Susannah Steers is the owner of Moving Spirit Pilates in North Vancouver, BC, and has 30+ years of experience in movement and fitness as a former dancer and pilates and integrated movement specialist.
Her own experiences through different stages of life – from a young athlete to a highly skilled dancer, to a movement professional include the impact of sports-related injuries, pregnancy, post-partum, and menopause! She gets it. She understands the life journey of the body intimately.
She brings both her personal and professional experience to her work and has helped hundreds of clients build a sense of ease and movement through the stages of their lives. Susannah provides a safe place for her students to share their stories, to be heard, and to build trust and relationships with their bodies in a supportive and compassionate way, without judgment
How you move matters is the mission behind Susannah’s lifetime of work. Her deep care for people is embodied in her methodology of guiding each individual to find their own direction and succeed in their own goals.
Susannah is also a speaker and workshop facilitator, providing keynotes, teacher training and professional continuing education at Pilates studios, fitness conventions, and multi-disciplinary health events. Among these: Vancouver Coastal Health/Fraser Health Physiotherapy Education Day, The Vancouver Wellness Show, City of Ottawa Fitness Continuing Education Conference, Association of Complementary & Integrative Physicians of BC, National Dance Association Conference (USA).
And co-hosts and co-produces the “Small Conversations for a Better World” podcast with her friend and colleague, physiotherapist Gillian McCormick. In this interview-style podcast, Susannah and Gillian aim to explore the question, “what is health?’ They talk to experts, influencers and thought-leaders about the vast array of factors that influence health for individuals, families, communities, and the planet.
What do you do and why do you do it?
Movement has always been my first language. It’s where I make sense of myself, my emotions, my relationships, and my world. I started as a dancer – where every movement had meaning.
When I retired from performing and deepened into my work in Pilates and movement, I realized I was really good at meeting people wherever they were and guiding them toward movement that was meaningful for them in their lives. It’s never been about the traditional definition of fitness or performance for me. Instead, it’s about “How are you living in your body right now? How are you connecting to yourself and the world? Where do you want to be/go?” And then, I work with them to find a path that works. We can access those things powerfully through movement practice – bringing awareness to patterns and habits and introducing new strategies. I love people, and I love seeing them surprised and excited when they realize what they are capable of, even though they may not have imagined it for themselves.
What changed for you after age 50?
I’m no longer chasing legitimacy in places that will never appreciate what I have to offer. I’m better at making self-care a priority – a compassionate discipline for the first time in my life. (Instead of the bullying self-talk of years past). I’m enjoying mentoring others and connecting to my community in a deeper way.
What would you tell the 20 or 30-year-old YOU?
- Take time to fully experience where you are right now.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Lean into your relationships with friends and family. They feed you and support you more than you know.
What do you think you’ll tell yourself in retrospect at the end of your life?
I think I would be happy to say that I think I’ve made a difference. Not a big, global “wow look at that” kind of difference – but a difference in many people’s lives – that helped them live better and enjoy their lives more fully. It’s the connections that have meant the most – the relationships between people, inside families, in relationship with communities and the planet. I’d like to think I’ve opened perspectives and created possibilities.
What impact do you think increased visibility can have on your business?
I’m starting to see a greater awareness about self-care around me now. Less of the bubble baths and wine variety – and more of the gentle discipline to do the things we know need to happen for us to have our desired impact on the world. Whether we’re caretaking, running businesses, performing as athletes or CEOs, or whatever – we all have things we know give us the capacity to do what we do.
I’d like to think that increased visibility will help more people to realize that embodied self-care is a way to support whole-person health and gives us a pathway toward improving our own lives, families, and communities.
Who or what inspires you and why?
So many Inspirations! But two of them stick out.
- Peggy Baker – a Canadian modern dancer who has now retired – but danced well into her 50’s. She performed with major companies (and Baryshnikov), all over the world, before coming back to Toronto and forming her own company. She was a brilliant choreographer and mentor to dancers across the country. And she worked well past the time most dancers have hung things up! I had the honour of interviewing her years ago for an internet radio show I hosted. She talked about the need to live fully in each of the phases of our lives in order to be able to transition well into the next phase. I always remember that – especially now that I’m in my 50s.
- Candyce Kelshall – I met Candace as a guest on my podcast, as director of the Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies. Candyce is a seasoned, in-theatre operational director and has worked extensively with militaries and advising police forces around the world as well as designing and delivering training to specialist units. She is a former senior diplomat who is comfortable liaising with governments and operating at all levels within parliamentary and military contexts. She has taught in a university professional program context for the last 10 years. She is a badass of the first degree and at the same time, one of the most genuine, empathetic, engaging, and brilliant leaders I have ever met. Talk about women empowering women!
Something else I’d like to share
My podcast – Small Conversations for a Better World. And a few new things I’m creating that I will share soon.