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San Clemente Journal

Pilates Instructor John Kerwin - From Show Biz To Body Biz

Dec 23, 2016 02:42PM ● By Anne Batty

John Kerwin at the Senior Center.

by Anne Batty

Reminiscent of fitness/nutrition icon Jack LaLanne, who encouraged America’s 1950s housewives to get up and get moving; San Clemente Fitness Professional John Kerwin is encouraging what he terms, “21st century America’s neglected aging population” to do the same. And although Pilates is now his passion, as one might suspect there is much more to this modern day fitness guru than at first meets the eye. 

Born in New Brunswick New Jersey, with Manhattan just across the way, John Kerwin grew up at the hub of the great TV news communications industry, and it was this profession that had a great influence on his early career choice. 

“As a youngster playing Pop Warner football, I was always curious about what made the human body tick,” John shared, “and while in college I originally harbored thoughts of becoming a doctor. But although the study of kinesiology (body movement) came naturally, chemistry and the periodic tables were over my head, and it wasn’t long before I realized that the medical field wasn’t for me. Thus overtime I shifted gears to communications.”

During those formative college years John also followed a desire to perform and act in live stage theater and he was soon gripped by the velvet trap (acting). He began playing in numerous live productions onstage in school, and then appeared in off-off-off Broadway in various productions like Noises Off, Inherit the Wind and Proof. He then did years of voice-over work, promoting Nissan, Warmington Homes and Shiley Medical Products, just to name a few. And rounding out his passion for performing, he appeared in Regional Theater in roles in The Lion in Winter, The best Man and Richard II. In his words … he loved dabbling in Shakespeare.

Majoring in Pre-Law and Political Science with a minor in Psychology/Physiology, Kerwin graduated from Princeton University with a Communications Degree in hand. Combining his love of the stage with his educational achievements, he went to work in the real world as a production manager for NBC in New York, writing, directing and producing shows for 12 years. Before long he became interested in producing his own show and knew that in this business California was the place to ply his creative skills and make that happen. And as if all these achievements weren’t enough, among his many other avocations (too numerous to mention), a move to Washington for a teaching stint at Whitman College brought romance into his life. While there he met and married his wife, Roberta, and they worked together as communications instructors for hardened criminals in a maximum security prison. From that experience they have co-authored a book Macbeth for Murderers, and are presently in the process of writing two others.

Like many of his generation, John’s high-powered career eventually ran its course. Changes in the business climate caused him to rethink what he wanted to do with his life. Falling back on his youthful passion for the workings of the human body he returned to education, seeking those accreditations held as the standard for fitness professionals by the ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine), the AAA/ISMA (American Association of Aerobics and International Sports medicine Association), PMA (Pilates Method Alliance), and the Fowler-Wainwright Life Coach/Counseling Institute. And to refresh his skills, he continually reads and studies all the latest health information, and attends classes for updates and renewals annually. 

“In all my years in show business, and TV, I always took time to work out and eat properly,” Kerwin said. “When any of my co-workers were looking for me they always knew they could find me in the gym. I saw and experienced the positive effects of proper nutrition and exercise first hand, and I had a burning desire to share that with others.”
Seeing the human body as a laboratory, one to be explored and understood, John’s passion translates into teaching and encouraging others to take care of their own bodies; integrating the mind and the spirit with movement to lead a better quality of life. His focus is on Pilates, as it is the exercise that more and more doctors agree has the greatest health benefits, and he targets seniors as he feels they are a population overlooked in our society today.

Presently, John can be found teaching mat/ball Pilates at the Dorothy Visser Senior Center on Avenida Victoria three times weekly. This is a free-will donations class, whose funds help support the Center. He also teaches a Pilates reformer class two times weekly at the Desa Prana studio on PCH in Dana Point; and conducts one-on-one personal training and nutrition counseling for private clients. 

“I came to California to create my own TV show and fell in love with the sun, sand and sea and the healthy lifestyle it offered,” Kerwin remarked. “Although I moved to Washington State for a time, I always knew I would come back to the beach.”

Along with a new physical exercise career, spending time with his son Sten, a Chiropractor in town, and taking time to enjoy his paradisiacal surroundings, John and his wife spend their spare time focused on researching and writing. 

From stage, to TV, to the business of bodies it seems that life has been a rewarding adventure for exercise guru John Kerwin. By all evidence, he has not only had a very full life, but is continuing to live one. And if you ever have the chance to observe him at work or at play, you will see that he is definitely practicing what he preaches; and from this perspective it doesn’t look as if his plans include slowing down any time in the very near future.