Original Student of Joseph Pilates Turns 100!

One afternoon fifty-five years ago, Rachel Lambert “Bunny” Mellon was introduced to a man who had created an unusual form of exercise that was all the rage in New York. She began taking lessons at a studio on 8th Avenue at 56th Street from a man named Joseph Pilates. At 100, Mrs. Mellon is one of Joseph Pilates’ few surviving students.

The reclusive billionaire heiress, widow of investor and philanthropist Paul Mellon, still does Pilates every day at her 4,000-acre estate, Oak Spring Farms in Upperville VA. One of the world’s wealthiest women — and most private — the sprightly centenarian actively oversees her vast gardens, art collections and thoroughbreds.  In an interview with Vanity Fair on the eve of her 100th birthday, she credited her remarkable longevity to her daily sessions of Pilates that she learned from her first instructor, “Joseph.”