It’s been more than three weeks since the release of “Stronger,” the film chronicling the recovery of Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman, who lost both legs in the blast at the finish line in 2013. Despite some criticism about an able-bodied actor playing a double amputee, reviews of “Stronger” were generally positive, with even some Oscar buzz for Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays Bauman.
Julie Erickson, a Boston-based pilates instructor who worked with several bombing survivors, including Bauman and Celeste Corcoran , who also lost both legs in the bombing, hasn’t seen the movie, but recalls her time with survivors warmly.
“We give them the support to be able to stand up tall, to find those posture muscles so that they’re upright,” said Erickson, owner of Endurance Pilates and Yoga Studio in the South End. “Both Celeste and Jeff — anytime I see them out in public when they’re speaking, it makes me very, very proud to see them standing so confidently on their legs.”
Erickson, who’s been a pilates instructor for 22 years, met Bauman in late 2014 after his wife at the time, Erin Bauman — she’s played in “Stronger” by Tatiana Maslany — heard about her work with Corcoran and reached out. Erickson was training for the 2015 Chicago Marathon at the time, so she incorporated the five-mile route to Bauman’s house into her running regimen so she could work with Bauman in his house.
After convincing him that “pilates isn’t just for women,” Erickson worked with Bauman on and off for over a year. She says she hopes to have him back in the studio “post-Hollywood,” when he’s finished with his film responsibilities.
Erickson is currently training for her third marathon — her second Boston Marathon — and is raising money for 50 Legs, a Florida-based charity that provided Bauman, Corcoran, and other survivors with funds for prosthetic limbs. The day after the bombing, Erickson said, she knew she might find herself helping survivors recover. Now she wishes she could do more.
“When you see somebody that has gone from a very dark place . . . in terms of where they were in spirit, and to see them out and about — both Celeste and Jeff are giving speeches, they’re very inspirational. People are so taken by their story of ‘How did you get over this?’ ” Erickson said. “And a little part of what they did was work out with me. There’s nothing that can even come close to being able to help folks in that situation.”