WALKING THE FINE
LINE BETWEEN COURAGE
BY AMY GARTENBERG PHOTOS BY TAI KERBS
“WHAT DO I DO NOW?” GARTH MCLEAN ASKED HIS DOCTOR.
On May 23, 1996, Garth lay in a hospital bed at UCLA Medical Center, basically
unable to walk. What felt like a pinched nerve had quickly progressed into the
loss of feeling from head to toe. His mind, however, remained as sharp as a tack.
Garth remembers everything about that day. More specifically, the time – 3 p.m. –
when he received the diagnosis from his doctor that included the words: Multiple
Sclerosis. He felt his life change in an instant. “What do I do now, you know,
for my physical discipline?” Garth asked again, first feeling relieved and hopeful,
given the diagnosis wasn’t worse, then progressively fearful, anxious, and very
Up until this point, Garth had been the guy constantly on the move. He lived an
active life: he’d relocated from the Canadian prairies to New York City to study
acting with the legendary Sandy Meisner, then moved to Hollywood in the 90s
to pursue a career in film and television. He was a self-proclaimed workout fiend
with a love of spinning; he was also a keen student of the martial arts, having
trained in Aikido style under the guidance of Haruo Matsuoka Sensei, which
consequently led to a work opportunity with action movie star Steven Seagal.
But that was before. Now, things were off-kilter; he couldn’t even balance on
a bike. Garth’s doctor suggested yoga and swimming – swimming would keep
his body cool (MS doesn’t necessarily fare well with heat), and yoga would help
manage his stress. Garth longed for high-intensity exercise, but given his diagnosis,
he decided to give yoga a try. >