Documentary #4939

Powerhouse: The Mari Winsor Story

90 min - Documentary


This documentary is about the extraordinary life of Mari Winsor, visionary, pioneer and the welcoming face of wellness. Mari is widely known for making Pilates a household name and inspiring millions of people to get up and move. She moved us first with Pilates, then again as she bravely faced her devastating diagnosis of ALS. This is a story about a life well-lived.

To find out more about ALS and how you can help, please visit

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What You'll Need: No props needed

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Mar 11, 2022
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Look here. So I think the audio (indistinct) Yeah, I can fix that. Who's that? Ivy (indistinct) (indistinct chatters) Oh, there's Missy right there. Yeah. Is Mari on one of these images?

(soft rhythmic music) Okay. Sorry. This went out for like five, 10 minutes. So we can get- (indistinct) you're soft. You're soft though. We can hear you, but it's not loud.

Yeah. We can't really hear you. (soft rhythmic music) Yeah. Me either. Missy, can you give us all permission to record this? It's already recording. I'm already recording it.

Yeah. Okay. (soft rhythmic music) Okay. Thank you guys. This new technology is very hard for us from the '60s and '70s. (All laughing) Sorry.

As we go. So just to kind of go over like the nuts and bolts, you know, Mari has a lot of people in her life from lots of different stages. I thought it would be good just to kind of walk through different stages of her life and the people around her at that time. And we'll give each section and I'm calling- (background music drowns the speaker) One more quick thing. I just wanted to explain this setup for Mari.

She's on her bed looking at her big television. If you can see, she can see all of you on her big TV and then we have another camera so that you guys can see the speakers who are here. And then there's another camera that's looking at Mari so you can see Mari. So I don't know if any, you guys might not even know who I am. I'm Mari's niece and we share the same name.

And my mother is Gwen and Aunt Phyllis. And they're Mari's two oldest sisters. And they're gonna start. (soft music) Marshall is a small town of currently 7,000 people. It was about 6,000 when we grew up in it.

And it was a little historic town. The homes, our old Victorian mansions built during the lumber boom. Phyllis and I were very close, actually. We shared lot of conversations, teased each other, and my mother would come running and say, "You're as bad as the sisters in "Cinderella." Well, that would always quiet me down 'cause I didn't wanna be like one of the sisters in "Cinderella." Mari was born in Battle Creek, Michigan, March 11th, 1950. We loved Mari, I mean she was our little doll, our little baby.

Both Gwen and I changed diapers, fed her and I played with her usually for forcefully that she'd throw up all over me, which is fine, (laughs) just not at the time. She did not like to go to bed. That was a no-no. She wanted to stay up with everybody else. She would always get out of her crib.

So my dad finally in desperation, he built a top to the crib. So it was like a cage came down and then he put a lock on it and he was gonna fix that. Well, that lasted a couple days, worked. (Gwen laughs) Then she figured out how to work the lock and she really didn't wanna miss a thing. Our father was an attorney in town.

He had to travel all over the state. So she would spend long hours at the window waiting for him to get home. And she would often turn that on herself thinking, "What's the matter with me that dad doesn't love me." Which wasn't true. My mother had a degree in history from Denison University. She was set up in business by her brother and my father.

And then my father died very early in life and she had this clothing store and we did her shopping in New York. She would say, "My three daughters are multi talented in different ways." Phyllis is the artist, Gwen is the musician and Mari is the dancer. She was 13 or 14 or whatever. And I had a lot of good dance music and then put it on and she would dance for me in modern jazz style, which I had never seen her do. That was my eyeopener to her really dancing.

And she loved clothes. She loved design. And that carried on in her later years. She also took ballet lessons as a little girl and continued right through high school. And she entered a contest, a beauty contest when she was 16 and she won Miss Congeniality, which tells you a lot about her.

So Mari's degree from Michigan State University was in special education. She wanted to help children who had special needs. She was so compassionate. Well, her teaching ability came natural, but it's nice to have that degree in special education. She was able to work with people one on one and be so compassionate.

It was an accident that we met. We were just both placed in the same dorm. We belonged to the same sorority. So we lived together for approximately three years and fortunately remained good friends for the next 45 years. Am I sweating?

I am sweaty. Can I get a Kleenex bunny? (slate claps) Okay. Great. Yep.

You ready, Perry? Yeah. (Mari belch) (interviewer laughs and claps) Got it. Now okay. Did you get that?

Yeah, yeah. Well, how did you come into Pilates at all? Of course I was a dancer and my first love was Alvin Ailey Dance Company. And I went off to New York after college to be an Ailey dancer. I had graduated high school and I got a scholarship to the Ailey School.

And that's where I met Mari who was about five years older than me. We were taking dance classes together and I went up to her and I just said, "Hi, I'm Jodi. And I just thought I'd let you know that watching you and you have gotten so much better since you came here." She was like, "Really? Nobody's given me any feedback about how I'm doing and stuff." And that just started our friendship because it really was based on honesty, telling the truth all the time no matter how difficult that might have been. We did that.

She helped me a lot to realize how to grow up, how to take care of myself. She wanted to go on vacation. She said, "Come along with me and let's go on vacation." And it was like the first time I was traveling by myself with Mari. We had a wild time down at Daytona Beach. I mean, we were drinking and smoking and dancing and meeting guys.

We were good girls, (Jodi laughs) good girls, but sometimes naughty that's it. When the summer ended, I ended up joining the company and then that's when I started to go out on the road and I started to lose not Mari's friendship, but we weren't as close every day living together. There was another partner in crime and her name was Sarita Allen. And my best friend at that time was Sarita Allen, who became one of the stars of the Ailey Company and we are still best friends. It kind of reminds me of when you meet someone and you just have this instant connection and then next thing you're married, Now, obviously we weren't married.

It wasn't that type of relationship. We became fast friends and then we got our first apartments in New York together. We had a lot of fashion and we talked about our life a lot. We talked about our dreams, how we wanted to travel the world, kind of loose like when you see in old movies, you know, two young girls talking about the future. (soft jazz music) So coming back into town, there was a, you know, like I said, we weren't speaking every day because of me being on the road.

But when I got back into New York, that's when she said, "We have to talk. I need to make a decision here and I need help. And I need honesty. And I'm thinking about going back to Michigan. You were the only one who ever told me anything about my dancing.

Do you think I'm good enough to stay here and make the company? Or should I say I'm done here and go back home?" I had to look her in the eye and tell her the truth. And the truth to me was, "I think you should go back home." And you know what? Mari said, "Thank you. Thank you.

That's what I needed to hear. I needed to hear the truth. I have no problem with the answer." Mari left New York because she didn't have a job and she needed money. So she came back to Marshall. So she came to live with us.

And that was a bad time in our lives and hers because it's a big adjustment to a young lady who'd used to being independent, she was not easy to live with. We arranged a job for her at Saks selling designer clothes. And we found her a place to live, which saved our marriage. (Phyllis laughs) It was difficult. Those were the years, when a lot of young people in her age got into the pot and cocaine and things that were available and Mari did do some of that.

And it did have an effect on her life at that time, but it also gave her a greater understanding of people later on in her life when she wasn't using anymore. She understood their problems and difficulties and was able to be a great mentor. She went back to Detroit and then started using her choreographic powers and just like wherever she would land, she got in with the right people. She just attracted. And she was choreographing for the best fashion show.

She was choreographing all the biggest things in Detroit. And she was dating again. And she was happy in Detroit. I think she really felt like she made her own mark. Then she met somebody else.

And that's what brought her to California. She went from Detroit to Redondo Beach. She lived there for a little bit with this man, I guess after a year or so, the relationship went south and he gave her some money. And with that money, Mari said, "I'm out of here and I'm going to LA." Now mind you, she was an educated woman. She had a lot of sophistication and more confidence probably than many people.

