Sue Steers – Owner

How did you get started teaching Pilates & Integrated Movement, and how long have you been doing it?

As far back as  I can remember, movement has been an important part of my life. In one way or another, I have been analyzing, researching and dissecting it for just as long. Movement is the lens through which my world becomes clear.

Somehow, even as a child, I understood that my life just felt better when I was moving. I spent weekends as a kid learning to ski behind my Dad. I followed him through curve after curve; learning just how & when to shift my weight, how to handle the bumps, what to do with speed. In my teens, I split my time between the pool and the dance studio. I swam a lot, and I got my first job working as an assistant synchronized swim coach a couple of days a week after school.  But dance was always my big passion and I realized pretty early on that I wanted to spend my life doing it. I trained hard; working on technique, rehearsing, performing, agonizing over every nuance. And when it was finally time to move on to another career – I knew it would have to involve moving bodies in one way or another.

As a dancer I had struggled with “bad knees” for years. My knees were in pretty much constant pain. But of course, I was still dancing! I simply learned how to compensate; how to move through and around pain. I had seen specialists of various kinds who gave me advice ranging from exercises to strengthen my quadriceps, (which consequently grew to resemble those of a downhill skier and were the lament of dance teachers everywhere) to surgery.  It was only upon leaving dance that I happened upon the Pilates method – and found a dedicated group of professionals who were instrumental helping me bring pain-free function back into my body. I experienced other benefits too – new ranges of motion opened up to me, and I found an ease in my body that I had never felt before. Pain, that I hadn’t even really registered as pain, disappeared – giving me more energy and vitality than I had felt in years. I was invited to train as a Pilates instructor at the Dianne Miller Pilates Centre of Vancouver, where I also did my internship.

As a student teacher, I learned to observe and listen to the body in a new way.  When movement wasn’t happening the way it was supposed to, I learned to look beyond exercise and therapeutic protocols to see what else might be going on. I recognized that Pilates was a powerful means to better movement, but I realized that the person I was working with would always be more important than any technique. I needed to learn more. I studied with master instructors, and learned many varied ways to interpret and apply the Pilates Method and other movement forms. As I worked through my apprenticeship, got my credentials and then earned my “chops” as an instructor, I began to see the incredible power of teaching people how to move their own bodies better.  This was not just about fitness…this was helping people build a connection to their own bodies – to find an innate vitality and energy that they may not have even realized they had.  To help people create a strong, agile physical platform for the movement of their lives. I watched athletes and dancers attain new heights of performance. I watched people literally come alive with new movement potential. I watched people recover from unimaginable injuries and chronic pain. The recovery of my own knees was only the tip of the iceberg!  Being able to guide people in this discovery of their own resources was a powerful experience for me. My own struggles through dysfunction and pain made it possible for me to understand not only the physical issues they were having, but also the impact those challenges could have on their entire lives.  Having felt it myself – I knew that the possibilities for change were almost limitless.  This I had to share!

In 1997, Moving Spirit was born. And now, after many years in my own practice, Pilates has become only a part of the process. I have studied  in-depth clinical therapeutic techniques, and I am fortunate to count among my mentors practitioners on the leading edge of their fields in movement, medicine, physical conditioning and therapy. Each one has made a valuable contribution to the way I perceive movement and to the way I work to elicit new, more efficient and fluid movement from my clients. The influence of these important mentors has been instrumental in the evolution Moving Spirit’s Integrated Movement Training Programs. These well-tested, integrated techniques are effective and often transformative. Over many years I have served hundreds of people in the pursuit of better movement and a better connection to their own bodies in action. I am devoted to helping my clients optimize their movement strategies and find easy, healthy relationships with their bodies in motion.

