Patricia Moreno, Spiritual Fitness Leader, Dies at 57

Patricia Moreno, who injected a dose of spirituality into the fitness world and created a popular exercise program called intensati, which became a staple at some Equinox gyms and a YouTube presence, died January 22 at her home in The Angels. She was 57 years old.

The cause was cervical cancer, said his wife, Kellen Mori.

Ms. Moreno began teaching exercise classes more than two decades ago and founded intenSati in 2002, fusing the word “intention” with the Sanskrit term “sati,” for mindfulness or awareness. Between kickboxing fights and aerobics, she’d intersperse refrains like “I’m worthy of my own love” or “All I need is inside of me,” adding liberal doses of mindfulness, journaling and other self-help practices.

Was a fusion of spirituality and exercisesomething relatively new.

Posted online, her workouts and spoken positive mantras, which she dubbed “affirmations,” attracted a considerable following, including 6,500 YouTube subscribers and 18,000 Instagram followers. The program includes more than 1,000 “intenSati Leaders,” who teach their own classes, and has generated about $5 million in revenue, according to Lucy Osborne, who took over intenSati after Ms. Moreno’s death.

Ms. Moreno’s method resonated with those seeking spiritual and emotional connections to wellness. “People cry in class all the time,” she said. Cosmopolitan magazine in 2013. “Whenever I train new intenSati instructors, I always tell them: ‘If people are crying, you are doing your job well.’”

One of those instructors, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, is also a history professor at the New School in Manhattan and is writing a book about fitness in America. “Today there are many programs that combine the language of enlightenment with intense exercise,” she said in an email, “but Patricia, who came out of the world of aerobics in the 1980s and was a serious student of yoga and meditation, I was too early to integrate the two.”

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What sets intenSati apart from other fitness programs, Professor Mehlman Petrzela added, is “its sense of fun and presence outside the luxurious world of high-end fitness.” In addition to Equinox clubs, primarily in New York and Los Angeles, inSati instructors teach at community centers and have made free trainings available on social media.

Danielle Friedman, author of “Let’s Get Physical: How Women Discovered Exercise and Reshaped the World” (2022), said in an email that Ms. Moreno’s show “helped change the language of fitness culture from one of self-criticism, guilt and shame and towards one of celebration, joy and affirmation”.

Patricia Esperanza Moreno was born on August 14, 1964, in San Jose, California, to José and Edith (Salcido) Moreno. Her father was a lawyer and her mother ran a restaurant. She had 10 siblings. After graduating from James Lick High School in San Jose, she took classes at San Jose State College.

Overweight as a child, Ms. Moreno became interested in physical exercise as a way to control her weight. She started teaching fitness classes in California when she was a teenager. In the 1990s, she moved to New York City and found work teaching a kickboxing fitness class at a newly opened Equinox gym; she eventually became one of her highest paid instructors.

TO 1995 article about gyms in The New York Times described Ms. Moreno as one of the most popular Equinox teachers in New York. She “appears wearing a flannel shirt, black pants and a white tank top,” reporter Jennifer Steinhauer wrote. “Taking a few steps here and there, she dances almost unashamedly, as if everyone in her class is invited to a party in her living room and happens to be wearing Lycra.”

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Ms. Moreno and Dr. Mori, a dentist, met in 2006, when Dr. Mori was taking an intenSati class in Manhattan. They got married in 2008.

In addition to Dr. Mori, he is survived by his daughters Olivia, Sophie and Stella Moreno-Mori and his siblings Edith Shipton, Denise Gossett, Darsie Marie Moreno, Marilyn Moreno, Norma Moreno-Grimnes, Elizabeth Ziegenhagen, Hector Moreno, Sylvia Rich and Jesse Moreno. .

Following her diagnosis of stage 4 cervical cancer, Ms. Moreno continued her intenSati practice and documented her experience on Instagram and other social media platforms, emphasizing the spiritual side of her work.

“This diagnosis and everything that comes with it,” he wrote. On Instagram in September, “is revealing to me how important it is to focus on reconnecting with a larger part of myself and not limit my view of myself as a physical body.”

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