It was real confidence. Jobs for dancers come and go as you know. As you can imagine, you have to audition. There's usually 900 people at an audition. And so I did that.

I did a film with Patrick Swayze called "Road House." I was a background dancer in the club, you know, and I did some other work. I had a lot of fun doing. And I ended up in Los Angeles where I didn't think I should be, but you know, that's where I was. And all of a sudden I got a job with Michael Jackson and I was like, "Oh my God." And I was a drunk lady on the balcony with a champagne bottle, (Mari laughs) like claim to fame, right? The drunk lady.

Well, I was lucky enough to first get introduced with Pilates. I had an injury with my knee and Alvin Ailey said, "Okay, you're gonna go to this woman, Kathy Grant." And so I started studying with Kathy and I just fell in love with Pilates. And, you know, I shared it with Mari because we always shared everything. And I said, "Mari, I'm studying this really great technique called Pilates and I think you would really like it." As my dance career was winding down, my friend said, "You know, if you want some steady work, I teach this method on the side." Then I'm learning from Kathy Grant. And she's amazing.

She was trying to explain this work to me. This was like 1987. The rest is history. You know, she fell in love with it. And I used to always joke with her.

I said, "Don't I get a finder's fee?" Mari and I were both dancers, and Mari was very involved in the LA dancing scene. And at ballet class one day, she said something about Pilates. And I knew what that was. And she was like, "You know what Pilates is?" I was like, "Yeah, I learned about Pilates at NYU." She's like, "Oh my God, we need you." And at that time she was working for Wanda Bouvier and Kim Lee. Kim Lee is an Olympic champion and winner of two gold medals.

He's developed a workout that's highly individualized and could easily bring a full sweat out of the toughest. Turn the reformer Okay. Reformer turn. Is this a torture machine or something like this? I feel like I'm on the- It isn't.

I'm on a rack. Same breathing process, (soft background music) (Kim inhales heavily) Up in the cavity, as opposed to. How's your exercise program different from some of the others around? We dealing in a scientific method. One that is zero gravity, meaning that we take gravity use it as an ally, as opposed to a negative situation.

I feel like Kim and Wanda trained Mari, Mari had very little, she and I together had very little Pilates exposure for quite some time. Mari met me, I knew Pilates. She brought me into Kim and Wanda Studio. I worked there for a very short time and Mari was out, Mari was leaving. And she was taking me with her.

My friend, who was at the Pilates studio that I was working at said, "Well, why don't you open up your own studio?" They gave her a little space and she had a Japanese screen that she put this... It was a little corner literally, but you would've thought she had the biggest studio, like the biggest, like the exhale. That's how she was so proud of that little space. I think Vanessa Williams was one of her first clients. She wasn't like dissatisfied.

Like, "Oh, I just have this little space with this little screen. I want bigger." No, she treated that like it was a big studio. And we weren't there for very long either. Like she needed more space pretty quickly. When I started working with Mari, you know, I think she had been open only for three years.

So for her all this experience of a business owner, a Pilates instructor and a business owner was new to her. When Mari first opened her first studio, there was no Pilates in Los Angeles. And I remember hearing that there was some guy named Ron Fletcher and had a studio, like there was one person. And then there was the studio that we had left at. But I think there was a lot of drama there and they ended up moving, their business had never hit its hay day.

So we really had no competition really. And plus we weren't doing what Ron Fletcher was doing. Half of the Pilates repertoire, we did not know. Mari only knew what she knew. I only knew what I knew from Mari.

And that was it. It was the wild, wild west. I'm honestly serious. Many of us were not certified. We really didn't have a certificate that stated we knew what we were doing.

As long as the client got a work out and had fun and wanted to come back for the next session, we had done our job. It was really fun being at Winsor Fitness. We were a staff of all dancers. Once we moved to the location on La Cienega, we needed more staff. Where did we get them?

Ballet class. It was a party. We always had music on. And obviously that is something that you don't do in classical. It was young, it was fun.

Then of course, all the celebrities were there. It was sort of like a very busy hair salon in a way. At that time, because Pilates wasn't as popular, people just took it as Pilates. We were teaching Pilates, but we were still very much dancers first and foremost, including Mari. Get ready for our dance routine.

First, we're gonna do a very special warmup that really helps us focus on our breathing and alignment. Here to teach it with me is Mari Winsor, my trainer and dancing with me are Nancy and Fancy. Here we got, ready? And one, (upbeat music) five, six, seven, two beats, one, two last one, let's take it again. Singles one, (upbeat music) Good.

(upbeat music) Double. This is getting your body ready for the war. Good. The business was booming and we had now five or six or seven other different trainers. And Mari began to, for herself...

I mean, we had equipment we didn't even know what to do with it. I still knew I didn't know anything. You know, that feeling of, aah, that girl's coming in with bad knees. Aah, what do I do? So my friend knew that I felt this way.

And she said, "You know, there's this woman named Romana Kryzanowska and she's coming into town. You should take a lesson with her." People have been doing these exercises since long before your local gym opened for business. In fact, the Pilates technique goes back to 1923. It gives you long, strong muscle. It gives you a powerhouse, which is the belt that runs around your middle and gives you grace and beauty and good health.

So I went and had a lesson with her, one lesson with this woman and I just kind of went, "Oh, okay. I see, I get it. I get it. There's a definitely a method to the madness." And as soon as Mari met Romana, shh, I mean, she loved her and they were very, very similar. Mari is a person that always wanted to participate, whatever what's happening in the studio or on the conference, or just out to have a party or to lunch or anything, she wanted to participate and be there and be involved.

There was history, it meant something. And I was determined to keep that legacy going. We wanna keep that flame burning. The one thing Romana and I had in common was our joy of movement. That's what we had.

And she knew that I knew how to make people feel comfortable to get them to move. Having the real work under my belt empowered me. Okay, now I can go work with that person that has bad knees or has a bad back and know what to do. Problem was going back to my studio with all my friends working for me who all really wanted to be actors and didn't really care about Pilates. And they had their clients, they were fine.

And when I said, "Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." They were like, "Oh no, we don't wanna learn anything. Our clients are happy. We're happy." I'm like, "But, but you don't get it. You don't understand." And so I had a, that was probably my biggest challenge because at that time there are all these rules. You can't teach in a studio unless everyone's certified to Romana.

So the rules that Mari was talking about is that when you own a trademark, there's certain things that you need to do and follow to make sure that you maintain the trademark. And so when somebody uses the name, they have to follow what you set up for your standard. I remember Mari talking about Sean Gallagher. I remember stuff about the trademark issue being around, but I think there was also a feeling we were so far away from New York City. Our studio wasn't truly affected because Mari never took sides.

You know, she worked with Ken Endelman, anybody that really wanted know to experience the Mari touch. Pilates based work that we do, it's wonderful because they gain so much flexibility so quickly and so safely that doing simple chores around the house become so much easier for women and in men that do also different kinds of work. It totally prevents small injuries like that. It's wonderful. When you're just walking down the street, a person will read you and they read the way you're walking, the way you're standing.

And if you're like this, people are gonna go, "Oh, that poor person." You know, but if you're walking down the street and you've got your head high and your chest lifted, people go, "Wow. I wish I had what that person had or I wish I knew what that person was doing." And oftentimes if you ask them, they will say, "I'm doing Pilates." So I had a pretty good dance for, you know, by dance standards, I had a pretty good dance career and I was always wondering, what's the next thing? What's the next thing? What's the next thing? You know, I kind of said to Mari, like, "I'm thinking like Pilates might be my career." And for like a moment, she and I entertained the notion of being partners for a moment.

