Rick Moonen was one crooked guy. The chef behind RM Seafood and RM Upstairs at Mandalay Bay found that reaching over counters and the daily life of cooking in the kitchen and wearing a backpack on one shoulder left him “running around like the Hunchback of Notre Dame,” he says. “I looked like Julia Child.”
That all changed when a couple who frequented RM Seafood started talking to him about Pilates, the body-conditioning system that helps build flexibility along with strength and endurance. “I was thinking, Pilates, it’s for women,” Moonen says.
He set aside his beliefs and tried it, starting on the classic Cadillac Pilates machine and moving on to weights and floor moves. Now he integrates Pilates into his routine twice a week with his personal instructor, Tracy Maurstad, during private sessions incorporating yoga for an hour in the very early morning. “When the sun comes up, I’m up,” he says.
Although Moonen is a faithful devotee, that doesn’t mean he likes it all. “I hate lunges,” he says. “Whoever created them I want to punch.”
But working on his stability helped him straighten out. “It really changed my stance, my posture,” he says. Now he even incorporates some stretches while he’s working. Pilates also helped to organically change his diet. “I started eating better,” he says, “since I didn’t want to feel like a blob.”
Spreading his message of sustainability in the kitchen takes an enormous amount of energy: Moonen famously spends a lot of his time on his feet front-of-house, talking up customers, when he’s not on the move traveling around the country or shooting TV specials like Top Chef Masters.
“Pilates straightened me out,” he says. “Now I have a sense of the core, so I’m even on my feet.”