top of page

My Journey to Optimal Health: A Death-Defying Story

Suzanne Publicity Photo.png

Suzanne Andrews, president of Healthwise Exercise, founder of Functional Fitness, PBS TV

As I sit here and reflect on my journey to optimal health, I can't help but think about how one decision can change the course of our lives forever. My personal experience with a life-threatening illness, weight loss struggles and a series of injuries has been a defining factor in my passion for helping others reach their best health.

Here's my true story...

A Fateful Night

It was a fateful night, filled with uncertainty and desperation. My mother, exhausted from her long day at work still had another four hours of her shift to go. As a single parent of five, she constantly battled the hardships of life, trying to make ends meet. Taking a cab home was a luxury she simply couldn't afford. But fate had other plans for us that night.

In the midst of her weariness, my mother's heart was filled with concern for me. When she called home to check on me, I mustered up the courage to tell her that I wasn't feeling well. Despite her financial struggles, she made the decision to hail a cab and rush home to check on me.

Little did we know that this seemingly ordinary decision would turn out to be the turning point of our lives. As my mother arrived home, panic took hold of her as she realized the severity of the situation. 














Photo: Suzanne Andrews on far right with her mom and siblings.


When she arrived home, she found me motionless, pain seared through me with an intensity that felt like a sharp toothed creature eating me inside.  Rushed to the hospital, the doctors diagnosed me with a ruptured appendix and a severe infection, giving me only a 50% chance of surviving surgery.  I awoke from surgery with tubes up my nose and in my stomach and a fever of 106. I was given last rites and placed in the terminally ill wing. My mother never left my side, and for thirty dubious days, I teetered

on the edge of death.

The Struggle of Being Different

After my brush with death, I returned to school but found it hard to fit in with the "cool" kids. I skipped three grades in high school, and books became my cherished companions. However, being different came with a price. I was constantly bullied and even beat up. I turned to exercise to soothe my depression and found that it helped, but I also learned that true health begins in the mind. I discovered that motivation is essential, and helping others find that motivation is what drives me today.

Overcoming Injury

My journey to optimal health was not without its setbacks. While working as a rehab clinician, I tore my shoulders while saving a patient from getting crushed against a table while her power wheelchair ran amok. Scheduled to film the arthritis water therapy for PBS TV, I had to recover as I couldn't lift my arms. After surgery, I rehabbed myself with functional fitness yoga, dynamic stretching, arm conditioning exercises, and the arthritis water therapy moves.

But my injuries didn't stop there. I later suffered back and neck injuries from a car accident and gave birth via emergency c-section. After giving birth, I learned that I have Hashimoto's disease, which makes it easy to gain weight and hard to lose. I had an excess 60 pounds to lose, and I tried many other programs. I created Functional Fitness because other programs were made for slimmer, younger people.

Holistic Approach to Health

Through my journey to optimal health, I developed a holistic approach to health and wellness. I believe that true health goes beyond just physical exercise and diet. It's about finding balance in all areas of life, including mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

Functional Fitness Exercise














Exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. I believe in the power of functional fitness because I've seen thousands of clients transform their bodies from weak to strong: making them capable of performing daily tasks with ease. The difference with my Functional Fitness movements are that they are all evidenced based movements proven to work.  And since I was the first person to design fitness programs with modifications, you can count on all of our workouts demonstrated by health professionals showing you a version you can do and progress to the next level as you get fitter, stronger and more functional!


Suzanne age 61, lost 30 lbs after menopause.
















Nutrition is another critical component of optimal health. Eating a well-balanced diet that's rich in whole foods, fruits, and vegetables is essential. I also believe in the power of supplements that have fact based research behind them, such as omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, and vitamin D, and am always researching the latest medical studies to see what really works so I can tell you about it in my Healthwise Exercise blog.



A positive mindset is crucial for achieving optimal health. Do not think yourself old. It's about changing your mindset from a negative one that says I'm too old to a positive one that believes in yourself and your ability to achieve your goals. All our workouts encourage mindfulness, and gratitude to cultivate a positive mindset.


Self-care is often overlooked but essential for optimal health. It's about taking time for yourself to recharge and rejuvenate. Self-care can include activities such as taking a relaxing bath, reading, getting a makeover,  putting your health first, getting a massage or doing something just for you!

Functional Fitness over 50
bottom of page