And I said, and she was like, "Yeah, sure. We should do that." And I was like, "Okay, well, you know, you need to get your books together and we need to look at numbers." And like, that was that, (laughs) you know, it was like, there. She didn't have that kind of a mind. Were you more business-oriented around Pilates at this point or- Is this? Yeah.

(Mari laughs) Or- (Mari laughs) I'm and I never have profess to be a great business woman, but I'm a good people person. And I know how to make people comfortable. And that is in a service-oriented business, that's key. (temperamental music) I had a successful studio. We have a lot of celebrities and a lot of agents and a lot of managers and a lot of this and a lot of that and they're all happy.

Yeah. Their trainers are happy, they're happy. I'm not happy. So what do I do to keep my business? Yeah.

What do I do to keep this business and get those people going and bring a fresh pack in, if you have the right technique, how much more beautiful can your teaching be? And that mattered to me because I knew that that was gonna give me longevity, and I didn't wanna be an actress. I wanted to be a Pilates teacher. So I kind of phased, it was slow, but I phased out and brought in people who were interested in the same thing I was interested in. I came to live with Mari back in the late '90s, I had just graduated college.

And I grew up in New Jersey and Mari knew, she was out in Los Angeles. And she knew I was interested in the entertainment industry. So she said, "Come on out and you can live with me, and until you get a job and get things going, you can live with me and I'll help support you." Mari had really hit her stride in Pilates. Her first business was successful. She just opened a new business on the west side of Los Angeles.

And she said, "Okay, it's time to write a book." I was approached to do a book. And it was a book company out of Chicago. "Oh, we'll give you $10,000 up front and blah, blah, blah, blah." And I thought that doesn't sound like really very much money for, you know, an advance on a book. I was gonna tell them no, but I was thinking, "But I really like to write one." And at the time I was working out the president of William Morris, it's a talent agency and they have a book department. We talked for a minute and I said, "By the way, do you know this book company in Chicago, blah, blah, blah?" He says, "What?

What is it? Do they want you to write a book?" And I'm like, "Yeah, but I'm not real happy about the advance." "Let me handle it. I'll get you Perseus books. I'll get you agent for, you know, blah, blah, blah." And that was that. If you were going to, you know, write a book and use the name Pilates, 'cause it was copyrighted, 'cause you don't really see it, but there is a little Pilates there, there's a little R in a circle.

So that's a rule. It also had to be close to what Romana taught and Mari, this is classical Pilates, Mat. That's what this is. I mean it has Joe's exercises and it has the few that Romana added to the workout.

You know, this was 1999 when she published this book, when Mari published her book. So by that time, you know, I think she'd gotten certified by then. I'm pretty sure. Through Romana and Romana's Pilates, I've met some of the best friends I've ever had in my life that are still my really good friends. Some of them are not still with Romana's Pilates, but to me that's inconsequential.

It's a choice. My friend, Brooke Siler, can we talk about Brooke for a minute? Of course, please. She is divine. And the two of us together are quite funny, really.

'Cause she's over six feet tall and I'm five feet tall. So her book, "The Pilates Powerhouse" if I'm not mistaken, came out before mine. She actually called me and she was in a little bit of a funk, although she didn't get into too many funks, but she was in a little bit of a funk because she was like, "Yours is better than mine." I remember her saying that and I just remember laughing and I was like, "You know what, Mari? We all help each other, right?" And she was like, "I know, I know." But we like had this little laugh about that. And she propelled me because her videos, when I think it was her book that was the one that I think that's what got her on "Oprah." I can't remember which thing she had done that got her on "Oprah," but that brought my book with it.

I rode her coattails. Pilates was once a best kept secret among the rich and famous, those who do it say that Pilates can reshape and transform the body and that the results are miraculous because it's fitness for the mind, the body and the soul. It is a non-stressful form of exercise that literally creates long toned muscles. Susan Sarandon is just one of the many celebrities doing Pilates. Danny Glover says it's what's kept him strong while shooting "Lethal Weapon Four" and other movies.

Dustin Hoffman says it changed his posture and even helped his aching back. And just a few days ago, Melanie Griffith told us how Pilates changed her life. This is Mari Winsor, who's the author of "The Pilates Powerhouse." She has helped a number of celebrities, as you can see, and athletes transform their bodies and also strengthen their minds. Mari, how does that work? Why is it considered the perfect mind and body workout?

Well, when you're doing Pilates, you have to focus strongly on your abdominals and you have to think very carefully about what the rest of your body is doing. The late '90s and early 2000s, the Pilates world was starting to expand. My studio in New York City was kind of considered a celebrity studio, partially because my business partner was a model, a famous model. And so a lot of the models and celebs in the New York area would come to us and then Mari out in LA. Automatically having the celebrity side attracted some people, but was unattractive to others who automatically would attach the word superficial or that you weren't, you know, really teaching the work.

It was really the time that the media had started catching on to what was going on. And so that's what... It started with the media and then it went to the books, right? Mari and I got book deals because it was in the media and it was in the media, you know, it wasn't solely Mari and I, but we both had celebrity studios and celebrity was the big thing. I mean, I don't know when it ever isn't the big thing, but it really was pretty big in the late '90s, early 2000s.

Stretching strength, yoga and balance make a decades old regime the hot new how two in Hollywood. It's incredible how fast the results come. Jodie Foster, Candace Bergen, Rod Stewart and Sharon Stone are Pilates devotees. Actors Rae Dawn Chong and Peter Reckell have joined the pool. I can touch my nose to my knee.

See. Can you do that? True. Mari was at a college reunion party with me and I walked over to her and I said, "Mari, you look fabulous? What are you doing?" And she says, "Oh, I'm doing Pilates." I said, "What is Pilates?" And she says, "Well, it's this thing that you do.

It's hard to explain." She says, "I've been doing in New York with Romana, my dear friend, Romana." And I said, "I have to do that." And she says, "Well, I'll help you. We'll figure it out." And I said, "I've got three kids now and I'm teaching full-time, but I will call you." So as the kids grew up, I called Mari, I said, "Mari, I wanna be a Pilates teacher." I said, I wanna study Pilates." And she said, "Well, come and live with me this summer." The summer that I spent with Mari I was actually going through her drawers, because that was one of my jobs was to get her office kind of back in shape again. And I actually saw the package from Guthy-Renker, wanting her to do videos. They were very nervous about doing a Pilates infomercial because they had done the yoga one and it didn't work. So, you know, of course they think, everybody thinks at that time, Pilates and yoga are the same thing.

So we sat down that night and we made a packet to take over to the William Morris Agency. You know, made a packet of like Mari magazine's different books Mari had written and I took it over there. They called her immediately. Guthy-Renker had also called me to do videos and I said no. And (laughs) I definitely, you know, was a bit of a chicken about being in front of camera, and Mari has absolutely no issues.

She was the perfect person. Hi, I'm Mari Winsor. Welcome to my Pilates basics workout. This is the first step in my exclusive system designed to give you the best body you can have. I have been doing Pilates for 15 years.

I own and operate two Pilates studios in the Los Angeles area. I did fly to visit her in one weekend. And she had not seen the finished product yet of the video. And we were so excited and I opened up the video and we stuck it in the DVR and we started watching it. And we were both laughing hysterically because Mari was so horrible.

It was horrible. She kept saying this, "Oh, very good, very nice. Well done." But it didn't harm. She got to redo it. (Mary Jo laughs) As in all my workouts, we're gonna be focusing on the powerhouse, that band of energy, that band of support going across your middle and into your buttocks.

