When Retirement Becomes Semi-retirement: Susan’s Life After HAC

Gateway Garden Center

by Susan Storm, HAC’s former Group Fitness Director

My career in fitness has spanned over four decades, during most of which it was my avocation and not my vocation. For many years I taught fitness classes in the evenings while working in sales during the day. I was honored to have the opportunity to run the Group Fitness Program at Hockessin Athletic Club as my final full-time job.

My HAC journey began shortly after my family and I moved back into the Hockessin area from Kennett Square. I had already been certified in and teaching Les Mills programs at the Kennett Area YMCA. I heard that Pike Creek Fitness was bringing in Body Pump, and I applied for an instructor position. I was hired on the spot and began teaching Pump, Cycle, Step, Rebounding, and more.

You can imagine the excitement the Pike Creek staff experienced when we found out that a beautiful new facility would be built just a couple of miles down the road to replace the much loved and heavily used facility that had outgrown its space.

For most of us who transferred from the old facility to the new, it was akin to stepping into the land of OZ. WOW!!! What an incredible facility! For five years, I continued to work full-time in sales while teaching classes Monday and Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings. At that point, an opportunity arose for me to step into the position of Group Fitness Director. While I had big shoes to fill, I had the advantage of already knowing most, if not all, of the instructors and the staff, not to mention many of the members who had been working out with me for ten years or more. It was truly my dream job to work full-time in the industry for which my passion is boundless.

For the first five years that I worked full-time as the Group Fitness Director, I had the pleasure of sharing an office with Nancy Gilmore, who, at the time, was HAC’s Customer Service Director. We became very dear friends and provided support and advice to each other on many topics. Nancy is now the Membership Director, and I know many of you know her smiling face. I also want to mention John Peoples, the general manager. He is a wise and kind leader who always made it a pleasure to come to work.

You can imagine the difficulty in making the bittersweet decision to retire. In June of 2019, my husband and I sold our home in the Hockessin area and moved full-time to our home on the eastern shore of Maryland. I admit it was quite a change. Although we have many friends here and have owned the house for a long time, it’s very different to live full time in a place that has always been a vacation getaway. For anyone who has loved fitness for all or most of their lives or has made working out a priority, the fear of leaving the industry is that you might not stay fit!

I was walking away from my passion to enter a very different phase of my life. Or was it? I still commuted to HAC a couple of days a week to teach, and that has allowed me to stay in touch with many of my co-workers and HAC members who are dear friends.


Lest you think that I no longer teach classes – that is not the case, although it was my original intention. Soon after moving, I ventured into Chestertown, a lovely college community, and found the YMCA of the Chesapeake. I was offered the opportunity to become part of their instructor pool and currently teach 3-4 classes per week.

While it’s fun and the people are great, I still miss my “home” club. However, I am lucky to have a membership at HAC and still come up and meet friends to work out together or sub a class now and then.

“I am lucky to have a membership at HAC and still come up and meet friends to work out together or sub a class now and then.”

What I see when I enter the front doors of HAC is familiar and soothing. HAC survived the pandemic and is returning to its full glory. There are still many familiar faces – I would like to give a special shout-out to Greta Fowler, who stepped into my position seamlessly. I won’t bore you with the complete list of all the amazing and talented instructors and fellow staff I had the pleasure to work with, but I hope they know how much they were appreciated.

I miss you all and hope to see you at some point on the studio level at HAC.

Cheers to retirement (or shall I say semi-retirement?)

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