To Keep You Inspired, Dr. Franklin Zimmerman

DrZimmerman

Club Fit celebrated American Heart month in February, helping members maintain their commitment to regular exercise, a nutritious diet, and a healthy heart. But if you ask cardiologist Dr. Franklin (Bud) Zimmerman, a Club Fit Briarcliff member affectionately known as Dr. Z., a healthy heart is a prize to celebrate and maintain all year long.

A graduate of the Brown University Medical School, Dr. Zimmerman is a Senior Attending Cardiologist and President of the medical staff at Phelps Memorial Hospital. He trained at Columbia University, St. Luke’s Hospital and has been a cardiologist at Phelps Memorial Hospital since 1989 alongside his partners at Phelps Medical Associates, Dr. Arthur Fass, Dr. Dina Katz (both Club Fit members), and Dr. Jay Doshi.

The field of cardiology has always excited Dr. Zimmerman, especially working with acutely ill patients and making them healthy again. As important and rewarding as that aspect of cardiology is, however, he has an equal passion for preventative care. “It’s very dramatic when you help a patient with a heart attack,” says Dr. Zimmerman, “but I’d much rather work to prevent the event than respond to an emergency”

Dr. Zimmerman’s commitment to preventative care and education has made a lasting\ impact in his field as well as his community. He is an assistant clinical professor at Columbia and created the Heart and Health Education Foundation with his partners. He is also the director of Phelps Memorial’s Center for Occupational Medicine and Public Safety Services (COMPASS), a center in development that is devoted to the health needs of first responders. Dr. Zimmerman shares his expertise directly with Club Fit on heart healthy initiatives such as training staff members to use automatic defibrillators, a move that has already saved lives at the gym. He consulted on the Health Rx program, a referral program for people beginning an exercise program, and he created the Club Fit Chief’s Challenge, an exercise challenge for policeman and firefighters. Preventing cardiovascular disease in police and fire department personnel is an important area of research for Dr. Zimmerman. “First responders have a risk of heart attack that is out of proportion to the general public, and this strikes close to home for me, because I come from a police family,” said Dr. Zimmerman, whose sister is the current Police Chief of San Diego. After sharing this concern with Club Fit president Bill Beck, the club began offering a half-price membership for active police officers and firefighters, and Dr. Zimmerman created the Chief’s Challenge to encourage first responders to keep their hearts healthy through exercise. Every year Dr. Zimmerman’s foundation awards $1,000 each to the local police and fire department with the most check-ins to the gym. Club Fit tallies the visits, and at year’s end reports the numbers to Dr. Zimmerman. The 2016 winners were the Yorktown Police Department and the Mohegan Lake Fire Department.

According to Dr. Zimmerman, the most overlooked preventative measure for heart disease is exercise, and he feels that “many people would rather take a pill than spend an hour at the gym.” He is always quick to share his favorite mantras with his patients such as “Exercise is medicine” or his wry “You only have to exercise … on the days that you eat.” In 25 years at Club Fit, Dr. Zimmerman says “the most gratifying thing about going to Club Fit is the number of my patients that I see there following my heart-healthy advice.”

Barring a medical emergency, Dr. Zimmerman works out at Club Fit four to five times a week during his lunch hour, focusing on cardiovascular exercise and weight training. He begins with a five-minute warmup on the treadmill, light stretching, and a half-mile run on the track – either an easy jog or more vigorous interval running. For weight training, he uses the Nautilus and Cybex machines along with free weights for his arms, varying his routine to devote certain days to different muscle groups. Cross training keeps his workout both physically challenging and mentally stimulating, and he feels that Club Fit offers a distinctive advantage in its variety of equipment. On the weekends, he includes some distance work on his home treadmill before going out to dinner with family and friends where he admits to “eating some things a cardiologist avoids during the week.”

Dr. Zimmerman and his wife of 37 years, Laurie, enjoy an active lifestyle, as do their children: Stacey, a devoted runner, and Rick, an avid cyclist. But something you might not know about the Cleveland native is his passion for baseball and the Cleveland Indians. A lifelong Indians fan, he attended his fifth Cleveland Indians Fantasy Camp in January at the team’s spring training facility in Goodyear, AZ. A pitcher and infielder, Dr. Zimmerman modifies his Club Fit workout three months before camp to prepare himself for its physical demands and daily double-headers, drills, and practices. His managers this year were Mike Hargrove and pitcher Jaret Wright, who Hargrove started in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. Dr. Zimmerman jokes, “Now, Hargrove’s managing me – how far he’s fallen.” Besides the joy of seeing his patients exercising and his love of Indians Fantasy Camp, what keeps Dr. Z. coming to the gym? “Exercise is fun — it makes you feel better and just keeps you healthy,” he says. “Plus, I want to get a few more miles on my fastball.”