Who are your clients?
I work with active people just like you who want to live their lives fully, with passion and purpose, but who may not have learned the skills to look after their structure in a way that promotes sustainable activity. These are people who experience stiffness or pain in their movement, people who may be experiencing some level of movement impairment as a result of dysfunction, or people who want to take their physical activity to a new level of movement mastery. I have worked with hundreds of athletes and dancers, folks who want to connect with their bodies in a deeper way to prevent injuries and sustain an active lifestyle and with people who are recovering from injuries, accidents and illness who want to reclaim their physicality. If movement is an important part of your life… you’re exactly the kind of person I work with best!

What distinguishes you from other movement trainers or fitness professionals?
First, I don’t do generic fitness, personal training, or general purpose Pilates training. I am not a drill sergeant or a cheerleader. I am not a nutritionist. I will happily refer people with a need for these services to other expert professionals. My expertise is movement. I only work with people who are motivated to learn and implement new ways of moving that will support them in confidently performing and enjoying the activities that mean most to them.

In a traditional fitness setting, the emphasis is frequently on the specific exercise you need to “fix” things. What my current and former clients have found very helpful is that I bring a fresh perspective to their training and conditioning. My integrated, multi-disciplinary approach focuses on their individual needs, patterns and goals. Obviously, exercise is still an important part of things. But HOW they move matters.  I give people resources that they may never have had before. As a result, they develop a strong and agile platform  from which to jump into whatever physical activities they love most!

What type of personality to you work best with, and what is expected of me?
Moving Spirit’s Integrated Movement Training Programs are for people who are serious about improving the way they move. Our programs were developed for people to experience a new way of moving their bodies, leading to improvement in their ability to move confidently in the world with passion and purpose; whether they are competing at the Olympics, coming back from injury or just playing with their kids.

I work best with people who LOVE to move, and who are prepared to put in the work required to keep moving well. The work you do with me is more than just muscle training. It’s brain training too. You will be expected to pay attention and observe your own movement and sensations, in our sessions together and beyond. You will be expected to practice consistently, to open your mind and to try new things. No excuses anymore, just a new way of moving and thinking about movement.

 For what type of person will this program NOT work?
This kind of training isn’t for everyone. You should know that I am very selective about who I work with; choosing to (gently) turn away people who aren’t suited for my programs, and who won’t get the results they would have signed up for. Moving Spirit programs are NOT for people who are looking for a weight loss program, a quick fitness boost or a trendy, social adventure. If these things are what you need right now, then go do them! But you can start to create better movement anyway, by doing the following:

  1. Increase your overall fitness. It will give you energy, make you feel good about yourself and improve your confidence. make sure to find an instructor who will pay attention to your needs, not just show you the latest exercise trends.
  2. Sign up to receive the FREE Moving Spirit training tools. This free information will help you get started creating ease and efficiency in your body, until you’re ready to participate in a Moving Spirit program or work with me one-on-one.

Doing these things will really help you get primed for the deeper work we could do together. When you’re ready to get started, give me a call! I’ll be here when you feel like it’s time to explore a deeper, more personalized approach.

Other types of people I have no interest in working with are dilettantes and people who consistently make excuses for not doing the work. If you’re only interested in doing things the same old way you’ve always done them, we won’t be a good fit. This program requires a significant investment of your time and energy for best results. If you’re not prepared to come with an open mind and dive in with both feet, then this isn’t the right program for you.

What exactly is the “Moving Spirit Integrated Movement Training System” ™ and what does it include?
Creating a thriving body requires an understanding of your own body in action, a real-time sensory awareness and consistent practice.  Learn about it, and then take action on it! It’s literally move it or lose it.

The Moving Spirit Integrated Movement Training System is made up of 9 steps I’ve crafted after working with hundreds of athletes, dancers, fitness and movement enthusiasts, people recovering from injuries, accidents and illnesses, and with movement professionals, to help them move better, perform better and LOVE their moving bodies. These steps will help you create a new movement mastery, not just an exercise routine.

This system, infused in every Moving Spirit program, will engage your whole body, and involves a unique integration of leading edge science, holistic health practices and creative sensibilities. It will take you beyond traditional fitness and classical techniques, give you an embodied experience, and create for you highly personal, lasting and often transformative results.  You will discover untapped inner resources, ignite vitality and find a new dedication to self-care through movement.

