Suzanne – An Interview

“I think there are a lot of people who think they’re too old, or too out of shape. It doesn’t seem to phase Kelly or this community here at Franklin Wheelhouse. I don’t think there’s anyone who would watch someone walk in and think, “Oh wow, they won’t be able to workout.” That would just never happen here.”

Suzanne arrives at Franklin Wheelhouse with her signature ginger hair and impish smile. We’re meeting on an off-workout day, so she’s in between her work  at Centennial High School and getting her granddaughter from Pre-K. 


Married to Doug. Two kids, Adam and Sara and I have one grandchild, Zoe.

Have you always lived here?

I grew up in Des Moines, Iowa. I moved here in 1981 to Nashville and married my husband Doug. He was the Assistant Dean of Students at Vanderbilt and I got my MBA from Belmont. Then we moved away for eight years to Rapid City, South Dakota, when our kids were little. Doug was the Vice President of Student Affairs at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. Then we moved back to Franklin 17 years ago. I worked in the office at Ravenwood. Then, I got my teaching license and taught at Grassland Middle School. Now, I’m at Centennial as the Gifted Consultant.

This is your journey according you. How did it start?

Well, I ended up at Franklin Wheelhouse because I had several friends I worked with who were working out here. I was having trouble getting to Cool Springs—I was going to Curves. I wasn’t seeing great results. It wasn’t doing it for me. These gals kept pestering me to join here. They looked good, but they are a bit younger than me. It wasn’t until I read Denise’s story that I was inspired. She and I are close in age, and I thought, “Maybe I can do this.”

This is close to where I live and where my granddaughter goes to Pre-K. It was so convenient. Once I started, then it became this [She pauses.] it’s just such an amazing community. I felt like this was some place I could be successful. That was October 2016.

Did you have any particular goals?

I did. Most were anti-aging goals. [She laughs.] Trying to beat back the clock. That sounds vain—it was not a vain thing. I have a little granddaughter I want to see grow up. I want to be active with her and involved with her. I felt like I needed to get stronger, to lose weight. And, since I’ve been here, I’ve discovered I need to regain some balance. I had walked two miles a day every day. I’ve been on and off at different exercise places. Maybe more off than on. I felt like maybe it wasn’t too late. I think that’s what inspired me about Denise. She was so transformed and close to my age. I thought, “Well, if she can do, maybe I should at least try.” I was kind of scared. I talked to Kelly a few times. I knew it was intense. “Would I be able to keep up? Would it be too much?”

What did she say?

She said, “Let’s just take it one step at a time. Just come in and we’ll go from there.” And, she has. I have a sore knee. Every step of the way, Kelly is always super careful to tell you—she’s really good about giving ways to modify. She lets you choose how to modify, but she’ll always give you a nudge if you’re wimping out of it. She recognizes I have a knee that’s sore, but  [laughs] if she feels I’m trying to use it as a way to get out of something, she’ll nudge me back the other way.

When I started, I made the commitment. In the beginning, I felt like I would never get through it. I would never hold a plank. Never be able to do some of the other more challenging movements. I made up my mind the very first day, whatever it was, I was going to at least try it. Some movement is better than no movement—even if I had to modify the heck out of it.

So, when I got to the point where I could hold a one minute plank, I thought that was the best thing that ever happened to me. When I finished, I said, “I did it!” [Suzanne pumps fists in the air.] And, everybody clapped! That was an amazing moment. That was the turning point when I thought, “I can do this. I can really do this.”

There’s a lot of support here, rather than competition.

That’s the piece I had to come back for. I’ve been at gyms where it mattered what you wore, what you looked like…that doesn’t even enter into the equation here. I don’t feel there’s anyone who is petty or competitive. It’s too supportive of an environment. People cheer and clap for others all the time. They are genuinely happy for them—that they’re able to do something.

What happened after the turning point?

I could tell I felt better. I was starting to see changes. I felt stronger. Being able to do that plank I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do…

You inspired yourself.

I inspired myself. So, I just kept going.

Do you have new goals?