To Keep You Inspired … Diane Purdy

Club Fit’s Payroll Specialist Diane Purdy Keeps Us Inspired

{by Lisa Olney, Club Fit guest blogger}

Club Fit’s Payroll Specialist Diane Purdy with Personal Trainer Lori Nigro

Club Fit’s Payroll Specialist Diane Purdy with Personal Trainer Lori Nigro

Club Fit’s highest staff honor is its Annual Service Award, presented under veil of secrecy each year at the Annual Meeting — a day of education, team building, and staff appreciation. So, when Diane Purdy, Club Fit’s Payroll Specialist of almost 20 years was asked to lead a Q & A about the Club’s new human resource management system, Dayforce, she was prepared and ready for any question that came her way. What she wasn’t prepared for was the proverbial table turn. Instead of being introduced as the afternoon’s next speaker, she was introduced through a cleverly written poem as Club Fit’s 2016 Annual Service Award winner!

Diane may have been the only person in the room surprised by the announcement. Her consummate work ethic and dedication strikes a lasting impression for all who meet her. Diane’s attention to detail and support to managers and staff has made her invaluable in every area of Club Fit. Diane takes her responsibility as Club’s Payroll Specialist seriously, and over the years she has braved many of Mother Nature’s wicked weather curve balls to get to work, even during weather closures, because, simply put, “Our people need to get paid.” The support she provides has become her calling card, and Diane has helped guide her team through two significant technology launches helping to maximize Club Fit’s internal efficiency and overall position as a leader in the fitness industry. But most importantly, on Diane’s watch, people come first, and everyone is taken care of with equal care and attention.

Diane grew up playing basketball, softball, and running track. As an adult, she enjoyed an effortless balance of health and fitness. But time marches on, and bodies change. As Diane entered her 50s, she realized that maintaining this balance was finally going to require a little more effort. So, she decided it was time to focus on improving her own health and fitness. She found her perfect partner in Club Fit Jefferson Valley Personal Trainer Lori Nigro.

“Lori knew that I was interested in getting in shape and losing weight,” recalls Diane. After their first session, the rest was history, and they’ve been training together since March of 2015. Every Tuesday at 3:30, the duo meets for a 30-minute personal training session. Lori has incorporated high intensity training (HIT) and functional training into Diane’s repertoire. Some days are dedicated to specific body parts, and each session includes stretching and cardio. Diane’s favorite machine is the cross cable machine, and she complements her Club Fit routine by staying active and bicycling through her neighborhood.

“Over the years, I’ve tried just about everything — spinning and cardio tennis, but, this is what I do on Tuesdays,” says Diane. It has been just over 18 months since Diane started her weekly sessions with Lori. She noticed changes right away, and is proud that she has maintained her fitness and weight loss. As for her future fitness goals, Diane is happy continuing her Tuesday sessions with Lori. “I’ll stick with my program,” says Diane. “Lori has shown me so many things. She is motivating, very encouraging and great to work with.”

This February will mark Diane’s 20-year Club Fit anniversary, and Diane most values the caring and friendly culture at the Club, from the staff to the members. “It’s my home away from home, and I love the people,” said Diane. “Everybody cares about their well-being, and the Club cares about helping the community. It’s a great place to work.”

As Diane closes in on the big 2-0, staff and members alike may already know of her love of traveling, NBA basketball, and her favorite team, the San Antonio Spurs. But, did you know that Diane is a huge country music fan with an ear that would make any Nashvillian proud? In 2016 she has already seen 16 big-name artists in concert such as Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Luke Bryan, Kenney Chesney, Miranda Lambert, and on October 26, Carrie Underwood. 2016 is not over yet, however, and in November she will see Keith Urban and Brett Eldridge, and Stevie Nicks is on the docket for December. Diane has already purchased her tickets for Faith Hill and Tim McGraw’s Soul2Soul tour in October of 2017 — just another fun fact that exemplifies Diane’s attention to detail and strategic planning, a strength that can always be counted on by the Club Fit community.

Fitness Success Story: Janet Murff

Janet and Candice

Club Fit Member Janet Murff and Personal Trainer Candice O’Brien — working together to help Janet reach her goals.

Healthier and happier — Club Fit Member Janet Murff started training with Personal Trainer Candice O’Brien in 2015 and is now stronger, fitter, and happier.

I’d like to express my appreciation to my trainer Candice and Club Fit. I am thrilled! The physical & mental benefits of exercise are amazing.