This nine-step system includes the following components:

1. Breathe Better
Good cardiovascular function is the fundamental platform for fitness and health.  What you might not have paid attention to is HOW you breathe. The way you breathe affects function and performance in the rest of your body too: your posture, function of your core musculature, and even body chemistry. We’ll help you to optimize breath patterning in your body, and integrate your breathing with core function.  You’ll find easy breath that supports your structure in motion, and launches your fitness to new heights.

2. Support Your Structure from the Inside-Out
You’ve done your “core training.” What you may have missed is core integration. Everybody wants a flat belly, but a pretty set of abdominal muscles does not equal structural stability. We’ll give you the information you need to access deep structural support, and strategies and training progressions for improving sustainable strength and endurance for all your life’s varied activities.

3. Find Posture with a Purpose
Posture is more than a static concept we use to create a pleasing “look.” Posture is a dynamic process, constantly shifting to create the best possible conditions in your body for support and motion. If your posture is less than ideal, then your movement is likely impaired in some way too.  Learn to create and sustain better alignment in your body, balancing gravity, load demand, velocity and time. With practice, feel your body adapt this better posture and give you a new normal from which your structure can support even your wildest, most dramatic movement tasks. When your body is well balanced and aligned, all of your systems function better for optimum health!

4. Train Your Senses
Your senses continuously give you real-time information about what’s going on in your body and in your environment. When you pay attention, you can access an amazing spectrum of sensation that allows you to get in touch not only with what hurts and doesn’t hurt, but with the greater sense of yourself as a physical being, encompassing the subtle nuances of everything that you are. We’ll guide you in creating deep connections to your own body that open inner resources for intense athleticism, that widen your understanding for the maintenance of general health, and give you tools for healing and self-care. You’ll learn to create a context and container for pain, transforming it from purely negative force to an informative sensory language. It’s a learned, skill, and yes, it’s a “soft” skill. But master this, and your function and performance will change dramatically for the better.

5. Optimize your Brain-Body Connection
You have your own individual and habitual patterns for movement. The way you move is unique to you. The techniques you’ve learned for sports, conditioning and daily life only work as designed if your body can adapt them for your best use. Learn how YOUR body patterns movement and create easy, fluid motion that allows you do what you love to do better, for longer and with greater range. We’ll show you how to adapt techniques to fit your body, instead of trying to squeeze yourself into protocols that work for someone else. Create a new brain-body map that recognizes who and where you are now, giving you a clear path to the fluidly moving future you desire.

6. Balance Your Nervous System
The world we live in over-stimulates the “fight or flight” part of your nervous system, lighting up hard-wired responses in the body that make it hard to sleep, send your hormones haywire, corrupt breath patterns, and create real challenges for the deep support structures in your body. We’ll teach you restorative techniques to balance your nervous system and show you how to sustain that balance. You’ll develop the flexibility to move between high intensity power, speed and agility, and lower intensity, endurance and supportive activities. You need both. We’ll help you find them, and you’ll feel more energy, more vitality and experience a whole lot more enjoyment in doing what you do.

7. Banish Aches and Pains
When you’re active, aches and pains are sometimes part of the package. But when those start to feel like guests who’ve overstayed their welcome, there’s something else going on. Most of what you chalk up to “getting older” is actually misuse or dysfunction. Old injuries, pregnancies, poor posture, repetitive movement tasks; your body has compensated for the effects of these pretty well over the years. Eventually though, all that compensation adds up. The body starts to protest. But it’s not permanent! We’ll help you pinpoint your compensations, and we’ll give you new tools to support better motion. With mindful and consistent practice, you will feel a freedom in your joints that makes it a JOY to move! 

