Walking On Water

Aloha. I am so very fortunate to live and work on the island of Maui. As a Northern California girl, moving to Maui has allowed me to enjoy the warm waters and share my knowledge and experience as an elite fitness trainer, and incorporate water sport to inspire and empower women and men.

Over the years, I’ve had numerous serious injuries, which was very difficult but turned into many wonderful experiences to share and help others cope with their challenges. Recently, a silly accident of simply missing the bottom stair at my home left me in a wheelchair for a couple of months and caused my body to atrophy.

As an example of fitness in my profession, both as a trainer and sports model, it was a time of hard acceptance and many frustrations. Of course my studio is downstairs, which meant the wheelchair and myself had to go down those stairs several times a day.

Since I could not walk — one leg was broken in two places, the other had torn ligaments — my triceps took the brunt. This was okay until the stairs became very hot on occasion. My clients were so supportive and didn’t mind taking direction from me in the the wheelchair, but it meant that I could not train my more advanced clients for some time.

At the age of 43, it was very hard to know that my once strong legs were quickly turning to noodles, but fortunately I was able to maintain my upper body and mid region. How I longed to simply be able to drive, walk on the beach, swim or surf!

Now it’s November and I’m back, strong and very thankful for my “down time”. So many good things came of that period, and I was able to really appreciate those who are disabled permanently.

The one sport that I knew would help me, because of it’s constant isometric requirement, was the sport of stand up paddling. My body transformed in under a month as I set out to regain my leg strength. I could not believe it!

So now I teach stand up paddling to the women of Maui at free weekend clinics. We also do a little beach core work, active stretching and strength training. They are amazed how fast they can get lean and enjoy the surfer’s glide. The water is empowering and so is a group of wonderful women.

Thank you for allowing me to share.


November 18, 2009 at 7:30 am

I fell in love with SUP over the past two years. I am always delighted how I’ve gained strength in a different way, I’m surrounded by beauty, I have to be present to paddle and with two delicate knees it’s a sport that increases my knee strength without residual pain. It’s a great sport for all ages, my kids do it too. For my 50th birthday this year, I told my family, all I want to do is play on the water with my SUP board and them. My only wish, I lived near warm water-Santa Cruz can be chilly!

Suzie Cooney

November 24, 2009 at 12:50 am

Hi SurfMom…. I’ve surfed and windsurfed in Santa Cruz and also got a speeding ticket in Capitola on my mountain bike.. long story. I’m thrilled to hear that you enjoy the sport of SUP. If you come to Maui, look me up and I”ll be happy to take you to my favorite place I call the liquid aquarium. The water is bath tub warm and the clarity is about 75 feet. Turtles promise to be there and lately there’s been a pod of playful dolphins. Knees are indeed quite delicate so good for you that you found something you enjoy without compromising the integrity of your knee strength. Aloha and thank you for sharing. Warmly, Suzie

Georgie Farrar

December 01, 2009 at 6:11 pm

I was so excited to see this article! Your classes sound great and inspiring. Glad you are enjoying all of the pleasures of Maui!

Suzie Cooney

December 02, 2009 at 6:23 pm

Aloha Georgie. Thank you for interest in the article. If you’ve not been to Maui, I’d put it high on your list. Yes the free classes are a hoot and everyone there who attends takes part in helping one another to gain physical and mental strength.

Have a nice holiday.
Suzie Cooney

Katie Bolling

March 02, 2010 at 11:39 am

Thanks for the inspiration, Suzie! I fell in love with SUP this past January while vacationing in Australia with my family. I found it to be such a great work-out and a wonderful way to connect with the water around me. It was definitely an inspiration to me after spending many hours IN the water as a swimmer/Ironman and i can’t wait to have my next chance at it! As I would LOVE to meet you in Maui for a free weekend clinic, unforunately, I’m in Chicago and will be land-locked to freshwater for the next several months:) But, I’m already researching on getting my own SUP to enjoy on the many lakes I spend my summers on so if you have any advice with the sport on freshwater, please share! Thanks, again, for the inspiration! Katie

Catherine Dickson

March 02, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Thank you Suzie for sharing your inspirational story of recovery and fortitude of strength and determination in getting back to what you love doing with people. Injury has an interesting way of making us feel especially grateful for the things we take for granted most times when things are okay. It’s absolutely wonderful that you’re able to help others cope with their challenges more acutely because of your own journey.

Wow! Keep up the fantastic work helping people as you do! And may your goals of getting on the windsurfer and dirt bike be yours very, very soon! ~Catherine
P.S. Maui looks incredibly breathtaking and oh, sooo inviting!!!

Jodi Seals

March 03, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Catherine~ I’m not sure what ha;;ened but I can’t find our conversation on “Finding Your Ins;iration.” I would like to contiue to chat. How can I get a hold of you? I don’t know if you have facebook, but I do, just search my name. Thanks, Jodi Seals

Catherine Dickson

March 03, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Hi there Jodi!
Yes, me too. I actually let Athleta know of the IT issue yesterday with our blog under “Finding Inspiration”. I will tap into facebook and will reach out to you that way as well. I hope you’re doing well.

Jeanette vonKaesborg

June 24, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Aloha Suzie, reading your article made me miss living in Hawaii soooo much. I would love to visit your class to learn stand up paddling when I visit next. I am a total water girl and working on getting certified to be a personaltrainer. Loved your pictures. Jeanette

Suzie Cooney from Maui

June 24, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Hi Jeanette,
Thanks for the nice note and interest in SUP. Do let me know when you arrive to Maui.

Sending you rainbows of health and Aloha!

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