Mari Winsor

(Photo: Facebook/Mari Winsor)

Mari Winsor lived a full life - as a dancer, fitness trainer and as an ALS activist and advocate until the end.

Mari Winsor, a Pilates guru, and a Hollywood celebrity trainer passed away due to Lou Gehrig's disease. She was 70.

The announcement of her death was given by Alison Graham, a longtime friend, and Winsor's PR representative through a statement. She died peacefully on April 28, Tuesday at 1 pm PT with her family and close friends surrounding her. She was at home in Sherman Oaks at the Los Angeles county during her passing. The dancer and Pilates expert succumbed to the complications brought by her lingering illness of Lou Gehrig's.

Winsor was diagnosed to be afflicted with the ALS or the progressive neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 2013.  

Winsor became more famous due to her Pilates regimen with some of Hollywood's elite on her list of clientele such as Madonna, Miley Cyrus, Sharon Stone, Samuel L. Jackson, Drew Barrymore, Melanie Griffith, and Elizabeth Berkley.  

The Pilates guru was a trained dancer when she started out her career. She was featured in music videos such as Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal" where she was a dancer and in the films "Moonwalker" of Michael Jackson and "Roadhouse" of Patrick Swayze. Winsor was also part of Huey Lewis' music video.

Soon she became a fitness celebrity trainer and revolutionized the art of Pilates. She opened her first fitness studio, Winsor Pilates in Los Angeles in 1990 and released many fitness DVDs. With her infomercials that featured celebrities such as Vanessa Williams and Marisa Tomei along with video series and books, Pilates exercise regimen hit more the mainstream. Winsor co-authored three books that showcased the topics of flexibility, strength maintenance, and pregnancy using Pilates exercises.

Her ALS diagnosis in 2013 did not stop the spirit of Winsor.  She strongly faced the disease head-on and became an active advocate to find a cure for the sickness.  Winsor became an inspiration to those who are suffering the same fate.  She participated in several benefit walks to raise awareness and funds to battle the disease.  In 2015, her longtime client Miley Cyrus surprised her when she made an appearance to express her support for the Pilates guru.

Cyrus started to take on the Pilates exercised in 2013 under the care of Winsor. The petite instructor shared that the pop star worked out for half an hour and did a variety of exercises.

Peaceful farewell

Mari Winsor's niece, Mari Levitan posted on Winsor's Facebook wall detailing out the last night of her aunt.  She shared that her family, close friends, and caregivers including Graham, her aunt's PR surrounded her with love as she breathed her last.  Each of them had one hand in Winsor's and they played her favorite music.  Her choice was Bruno Mars' songs that kept on playing in the background because her loved ones wanted to send her off with "groovy music to dance to on her way."  Levitan wrote that Winsor was smiling and "so beautiful during the transition."  She further wrote that when Winsor left them that day, she knew "her heart was full."

According to Mayo Clinic, ALS or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a progressive disease that affects the nervous system and affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, thus muscle control is lost.  ALS is more known as Lou Gehrig's disease named after the baseball player diagnosed with it.  There are no known causes and no cure yet for the fatal disease.