I'd like to introduce from my Hollywood studios, Susannah and Dina. It was such an exciting time to now that we were gonna put this project together, kind of bringing together the two mediums of dance that we all had that background and then the excitement of possibly being on camera as an actor and bringing those two together in a time when there was no social media, the chance to be seen on TV in an infomercial seemed really exciting and thrilling. First day they tested it. the infomercial, my agent called me up and he said, "You know, Guthy-Renker, they know you need money right now. So they're willing to pay you a quarter million dollars to walk away." And they actually wanted to buy Mari out and just say, "Okay, thank you.

Here you go." And I was like, "Nah, I don't think so. That doesn't seem like enough money for what I think it could do." And he called me two minutes later. "How about a half a million?" I said, Rick, don't call me anymore." If a company on the first day of testing offers you that much money to walk away, then there's a lot more where that came from. But she suddenly had real faith in herself and faith in the work and faith that people that accepted since the first test market went so well. I had confidence in myself.

I didn't know the totality of it, but I did know that there were were moments. There were moments that if people just see this moment, it will be successful. It was more successful than any fitness infomercial in the history of infomercial. There's a new fitness phenomenon that's sweeping the nation. I feel stronger, more relaxed and more energized.

It's exhilarating and relaxing at the same. Introducing Winsor Pilates, the revolutionary video-based workout system designed by 51-year-old Pilates guru, Mari Winsor that uses simple controlled movements to trim and tone your entire body without the need for expensive fitness equipment. Mari really helped me achieve the body that I wanted. Winsor Pilates is amazing. And it actually works.

You'll start with Mari's basics video, a step by step guide to Mari's most effective body sculpting move, next with Mari's easy to follow 20 minute workout video, you'll see immediate results. Call now and we'll also include Mari's accelerated body sculpting program. All this for just two payments of only $19.95. Winsor Pilates works. It worked for me.

And I know it'll worked for you. One on one teaching a body in front of you is a luxury nowadays. And it's something that's most impactful, but that's not an option for everybody. And Mari knew where things were going. The public resonated with her.

It went crazy. You know, you would get phone calls and people saying, "Oh my gosh, did I just see you in an infomercial?" They go, "Mari, Mari, hi, can I have your autograph?" She loved it. Oh my God, Mari is here. (Sarita laughs) I love the DVDs. Once the first ones were success, she started planning what would the next one be like.

How was she gonna choreograph it? She had a plan. Okay. I did the infomercial, I did the DVDs, I was the talent, but there was a machine behind me. Do you understand that? Yeah, I do.

A whole machine behind me that would... I was making money for them. I was like their cash cow and they were pushing me, kept pushing me, you know, like six years later, I'm like, "Well, what do we do now?" (Mari and Kristi laughing) (bright upbeat music) And she went to Romana to improve her craft so that she could teach as close to the real work that Joseph Pilates taught as possible. She didn't have to. She was telling the world what Pilates was, the world was listening to her.

But the other side that you could say is she also form kind of grassroots, started up a whole Romana's Pilates on the west coast. Well, I got probably I should've counted them, but at least a hundred thousand emails wanting to get certified. I sent everybody to Romana's Pilates. I didn't start my own certification program. I maybe could have, but I thought, you know, I'm not interested in that right now.

I don't wanna do that right now. They're the best at it, let them do it. The first place that I opened a second office was LA. And we, you know, then had a training center there where she could send her teachers to get certified and trained, and didn't have to send them to New York. For the videos, Mari and Romana made an agreement that all her participants in the videos were to be certified by Romana.

So we sort of complied with what was going on at the time. We made our alliance with Sean Gallagher and Romana. If there's too much of this and that Pilates and this Pilates, sexy Pilates, Pool-lates, if there's too much of that, then people get burned out on it. It's simple, just do the work. And it's important.

There's some kind of consistency in the work that we do so that this work lives on forever. Mari's potential outcome, which really didn't happen. She wanted to film Romana at the beginning of each video, giving a brief history of Pilates and the classical system and the lineage. She wanted that to be a part of it. It was Guthy-Renker who named it Winsor Pilates, Mari didn't have any control over that.

Mari really wanted to present the classical method to the world. I'm a Romana's Pilates junkie. She gave so much to me and I wanna give back to her daughter and her granddaughter and the community. But that doesn't mean that I don't get it everywhere you go. I get it.

I see what people are doing. And I don't wanna be a snob, I don't wanna be like, (chuckles) well, that's not Pilates, if you're... You know, guess what? It's exercise. And if you can get people to move, if you can get them to feel their bodies, I don't care what you do.

And if the person enjoys it and feels empowered from it, you're good. Maybe you shouldn't call it Pilates, but let's all get together and figure out what that is. Mari was very much an advocate for Romana's Pilates, but her number one priority for people was we gotta get people to move and not everybody everywhere has access to a Romana's Pilates Studio. It's just unfortunate, but we don't. She always wanted to stay truest to the work, but at the same time also wanted make it accessible for people.

People have gotten off into this, well there's this kind of Pilates, then there's this kind of Pilates, then there's the one and only Pilates. And you know what? I just can't. I mean, like I said, I'm Romana's Pilates junkie, but I do think out of the box and Romana said when she was first teaching me some of the most important elements your teaching are going to be creativity, intuition, intelligence, motivation, memory, and will. In the videos, she's tried to stay as true to Romana as she could.

However, if you live in the middle of nowhere and the only studio nearby is a Yogalates® studio and that's what's gonna get that person to move, I'm all for it. So that was always her first priority. Let's get people to move. (drum beats) Hi, I'm Mari Winsor and welcome to Winsor Pilates fat burning workout. woo.

The only conflicts that Mari had during the time when she decided that she was gonna have her own videos, was the jealousy of other people. Back in the '90s, the mid '90s and above, not that far later, there was a lot of talk about, you know, who was teaching the real work. (Brooke chuckles) And so sometimes Mari did get lumped into this. Like she wasn't as good a teacher as, because she hadn't, you know, done this or done that. I mean some people, when they hear Pilates, they associate immediately with Mari Winsor.

That was hard for a lot of people to digest. And I can understand that. She did have a bit of a reputation as being the, you know, the LA teacher with the celebs. Things definitely got to her. She would call me and be really upset.

We were at a Pilates event. Mari was in the bathroom and they was a girl there that was like, "Mari Winsor, Oh my gosh. I love you." And she just was gushing. And then she said, "I don't care what anybody says. I think you're great." (Missy laughs) In any profession, there's a lot of political things going on, whether you're a doctor, you're a lawyer, you're a singer.

She's didn't understand it because she says, "I'm helping you." I mean, and she didn't do it to help them per se, but she really didn't understand that, how could it be perceived bad when all of us were benefiting from it. I lost the trademark. Then there was 9/11 and then Romana left. And so by that time, and that was 2003 when Ramona left. And so by that time I was done.

As far as Pilates Inc. criticizing Mari, it wasn't me or my business who did it. I don't know, it wasn't me, and I didn't even know what was going on. Many of us who put ourselves out there early on, got slack. (Brooke laughs) Before there was such a thing as a hater, they were still haters. You know what I mean?

It just they were in person or right behind, you know, in the next room. You know, there's haters out there all the time. I get it all the time. I remember I was in a meeting once, 'cause I was very involved with Romana's Pilates. And some people in the meeting were discussing, throwing her out of Romana's Pilates.

And I literally stood up and said, "You're kidding me, right? This woman is elevating us. No one knows who Romana is. Nobody knows Romana's Pilates, but everybody knows Mari Winsor. She doesn't need us, we need her." Why would she keep going?

Was because, first of all, a great business opportunity and she had a bigger vision. She believed in the method and she didn't allow anything petty to keep her down. If you want your employees or the people, your teachers to keep everything outside when they walk in the door, she had to do the same thing because she always said, "This is a place where everyone comes to feel better. So we can't bring our stuff here." Mari was trying to take it to the next step and make it available and put it out there and still, you know, following Joe's dream. You know, to make it, so it's everywhere.

