Icebreaker

A Legacy of Healing - Susan Salk



It seemed natural that Susan Salk studied pre-med when she enrolled at University of California San Diego. Her parents were veterinarians who taught and conducted research in addition to their clinical practice. And her uncle was Jonas Salk, developer of the polio vaccine.

But with the last name Salk, medicine can be quite intimidating. So, “I took a dance class and, after that, had a hard time focusing on my medical studies,” she says. “I also felt overwhelmed by the other Dr. Salks in the world. I decided that medicine wasn’t my place in which to be great.”

Instead, this Salk danced.

For more than 10 years, she studied dance performance and choreography with master teacher Bella Lewitzky. At UCLA, Salk broadened her education to include theater production. She spent 10 years in Los Angeles performing with two modern dance companies and worked part time as an arts administrator. She also taught movement to incarcerated youth through the California Arts Council’s Artists-in-the-Schools Program.

However, her deep-rooted ties to the healing arts continued to exert a pull. Throughout her dance career, Salk had intuitively “worked on” people, giving therapeutic massages to dance colleagues, friends, and family (in fact, her father always told her she had “smart hands” and should be a surgeon or physical therapist). “My uncle Jonas considered massage to be the physical labor of medicine,” she recalls. “He firmly believed in facilitated healing.”

Her movement training gave her a deep understanding of the body and how it works.

Salk eventually shifted direction and began formal training in therapeutic bodywork. Certified in craniosacral therapy, deep-tissue massage, Watsu, Reiki, and myofacial release, she worked as a massage therapist at Two Bunch Palms Resort & Spa in Desert Hot Springs. Then, in 1994, she met Pilates master teacher Ron Fletcher, one of a handful of remaining first-generation students of Joseph and Clara Pilates, founders of the Pilates method of physical and mental conditioning in the 1930s.

“As a dancer, I had studied the Pilates method and found it tremendously helpful for my own well-being,” she says. “By the time I took Ron’s class, it all came together.”

Salk’s study with Fletcher ignited a passion for teaching, and she eventually earned the designation of senior teacher of the Ron Fletcher Work. “I realized I was tired of being silent all day,” she says. “Doing hands-on bodywork, you live in an intuitive, silent world. I realized I had a lot to say, to teach.”

By 2000, this realization led her to open Palm Springs Pilates Studio, where she and a team of teachers offer private and group Pilates classes. “I love watching people come alive,” she says. “Pilates is more than just a workout; it establishes a dialog between you and your body. It changes the way you move through life.

“It’s been said that after 10 Pilates classes you feel different, and after 20 classes you look different,” she adds. “But after 30 classes, you are different.”

Palm Springs Pilates Studio, 693 W. Sunny Dunes Road, Palm Springs; (760) 323-7734

Palm Springs Life

Related Articles

Palm Springs Modern Committee to Host Annual Preservation Awards

Palm Springs Modern Committee’s Annual Preservation Awards Gala on Oct. 4 will honor contributions in preservation, restoration, renovation or adaptive reuse of a midcentury modern residential or commercial property.

Palm Springs Weekend: Peter Frampton, Diana Ross, Cinema Diverse

Palm Springs Life helps plan out your weekend in Palm Springs and the desert resort cities with concerts, events, restaurants, nightlife, clubs and the world of entertainment only found in the desert.

Tesla CTO JB Straubel Heads SoCal Energy Summit

Tesla Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer JB Straubel will headline the sixth annual SoCal Energy Summit, Oct. 9-10, in Palm Springs.

Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs Earns Travel Weekly Award

The lobby design at Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs has received a 2014 Gold Magellan Award from Travel Weekly.

Eileen Fisher Marks 30th Anniversary by Donating to Local Charity

In honor of the brand's 30th anniversary, Eileen Fisher will host a special celebration at its Palm Desert location with 10 percent of proceeds going to Women Leader Forum of the Coachella Valley.

Promotions + Contests

Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.
Enter to Win A Celebrate Dance Experience!

Enter to Win A Celebrate Dance Experience!

Enter just once for a chance to win tickets to one of the second annual Palm Desert International Dance Festival performances.