8. Power Up Your Fitness
After years of active living, you’re wondering just how much longer you’ll be able to do the things you love to do. The years are creeping up, and you can feel that your body doesn’t respond quite the way you’re used to. As you embody and implement the first few steps of this system, you’ll discover a new kind of physicality in your body that allows you to ramp things up in a way you may not have been able to do in years. We’ll show you it’s possible to set new goals for your physical activity. Climb mountains, ride in the back country for days, win a gold medal, or just pick up your children without pain. You can do it, and we’ll help you get there.

9. Survive Your Sport (& other favourite activities)
You understand that what’s good for the sport is not always great for the body. Even Michael Phelps, the most successful swimmer of all time, needed help. His long and hypermobile torso gave him a natural advantage for creating an insanely perfect butterfly stroke that no one could beat in the pool. But until he was able to re-pattern it, that same hypermobile torso also gave him back pain that could have ended his swimming career well before he swam to glory. He didn’t quit – and you don’t have to either. We’ll help you recognize the specific challenges of your particular discipline(s), and give strategies for minimizing the effects of those challenges so you can go on to your own brand of glory!

Does this really work?
You can expect to:

  • Develop better motor control
  • Connect better to your whole body
  • Increase core stability and integrated strength
  • Improve your mobility & stamina
  • Create balanced strength
  • Improve athletic performance
  • Decrease or even completely eliminate pain

Can I see what some of your clients say about what it’s like to work with you?
Absolutely! Please check out the testimonials page to see what some of my current and former clients have said about working with me.

How quickly can I expect results?
That will depend, to a large degree, whether you’re willing to do the things you need to DO to get results. Frequency and consistency are important, especially in the beginning. You will experience a new awareness of your body after our first session together. You’ll begin to feel new possibilities in a couple of weeks. And after a couple of months, you’ll begin to feel the shifts in strength, mobility, coordination, connection and stamina that allow you to move with fluidity and ease. You’ll feel stronger, with less effort! (How’s that for a good combination?)

How can I guarantee myself that I will move better and feel better in my body?
Attend all of your sessions and classes. Do the work. Pay attention: observe what’s changing and what needs more clarity. There are no stupid questions – if you’re not sure about something, or if something doesn’t make sense, ask! Become aware of how your life affects your body and movement, as well as the other way around. Do your homework. Do your accountability tasks.

Understand that this is not a quick fix. It’s not magic. You are planting the seeds for a lifetime of better movement. Growing that means thinking about it and practicing regularly. All my clients who have diligently applied the work to their own movement experience better function, more ease and efficiency, more complete recovery from injuries and a renewed joy in their movement.

The investment you make financially, physically, intellectually and emotionally by participating fully in this program will pay huge dividends in terms of energy, vitality, longevity and overall health.

How do I get started? I think I know what I want, but I may have some questions!
Great! An ability to take decisive action is one of the best predictors of success. Here’s what you need to do to get started: Click on this link to Schedule a 15 minute Get Acquainted Call. We’ll discuss your needs and your goals, I’ll walk you through the options so we can evaluate which program would be the very best fit for you right now. I can’t wait to see you feeling great and achieving your biggest movement goals. I’m honoured to be the one to work with you! Now… let’s get going!

I’m not sure I’m ready to get started. How can I sample some of your work at a low cost to see if it’s the right solution for me?
If you want to check out my work and get to know me a little better  before you feel ready to dive in, there are a few ways you can do it.

  1. Subscribe to my e-zine, “Alive, Bodies in Motion.” This free resource will give you lots of tools for learning to move better in whatever activities you like to do best. All you have to do to subscribe is put your name and email address in the box below. As an added bonus, you’ll also receive my Free Video!
  2. Register for a mat class, take an online course or participate in a workshop. These offer a live experience and will give you a preview of new movement skills you can apply right away.

If you’ve read to the bottom of this “conversation with,” then I think it’s clear that you’re motivated and looking for something different. Why not give me a call to discuss how Moving Spirit can help you? I would be honoured to guide you in finding your BEST moving body. It’s one of my life’s greatest passions! When you’re ready, I’ll be here. 

All the best,

Susannah Steers
Integrated Movement Specialist