Of course, everyone in the festooned East Hampton Studio looked toned and healthy; they were there to support the upscale wellness and exercise franchise, La Palestra, which is expanding its brand to cater to underprivileged children. La Palestra Kids launched their first Hamptons fundraiser with performances by Counting Crows lead singer Adam Duritz and Gospel Great Bebe Winans, backed by the Ray Chew Live Band from Fox’s Television show “American Idol.” They’re all part of the La Palestra “family” who embrace Pat Manocchia’s philosophy: combining exercise, education and social consciousness as a preventative model for wellness.
“Pat’s my man,” said La Palestra regular Howard Stern, “the best, the best.”
“I don’t work out there,” added his wife, Beth Ostrosky Stern, “but we’re very good friends with Pat and (wife) Deborah. We support everything and anything that they do.”
“I don’t know why I’m still friends with Pat because for every day in the past ten years he has tormented me…in a wonderful way,” Bebe Winans, told us. “But, honestly I love him. He really cares about your mental health as well as your physical health. I have followed him and I’m better for it. Following the vision of Pat that life is about giving and sharing, you take that on.”
“I had a chance to go to the school,” Winans continued, “sit with the kids and watch them sing and learn and exercise. I was moved and that’s why I became involved.” Winans also has been involved with writing a Broadway musical that he and “Motown” director Charles Randolph Wright are taking into workshop.
Deborah Manocchia came up with the concept for La Palestra Kids to fill the void she found working as a social worker in Harlem and looking for programs for her own kids. The emphasis was on entertaining not educating.
“Everyone knows that kids who aren’t healthy when they’re little become unhealthy as adults,” Pat said. “That costs money…not just now but later on. The statistics are all out there and they’re staggering. If you want to look at it morally, you have kids who don’t have access not only to good nutrition but education about nutrition, not only to exercise but any education about exercise. Social skills: that’s almost nonexistent. Forget about understanding how those things work together, to me that is the preventative model. That is what we need to be doing, not only here but societaly.”