Sperryville column for Sept. 4

A holistic partnership at Stonewall Abbey

Gordon Wicks talks of Stonewall Abbey in Sperryville as a hallowed place, a place of ambiance, quietude — and multiple reincarnations. A former church, reopened in more recent years as a bookstore and restaurant, it enjoys hundreds of years of the energy of prayers, an energy you can feel standing inside the cavernous walls.

Kung fu and qigong teacher Gordon Wicks.
Kung fu and qigong teacher Gordon Wicks.
Courtesy photo

Gordon thinks of the Abbey, which Susan Huff reopened two years ago as a yoga center, as a sanctuary, where the beauty of Blue Ridge mountain views sparkle through its stained glass windows. What better place for him and new business partner Huff to embark upon a new business venture — a venture that celebrates the common ground of ancient Asian disciplines.

Gordon has been leading classes at Stonewall Abbey, mostly in the flowing Chinese movement art of qigong, and has been renting space for classes at Huff’s Second Floor Studio in Culpeper for personal training. Both Susan and Gordon will now offer weekly classes in both locations, and plan to offer weekend programs starting next spring. They say the weekend packages will include everything from professional retreats to activities ranging from mountain bike rides to organized hikes, a harmony of interrelated services that would capitalize on existing local businesses and turn Sperryville into a hub.

A master martial artist and exercise specialist, Gordon is also a certified personal trainer and youth exercise specialist (who offers martial arts and personal training to youth and adults). He studied under Toronto’s grand master Rupert Harvey. He is also trained as a professional chef, having worked in some of the finest restaurants in Toronto and Virginia, including at our own Inn at Little Washington and several years as executive chef of Middleburg’s Red Fox Inn.

Gordon says kung fu is not just a martial art — indeed it is a way of being, encompassing a lifestyle that celebrates mental and physical wellness, a mind and spirit discipline. Kung fu is defined as “hard work, to achieve great skills.”

 Stonewall Abbey founder and yoga teacher Susan Huff.

Stonewall Abbey founder and yoga teacher Susan Huff. Courtesy photo

A renaissance man who graduated early from high school and was an accomplished musician and seeded tennis player for Fauquier High, Gordon lived in the Caribbean for a time and then moved to Toronto to pursue a culinary education. He happened to meet a neighbor, who turned out to be kung fu grand master Rupert Harvey, also a Canadian musical treasure who is a world-renowned reggae maestro and classically trained musician. He and Gordon immediately connected. Gordon recognized that this discipline could very well fill a physical and spiritual void. He enrolled in several kung fu classes and tells me that after the second class, he knew this was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.

Huff holds a Ph.D. in special education and taught for many a year at public schools, including Rappahannock, and, at an intersection in her life, decided to pursue yoga as a means to continue her passion for helping people. She is now a 200+ Experienced and Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) through Yoga Alliance.

The joint venture’s grand opening is this weekend, with festivities from 10 to noon Saturday (Sept. 6) at the Culpeper location and Sunday (Sept. 7) at the Sperryville studio, including exhibitions of kung fu, yoga and qigong, music and Chinese Dragon dancers. At Stonewall Abbey, the celebration on Sunday is preceded by Gordon Wicks’ class in “yoga-qigong fusion” at 9 a.m. For more information, visit Wicks’ goldenharmonyva.com site or stonewallabbeyyoga.com, or call Huff at 540-250-3828.

Congratulations to both of you, and good luck in your new endeavor.

Chris Green
About Chris Green 159 Articles
Chris Green (formerly Chris Doxzen) is an an executive recruiter by profession who enjoys exploring and writing about all things Rappahannock. Friends and neighbors with potential stories for her Sperryville column should email her at chrisdoxzen@gmail.com.