Editor’s note: The business secret I share with J.W. ‘Bill’ Marriott Jr.

Several years ago I noticed something strange: My wife seemed to be getting taller.

“Pilates,” she said.

This was a running joke in my house. My wife, a devotee of the fitness regime, was always urging me to take a class. If you ever saw me try to stretch, you would understand why.

I assumed it was a bunch of hokum. But in a moment of weakness, I gave it a go, and darned if I didn’t quickly feel like I was standing a little straighter.

It wasn’t until I read an excerpt from J.W. “Bill” Marriott Jr.’s new book that I realized the chairman of Bethesda hotel giant Marriott International had his own introduction to the exercise routine.

In “Without Reservations,” Marriott writes how his busy career led him to suffer two heart attacks in 1989, requiring a coronary bypass and six months of recuperation.

“In my case, there was no mistake; I was exactly where my bad habits had put me. For years leading up to my heart attacks, I had been the walking stereotype of the workaholic executive: too little exercise and rest, too much work and too many heavy dinners too late at night.”

He changed his diet, began exercising more, and carved out time to relax. He also took up Pilates.

“My wife and daughter-in-law had told me I was ‘shrinking’ and needed to do Pilates to get my posture and stature back,” he writes. “They keep telling me it has improved my posture, but I’m skeptical. I do think it’s made me more flexible.”

Marriott relates his experience as a cautionary tale. “Anyone who thinks that pushing the limits of human endurance is necessary to a company’s success should think again,” he advises. “My heart attacks merely made everyone worry, from family to friends to associates to Wall Street.”

Something tells me I’ll be signing up for some more classes this year.

Dan Beyers is the founding editor of Capital Business, The Washington Post’s go-to source for news about the region’s business community.

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