenes I had to lay in on the ground for hours with my mouth agape.  Some of the crew were there just to keep the scorpions and snakes off the set, so of course this is going through my mind as I am laying there take-after-take. It was a thrilling adventure and I loved every minute of it - even with the threat of spiders crawling in my mouth during my death scene,” she laughs.

Dennis, who is a fitness coach, author, and speaker, contends that her passion for fitness and physicality is a gift that is meant to be shared.

“I’ve seen how I have been able to influence others and inspire them to start, to not give up and it means so much to me. I feel my purpose is to help people see the strength they have within. Motivating them to be their very own heroes,” she says.

While successful in on every level, she admits that her journey in life hasn’t been an easy one, but the gym and healthy living became her savior.

“I actually struggled with body image issues in my twenties,” she says. “I was so thin that I had to layer clothing on just so I wouldn’t feel like a walking skeleton.  I would hear hurtful names, comments and rumors of me having an eating disorder – which I didn’t have, but for the life of me I couldn’t put on weight no matter what I consumed.”

She adds, “I wanted to change my body composition so I started getting serious about weight training and educating myself on proper nutrition and supplementation. I began to see the results of my hard work and my stick arms were actually growing baby muscles which excited and motivated me to keep going, which is what I did and why I love ‘process’ or the ‘journey.’”

She also admits that she has had countless experiences in her life that have attributed to her inner drive.

“As a child of adoption, I think that I always had a need to prove something to the world and perhaps myself that I was good enough, that I was worthy,” she says.

As a teen mom she knew that she had to work harder than other young women her age so that certain circumstances would not dictate the future.

She grew up quickly, but she took the challenges head on and is better for it.

“I put my head down, went to school, got straight A’s, and raised my daughter while caring for my handicapped mother,” she says. “Again, I wanted to prove to myself and the world that no matter what situation you find yourself in, you control the outcome with your thoughts, your words, and your actions.”

Her father, who fought in the South Pacific during World War II, and who later went on to become a professor at the University of Windsor, along with her other adopted brothers and sisters were also true inspirations in her life.

“Our household was diverse, busy and unique on every level… There was support, love and we were taught that success comes from our own doing,” she says.

Believe it or not, Dennis is actually the mother of six children.

“My kids are older now and have been taught to be very self-sufficient, just like I was,” she says. “When they were younger I did most of my training online so that I could be home for them.  As for my own personal time to train I would go to the gym before they woke or worked out at home…Balance with kids comes down to planning for the most part. Meals, activities, friends can all be managed if planned properly.”

And if you think Dennis is busy enough training, speaking, acting, and being a loyal mother, she has somehow managed to find the time to further educate her fans and the general public on the importance of exercise and healthy living. She recently released a book, SoulPrinciples: 6 Steps to a Whole New You, and it is getting rave reviews from readers.

“I wanted to author a book so I can share some of the strategies that I had used myself for years to overcome obstacles and help simplify the ‘how,’ ‘when’ and ‘whys’ of reaching your potential and believing in your power,” she says. “I hear so many women who struggle to find peace with themselves, but they are usually the ones who are cutting themselves short and being their own worst enemy. It’s so prevalent and I wanted to address this.”

Dennis and her staunch commitment to fitness and healthy living are mirrored by prominent media outlets and she is grateful for the exposure to date. She has landed on the cover of countless fitness magazines, and she says the coverage has given her a stronger platform to reach people with her message of greater self-love and awareness.

“I really enjoy modeling and acting and being able to play in front of the camera as it all comes very natural to me. Being on set, the collaboration, being creative, meeting new people and sharing what I love is what makes it so much fun.”

While Dennis has become a woman of fame here locally and internationally, she has and always will remain committed in giving back to others what she has learned in life.

“I am so passionate about helping people to realize their true potentials,” she says. “The feedback I get continues to fuel my passion and further inspire me and for that I am so very grateful.”

And with any goal or journey, Dennis says the real trick to success and discovering your true inner self is all quit simple.

“Just hold tight to your intention, keep it first and foremost, be grateful, be humble and see the end result, not the obstacles,” she says.

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