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Andy Garcia Puts Family First

Marriage and family may be his top priority, but the actor and director still manages to find time to grow as an artist and practice the hot Hollywood fitness trend Pilates.

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Quiet and reserved, with a soothing voice and a soft accent that reflects his Cuban roots, Garcia tells a lot about himself by what he doesn't say. He doesn't drop Hollywood names or talk about parties, and he doesn't seem to be the least bit conflicted about balancing work and family. You won't hear him say he missed his children's formative years, or that he feels disconnected from his wife, Marivi Lorido Garcia.

"We have a commitment to each other and our family and that's something we honor," he says. "You have to be religious about these things." He says that once a couple decides to have children, "every decision is made around them." And in a profession that often requires travel, Garcia has set some ground rules. Most important: Minimize time away from family, or everyone goes with him. "The key thing for me is not to be away for any long period of time," he says. "Over the years we've tried to limit it to a week. Especially when a child is young, you can't be an absentee father or mother."

Pilates for a Healthy Back

Garcia not only commits to his family, he also commits to his physical health. He used to practice yoga but found it put too much strain on his back. "I had some disc issues, and I would get hurt often doing power yoga," he says. "Pilates seems to be a lot better for it."

In fact, Pilates -- which focuses on core muscles that keep the body balanced and support the spine -- is an excellent antidote for back pain and is a good way to prevent it, says William C. Lauerman, MD, a professor of orthopedic surgery and chief of the spine surgery division at Georgetown University Medical Center. He recommends Pilates for his patients who have scoliosis and disc problems, whether or not they have had surgery.

"It is a core and trunk muscle strengthening regimen," Lauerman says. "You basically build up all of those muscles in the core of your trunk, and it unloads the strain on the discs in the spine."

And for Garcia, Pilates also has the benefit of keeping his back in prime shape for hitting the fairway. "Pilates seems to be essential to keeping a healthy back," he says, "especially if you want to play golf once a week."

An Active Father

He and Marivi are both excellent cooks; they prefer making simple Italian and Cuban dishes, such as spaghetti carbonara and black beans. The two have been married for nearly 25 years, and he likes to tell the story of meeting her at a club and proposing that very night. "She claims I proposed to everybody that night, but it's not true," he says, deadpan. "And even if it was, that doesn't matter, because she was the one I married."

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