When I made my decision in November 2015 to have a personal trainer, I was out of shape and feeling stressed from two years of the life changing activities of caring for one’s parents; too much driving, too much sitting. Realizing what a difference a trainer would mean to my success, I signed up — and as luck would have it, I was paired with the right trainer from day one. I began with the goals of improved health and fitness. I knew that I could only commit to two or three gym visits per week. Consistency would make it work. Weight loss was far down my list. Today, I am much stronger, fitter, more toned, and happier than I was a year ago. Weight loss has been a bonus. I know that I could not have done this alone. I am excited to set new goals for 2017 and look forward to continue working with Candice to help me reach these.

Congratulations to Janet on her hard work and her commitment to health!

To Keep You Inspired … Denise D’Amico

Our Club Fit Members Keep Us Inspired

{by Lisa Olney, Club Fit guest blogger}

To Keep You Inspired… Club Fit Member Denise D'Amico

Club Fit Member Denise D’Amico chose to take care of her health through diet and exercise.

Club Fit Jefferson Valley member Denise D’Amico is a change maker and a problem solver, a trusted force in the Yorktown community. As a local real estate broker for over twenty years, a co-founder and past president of the Yorktown Chamber of Commerce, and a charter board member of Support Connection, helping others and creating meaningful change is simply what Denise does. In 2015, however, she discovered a new person in need of help — herself.

In January of 2015 a visit to the doctor revealed a serious weight-related health issue — pre-diabetes. That was the day that forced Denise to face weight issues that she had battled for years. Her doctor laid two options before her: take several medications every day; or 2) lose weight and see if her body responds. Amidst a flood of emotions, Denise called upon her inner grit — and chose option two. She also chose Club Fit as her partner in getting there.

Quarterly doctor appointments became the new norm for Denise, and after three months her doctor noticed a difference. After six months, everyone was noticing a difference. By the time July of 2016 rolled around, Denise had lost 125 pounds, thanks to her new routine at Club Fit, her modified diet, and her steely resolve and can-do attitude. Most importantly, Denise reversed her health issue, and as a result does not need any medications.

So, how did this inspiring transformation occur? After consulting with her doctor on nutrition and exercise, as well as her daughter who is a nurse and athlete, Denise changed her diet, eliminating most carbohydrates and sugar. Over time, she switched from meats to fish and from yolks to egg whites. Water is a constant throughout her diet as well, and she drinks half her weight in ounces, daily. Advance journaling of her food has been a key ingredient in her success as well. “If you know what you’re going to eat in advance, you’re less likely to fail,” Denise says. “Food is medicine, and the planning is vital to success.”

Denise exercises at Club Fit five to six days a week and feels it sets the pace for her day, keeping her centered. Her balanced blend of activity is a vital part of her daily routine. A typical day for Denise begins in the locker room with a weigh-in, and she feels it has been one of her most important habits throughout her weight loss. “It keeps me accountable to my goals,” she explains. By 6:30 am Denise is in the Club Fit lap pool where she swims one mile, daily. At 7:50 am, she switches gears and powerwalks two miles in the Fitness Center. Next, it’s time to get her dancing shoes on, and she meets her friends for the 9am Danceology class — her favorite Club Fit activity. On specific days, she now does kickboxing as well as the Circuit for her bone strength. Denise laughs that exercising is a love-hate relationship for her. “Sometimes, I hate to do it, but I love the way it makes me feel,” says Denise. “I wouldn’t trade that feeling for anything. It’s euphoria.”

Denise’s husband, Lou, joins her daily at the gym, taking a spin class, after which they return home for breakfast at 10:30am. In the afternoon, Denise takes advantage of the track where she lives and powerwalks two more miles. At 2:30pm she has lunch—typically a large salad with homemade dressing. Many times, Lou will join Denise for her afternoon walk, as well, but forgoes the powerwalk opting for a leisurely, relaxing pace. In the evening, Lou and Denise have a dinner around 4:30 of protein — typically salmon — and a variety of vegetables. Her special treat (from time to time) has become a square of Ghirardelli chocolate.

Weaving nutrition and exercise together was key for Denise in losing weight and reclaiming her health. She credits her Club Fit routine as essential in her weight loss success — both physically and mentally. “Club Fit is #1 and sets the pace for the rest of your day,” says Denise. “Exercising makes you happy; it makes you want to engage with others.”

To Keep You Inspired … Our Club Fit Members!

For our members and for us, fitness is a way of life.

For our members and for us, fitness is a way of life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our members inspire us every day. YOU are why we do what we do. Listen to what some Club Fit members had to say during last month’s Member Appreciation Weeks.

Tess Cerra
“Shortly after joining Club Fit 3 years ago, my husband suddenly passed away. Thanks to all of the club activities, and the friendship of the members, I was able to get through that difficult time. Club Fit was a wonderful lifesaver for me. I will be forever grateful!

