Published on Jul 30, 2002 by in Uncategorized



A Tribute To Stephan

Beautiful Body/Mind Fitness Warriors…

I had planned, and was penning, a piece about family fitness, based upon my first Family Reunion up in Pismo Beach this weekend. Coming home, i got word that one of my best friends and spiritual fitness mentors, Stephan Frease, had been found dead in his apartment in Boulder, Colorado.

Life is like that. A lot of change. Or, as i have learned to see It, a lot of Dance. The Dance continues whether or not we know or enjoy some of the steps.

One does not make ones Way in life as a professional extreme athlete without coming to terms with the varied Dances of Death. I only have a few friends…friends that knew me as extreme athlete, each day never knowing if my skin touch coffin or couch come night. I have only a couple of friends that really know me…Stephan was one.

An acclaimed pioneer of Pilates, Stephan became an artist after his son, Devon, died from cancer at age 13. I there through the whole hauntingly quick transformation from healthy, adorable kid to cancer victim. Steph never really recovered. My correspondence with him afterward turned ever more poetic, visceral, and Divine. There are very few spiritual fitness artists, self made men devoted to finding their own Soul Way in a commercialized and corporate world.

In fact, any quality you might find enjoyable about my own style of fitness teaching and counsel was surely influenced largely by the charismatic genius and beauty of Stephan. His body was extraordinary; legs of a sprinter, torso of a dancer. His blonde, flowing locks turned mystic silver after Devon passed on…he was so perfect, a lover, father, fitness warrior, poet, and painter.

The next time you come to LA for an Intensive, i�ll show you the paintings Stephan did for my marriage to Kathy last November. I�ll take you over to Beverly Hills where i lived with him and assisted his Pilates teaching to movie stars, celebrity, and playmates. Once, i nearly burned down his condo on Gregory Drive after leaving for a Hollywood party and forgetting to put out the candles (Stephans insisted form of household light). Upon looking at his scorched carpet and walls, he lifted his pale blue gaze toward me, kissed me saying,

�Darling…you should have let me known i was not giving you enough attention!�

I�ve studied under some very High Teachers, but none with as much panache, as much human authenticity as Stephan…

�Dear Diane –

i opened your email about the death of my best friend

while the coastal mountains were sustaining a sunset

and the Pacific lapped methodically at a sandy

foam lipped edge…

pelicans were flying into elsewhere…

but Stephan�s passing is here, now

so too, is my grief…

my bewilderment holding hands with yours…


breath barely squeezes past contracting heart…

lungs tightened by

memories of Stephan and i

my legs nearly give way,

and my whole body sways in the manner of palm fronds.

i opened your email about the death of my best friend

before my Beloved wife could ever meet

my most Beautiful Teacher,







perhaps the most Brave and Noble Spiritual Warrior this world has ever known…

i will call you

as your grief settles

into a certain

implacable Darkness

the same as mine

Love has lost a most

creative arm

the Great Song has lost a most

treasured chorus

our World has lost

another Buddha

but maybe,

just maybe

upon a Higher Realm


son of Stephan dead from cancer at age 13,

has regained his Father in heaven…

I recall these words from Stephan

as i was editing his manuscript,

“Whispers From A Dewdrop.”

I wrote to him of my beautiful new wife…and of our wedding

which he could not attend because of his artistic poverty…

these words from him linger

as does this ocean twilight

seemingly scared of the inevitable Darkness;

“i shall float through the rest of my evening with the image of you, bathed in candle light and kathy, reading my nonsense to her.”

the night that

i opened your email about the death of my best friend



but also a deep sense of abiding calm…swept over me

Stephan is within

i feel the genius of his amazing Light

after shedding so many selfish tears

i took Kathy

hand in hand

we walked to the ocean in Santa Barbara

lying in moist sand

beneath a shudder of stars

poetry – Stephan’s Voice –

spilled from my lips

and continued

for a moonlit eternity

his channeled verse endured

long after Kathy had fallen asleep

to the thumping of the waves…


shall work harder and Higher than ever before

to make sure Stephan�s essence remains a part of



love and inner Light,

steve ilg

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