As if y’all didn’t already know, I am a huge fan of my little sister, Susie, and reading her amazing journey from desk jockey into flying trapeze diva, circus arts maven, and yoga instructor. Comparatively speaking, she’s the bigger firecracker of us Peterson Girls, and without a doubt one of my biggest inspirations. She studied abroad in Wales during university and lived in Prague for a while. She’s got three beautiful fur babies and her hubs is one of the best guys I know! We’re close in age, but she honestly doesn’t look a day over 23! Wanna learn her secrets?
Since we were children, our parents always kept us active. From dance classes to community league sports when we were young, later on as we gravitated into cheerleading and swimming throughout high school, and now as we overlap interests in our adult lives. I have had the honor of running some of my best races with my sister at my side include my second Princess Half, The Rock ‘n’ Roll Montreal Half, and my first Best Damn Race Orlando. I have also enjoyed watching her flourish as a circus artist and yoga instructor over the years. You might recall that she’s managed to get me up on the board, and I loved it so much that I went back! I have also attended a couple of her yoga classes, and I cannot express enough how proud I am to see my sister discover and flourish in her true passions.
Viva the Vegetarian Life!
Karen: You’ve been a vegetarian since high school. What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a vegetarian diet?
Susie: I often hear people say that they could never give up meat, but it’s actually easier than one might imagine. The real driving force behind going vegetarian is the desire to do it. Just like exercising, if someone does not really have the interest in it, then they’ll probably be less likely to do it. Learning some yummy vegetarian recipes that satisfy the tastebuds will definitely ease the transition. While they might not be the ideal health food, there are so many brands of fake meats out on the market that you can find at the local grocery store. They are a good option for someone who is new to a vegetarian diet. I usually keep a couple packs of veggie burgers and chick-free nuggets in my freezer for quick, easy meals.
Proof that plant-based fitness is fab!
Karen: Name your favorite vegetarian spots in Orlando? Outside of Orlando?
Susie: Dandelion Communitea is my favorite vegetarian restaurant in Orlando. It’s a cafe and tea house near downtown. Definitely worth checking out, get the Giddyup wrap and spend the extra buck on the goddess dressing. So delicious! Favorite restaurant outside of Orlando is probably The Top in Gainesville. Holy crap, it’s out of this world! It’s a bar and restaurant that has many tasty veggie options. My favorite restaurant right now is called Pig Floyd’s. It’s a BBQ place, but they have awesomely prepared tofu that can be substituted in many of their dishes. Most restaurants have at least one vegetarian meal on the menu and many places will be happy to prepare dishes without meat. Be careful of soups though, even if there is no meat listed on the menu, many are made from chicken stock. I always ask about the stock if I order a soup that isn’t listed as specifically “vegetarian”.
My nephew, Captain, is taking a private lesson.
Karen: What is your go to healthy recipe?
Susie: Full disclosure, I don’t enjoying cooking very much, so I try to make simple, easy recipes. A fellow veggie friend of mine turned me on to a spicy tomato soup that she created. I just wing it usually, throwing in whatever vegetables I feel like at the time. The base is always the same: vegetable broth, 3 vine ripe tomatoes, broccoli, garlic, crushed red pepper and a bean, usually kidney or garbanzo. I always add in a green such as spinach or kale. Then I’ll throw in carrots, onion, etc. depending on what I have around the house and what I’m in the mood for eating. I heat up the garlic and broccoli in a deep skillet with some oil. Then chop up the veggies and throw them into the pan with some broth, beans and pepper. Salt & Pepper to taste. I always prepare it a side of quinoa. After cooking, I combine the soup and quinoa together and store in separate containers for 4-5 lunches for the week.
Headstands on summer vacation!
Karen: When looking for a new recipes to try out, which resources do you check out?
Susie: I check out Pinterest usually for new recipes or ask my friends for their suggestions. I buy cook books and then never use them…I tend to stick to the same tried and true recipes, I really need to expand my resources and venture out of my comfort zone a bit more.
