The beauty of movement systems like Pilates is that they empower you to do more of what you love to do. And when it comes to living life to its fullest and using the power of movement to do so, there is perhaps no better spokesperson than MOVE instructor Suzanne Willets Brooks.
From dancer to movement instructor
Tell us a little bit about your background.
It includes many years of dance: modern, African, ballet, contact improvisation, and so on. I have 15 years of teacher un-training in Yoga from Angela Farmer and Victor Vankooten, and am certified in many massage modalities from the Body Wisdom Massage Therapy School in Iowa and Green Mountain Institute of Integrative Therapy.
Pilates, GYROTONIC® and Franklin Method®
What are you doing now?
Currently, I’m a certified level 2 Franklin Method® educator and have certifications in Pilates, GYROKINESIS® and GYROTONIC®. What brought me to MOVE Wellness was a desire for community. I’ve worked in many different studios and this particular place really resonated with me, from the leadership of Elaine and Robin to all of the trainers and the clients.
What is something people might be surprised to know about you?
I am not sure that any one would be surprised by anything about me. I’ve had a colorful existence filled with many experiences from the subtle to the profound. To me, life is a thing to be experienced in all levels of intensity.
What attracted you to Pilates?
What I love about Pilates is that it is so accessible … for everyone. It’s a system with a long history of great results. I also love how our understanding and applications of it have evolved as we continue to learn more about the human body. It’s a movement language that keeps growing.
What is one piece of advice you would offer to someone trying Pilates for the first time?
For someone just beginning, I would say this system is truly a mind-body system. It’s about experiencing the whole body, and how its parts work together. It involves kindness and listening, as well as sweating and pushing yourself. Have fun, enjoy the process and be patient with yourself.
We need to take responsibility for our bodies. This is your car, you’re behind the wheel.
Nature, Creativity and Freedom for our bodies
What inspires you?
Inspiration comes to me from so many sources. Nature for one: its creativity and variety. I’m inspired by both the mind and the heart, and the journey in how we create ourselves. I’m inspired by the mundane in our everyday lives, and I’m always faithful in what unfolds. I’m inspired by our humanity and the stories that shape us.
What values speak to you?
Freedom, nature and creativity are big ones for me. I want to be free to allow things to be what they are, see things as they are. The mind causes us to narrow and focus in so often, rather than opening up and seeing. I need freedom to be open and creative.
For me, nature is freedom. Everything there has its balance, and it also makes me feel like I don’t have to be responsible for everything. I can just be part of it.
Safe, service-oriented exercise and training
What do you love about teaching movement?
I’ve always been very service-oriented. In dance, I always found myself gravitating toward some of the people behind me that were struggling. Many moons ago, I was a landscaper, and I’ve always loved helping things survive, thrive and look beautiful.
Working with people who want to co-create with me is what this is about. I want clients to be willing to invest in themselves. If your goal is simply to have a booty that you can bounce quarters off, that’s not really my thing. Yes, we can do glute work, but I want you to understand what we’re doing and why. In my opinion, things should feel great first. And looking great is the happy result of feeling great. People come to MOVE with vulnerable selves and they need to feel safe and free of judgment. My clients want to me to be passionate, and I want my clients to be at home in their bodies.
Franklin Method and fascial movement
Tell us a little about the fascial movement class you teach.
The Franklin Method® has revolutionized the way I look at movement. Unlike many other movement systems, it’s not based on choreography, but in the science of how our bodies work and function. This method is very much about you becoming the author of your experience and it’s wonderfully student-centered. Efficiency is one of the catchwords for the Franklin Method. Our bodies are incredibly efficient.
The fascial movement class is both a workout and an education in how our bodies work. Our posture, for example, is dynamic not static. This method teaches us to enjoy and trust the intelligent design of the body. Each class can stands on its own and can benefit someone who comes just for that one time. But it can also be part of a bigger experience in understanding how our bones, muscles, fascia and organs support movement.
Ultimately, what we practice in the class becomes permanent. Standing, sitting, walking, breathing. We’re creating a baseline for these critical functions of everyday life. This is truly a mind-body class where the balls and bands we use reinforce the experience of efficient movement, and leave you feeling more centered, calm and ready to tackle your day.
Fun and inspiration from a movement instructor
What’s your favorite way to exercise?
I love riding my bike and roller blading. Everything I do has to have some component of enjoyment. When I was younger, I ran cross-country, but I think I was working out a lot of stuff.
What’s your favorite food?
Anything that includes avocados, garlic and tomatoes, and maybe some hand made tortilla chips.
If you could offer some words of wisdom, what would they be?
I recommend more laughter, more playing and less structure. More receptivity, less doing. I recommend clearing out large swaths of your day to enjoy the sunlight and the people who surround you. Life is to be lived, embrace yourself with all of your perceived flaws. You only get this one precious moment. So, go enjoy it.
Ready to embrace the beautiful efficiency and potential of your body with Suzanne? Learn more about private Pilates or GYROTONIC training at MOVE or sign up for Suzanne’s fascial movement class or GYROKINESIS® classes.