That is what Romana used to tell us Joe Pilates wanted. Joe Pilates wanted everyone doing his method. And how better to do that if Mari knew that she had a line in to this infomercial, you know, business, to be able to do that, why wouldn't you to that? And yes, a few petty comments from people. Yes, they hurt her and then she just put up her big girl pants on and moved on.

(Brooke laughs) Mari was doing classical Pilates, you know. And now maybe she changed it. 'Cause I don't even know, I've not watched every videos. Sorry. (Sean laughs) Ultimately everybody started to realize we're all benefiting from this.

The studios were booming and the industry in general was benefiting from her popularity. So a lot of these folks that were her adversaries became her closest allies and even close friends. So it actually became quite a good story. A story you hear in a lot of things where at first people are a little skeptical, "Who is this person?" and then eventually people come around when they get to know her. Mari and Elliot's relationship, they were great friends.

They loved to laugh together and have fun together. They both really liked the movies and Hollywood type life. At first, she was just, it was someone she was dating, but it was just casual. Went together, broke up, went together, broke up. It was like watching two people in love with each other, not wanting to admit that possibly they were good for each other and in love with each other.

And then I remember Mari said, "Okay, we have to make a decision." It's almost like they gave in, let go of the rope or something, where all of a sudden, they just said, "Let's try this." So ultimately he came to his senses and realized he did not wanna live without her. When they first got married, a lot of us were like, "You sure?" She did not listen to any of us say, "Are you sure?" So she was married when they were 50. And she said, "You know, we're too old for children." And Elliott was perfect for her. He was a good personality for Mari. He really was.

Elliot was also a take charge kind of guy and Mari liked that, because she was busy with her part in doing these retreats or speaking engagements. And he came from a background of being on set crews. He was a grip on a lot of movie and television sets. So he knew his way around any set. And he was very protective of Mari.

He would come in, he would try to find out who's in charge, what's happening, Is she taken care of? She couldn't have done anything without Elliot. Elliot took care of her. He made sure that she was emotionally stable. He made sure that she was fed.

He made sure that things were done around the house. Elliot was Mari's angel. Mari could not have done what she did without Elliot. He totally had her back all of the time and he reigned her in. He'd reign her in and not let her overwork and made her take vacations.

And he made her have a normal life. I'm wondering if without Elliot, if she just would've just had work, he really changed it for her. They had this language that they created together. Only they understood it. And they were on the phone when they were together, they had this secret language.

And they called each other bunny and they had this little stuffed bunny. They always called each other bunny. We were driving in a car and we must have been going to dinner. She said, "Wait a minute. I have to call my husband." And, you know, it's loud in the car, but she's calling him.

She gets on the phone and she goes, "Bunny, bunny." And she's just says it. She's like, "Bunny, I love you." And I look at her and I'm waiting for her to get off the phone that I was not anything I thought was going to come out of her mouth. Right? And she gets off the phone, she does her thing. And I said, "You love your husband.

That was your husband?" And she goes, "Yes." And I go, "You love your husband enough to call him bunny "and then say it like bunny?" And she goes, "I love him so much." Cross my heart and paint my eyes. Color my lips and swallow my pride. Lose my sleep most every night But that's all right 'Cause you are mine.

I wash your face and tie your shoes. You scream in my face when you've got the blues. But I'll fall down if it makes you smile. You're my girl. Yeah, I'm your guy.

And baby, There's nothing in the whole wide world. I wouldn't do for you. As a PR person, I represented Mari and her studio, Winsor Pilates. And my job was to work with the media when they wanted to interview her, or do a story about her or her studio, and also obtain media opportunities for her.

When she first launched Winsor Pilates, she was the only game in town. Everybody flocked to her studio. But as the Winsor Pilates videos became more popular and Pilates became a household name, more people trained to become Pilates teachers and more Pilates studios popped up. There was competition as a Pilates studio owner you know, there's an ebb and flow of when you're really packed and doing really well. And then there's the slower side.

So I think she just wanted PR just to keep her name above the fold. She was complex in that she was a really good business woman and yet she could also be that artist, not so great business woman. We see that with artists and she was an artist. So in terms of her wanting to share this knowledge as a business model and creating those videos, that was brilliant. But when it came to the day-to-day running a studio, she didn't wanna be bothered with that.

You know, that wasn't her thing. Her thing was to go in, teach. And so my perception was how do I reintroduce her to the media and get her at the top of their list? Look, after 10 times, you feel a difference. You feel stronger.

After 20 times, you see a little difference, but after 30 times, everyone else sees the difference. I've gotta stay in shape. I've gotta stay healthy and I've gotta look good in front of the camera. So it's wonderful to be able to have a technique that can make sure that you are whole and protect who you are. The number one modern Pilates expert.

It's the best investment in your time that you could ever, ever make. You're investing in yourself, and you're investing in staying healthy. If you look at what the news covers or fitness magazines or women's magazines, they often like to have a trainer that's training a celebrity and they can say, "Here's the celebrity body. How did they get to be like that?" Here's the trainer, huge interest was driven when Miley showed up. And Miley was sort gearing up to get ready to sort of change her image and her body and the hair and the new music.

And, you know, so it kind of all went along together. Miley called Mari her guru. It wasn't just that she was her trainer, but Miley could talk to her about things and knew that it would be held in confidence and knew that Mari would give her sound good advice. So she always would call up on the phone and I could hear her say, "Hey, guru." And when Miley did the VMAs, I think it was, her body just looked amazing. I'm not so sure that anyone knew she was working out with Mari before then.

But when she came out and her body looked amazing, they all wanted to know how'd she get that body? And the minute Mari was attached to that, explosion. I was at a conference in Fort Lauderdale. It was the Saturday night party and I had had a cocktail or two and Mari was there. And so I went over and I was like, "Hi, I'm Christi.

"And I have a studio in the Florida Keys. Would you like to come teach at my studio as a guest teacher?" And she was like, "Sure, I'd love to." She was a sister figure, she was a mother figure. She was a soul sister. Like we just really hit it off. And it was so cool because when she was teaching in my studio, she just made everyone at ease.

And it wasn't just that, like her teaching was fabulous. Right? It wasn't just because she was famous, it was because she was really great at what she did. And she energized you and made you be able to do things that you didn't think you were capable of doing and whatever she wanted, you would do it. One time while she was down, she was working out and I was teaching her.

It was during the rowing series and we were talking about her right arm. And she was complaining that her right arm wasn't working for her very well. It started just very simply, she said, "Sarita, I just feel different. I don't know what's going on." Something about it was gradual. She says, "Gosh, my arms aren't working quite right." And sometimes she couldn't hold things.

Mari had atrophy in her arm. This was for a couple years. So she's complaining that she had surgery and then she was doing PT, but her arm just wasn't getting better. It was getting worse. Then she went for chiropractors and adjustments and massages and acupuncture.

Then she would get better for a while, then she would continue on for a little bit and then it would come back and it would be different symptoms. We knew something was up. She was having trouble speaking. She was teaching Cadillac. There were a couple times I passed her and I thought she was slurring her words.

And I thought maybe she got some mouth work done or some veneers or something. Like, I'm just thinking something like superficial. Have you seen Mari lately? 'Cause I hadn't seen her in the studio. And she said, "Yes, I saw her in the studio yesterday and I think she was drunk." And I said, "Mari, drunk?" We were all in Chicago.

We were having one of our fun events. She had been having issues with her arm. She was pretty convinced it was a pinch nerve. I don't know if this is too personal, but we went to the bathroom together. She was like, "Brooky, I can't button my pants." (Brooke laughs) And I was like, "I got it." So buttoned her pants.