I’m about halfway through my goals. I’d like to lose 20 more pounds and be able to get through an entire workout where I do everything the correct number of times.

You mean “Kelly’s Workout?”

Yes, Kelly’s workout, but my workout. I try everything, but whatever my workout looks like that day, I’m okay with it. I want to be the best me. I want to be strong and healthy. I want to be able to do stuff. Kelly gives me the freedom and space to do that without feeling shame. She’s looking for process, not perfection. It’s an internal challenge, a self-focus.

How do you like TRX?

I do like the TRX. I was terrified at first. I thought there would be no way it would hold me up! There are a few [exercises] that are hard for me. They involve balance—if I have a real fitness goal this year, it’s to work on balance. That’s something that older Americans need help with. Kelly’s classes are really geared to help with that. The exercises improve balance even outside of my workout, in my daily movement.

How has your fitness journey affected other parts of your life?

I generally feel better, mentally. It’s changed dinner time at our house. I don’t like to have to cook two dinners. It’s challenged me to cook what we can all eat.

…And, I would say I’m a pretty positive person.

I would affirm that.

I have more energy without the sugar. It seems ironic, but it’s very true. I thought there were some things I’d never give up, like tea. I would make at home and put artificial sweeteners in it. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to that give up. Coffee with creamer. Now, I use almond milk. Small changes that reap huge rewards.

Do you have a few go-to recipes that everybody loves?

There’s a “chicken thing” I make that has pesto and tomatoes on top. Lots of vegetables. Brown rice. I have a pork tenderloin recipes with a bunch of onions.

There’s a new year coming…

I have to confess, I’ve been a little bit off track. I want to get back on track with the food! I’m really looking forward to our January 2018 start up—both training and nutrition. I’m looking forward to receiving new recipes. I feel like I need that. I don’t have enough variety. Breakfast and lunch I can handle, but when I have feed other people, it gets challenging.

If you could you tell Suzanne of October 2016 something, what would you say?

[She pauses for a long moment.] Not only is it going to be okay, it’s really going to be great. I feel like I’m a different person than I was a year ago…yeah.

I look at time for fitness and Franklin Wheelhouse as gifts I give myself.

Yes, particularly as mothers. Over the years, you sacrifice everything for your kids. We always get the last scrape of the bowl. We all do it. You forget sometimes you need to pamper yourself—it’s not even pampering. That sounds frivolous. This is not frivolous at all. It’s not going to “work out at the gym.”

Three words.



I don’t know. May

be, happy..

I was driving over here wondering what I might say. I usually shun the lime light. I feel so strongly that when we get older we think, “Oh I can’t do that.” It’s not like at all.

That’s a really good message.

Yes, and I think there are a lot of people who think they’re too old, or too out of shape. It doesn’t seem to phase Kelly or this community here at Franklin Wheelhouse. I don’t think there’s anyone who would watch someone walk in and think, “Oh wow, they won’t be able to workout.” That would just never happen here.

There’s something else I want to say. Kelly always believes in you. She always always always believes in you. She always believes you can do it. In a genuine way, not a pie in the sky way. She genuinely believes you can do it.

Trainer Thoughts: Kelly Kanski

If you know Suzanne, you know she’s authentic…and she’s got grit. She’s willing to put herself out there and has tried everything I throw her way. She’s experienced both success and failure, but most importantly, she shows up. I wish I had tape to show you how differently she moves now than how she did a year ago. It’s incredible how she’s evolved physically and personally. Yes, the scale has changed, but there are markers that go beyond a size or scale.

My goal as a trainer is to empower others to live their best lives—not to win marathons or wear bikinis. And yes, I truly think it’s possible for every human to feel good, to live well, to contribute. I truly believe that. For Suzanne, it means a healthy weight, more strength, balance and energy. It means mental and emotional focus and vitality. It means giving herself 3 hours each week to fuel her body, mind, and spirit so that she can give better to others.

My contribution is to help you walk out your process and reach your goals, with intentional training plans, coaching techniques, nutrition programming, and even group support.  This is the conduit Franklin Wheelhouse was created to be.

Originally published at 1/1/18.

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