I was fortunate enough to catch up with Suzanne Scott, a Pilates teacher I greatly admire. Suzanne has been designing and delivering Pilates teacher training and movement courses since 1996 and is a founder member of Pilates Foundation. She is based at her studio in Somerset, England, and also works as a consultant in elite performance, with a focus on football. Suzanne was appointed as an Associate in Human Movement and Anatomy at the Vesalius Clinical Training Centre in 2013, and is involved in developing postgraduate anatomy courses for practitioners at the University of Bristol.
Suzanne is often asked to give lectures and workshops in the UK and abroad, and has developed a particular interest in how specific movement training may play a role in enhancing
athlete performance. We caught up with her last year in London, to find out a little more about her approach to teaching as well as her own training background.
Suzanne, it turns out, is extremely busy at the moment. She is currently in the process of completing her Phd at the University of Exeter where she is researching the effects of multidirectional HIIT on bone health.
She first became interested in movement at university, when she began acting in productions involving dance and (as it was then known) physical theatre. After university she went to Laban and studied dance formally, and discovered Pilates after a fellow dancer recommended it for an injury. Taking class at Alan Herdman’s studio within the dance school in West St, she was inspired by the effectiveness of his method and the impact it had both on her injury and those of others attending his studio.
Although not intending at this point to become a teacher herself, a chance invitation to share what she knew about movement led to Suzanne deciding to fomalise her training and to study first with Alan Herdman in London, and then in Toronto with Moira Stott. Around this time she also became interested in the work of Mark Comerford and his approach to movement assessment and retraining, having met Mark early in the 1990’s through a friend who was a physiotherapist.
Suzanne began working in sport initially through an invitation to work with rugby players and cricketers, and for the last 12 years she has mainly worked in football, with a particular focus on injury prevention and rehabilitation. She’s also maintained a keen interest in dance and dancers’ movement. These two populations, footballers and dancers, says Suzanne, are the two professions that interest her the most. She has found a lot of similarity in terms of movement between both disciplines and also believes that there is much each discipline can learn from the other.
In 2013 with a small group of experienced teachers and teacher trainers, Suzanne co-founded IPTA, the Independent Pilates Teachers Association, that aims to promote the values of independent practice and mutual association between Pilates teaching professionals.
We’re coming to the end of the interview so I ask – What is/are your favourite exercises and why?
A tough one- if pushed my Desert Island exercise from the matwork would be Shoulder Bridge- it targets posterior hip efficiency, lower limb alignment, foot drive, rotation loading on a single leg support…a multitasker if ever there was one!
From the equipment repertoire I would choose between a quadruped exercise – Knee Stretch – for upper limb focus, hip and spine integration and ( if I was allowed a single leg variation) something to help pattern the reciprocal limb movements of gait, and the Short Spine- for the sense of weightlessness and suspension it offers.
And lastly, what advice would you give your younger self?
Focus on the doing rather than the difficult – something that appears hard often becomes, if not easy, at least achievable, once you begin to engage with it and find ways of tackling the issues that may have been putting you off.
Suzanne lives in Somerset with her husband Jock, who has taken on the role of running the studio and co-ordinating her professional activities and engagements. She is a keen football supporter and follows her local club Yeovil Town. She has two children, a son and daughter, and, as we discovered, in her next life she would like to come back as a perfumiere, she says she can usually name a scent at fifty feet!