And you know, we just figured it was going to be, you know, some sort of surgery for the pinch nerve. I had given Mari a lesson because her neck was really bad. You know, her body didn't seem right under my hands. And so, you know, I gave her a very hands on lesson and we went out to dinner that night. Mari said, "Don't worry, don't worry." I'm like, "Mari, you need to really go see a doctor." She goes, "I've seen doctors.

I've gone to everybody. Don't worry." She told me they tested her for MS, and it wasn't MS. She told me they tested her for immune, but there were like three or four biggies that they tested her for, and that she didn't have those things. And Mary Jo goes, "I'm taking her to my doctor tomorrow. I'm taking her to my doctor tomorrow." I'm like, "Thank God." And I pulled her aside and I said, "Mary Jo, I don't care what they say.

It's not what I feel. There's something going on, I don't know what it is." And she said, "I gotta get home on Sunday, my appointment's on Monday. I'm going to see this doctor." I said, "Oh, we'll get you out. We'll get you, you know, all work out." But she was talking about flying home from that conference. And she said she was gonna call ahead to the airline and get a wheelchair.

And I started to laugh because I completely thought she was kidding. I thought, you know, again, pinched nerve in your shoulder, what? what do you mean a wheelchair? And then I realized, 'cause we were with MJ. I realized that when MJ was like, "Yeah, you know what?

I'll do that." I realized that she was serious. And I was like, "Oh." We were all together. Elliot was in New York with Mari, Sarita was there. She told us Elliot wanted to jump in. And she was like, "No, I'm telling them." And that's when she said that it has been confirmed that it's ALS.

When she called me to tell me it was ALS, I remember exactly where I was. I was sitting at my desk in my apartment and I had to Google it. I had no idea what it was. And she hadn't said Lou Gehrig's, but even if she had said Lou Gehrig's, I didn't know what that was. And of course the first thing that comes up is that it's fatal.

And I'm right back there. It's horrible. She called and she said, "I have ALS. This is what the doctor said." And she said, "Dana, you must have thought I was drunk while I was teaching." But it all made sense.

All the symptoms of ALS that hadn't been put together yet for that final diagnosis seemed to make sense. Like when her hand wasn't working that well and her shoulder and she got a, you know, a surgery here and a surgery there. When Mari got diagnosed with ALS, we went on a walk. I was at her house for dinner and we took a walk. The time she was fine, she could walk around, you know, there weren't a lot of, you know, issues at that stage.

But to know what was coming was, you know such a tragic irony for someone whose whole life was devoted to movement. At first kind of numb, I didn't really react. But then the shock wore into just heartbreak. There was nothing to say. She was crying and I was crying.

It can't be. This woman is active, she's healthy. She has massages. She takes care of her body. What is going on?

Why does this happen? And looking back on other ALS people, often, they're very athletic and very active people and wonderful bodies. And you think, "How can this happen to such a wonderful body? It's not fair." Nobody deserves these things. But you know, when you know somebody who is as good a person as that, you just think, "What?

Come on. She really doesn't deserve this." It made no sense that somebody who gave so much with their body to everybody and helped everybody's body, how could you take her body away from her? And it was Mari, you know? It's my little Mari. How could you do that?

And she said, "I'm gonna fight it. She said, "I'm gonna fight it and I'm gonna beat it." (soothing music) And you know, as much as, (soothing music) you know, if anybody could beat that, it would be her. (soothing music ends) I think Mari did want children of her own, absolutely but she knew the clock was ticking and she was getting later and later in life and not meeting the person to have the children with. But I think it was always something she did want. When she first told me that she had ALS, again, another one of those moments where that look in the eyes and honesty, she turned around and said to me, "Guess that's why I didn't have children.

How could I have passed this disease on to children?" I'm in the beginning stages of it. And it's been an emotional rollercoaster for me. It's surreal in a way, because I see people in their final stages of it, and I can't envision myself there. I get afraid, sometimes I feel, "Oh, my gosh, am I gonna be able to wake up tomorrow morning? Am I gonna be able to swing my legs off the bed?" What ALS is, it's a disconnect of the nerve and the muscle.

The nerve act actually dies and stop sending messages to the muscle. So the muscle's going, "Eh, where are you?" And twitches trying to find the nerve. So you get like these twitches everywhere, and the muscle crying for help and the nerve going, "Sorry, I'm dead." Usually for people, you see some people in their final stages and they are usually in wheelchairs held up by metal so they don't slump 'cause they have no spine. They have to have their neck held up. They have feeding tubes and breathing tubes 'cause that's all muscle.

I was told when I first was diagnosed., well, you know, I said to the doctor, "Well, what about exercise? What do I do? Blah, blah, blah." And he said, "Pilates is the best exercise for people that have MS, ALS, Parkinson's, any disease like that, where you can get circulation and strength work in your whole body without picking on one area is the best thing that you can do. And so I said, "Well, I think I got that one covered." And he looked at me, he said, "Really?" And I said, "Well, did you Google me?" And he said, "No, I will right now. Ah, you're her?" She said at first, when I found out that I had ALS, I said, "Why me?

Why me?" And she said, "Then I thought, well, why not me?" And she had this shift and it's like she found her new mission. There's a silver lining here because look, I'm able to function, I can still teach, I can hopefully still inspire. I have a lot to give and I have a lot to receive as well. Mari was determined to beat it. And she was confident that she was gonna be, she was positive.

She was gonna be that person diagnosed with ALS who's gonna win. And part of me believes that. People that have diseases, if I didn't know better, I would stop in my track and I would go home and I would sit and I would wait for that other leg to start. You know what I mean? Or wait for that other arm or that other hand, I know it's coming, I know it's coming and your mind will trick you.

And sometimes lead you down the path a little sooner. She continued teaching and she continued working and she fought so hard. But if you fight in your mind and you make the connection with a beautiful form of exercise, like Pilates, you can help to empower yourself and actually battle that. And she could fight it with Pilates. As soon as she could, her mission became about how can I help other people?

I just can't believe how someone who was already so inspiring could be that much more inspiring. (Mari laughs) Woo. Surprise. (Mari and Missy laughing) She never hid away. She went to family events.

She was still teaching. Even with these challenges, she never hid, which I would think a lot of people who are known for being so physically strong would not want to be seen in a diminished state, but she said, "No, I'm gonna keep going as much as I can." Mari came to the studio and she was so excited. And she said, "There's this ALS Golden West Chapter. They have a walk and we have to do it. And I wanna lead the warmup." So here she is the queen of Pilates, Mari Winsor, take it away.

(crowd cheering) I like to welcome my friend, Miley Cyrus. (crowd cheering) All right. Come on, everybody. Yay. (crowd cheering) And there's a man named Augie Nieto and he invented the life cycle.

So he is now in final stages of ALS, he's in the wheelchair with all the bands and hooks and you know, but he is an amazing man. One of the first things he said to me was how happy and at peace he was with himself, he said, "You know, before maple leaf falls off the tree, it turns his brightest color." And it made me stop and think, "Oh my gosh, he's so right." There is so much meaning to life, even in these stages of not being able to talk, not being able to move. He communicates with his toe on a little ball at the bottom of his wheelchair and makes sentences on a computer. And he's clear. His mind is so clear and he's brilliant.

I have good days and bad days. I feel sometimes like I'm walking around in this haze, but not when I get into my studio and not when I start teaching and not when I work out, the haze is gone. Again, up. God knows we can't control anything else in our lives. We might as well work to control our own body, right?

I guess destiny, you know, the building that she had her business in was being sold, and so she had three months to evacuate the building and do whatever it is that she was gonna do. Because Mari meant so much to me, that is why I took the name Winsor. And in 2016, I opened my own studio, Winsor Choza Pilates. We created a space, a safe environment for her to be able to work out. She taught at our studio for about half a year until she couldn't do anymore.

