By B.W. COOK
I think now that I have perhaps taken my husband Alex for granted," offered Barbara Bowie on the occasion of the opening night party of Newport Fitness Center last week. "In many ways, my struggle to beat multiple sclerosis has been just as hard on Alex as it has been on me. He's been there for me every step of the way," said the very attractive blond Bowie, long-time Newport resident and new owner of the state-of- the-art Newport Fitness Center, located on 17th Street in Costa Mesa. Alex Bowie, a respected attorney in Orange County, stood by his bride of 43 years, all smiles, as some 200 well-wishers poured in the to the fitness center to congratulate the couple, and particularly Barbara on the opening.
Barbara Bowie has accomplished much more than just opening a gym. Exercise has taken this gracious lady out of a wheelchair. Her walking cane is closeted. She has beaten the medical odds. Bowie, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis while a college student, has suffered with MS for most of her adult life. At times it has been severely debilitating.
"I remember once that we were preparing for a major family social event and I became so paralyzed that I couldn't move. Bedridden for several weeks, I insisted on getting dressed every day and at least making an attempt to sit up in bed," said Bowie, emphasizing that the difference in her life has been the persistent attitude of not succumbing to personal pity.
"I have never given in to this disease. I fight it relentlessly," she said wearing her beautiful clothes, her hair perfectly done, arm outstretched to greet her many friends.
Today, as Bowie celebrated her birthday and the opening of the center, there is not a hint of the effects of multiple sclerosis in her life. Some 40 years after the initial diagnosis, which coincidentally was made by her father, a local Orange County physician based in Orange where she grew up, Bowie works out three times a week with religious fervor.
"It has made all the difference for me, and that is why I opened this gym," she said, adding: "This place is, of course, for anyone in the community who wants to exercise. But more importantly, this place is for people like me who need to exercise. If I can do it, others can do. Others can beat MS. I will prove it to them." Bowie is a remarkable example. The support of her husband, her children, her friends and associates has enabled Bowie to rebuff the negative diagnosis of the medical community that, by and large, instructed her to accept her fate along with the gradual loss of movement that comes with the disease. "Never, Never, Never," she insists, showing off the shining new exercise equipment that has changed her life. Always one of the most fashionable women on the Orange Coast, it is no surprise that Bowie's new gym is all done in color-coordinated red, black and white. As a sentimental gesture, husband Alex Bowie presented the new gym owner with a handsome pin of diamonds, rubies and onyx from David Webb, Beverly Hills to commemorate the occasion.
Bowie wore the gift with special pride as she greeted Pam and Malcolm Paul of the Newport Coast, Pat and Alan Rypinski of Lido Isle, Valerie and Bob Walker, Laura and Jim Otto, Gigi Spragins, Maralou and Jerry Harrington, Donna Anderson, Ramona Bernamonti, Patricia Groth, June Wian, Cathy Lowden, Marliyn Wooten, Nancy and Roger DeYounge, Peter and Carolyn Churm, Zee Allred with Jerry Richards, Marcia Saunders, Dick and Marilyn Hausman, Joan Riach, Ronnie Allumbaugh, Sandy Simon, Marsha and John Cashion, Toni Oliphant and the elegant Lynn Hirsch.
"This is Craig Allen. He's my other miracle worker," said Bowie, introducing
the crowd to her hairdresser. The laughter was punctuated by the very real,
hard fact that Alex and Barbara Bowie have fought and won the latest battle
against a crippling disease that afflicts millions of people worldwide.
Barbara Bowie is a living example of success to anyone who fears that MS
may get the best of them. For more information on Bowie's resistance training
using certified trainers, call the Newport Fitness Center at (949) 574-4720.
B.W. COOK'S column appears every Thursday and Saturday.