Regardless of our Sasee monthly themes, I start all of my interviews with simple questions that help me get to know the interviewee such as their upbringing and where they grew up. Steele answered this question quite fittingly for this month’s theme when she said, “Where did I grow up? Well, I’m still growing up!” Steele spent her first couple of years growing up in Libya, so when her family moved to California, she spoke Italian. She was immediately enrolled in dance to help her get more acclimated to English and Americans, and once she joined the Royal School of Ballet, she truly felt at home and safe. Steele spent her days dancing, surfing, and hunting abalone (a delicious mollusc with a beautiful outer shell). During this time, Steele met her first mentor of meditation, vegan eating, and all-around wholesome healthiness.
The greatest life lesson Steele has learned is to keep on learning and she has most definitely spent her life learning and growing (up) in all aspects. She acquired undergrad degrees in classical ballet and psychology as well as physical education and recreation/curriculum building. She has master’s degrees in modern dance and physical therapy. Steele is certified in nutrition as well as transcendental, instinctive, and mantra meditation. She also has international certifications such as yoga (which she has maintained since she was 14 years old), meditation, pilates, private training, health services, health physiologist, sports medicine, Ti Chi, Qui Qong, and is licensed in energy healing, crystal healing, group aerobics, Zumba, Chinese medicine, and as a deep tissue masseuse. Steele stated, “my journey has been long, but when you start working with bodywork, it just continually evolves, so I have grown with the art and have enjoyed the education of it. Many of my credits go to the dancers and masters that lead me to take on these opportunities. I have been blessed by my education and experiences that have allowed me to connect with so many other living souls.”
Steele decided she wanted to be a ballerina at age 4, and at age 14, she made her dreams a reality. She applied overseas and was accepted at Royal in London. The learning curve was immense, but she kept moving forward due to her devoted passion and encouraging support system. She traveled all over the world where she developed a high appreciation for all of the diverse cultures, extraordinary theatres, and interesting dance and art that she was able to experience. After her remarkable time as a ballerina, she was transferred to the states by Royal where she worked for several years as the American ambassador for the southeast region.
Forty years ago, Steele moved to Pawleys Island. She worked at Litchfield by the Sea (when it was called Waccamaw House) where she helped set up wellness and safety programs. Ironically, the wellness center (a gym) is where she first met her husband, Alan, while he was working out. At the time, Alan lived in London, but his parents had a place in Pawleys Island that the family visited frequently. Alan and Steele ran into each other again at the Surfside bowling alley while listening to a live band play, became real friends, and through the years of visiting each other, their friendship morphed into a romantic one. When Steele first moved to the Grand Strand, she helped several other dance studios open. In 1996, she purchased her very own on Georgetown’s Front Street and expanded it with a gym next door, The Studio of Dance and Winyah Fitness: the beginning of Steele and Alan’s dream for Georgetown County.
Steele vowed to herself that if one day she could not give 100%, she would entrust the company to someone ready. After 15 years of owning The Studio of Dance and a lifetime surrounded by all things dance, Steele passed down her studio to the most caring and gifted successor, Wendy Carroll Carraway. Although being without dance broke Steele’s heart, she still feels so blessed to have Wendy who was more than capable of giving the kind of time and commitment the children needed to still have their safe place at The Studio. Steele explained, “In life, we are all weaving tapestries, and I am so grateful for her intertwining with mine. I would not be where I am today without immense support and love from others who have helped open doors for me. I want to open doors for others by passing along that same love and support that I have been so fortunate to receive throughout my journey. Life is a revolving door!”
In 2013, Steele and Alan moved Winyah Fitness to Pawleys Island. The dynamic duo realized they finally had the time to focus on their beliefs of true wellness and the best way to use their talents and years of professional experience was to put all of their energy into one-on-one training. Steele thought back to her days of training in ballet and how much private lessons helped her excel and they also thought the idea of personal training would be beneficial for working with all ages. Steele views their new location and thriving business as a genuine gift from Georgetown County’s community. She explained, “Although Alan and I both put in a lot of hard work to get here, the overflowing love and support from the community was a blessing, but that is just how our community is. The community is our family.”
Winyah Fitness is a successful family affair including the Bremner’s passionate son, Alistair. Steele adores her son’s big heart and feels the utmost gratification while watching him grow into his truest self. Having adult children makes Steele feel extremely proud because she loves to see them living happily. She also likes the concept that she has many adult children who are not biological to her and that she herself has been an adult child to many who have helped her along her journey. She stated, “I honestly could not imagine only living in one generation. I love having friends of all ages and learning from their diverse perspectives.”
When I asked Steele about her favorite decade, her eyes widened with astonishment that she was supposed to only pick one and responded with, “I have loved every decade because they have all given me eye-opening discoveries: times of love and growth, and times of heartache and loss. Life is like music the way it portrays a history of epiphanies the artist has experienced based on what is happening during a specific decade. Music and art are my way of living through the decades daily which is also why I love history, museums, and libraries. Every decade I have lived has been one worth living and I love that we can create playlists, so now I can live in whatever decade I want to in a particular moment depending on my mood for the day and time. Music fixes you like a deep breath and keeps you feeling young.”
It’s no surprise that Steele is more concerned with feeling young than looking young. She just wants to feel comfortable in her own skin and she made it clear that while being healthy is very important to her, so is the quality of life. I asked Steele what she considers the most important ingredients for a healthy lifestyle are and she replied with, “first off, love and support, for yourself, and from others. Then the brilliant aspects of drinking enough water, intaking proper nutrition, exercising, laughing, spending time outside, having a sacred safe space, embracing your instincts, and owning who you are as a person. If something isn’t working, be okay with transitioning through that process and do the work towards your peace and harmony. It is all about balance. Consistency feeds the mind, so continue to show up for yourself: get up, get dressed, and do your best, and on those days when life is too overwhelming, call somebody you trust.”
Steele stays healthy, happy, and humble by committing (and forgiving) herself and others. Professionally, she strives to always listen, teach, and guide. Personally, she aspires to always stay true to her heart, create memories with loved ones, and be a steward of the community. Steele is the type of person who always tries to see the cup half full but also understands that in those moments when the cup does seem half empty, you must challenge yourself to change your angle and gain a new perception to be able to see it full. She has a life motto that keeps her mindset on track and keeps her trusting her gut which is, “you are where you’re supposed to be AT this time.”
As far as aging goes, Steele has done so with grace. She encourages everyone to not grow “old” until you have to and states that “growing older is a philosophy, some of us may grow older and some of us just continue to live, and I make the choice every day to continue living. I’ll let you know when I grow up!” There is a concept in meditation of “There is, I am” that Steele explained to me and for her, the most rewarding part of maturing is understanding her personal “I am” (yourself) and feeling more at home with the “there is” (the world). Staying in harmony with those two elements creates a bridge that allows her to feel acceptance that change is simply a part of the journey. Steele chooses to embrace the grace of change and age every single day.
“Time is precious, health and wellness is a mantra, and life is a mystery…so as this hippie artistic soul would say, ‘Enjoy your juju so your mojo can breathe deeply.’” -Steelz