I can remember wheeling Mari into Saul's studio and she would train her clients. So I could be the hands on person. Still with what little voice she had, she was still going into the studio and training people. Sometimes I'll walk into my studio and I'm exhausted. That's what ALS is like.

It's like having the flu with no fever, and no body aches and pains, but you have the fatigue and it makes it so difficult. And I would jump on the reformer and do my footwork. And the thing about my legs are so good. My upper body is bad, but my legs are good. And the thing about doing the footwork is I felt like I was doing the footwork 10 years ago.

It felt the same. And it gave me a peace of mind to know, well, if I can feel the same doing this, I have to fight and feel the same doing whatever I can do. I saw my path then as trying to bring Pilates to people who could not otherwise do it, they couldn't afford it. I see my path now as taking Pilates to a level that maybe he wanted it to go, with my disease, I'm more than passionate about helping people with MS, with Parkinson's, with all those neurologic diseases that we don't know that much about. I assisted her one time at Alicia's Studio in Tribeca.

And it was for two teachers who have clients with similar challenges and who was brilliant about it. She said, "I'm telling you firsthand what feels good." Making a connection, I must say that close to the hamstring. Simple. You can do it. I can do it.

Boy, does that feel good? Connecting my tummy to my leg. Boy, does that feel good? So she systematically gave them things like classes, what to do with people with this type of, again, the serious (indistinct) from a firsthand basis. We're not supposed to say that when we have ALS, boy, does that feel good?

Right? We're supposed to sit and wait for symptoms. I don't think so. I'll be out there fighting whether I'm in a wheelchair or whether I can stand or whether I can't or can't talk, I'll be fighting this for the rest of my life. There came a time in my life where I was going through a very messy divorce.

And as part of that divorce, I needed to establish my career. And when it started, I was like, "I need Mari, like, "I'm gonna call Mari." And I called Mari. She thought I was calling her because she had just gotten the ALS diagnosis and she thought I had heard about it. I had no idea. I had no idea.

I was calling her saying, "Hey, I'm in this horrible divorce. And if I needed to, could you like do a depo? Could you write something?" And she was like, "Yes, but I'm sick." And I was like, "What? What do you mean you're sick? What?

What do you mean?" And then as soon as I knew that, then I reconnected with all our original staff. And then I began to see Mari. And then I said, "Hey, what can I do for you? What can I do for you?" I remember Elliot saying, "You know, she needs to generate income." I said, "Well, I know what I can do. I can have a workshop at my studio.

I can introduce Mari into a whole other category of teachers that don't really know who she is or what she does. We can have it at my place. I'll promote it. I'll fill it. You guys just take all the proceeds." And so we did that.

In my journey, I have to keep moving. The doctors did say that same thing that Romana and I shared, keep moving. I was seven months pregnant And I'm in New York City with her for a week as her assistant. We're in Uptown in the morning, Midtown in the afternoon, down in Soho in the evening, like she was nonstop and I'm like seven months pregnant, my ankles are swollen. And I'm like, "How was this lady doing it?" She was super woman.

And this time now I could see, 'cause I hadn't seen her for five months, maybe, that the use of her arms had deteriorated tremendously. The last time I saw her, she couldn't use her right arm and now her left arm wasn't functioning for her either. And so it was at that moment that I really knew like how much of an assistant I would need to be for her. The Rosen family whose dad had worked at ABC Seven before losing his battle against ALS told me about the Golden West Chapter. And I've been honored to MC one of the Chapters walk to defeat ALS for nine years in a row.

One of the first people I profiled was Mari Winsor. And I instantly fell in love with her spirit, intellect and spunk. Now to Mari Winsor, wanna bring her in here from Winsor Pilates. Hi, how are you. One of the people who brought Pilates and made it popular all over.

You're living with ALS- Yes. But thriving with ALS. Yeah. And you really exemplify the importance of moving with ALS. Yes. You have to keep moving no matter what, even if it's just lifting your leg.

After her ALS diagnosis in 2014, Mari was an inspirational force to keep people moving, whether they were celebrities or fellow members of the ALS community. Hello everybody, I am Miley Cyrus. I am so stoked, I am honored to introduce someone that I love very, very much, means the world to me and kicks my booty a lot of the time, Mari Winsor, who is battling ALS, but she is fighting with her same energy and spirit that has made her the most famous and celebrated Pilates instructor in the world. Hi, I'm Mari Winsor. And I'm here with all these beautiful people.

Dancing my ALS off. The bucket challenge was amazing. (crowd cheering) It really got the ball rolling. The one thing that I always remain hopeful for is the kindness and the goodness of people. We need to defeat this disease.

What does this day mean to you? It means that scientists will have more funding to finish what they started. You have to keep moving. No matter how healthy or unhealthy you are, it's important. It has save my life.

Yes. Mari, thank you. Hi, I am Mari. I would like you to meet my friend, Tobii. Tobii helps me speak.

I am fighting for my life. ALS is a terrible disease. Robbing all motor skills. My brain still works. Melanie is my angel, the kindest person I know.

Please join her in helping me fight Lou Gehrig's disease. Thank you. And she got the Tobii Machine and she was able to speak through the machine. In the beginning of that, it was working a little bit, but then her eyes weren't working, so it couldn't focus on the letters, but when she could, one of the first things she said was, "F, ALS." (Missy laughs) So she had her moments of frustration, for sure. It was one of our trips and she had gotten the Tobii and she was so excited that she was able to communicate through Tobii, because prior to that, the only way that she would be able to communicate was she had a board that had the alphabet on it and she would use her foot and she would have to spell out each word.

I don't know. We were just hanging out talking and I said, "So do you think I could get a lesson from you?" On the top. Now she's going to give you a rhythm. Yes. That's why you set the rhythm now.

(bell rings) One. (bell rings) Here you go. (indistinct) (bell rings) So at the time, really the only thing she could move other than her eyes and her mouth was her left foot. And so I would do the hundred and then I would wait. If she was happy, I would get the little (Christi mimics ringing) And if she wasn't happy, then I had to go back and then she would tell me something else.

She loved giving people that movement and giving them that rhythm and that joy. You know, I came... My relationship with her came late in her life. Like when no one knew it was gonna be late in her life, actually, you know, none of us did. So she taught me and showed me the capabilities I had of loving and caring for someone unconditionally, no matter what they needed.

(bell rings) And I live with them actually for about six months, I lived with both Elliot and Mari. At this point, Mari was bedridden. I think it was a really special thing that we were all three to together during that. And, you know, at that point I picked up the ukulele, I was playing songs for her and we would hang out and watch TV together and tell stories. And as challenging as it is to see Mari go through that, there was also a lot of special moments, too, that we experienced together as a trio.

We had many Chrismakas because, you know, Elliot was Jewish, Mari was Christian and we had our yamakas and our Christmas tree and our menorah. My mom would come out, an my aunt would come out and visit as well. That was a really special time, although painful in some ways, but special. It's common for couples to divorce as ALS takes a grip on a family, but Elliot stayed by her side throughout. He was in for the mission.

It takes a brave soul to have that much devotion. That he still treated her like a lover. He was like, "Hello, my love of my life." And he helped her a lot, but he still treated her like his wife, that she was still desirable. Not like somebody who was a burden. He was like, "Oh my God." In fact, it seemed like he loved her even more.

Cross my heart and paint my eyes,Color my lip and swallow my pride, Lose my sleep most every night, But that's all right ? ? 'Cause you are mine ?

? I wash your face and tie your shoes ? ? You scream in my face ? ? When you've got the blues ? ? But I'll fall down ? ? If it makes you smile ?

