From ‘Weird Science’ to Pilates

by Carley Dryden
Published March 19, 2009

When 1980s movie maven Judie Aronson discovered the bikini requirement for a possible TV show, she hopped on the Pilates bandwagon.
“I became addicted,” she says. “Having worked out my whole life, I’ve always dreaded it. This was the first exercise I’ve done where I wasn’t looking at the clock.”
She loved celebrity trainer Sebastien Lagree’s Pilates Plus SPX program — a fast-paced fusion of traditional Pilates, cardio and weight training — so much she decided to open her own studio. And while many SPX affiliates have popped up near Lagree’s West Hollywood home base, Aronson nestled hers in a shopping center nook on Sepulveda Boulevard in Manhattan Beach.
“Manhattan Beach is a place that has a sense of real community,” Aronson said. And, she added, the residents are fitness-conscious. Exactly. So does the town need another Pilates studio?
“This ain’t yo momma’s Pilates,” Aronson said.
She will soon start a Friday night Happy Hour class, where cocktails will be served afterward. Or men can join “Dude-a-Lates” and enjoy a cold beer after they break a sweat. Aronson also hopes to start specialty classes for surfers and post and pre-natal women.
While some may question the sanity of opening shop in the midst of a seemingly-doomed local economy, Aronson is optimistic. This isn’t her first entrepreneurial venture.
After starring in Weird Science, Friday the 13thh and a laundry list of other cult classics, Aronson decided to open five eclectic gift stores to represent the art and crafts of untapped artists.
“She was one of the first ones to wise up and start a business on the side while the rest of us bartended and collected unemployment like a bunch of idiots,” said longtime friend and now boyfriend, Jon Lindstrom, a fellow actor.
In February, Manhattan Beach resident Gigi McMillan kept passing by the empty studio, peeking into the window. She finally called Aronson who invited her to gather up some friends and take part in the first class, led by Lagree himself.
“My friends are never going to talk to me again,” joked McMillan after the class. She has since lost eight pounds.
Unfortunately, the timing of Aronson’s venture wasn’t perfect. Soon after she signed the lease, Lindstrom was offered a job on As the World Turns…in New York City.
Aronson plans to make the 2,800-mile commute monthly, especially for the grand opening cocktail party sometime in May, where her celebrity friends can mingle with Manhattan Beach moms and gym rats. Aronson said the city completely embraced the studio and she’s now good friends with many of her clients.
“I feel so incredibly lucky,” she said. “The community is so incredibly supportive and kind and giving and thoughtful.”
Local businesses and clients are donating baskets for the grand opening party raffle. In return, Aronson will donate all proceeds to McMillan’s charity for children with brain tumors.
Now, classes at RockIt Body are selling out.
Eventually, Aronson may open New York City’s first Pilates Plus studio, she said.
“She’s starting an empire, that’s my girl,” Lindstrom said.
RockIt Body Pilates is located at 1834 N. Sepulveda Blvd, between My Gym and Grow. For class information, visit www.rockitbodypilates.com or call 310.744.1004. ER