WINTER GARDEN — Susan “Lily” Hollister enjoys a slightly different brand of people-watching than most.
When the owner and featured instructor at Pilates Center of Winter Garden sees strangers walk by, she observes posture and movement patterns. In many ways, Hollister sees a person as a puzzle or a challenge — a keen eye reflective of her passion for changing bodies and awakening dormant muscle groups.
It’s an eye with which Kim Dannenberg, the owner of Gracie’s of Winter Garden and a client of Hollister’s for more than two months, is quite familiar.
“When you think you’re straight, she straightens you up,” Dannenberg said. “She has that eye — she keys right in on (the problem).”
Dannenberg, who has worked long and hard to take care of her body through activities such as running and strength training, said her first session with Hollister was eye-opening — and inspiring.
“I wanted something different … you have certain parts of your body that are so much stronger than the others,” Dannenberg said. “She knew from the first session which muscles were weaker. … It’s such an intense workout, in a different way than you could ever imagine.”
Hollister took up Pilates in 2001 when she was in graduate school at Lesley College in Massachusetts. Her first class was a life-changing experience that led to her training and beginning her own career under STOTT Master Trainer P.J. O’Clair in Boston.
“The first time I took (Pilates), I said, ‘This is what I want to do for the rest of my life,’” Hollister said. “It just felt right. My body was just like, ‘Yes!’”
Since then, Hollister — who also holds a degree in arts management and dance/choreography from Emerson College — has lived in several different places including Spain, California and, most recently, Austin, Texas.
All along the way, she has built up her credentials and now is certified on all levels.
Hollister settled in Winter Garden after falling in love with the city on a weekend trip and identifying a need for a Pilates center. Hollister’s services are currently on a one-on-one basis, meaning clients such as Casey Herlihy, of Windermere, benefit from her knowledge and strategies for strengthening underutilized muscle system.
“She’s got me standing up straighter — she’s got me paying attention to my posture when I’m sitting at my desk or driving my car,” said Herlihy, who has been a client for about a month. “She’s had me work on muscles I almost didn’t know were there and has found weakness in my body that I didn’t recognize.”
Hollister, who has worked with a wide spectrum of clients from professional athletes to individuals recovering from injury, said anyone can benefit from the curriculum and training. She notes someone could be doing something well — a lift, sport or other physical — but that that individual may not be doing it correctly or to the best of his or her ability. Hollister gets excited when talking about the way the body moves and how she can build certain areas for a client to help him or her reach their full potential — a process she pairs with an education for each client about why they’re doing what they’re doing.
“It’s not just that you move — it’s how you move,” Hollister said. “It’s about empowering (clients) to love movement and to understand movement better.”
IF YOU GO
Pilates Center of Winter Garden
ADDRESS: 208 S. Boyd St.
PHONE: (407) 732-8288
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].