Karen: If you had to give up one of your food or drink vices, which one would it be?
Susie: If I HAD to give up one of my vices, I would reluctantly give up cheese.
Yes, she flew on The Cotton Candy Club’s Pink Rig!
Fitness and Circus Arts!
Karen: What made you decide to take up trapeze?
Susie: I remember seeing Carrie Bradshaw do it on Sex and the City, my eyes wide with envy, I just HAD to try it for myself. Many years later, in December 2012, I was in LA and saw the Trapeze School New York (TSNY) on the Santa Monica pier. I stood in front of the fence, desperately wanting to take a class but was headed to the airport shortly, so flying wasn’t in the cards that day. A few months later, a new trapeze school opened up in Orlando. They were offering a Living Social deal, so it was the perfect opportunity to try it out. I was nervous but so excited as I climbed up the ladder. I had butterflies in my belly, but I was hooked from the very first time I jumped off the platform. I knew from that day on I had to learn as much as I could about flying trapeze. It was like I had finally found a part of myself I never knew I was missing. Almost two years later and it’s now a huge part of my life. I have the awesome pleasure of now teaching flying trapeze, where I get to share my passion for flying with many new flyers a week.
What a catch!
Karen: What additional circus arts have you been studying?
Susie: I also train in lyra, silks and trampoline. Lyra is probably my number 2 apparatus of choice, I really love how strong and graceful it makes me feel. I love tramp because it complements flying so well, many of the skills directly translate from my discipline to the other. I definitely feel more at home on bar-based apparatuses, but I’m pushing myself out of comfort zone with silks. They’re a challenge for me but I’m falling in love with fabric as I become stronger and more flexible.
Making Lyra look easy!
Karen: Why did you choose to become a certified yoga instructor?
Susie: I’ve been doing yoga for about 10 years now, practicing regularly for about five years. I wanted to take my practice to a higher level and the immersion in a teacher training program seemed like the perfect opportunity. I wanted to be able to share yoga with my friends and family, but I was unsure if I wanted to teach yoga at the time when I started the program. Just a few weeks into it, I knew teaching was something I wanted to incorporate in my daily life.
Karen: Do you have a preferred style of yoga?
Susie: I practice a hatha vinyasa flow style of yoga. I really enjoy lots of movement and lots of chaturangas. (haha!)
Karen: What additional exercise contribute to your workout regiment?
Susie: I have a chin up bar and I always do a couple sets of pull ups and leg lifts when I workout at home. I use the Iron Gym, which hangs in the doorway and can be easily installed and removed. I received a few recommendations for this specific bar and I, too, am very happy with it.
Karen: What other athletic or fitness genres do you enjoy?
Susie: I was taking adult gymnastics for a while, which was really fun. Due to my schedule, I had to stop, however, I would love to start back up if I had more time. I do try to incorporate ball-v-planks and other gymnastics-style warm ups and conditioning in my fitness routine. I learned to do a round off backhand spring last year, which was a lifelong goal of mine.
Dream Job: Professional Flying Trapeze Artist
Greatest Achievement: Teaching yoga gives me such happiness and satisfaction, seeing how far I’ve come in the last year is probably the greatest achievement. For flying trapeze, throwing a trick to the catcher and then returning back to the board is probably my greatest achievement.
Role Models: Christine Northcote and Melissa Rosario inspire me every day with their beautiful energy, yoga flows and instruction. I feel really fortunate to have their guidance and support as I navigate the path of yoga as a student and an instructor. Efe and Boston Rob are my flying trapeze mentors, coaches and catchers; they push me and guide me to be the best flyer I can be. The level of respect and trust I have for both of them is indescribable. Since I mainly catch without safety lines, my life is literally in their hands every time we fly together. (haha!) Tony Steele and Terry Cavaretta are flying trapeze legends that I admire and revere. I’m currently reading Tony’s book, which is about his life and about going after your dreams!