Around the Island

Finding happiness in wellness: Suzette Smith reflects on 20 years

Suzette Smith, founder of Shelter Island Pilates and Barre, is marking 20 years since establishing her practice on the Island.

Q: Does it feel like 20 years since you started on the Island?

A: It’s actually been 20 years since I’ve been here full time, but prior to that I was teaching dance in the city. And coming out on weekends and teaching mat class at the American Legion Hall for about seven years and teaching dance at the Arts Summer Camp in Sag Harbor. So it’s really been quite a long time. 

When I look back at my 20 years, it doesn’t feel like 20 years, but then I remember all the transitions and expansions. I started my Pilates studio in my home, then took the leap of faith and moved to the Heights. I then expanded my business into the real estate space next door. I opened a second location, the barre studio. I’ve had the pleasure to collaborate with Moussa at Dering Harbor, teaching my Pilates mat class at the Dering Harbor Inn for what feels like forever. So when I look back and consider all of the growth and accomplishments, it does feel like 20 years. 

Also in that time, I’m very proud of reaching all of my professional goals, which included hosting retreats to Tulum and Costa Rica, with one planned for St. Lucia in March, and buying a home. Currently, I’ve reached my goal of offering my classes OnDemand, which is another extension of my service, and has expanded my reach and methods globally.

Q: Have some of your students/clients continued with you until now?

A: Yes! It’s amazing. I have people who came to my classes at the Legion 25 years ago still doing Pilates with me. I am so lucky, and really grateful for the loyalty of my clients. It does really feel like a community of friends I get to work out with. I am very grateful.

I’m also extremely grateful for my team and feel so lucky to have developed these relationships. I always say I’m only as good as my team, and I have always been blessed to have a great team around me throughout the years. I know the support that I have from the community and my team is the only reason that I made it these 20 years. I feel so grateful that I followed my heart to make Shelter Island my home.

Q: What would you like people to understand about your approach to wellness and self-care?

A: My approach to wellness can be explained in my go-to mottos: Love the Body You Live In: Feeling great and comfortable in your body, how it moves, feels, looks and what it can accomplish. Journey to Your Core: Achieving wellbeing from the inside out, which includes your mind, body and spirit, so much more then having just firm arms and abs — which is great — don’t get me wrong! 

Aging Gracefully: I just turned 65. I don’t try to be 25, I don’t even try to be 45. What I try to do is be the best I can be at every stage of my life without putting limitations on myself because of my age. There’s a feeling of agelessness that I strive for, not locking myself into a number. Wellbeing to me is energy, health and happiness. Energy to continue to do what I love, to be able to work hard and hopefully inspire others, to enjoy being in my body, whether it be skiing, sailing or gardening, it’s about feeling strong and feeling good in my body. Standing up tall! It’s a lifestyle.

Q: Do you have plans for a 20th-year celebration?

A: I would love to have a little “Celebration of Gratitude” to let my team and clients know, past and present, how much I appreciate them. Without them I wouldn’t be here. I would like to use this opportunity to thank the Shelter Island community for their support and enabling me to express myself and live the life of my dreams.