Staff Spotlight: Annette Pufall

Annette Pufall, instructor at UW Health's Research Park Fitness CenterNestled on the shore of Lake Superior is the charming town of Ashland, Wis. It is well-known for its scenic beauty, abundant outdoor recreation opportunities, and plenty of simply good folk living there. We are very fortunate to have one of Ashland’s finest, Annette Pufall, teaching aquatic exercise classes here at Research Park. This Staff Spotlight will feature Annette and some of the special gifts she brings to our Aquatics Center.


Many of our evening class participants may have already met Annette. She teaches Aqua Aerobics (5:30pm) on Tuesdays and Aqua Strength and Flexibility (5:25pm) on Wednesdays, bringing her creativity and positive energy to her classes. This January, Annette will also be teaching our new Aqua Ai Chi and Balance class (Tuesdays, 6:35 pm) - see Class Spotlight in this enewsletter).


The youngest of five children (three older brothers and an older sister), Annette grew up in a region bursting with outdoor activities. She played many team sports, focusing on volleyball and basketball. Her primary athletic love, however, was running. Annette excelled in cross country and track through high school and college.


Annette attended UW-Oshkosh where she majored in Biology and Chemistry and minored in Health Promotion. She continued her running career by competing on the cross country and track teams.


Annette moved to New York City to attend graduate school at Columbia University. There she studied Nutritional Science with a research focus on Childhood Obesity and potential interventions. Annette is intrigued by the complexity of this health issue and is hopeful that society can/will make progress in addressing it.


Annette lived in New York City for 8 years following her graduate studies. While at Columbia University and its affiliated hospitals and working in the NYC public school system, Annette truly enjoyed applying her education/training to such an important and prevalent national health concern.


Annette really enjoyed living in New York City, even though it is the polar opposite of where she grew up. Annette genuinely developed a fondness for the diversity of cultures and the eclectic mix of happenings there. When pushed for a NYC “must see” destination, Annette settles on Central Park – not only for its vast running opportunities, but also it’s premier “people watching” potential.


Annette left in 2018 to live closer to family. She chose Madison for its nice in-between size. Although her mother and 3 of her siblings still live in the Ashland region, she wanted elements of a city and chose Madison.


Since spring of this year, Annette has been teaching at Madison East High School. She teaches a variety of courses including Health Sciences, Consumer Education, Personal Finance, and Medical Terminology. She especially likes teaching the classes that draw on her substantial science foundation. Naturally, Annette passes her knowledge and passion for running to the next generation by coaching cross country and track there as well.


Did we mention that Annette likes to run? In addition to her high school and college achievements, she has qualified for and competed in the Boston marathon. Her passion for running and other athletic pursuits contributes to her motivating and challenging classes!


In her free time Annette enjoys all things fitness. She likes to hike and cross-country ski and she teaches a variety of fitness classes. She likes to garden and be outside as much as possible. Annette enjoys camping, bird-watching, swimming, playing basketball, and cooking.


If you haven’t already, we hope you get the chance to meet Annette and find out for yourself what a good egg she really is! Now some words straight from Annette:


Why did you choose to be a fitness instructor?

I chose to be a fitness instructor because physical health is an important piece of quality of life. As a fitness instructor, I can help people with their mobility - which allows them to keep playing and doing activities they love.


What do you like about being an instructor?

I enjoy the positive atmosphere of classes. Working with happy people gives me a lot of energy and makes teaching fun!



Ashland, Wis.


Current residence

Madison (East Side)



February 28



Mom, Dad, three brothers, one sister



None currently


Favorite color

Navy Blue


Favorite TV show

Brooklyn Nine-Nine


Favorite movies

Shutter Island, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Harry Potter


Favorite foods

Beans, vegetarian chili, tacos, guacamole, chocolate



Running, cross-country skiing, swimming, basketball, gardening/plants, dancing, hiking, bird watching, cooking, learning advancements in microbiology and physiology, campfires/camping, nutrition, learning about microbiome research


Favorite vacation spots

Australia, Iceland, Norway, Up North


Favorite athletes

Gabriele Grunewald, Megan Rapinoe, J.J. Watt, Simone Biles


People I admire

My parents. They always made sure us kids stayed healthy, happy and they never complained, even through rough times with their own health or careers.


Strangest Christmas gift I've ever received (or given)

I received a ukulele for Christmas from my sister a couple years ago. I have no idea how to play stringed instruments.


Something about me that would make most people stop and say "Really?"

  • I won a pie eating contest
  • I love parasite coevolution and life cycles
  • My family has a caboose we restored in our yard, up north. I get to sleep in it in the non-winter months.
  • As a youth, I nursed an injured bear cub at our house. My parents let me keep it for a year.