Name: Susan Gaines
What’s your athletic/fitness background?
I practice the Gyotonic method at my studio, Embody Minneapolis. I am also a 3rd degree black belt; practiced, competed and taught Tae Kwon Do for 24 years; I’ve always been a mover; dabbling in African and modern dance and lifting weights since the 1990s.
What brought you to the Movement?
I was lifting in a 24-hour access gym and losing direction. I felt lonely and unmotivated there. I loved the movement from the moment I got there. The fact that there are no mirrors and everyone is there — regardless of shape, fitness level, and all the other things that define us — simply to get strong. The culture and training approach is simple, while not being “one-size-fits” all. It’s about what’s right for you this day, this hour. The methodology fosters intuitive training, which takes into account the whole person, inside and out. It was also the first gym where, as a woman, I could get strong without awkward and predatory behavior from men. This gym has always felt feminist, regardless of who is training us.
What’s been the biggest change since joining the Movement?
The belief that there is no substitute for lifting. I believe in a varied workout that includes my Gyrotonic work, but lifting the right way is key to the grace, strength and confidence with which I am heading toward 60.
What has been your favorite Movement so far?
Deadlifting. I believe we are meant to do this. It’s so embowering, both physically and mentally, to pick up something heavier than myself and know that I can do it.
Tell us about your most memorable PR.
8 chin ups and maybe a 210 deadlift (I’m 118, so that’s a lot:-)
Do you have a favorite exercise/workout/training style? If so, what is it?
How about your least favorite exercise/workout?
I have an arthritic big toe, so doing anything that requires weight on the ball of my foot is unpleasant and really not workable. So I don’t do those things!
Do you prefer training solo or with a partner/team/class?
I love the energy of other members in the room.
When did you know you were hooked?
The gym has never let me down. It has held me through divorce, breakups, losing pets, very tough times with my son. Through it all, I was able to show up as I am and do what felt right that day.
What does being “strong” mean to you?
Being strong is about resilience and joy. Being strong (and flexible and agile) enables me to walk down the street with my head held high. It also enables me help others in a most primal way. I can help some up off the ground or pull them back from danger. Being strong makes me so much bigger than I am. And being big is a good thing, I have learned. Being physically strong has given me the confidence to tackle everything life throws me and reach for my best self. Being strong makes me happy in my own skin and makes me feel much younger than I am. I really don’t think about age — mine or anyone else’s.
How do you spend your days when you’re not at the gym?
I am a personal development coach, helping others become their most powerful selves in body and spirit. I am also a trainer and owner of Embody Minneapolis, a Gyrotonic studio. I spend time with my boyfriend, friends, kids and my two grandchildren (they are both young Movement members).
What do you think people would be surprised to know about you?
3rd-degree black belt, a grandmother and that I’m a bit of an introvert
Any hidden/secret talents?
I love to cook and make comfortable beauty in my home and studio.
What is your favorite post workout meal?
Anything with butter, olive oil and salt.
What are you training for/what’s your next training goal?
I am training for life. I want to be a powerhouse when I am 90.
During what days/classtimes do you normally lift? (aka when can people find you in the gym?)
Usually 4 or 5 pm, sometimes noon.
How can people find/connect with you?
@susanhartgaines, @embodympls @wildhartcoaching
Do you have any advice for people starting out?
Keep showing up, do what you can and revel in your progress.