Brooke Fricke: Do it for you and everyone you love

If you’ve spent all of Fitness Week getting more and more inspired to make a change in your life, here’s your final shove. Brooke Fricke, owner of Re:form Richmond, will make it her personal mission to make you live longer and be stronger for the people who need you.

Former ballerina Brooke Fricke of Re:form Richmond will take all the inspiration you’ve been getting during Fitness Week, and she will turn it into something magical. We’re closing out the week with Brooke’s words of wisdom because she’s just so motivating that we find it difficult to believe that you’ll hear what she has to say and then opt to sit around and keep reading the internet.

Nope, you’ll be out and about, and we’ll never be able to get your attention again. On second thought, maybe Fitness Week was a horrible, terrible idea.

Oh well, onto the magic that is Brooke Fricke. Enjoy!

What does “fitness” mean to you?

Fitness to me is a lifestyle; it’s as important as any other vital need like food, water, or sleep. Fitness doesn’t mean pounding a workout out, moving fast, or the “how much.” Fitness to me is about the HOW. Staying mobile, strong, and stable so that I can be the best mom to my son and best adventure-seeker with my husband. Striving for balance so that I can continue to teach Pilates and my other practices to my community. Fitness is a constant exchange between body, mind, and spirit, and it’s also the feeling of ownership and self-confidence that comes with prioritizing myself so that I can care for others. It’s very easy to push myself aside in my busy life, but if I do I pay a price and so do the people that rely on me.

How did fitness find you?

I was a hyperactive child with more energy than my mother knew what to do with. She threw me into everything: horseback riding (loved it until I was thrown from the horse), ice skating (bored to tears by figures and wanted to immediately be able to do a triple Salchow jump), and then I found ballet.

It was an immediate love affair. I loved the athleticism, the challenge of the choreography, the feeling of flying through the air, the music…and I was pretty good at it. I sacrificed a “normal” adolescence to train very seriously through middle and junior high school in New York State. When I was a freshman, my mom and I moved an hour north to New York City so that I could attend the High School for the Performing Arts and train professionally at the School of American Ballet, the school for the New York City Ballet Company. I danced professionally until the age of 35.

So this was how I stayed in shape. I danced ALL THE TIME. I honestly didn’t do anything else. I took ballet in the morning, rehearsed during the day with the company, and performed at night if we were in a season or a performance. I’ve always been kinetic–I’m a bear if I don’t move my body. My knees finally wore out, and after a final knee repair in 1999, I decided to retire. I was introduced to Pilates during my rehab in NYC at the Harkness Institute for Physical Therapy and Athletic Training. My physical therapist at the time incorporated the Pilates Reformer into my regimen, and I fell in love with it. I finished my comprehensive training in 2000 and have been teaching every since.

During this time I began to dabble in yoga as well, since I wasn’t taking ballet as much I had a lot of time on my hands. I was drawn to the athleticism of Ashtanga yoga and the alignment focus of Iyengar and practiced both regularly. In 2007, after relocating to Richmond, I completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training with Jennifer Elliott and Sandra Pleasants through Yoga Source.

Being fit for me has always been about moving and the creation and curiosity of that–HOW to move through space, whether it’s a grande allegro or an animal crawl pattern. It’s not really what it is, but how it’s performed.

What’s your personal roadmap for staying fit?

I try to balance focused attention on mobility, strength, alignment, and stability. Mobility is my number one focus, whether it’s myself or my clients’ bodies. Without proper mobility, nothing else will really work. This is my belief. I can’t optimally strengthen myself if I’m stuck like glue.

I spend a lot of time with my foam roller, lacrosse balls, the Orb, wooden dowels, resistance stretching…and I focus on moving very slow in my mobility work. I also work with Rob Crampton of James River Myofascial Release, a Graston Technique practitioner, and the incredible therapists at Therapeutic Massage and Wellness. As you can tell, I’m a HUGE advocate of manual work. I also work with a trainer, Jordan Frank at ACAC. He’s a certified Athletic Trainer, extensively trained and educated in strength and mobility. We share the same movement philosophies and he challenges me in ways I can’t on my own. I need a teacher, and he’s mine at the moment.

I run slow and steady, a few miles at a time, a few times a week and this keeps my ticker ticking and helps me work out my stuff; I love it. And of course I do Pilates. It’s a brilliant form of movement, and I have the studio at my disposal. There’s nothing like it that wakes up my inward body and mind. It’s where I strengthen my relationship with my spine and I hope to keep it as healthy as I can for as long as I can because I see the repercussions of what neglect can do on a daily basis.

Brooke (right) and her personal mascot, Cage (left), inside the Re:form Richmond studio.

Brooke (right) and her personal mascot, Cage (left), inside the Re:form Richmond studio.

How do you help keep Richmond fit?

Re:form Richmond Pilates is a fully equipped Pilates apparatus studio dedicated to improving the lives of our clients by improving their relationship to their bodies. Most people come to us with special circumstances going on in their bodies. Typical complaints are: spinal pathology (herniation, degeneration, stenosis), nerve impingement (sciatica), shoulder, hip, knee, ankle, or foot pain. Many people come because they’ve heard Pilates will strengthen their core muscles or they’ve been referred by a doctor to help them stabilize a hypermobility issue. We also work with really healthy individuals and athletes who believe that our work is helping them function at a higher level and helping them perform better then ever.

Our mission is to provide high quality Pilates to the contemporary body. Our lifestyles keep us in static posture and the posture you hold is the shape your body will take. We strive to educate our clients and help them implement strategies in their daily routines to help reverse the damage that static living can have. We believe Pilates is for every “body.” You do not need to be in a certain physical condition to begin Pilates.

Pilates is so much more than what is depicted in the media and at your local fitness facilities. We encourage everyone to seek out a teacher that has had extensive training, not just a weekend certification. No matter your shape, pant size, gender, age, Pilates is one of the most effective methods of strengthening because of its emphasis on form, breath, and concentration, just to name a few. 

If you could encourage people to make one change in their lives in order to become more fit, what would it be?

MOVE EVERY DAY. No matter where you’re starting from, move. Our bodies aren’t meant to function in the way our contemporary lives invite us to. We’ve made it very easy to “take it easy.” From elevators, to TVs, contemporary furniture, fast food, mobile devices, yada, yada, yada. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I don’t do these things, (well, except fast food, I don’t do that) but I put a paramount importance on moving my body. Even as I write this, I’ve gotten up every 10-15 minutes to walk around because I know that I want to run later and my glutes have been sleeping while I sit down and my hip flexors are getting tighter by the second, and I’m going to need those to two primary muscle groups for propulsion in about 30 minutes.

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Stay tuned today for the results of our lululemon Great Fit Challenge, and find out which Richmonders are going to get a sweet deal on choosing their new favorite local fitness opportunity.

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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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