Sisterhood of the Spandex and One Degree of Separation

This past weekend I attended the Body Design by Gilda reunion in NYC. In the former basement studio (now turned club), where we used to lead hundreds of women to push themselves one more rep, one more jump; we convened; but no, not in spandex.

In 1982 I moved to NYC at the urging of one of Paul Taylor’s dancers who I had gotten to come teach in Toronto: “Come to New York! Paul is opening a school!” she said. I had just broken up with my boyfriend, packed my stuff, and figured I would take class, audition, try my luck.

In order to survive while I was training and auditioning, I got a job teaching aerobics at a studio called Body Design by Gilda. Little did I know, that I would be teaching some of the most famous actresses from movies, television, stage as well as women who were some of the biggest names in business, publishing, philanthropy, the fashion industry. At that point, health clubs and gyms were mainly for the die-hard weight lifters; Gilda and her former student Jane Fonda were doing this thing called aerobics, and it seemed like everybody who was anybody walked through our doors those days! I remember you all and what leotards you used to wear; Arianna, a special nod to you, the statuesque brunette in navy blue at the 57th St. studio in the 80′s!

As each of us stood up to re-introduce ourselves and say what we had been doing these last 25 years or so, I could not stop shaking my head. PhD’s, Professors at NYU, Yale, the Alvin Ailey School, Atlantic Theatre Company, Hollywood casting director, hugely successful businesswomen, actresses, writers, editors. The children, marriages, divorces. Life. The energy from the studio had made its way into the world! (I need to also mention that when they were wheeling me into the O.R. to have my first daughter; who was there, a Gilda instructor! Only this time in scrubs not spandex; she had been studying for her MCATS while teaching aerobics and now was helping deliver my daughter! )

But the most important thing I felt that evening and always felt during my tenure at Gilda’s was the support we gave each other as we struggled with our various ups and downs. Gilda’s was a place we could go to whether we were a teacher or a client, and find incredible comfort. And then of course, crank up the music and sweat!

So for all you teachers, staff members and clients out there who ever attended a Gilda class, we lift a glass and remember the sisterhood of the spandex!

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