Marriage of harmonious balance
Masseuse Maryrose and Pilates expert Joe are combining their considerable skills at their own new holistic centre
When Maryrose Fitzsimons McCarthy and Joe McCarthy first met over Christmas 2001 in Bewley's in Ballsbridge, there was an immediate spark between them. It took a few months to get together romantically, however, principally because Joe had come out of a serious relationship in New Jersey and had a five-year-old daughter, Fiona, there.
Unsure of whether he was going to go back to NJ or take up a job offer in Seattle, he was a bit hesitant around Maryrose initially, although he realised that there was a mutual attraction between them. She, on the other hand, was entirely convinced straight away that they were meant to be together.
While Joe is shyer and less gregarious, Maryrose is more outgoing and knows her own mind. In possession of fabulous silver hair, she started going grey at 17 and while she got a few lowlights put in initially, she decided to go full silver early on, even fending off pressure from others (not Joe) around her wedding day. "It wouldn't have been me walking up the aisle," she laughs. "Mind you, sometimes I get called our children's 'grandmother' by people."
Having lived and worked abroad for several years after they left school, Joe and Maryrose met when both returned to Dublin in the late 1990s. They had mutual friends and met in a big gang. At the time Maryrose had just finished a massage course. Joe was training hard in the fitness industry, so they bonded over chatting about vitamins and nutrition. "I loved his eyes," says Maryrose. "Joe was into bodybuilding at the time, and while he was quite big, he really was a gentle giant."
Joe (49) grew up in Clondalkin as the second-youngest of Vera and the late Jack McCarthy's eight children. The family moved to Blackrock when he was 15, and he boarded at Rockwell in Tipperary for a couple of years and then went to Marian College. His family are musical, and he started playing drums at 13. He went off to New Jersey and worked in the hotel industry while also playing music for a decade. He moved back to Dublin then, and spent eight years training in the fitness industry. He studied to become a personal trainer, fitness instructor and OT neuromuscular physical therapist, and was then drawn to the area of Pilates. He became an instructor/trainer in matwork and reformer with Stott Pilates and did his training with some of the industry's leading instructors.
When he met Maryrose, he was very much attracted to her, but held back initially as he was giving himself a hard time over the demise of his previous relationship. "I liked Maryrose's smile and openness," he says. "It was easy to chat to her, and obviously she's a beautiful woman."
The youngest of the late Delma and Tom Fitzsimons' three children, Maryrose (46) grew up in Blackrock and went to Mount Anville for secondary school. Her dad was vice-principal of Franciscan College, Gormanston, and he and her mum ran the residential Irish International Summer School at Castleknock College every summer. After a secretarial course, Maryrose moved to Paris for six years where she worked in IT, followed by a year in London. When she moved home, she worked at KPMG initially, and then decided to change to massage and began working in that area.
It was at a Kila gig the following August that she and Joe finally got together. They were married in 2006 and have two adorable children, Thomas (eight) and Alanna (three). They are also close to Joe's lovely daughter Fiona in New Jersey, who is now 21. Maryrose and Joe moved in with her parents after their son Thomas was born, and her dad became ill shortly afterwards and died aged 82 from cancer. Her mum passed away last year aged 83.
It has been a difficult few years for Maryrose and Joe coping with all of that sadness, and Joe's family were visited by it too. His dad Jack died in March, and his sister Pauline passed away in June from cancer, aged only 53. Joe is the only one of the eight children living here - many are in the US thanks to their parents' dual citizenship - and he says that his mum Vera is very strong.
Now living in Booterstown, Joe and Maryrose succeeded in fulfilling their long-held dream of opening a Pilates and holistic centre in Blackrock in May. They actually founded their company, Life Balance, in 2003, and realised that their work with clients complemented each other. Among their offerings are classes and individual sessions in Pilates for adults and children, rehabilitation Pilates, deep tissue sports massage. reflexology and neuromuscular physical therapy. They intend to include workshops on things like dry needling and baby massage, and will shortly introduce the services of a herbalist and kinesiologist.
With a new business, the challenge is to incorporate their relationship without being consumed by it, and the friendly pair feel they are achieving that. They rarely argue, as they feel life is too short for rows, and while Maryrose loves that Joe is so practical and organised, he says that she is very forgiving of people and is great with their children. "Maryrose is very outgoing and bubbly, and the love and support she gives me are brilliant, and keep me going."
Life Balance, 6-8 Brookfield Avenue, Blackrock, Dublin. www.lifebalance.ie
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