? You're my girl ? ? Yeah, I'm your guy ? ? And baby ? ? There's nothing in the whole wide world ? ? I wouldn't do ?

? For you ? I went to LA to see her and this is when she was in bed and she, you know, she had the trach thing and she couldn't really move a lot anymore. I straddled her, I just got up on the bed and I straddle her and I took her hands and I put it in my hands and I turned on music. And all I did was count. I went one, two, thee, four open five, six, seven, eight.

And I could see that she needed to hear counting because that's what you did as dancers. That's what you do in Pilates, you count And something so simple as counting could give her such joy. And I just moved her body around and we just danced and we were so happy. We danced for the whole song. And that moment I felt I could give her something back that I don't know.

I just felt like I could make her dance one more time. Looks good. So I think the audio is (indistinct) Yeah, I can fix that. Who's that? Ivy (indistinct) (soft music) Oh, there's Missy right there.

Is Mari on one of these images? We're gonna... (soothing music) Well, they were open before, but there she is. The angle of the camera's kind of hard to tell, but she is watching and listening. This angle makes it look like her eyes are completely- Excellent.

So she's able to see us. Able to see you 'cause we have the TV. If you can see, you guys are all on that TV. Hi Mari. How are you?

It's Mary Jo, and I'm here with your college friends. You guys, if you're on the screen, wave. Mi Mari, Mi Mari, Mi Mari. I always loved greeting Mari that way. And then I remember I was the one that turned her onto Pilates.

So I kept thinking, "I should get some of that money, because- (All laughing) And my first memory of Mari was her infectious laugh, echoing across the ballroom. I was at the gym one time, all of a sudden I looked up and Mari was on "Oprah" and I'm screaming. I'm like, "That's my friend from college. That's why- And I decided to take her to class. And when I went there, Mari was wearing this silver gray pants that were so freaking fabulous.

Mari, all your children have grown now. And have become strong and powerful individual like you. And what made me love Pilates was Mari's infectious enthusiasm. She made me feel good about myself. All the mischief we've been in, and all the naughty things we've done together.

(All laughing) All the stealing things we've done together. All the drugs we've done together. The list is long term, darling but we were together- (indistinct) about Mari is her lack of a filter. So a lot of times, she'll say things that will make me blush. I've been so inspired by her ability to move at first with Pilates, but then her ability to move all of us.

Those of us who were in the different corners of Mari' world, learned about this incredible lifespan of 70 years and all these incredible people that she touched. First of all, I'm deeply honored on Maria Shriver and I'm deeply honored to have been included. What a successful extraordinary life Mari has led and lived. And Mari I hope you know that I love you, I admire you. And I'm gonna try to go back to Pilates.

So I don't know if any, you guys might not even know I am. I'm Mari's niece and we share the same name. And my mother is Gwen and Aunt Phyllis. And they're Mari's two oldest sisters and they're gonna start. Gwen and I saw Mari come into this world as an adorable little thing to play with, a doll.

She was our very special little lady. As she grew up, she had wonderful attributes, wonderful adulation from Miss Congeniality and a beauty pageant, and a wonderful dancer, went on to be in a great sorority and contribute at Michigan State. I think God let her use those skills to help others when she taught and when she was with them. She had much to share and she knew what she was talking about. We love our sister dearly.

We love what she became. We love what she shared. And we wanna be with you in that journey, Mari, because someday we will be, and we will all meet again. I know that. And Gwen knows that, too.

We both know that our day will be with you and with our mother and father and all those who went before us that we loved. May the light of his presence be your guide as you and embark upon this journey. And always take us with you, Mari, because we have such love and admiration for you. You know, on the day Mari transitioned, we were with some family and some friends, and it was just a small group of five of us. And we all held hands around Mari.

And it's really scary 'cause I've never been present when somebody went through that and she was just beaming. She was beautiful. You saw that moment when she left and it felt okay. And right after that, we all hugged each other and we all kissed her forehead. And we went outside in Elliot's garden and there was this swarm of chaotic bees, just buzzing, like you've never seen.

And I've been in Elliot's garden many times. He's been in his garden many times and he's never seen anything like it before. And so we felt like, "Okay, that's Mari. She's just dancing to the next phase." And it was really sweet. (soft music) When I'm in my studio and I'm teaching, I feel grounded, I feel connected.

Teaching is my life. When you're performing and dancing, you are a little unconscious. You can go into the zone as an artist, which is a wonderful place to be. And when I'm teaching Pilates, I can slip right into that zone. It instills a different work ethic and a different way of looking at people.

I think that for me, Pilates is means to an end. "If I Let Go" ? Take me away Make no mistake I'm ready I know I see ?

? The things I could be ? ? If I let go ? ? Oh-Oh-Oh ? ? Could you just take, take, take, ? ? Take me away ?

? Further away ? ? From here ? ? So I could find my place ? ? And keep running this race ? ? Make a river flow ?

? Through my bones ? ? So I can sow ? ? And see it grow ? ? Let me throw ? ? Off the chains ?

? Hold me down ? ? Try to drown ? ? Could you just take, take, ? ? Take me away ? ? Further away ?

? From here ? ? So I can find my place ? ? Keep running this race ? ? Na oh-oh-oh ? ? Oh ?

? Na oh-oh-oh-oh ? ? Oh ? ? Na oh-oh-oh-oh-oh ? ? Oh ? ? Na oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh ?

? Oh ? ? Could you just take, take, ? ? Take me away ? ? Further away from here ? ? So I can find my place ?

? And keep running this race ?


1 person likes this.
Im at work so I was only able to watch the first 30 mins of this amazing project! Cant wait to finish it at home. I had no idea Mari is from Michigan and the early pictures of her and her family are so fun! Thank you for this! My Pilates journey started with a Mari Winsor VCR tape! Love this!
1 person likes this.
Thank you Kristi , Mari would have been so grateful to you for this beautiful documentary ! You touched my heart & soul, you are keeping her memory alive. Amazing !!!
Chanda Hinman
This is absolutely a must see for anyone who appreciates the Pilates Method. Mari's contribution is undeniable, colossal, and eternal. May she rest in peace knowing that she has helped so many people - dancers, teachers, and the public worldwide. Wouldn't Joe be so happy.
3 people like this.
Mari was a incredible person inside and out, so inspiring, so real, so brave- a real hero! Her passion, honesty and love for pilates makes me want to be a better teacher! This documentary is a wonderful tribute to her life! Thanks for sharing it.
As a contemporary of Mari Winsor & 7 years into a diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis I can attest to the value of daily pilates practice and movement in helping me manage this disease.  The  film is inspirational and a beautiful tribute to an incredible lady🤍🤍  Thank you Pilates Anytime for producing this film. It is a wonderful gift to your subscribers. 
Lynzi D
2 people like this.
What a wonderful piece about Mari. She was an amazing women, teacher and mentor. 
Gisela G
2 people like this.
What a life's achiemevement! I was deeply impressed and moved by how Mari Winsor handled the diagnosis of ALS and how she made it into a mission to not give up and to help others. Incredibly inspiring! Thank you for this documentary.
2 people like this.
Laurie C
1 person likes this.
Thank you so much for sharing her story! What a beautiful tribute to her life. Like so many others I was I introduced to Pilates by Mari Windsor’s videos. I am forever grateful for her love of Pilates and sharing it with others. I had the honor and privilege of meeting at her LA studio one time and I was extremely giddie when I first saw her. I started Pilates back in 1988 and will continue moving as long as I can!!❤️💪🏻🤸‍♂️🙏🌈
2 people like this.
This was excellent.   I knew Mari, and this captured her story in the most uplifting way possible.  I'm simultaneously heart-broken, and inspired.  
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