It’s not tote that barge or lift that bale, or anything that really works up a sweat. Barbara Pearlman of New York is an advocate of getting into shape with modest “exercises you can do anywhere”—at home, in the office, even on planes.
She specializes in house calls at $25 a half-hour. Among the clients whom she leads through an exercise regimen tailored specifically to them are actress Dyan Cannon, Mrs. Robert Culp, Broadway angel Adela Holzer and Vogue editor in chief Grace Mirabella. Trained as a dancer, Barbara blends modern dance and yoga with conventional body movements. Says Mirabella, “She’s not of the school that says, ‘If it hurts, it must be good for you.’ ”
The daughter of a Long Island luggage manufacturer, Pearlman began studying ballet at 7 and four years later was taken under the wing of famed modern dance teacher Anna Sokolow. “She made you feel you could always work harder,” Barbara says. “If you were bending as low as you could, she would put her hand on your back and push you farther. I got that extra shove that most people don’t have from her.”
Pearlman did not become a dancer, however. Instead, she earned a B.A. with a major in American literature at Boston University, married plastics executive Stephen Pearlman and had a son, Aaron, now 8. She stumbled into her present line of work four years ago, when a dinner guest demonstrated the exercises she was doing and Pearlman corrected them. “It dawned on me,” she recalls, “that teaching exercises was a means to translate my dance background into a career that wouldn’t interfere with my family.”
Pearlman rented a studio, distributed homemade flyers, and business boomed until late 1973, when she was struck by a taxi. Serious back injuries forced her to give up the studio. But six months later, a customer invited Pearlman into her home to give a private exercise lesson. It was the beginning of three years of house calls. (“I have,” Barbara says, “more leotards than clothes.”)
Today, she can afford to handpick her customers. One requirement is that they abide by Pearlman’s strict high-protein, no-starch diet. “I put everything I have into improving my clients’ bodies,” declares the 5’3″, 95-pound Pearlman, whose Dance Exercises will be published by Doubleday next year, “and I expect nothing less of them.”