Susan Swan cutting the ribbon at Swan Pilates last week.

After more than four decades as a nurse, Oro Valley resident Susan Swan was ready for her “encore” career when she retired from Cottonwood Tucson in 2018.

It didn’t take long for her to realize that opportunity was the pilates studio at which she taught for seven years.

A little more than a month after she sailed off from the world of nursing, Swan settled down to discuss taking over the Body Works Pilates studio located at 11901 N. First Ave. 

After operating the facility under its previous name for a year, Swan celebrated rebranding the studio under her name during a ribbon cutting ceremony last Tuesday afternoon. Joining her in the celebration was catering by La Hacienda Family Mexican Restaruant and attendees from The Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Joe Winfield, Chief of Police Kara Riley and more than a dozen longtime clients.

 “It’s always great to have people gathered and celebrating a new business in our community,” said chamber president and CEO Dave Perry before the ribbon was cut.

The roughly 2,000-square-foot facility opened under the Body Works name in 2010, and Swan began teaching at the studio part time while she worked at Cottonwood, a center for treating mental health and substance abuse disorders.

Swan said she learned a lot from the system established by Kyria Sabin Waugaman, Body Works Pilates founder and studio director at the St. Philip’s Plaza location. Waugaman founded Body Works Pilates in Tucson in 1993 and is the founder and director of Fletcher Pilates, an international pilates school. 

Swan’s own journey to pilates began in the mid 2000s when she was part of a Samba group which invited a Brazilian instructor to show them some new moves. After the demonstration, the instructor told Swan she would find great benefit from learning pilates.

The workout doesn’t focus on arms, legs or the back, but instead engages the whole body. Swan said pilates is a “tremendously powerful tool” for people in rehab, but can provide just as much benefit to someone looking to improve their golf or tennis swing.

“Our clients follow that gamut,” she said. “People that are coming right from PT, people that have had major injuries, to people that are cyclists and want to look like they just got off the bike. There’s people who play tennis…It’s about balancing the body.”

Swan will help provide that balance alongside a handful of fellow Fletcher program graduates in a studio equipped with a wide array of equipment. The studio also offers private introductory sessions for $20.

Even though her retirement lasted just a month before she jumped into pilates full time, Swan said she’s excited to begin her encore.

“I get to do what I love, where I love to do it, with people I love to do it with,” she said.

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