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Mari Winsor: How Pilates keeps her young at 63


Mari WinsorFamed Los Angeles instructor Mari Winsor is part of the Pilates vanguard. And at 63, she continues to expand her fitness empire, with celebrity clients (like Miley Cyrus—Winsor’s responsible for her abs, but not for that dance), and a new DVD out this week.

The DVD, Pink Ribbon Pilates, includes five 20-minute Pilates workouts, one of which is specifically designed to help breast cancer survivors during recovery from surgery and illness. (A percentage of each purchase goes to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.)

“There are a lot of workouts that don’t focus on what somebody can do when they’re not quite 100 percent,” Winsor says. “They want to do something for their bodies, but they don’t know what to do.”

That’s true even for healthy people—particularly as they get older. We asked Winsor to dish on how she stays fit, healthy, and happy as she ages—and for her advice on how those who haven’t (yet) dedicated their lives to fitness can follow her.

How long have you been doing Pilates? I feel like my whole life. I was a dancer for 20 years, and I had a nice dance career. I danced with Michael Jackson and did some movies. As time wore on, you go, “Well, hmm, I’m not going to be able to do this forever.” That’s when my friend who was the lead dancer for the Ailey company suggested I try Pilates. I found a place, and then along came Romana Kryzanowska (Joseph Pilates’ protege). I went and had one lesson with her when she visited LA, and I was like “Okay, this is it. This is what I need to learn.” I glued myself to her side.

Pink Ribbon PilatesAt 63, you look incredible. I’m sure people must tell you that all of the time. Is it the Pilates? What’s your daily fitness routine like? I practice Pilates six days a week, and I also walk, and I do ballet class a couple times a week. For me, Pilates works from the inside out. You’re building flexibility and strength at the same time and strengthening your core, which is essential to holding on to good posture as you get older. But no matter what kind of workout you do, as long as you’re happy with it, you’re going to look and feel younger if you keep doing it. If you enjoy what you’re doing, no matter how many wrinkles you have, that youthful energy shines through.

That’s great advice. What about for people who are finding it challenging to work out as they age? Do you have tips for them? It’s a day-to-day challenge; it’s not easy. Sometimes you kind of have to force yourself to move around a little bit, even if it’s just talking a walk, doing some deep breathing. You want 20 minutes of constant motion. They say aerobically you need to have 20 minutes of constant movement to get benefits. With Pilates, you are in constant motion from the beginning to the end if you do it properly.

Is there anything else that’s not related to fitness that you think helps you feel and look great as you age? I think that beauty comes from within. If you’re at peace with yourself, and you’re a happy person, and you’re kind and have ethics, that shows. That glows through. —Lisa Elaine Held

For more information, visit www.winsorfit.com or check out Pink Ribbon Pilates