Beth Klewan
Club Fit is more than a health club to me. It’s a place that enhances my life. I have made friendships and have improved my health. I feel that Club Fit is a place to enhance your physical and emotional health. I feel like the people that work here are my family and my friends. Thank you for being my health club. Everyone at Club Fit seems to be concerned about myself and all members.

Ophelia Hill
Club Fit is an environment which houses a group of multi-ethnic, highly professional individuals focused on giving us a program of healthy, varied, motivating exercises for all. Special events and other surprises keep things exciting and inspire us.

Deb Ross
Club Fit motivates me to stay young, stay fit and to keep going for my kids. Once day, when they are strong athletes I can keep up with them and not be old!

Usha Ragheran
Hmmm…where do I begin? Many Group Fitness classes, like Zumba (with awesome instructors) Danceology (unique to Club Fit) and Barre! The M.E.L.T. class and Definitions class are amazing. And…drum roll…the incredible socialization and sense of community we bet. Some of my best friends are my “exercise mates”. I love the Energy Center — very reasonable and wow…lots of toys!

Sandy Olsen
Club Fit motivates me to be as fit as I can get. I became a member with my daughter who was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis her freshman year in college. The water classes were suggested for her joints and it helped greatly. That was over 15 years ago and I’ve met wonderful friends here. Love it!

Theresa Prestopino
This last year, I lost 13 pounds. My best friend encouraged me to get strong and gave me her guest pass to go to Sunday’s Definitions class with Shelby. The class includes a lot of equipment for an hour — it absolutely challenged me. It also made me realize I needed to take back my health. It is never too late to make time for happiness.

Andrea Sonenberg
Going to Club Fit and working out gave me emotional strength during a very difficult time in my life. I’ve been able to keep healthy and physical as well. It’s been a life-saver (and a life investment) for more than 25 years!

Michael Carozza
Club Fit is a great club. I Have been a member for the past 18 years. Always upgrading equipment… What keeps me motivated is that I will be 69 years old and don’t take any medication. Doctor tells me it’s all because of my exercise routine!

Elizabeth Plager
I like that there is something for the whole family to do at Club Fit!

Catherine Zsiday
Club Fit has helped me maintain my weight loss for the past 9 years. Your staff is an awesome group of people. Keep up the good work!

Brian Lett
I enjoy the variety of equipment and classes that allow me to achieve a well-balanced level of fitness.

Paul Pecoraro
Was a Club Fit member years ago, and now I am motivated to get back in excellent condition.

Janet Lyman
Group Fitness classes motivate me! Cycle, 20/20/20 and BODYPUMP. Love seeing my successes through MYZONE!

Janet Tinari
The Chair Yoga class is great. Instructor, Lucy, is so good. She motivates me to get here!

Karen Lett
Club Fit has healed me and keeps me healthy… physically, emotionally, mentally and socially. It is truly my second home. I love the classes, the instructors and the racquetball opportunities! I love that I can take the Yoga Teacher Training at Club Fit!

Fitness Success Story: Kathi Grossman

Kathi before and after

Kathi before, and how she looks today. Amazing progress on her fitness journey!

Kathi Grossman joined Club Fit in October of 2013 at the recommendation
of her doctors. Read how Club Fit has helped to impact her life and help her reach her fitness goals.

I have been morbidly obese all my life. I ended up with Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, arthritis, and no cartilage in one of my knees. I was injecting insulin up to four times a day and taking numerous medications. I finally had enough! I had WLS (weight loss surgery) on September 22, 2011, and lost 210 pounds, which changed my life more than I ever could have imagined. Within hours of the WLS I was off all medications. I am still medication free, except for supplements. Having been obese all my life, as the weight came off, other issues arose. No core, no muscle tone, loose skin EVERYWHERE!! My doctor gave me a prescription to join Club Fit on the HelpRx program, which was the best thing that could have happened to me. Personal Trainer Russ was my first encounter with a trainer. I was pretty intimidated, but Russ took his time, listened to me and my physical limitations, and designed a routine just for me. This was the beginning — I started taking classes, and I mean everything, even things I thought I couldn’t do just to challenge myself. I started with Retro-Low, Low-impact Zumba, Kickboxing, Definitions, 4×4, Corebar, Spin, and Yoga. If they had a class I was there. I started to see where I fit and what I liked to do. This could have been overwhelming as exercise was NEVER a part of my life. Now I love to spin and weight train and do a few machines. The instructors were excellent and most helpful. There are so many wonderful people who have escorted me on my journey. There is, however, one person who stands out and that is General Manager Mark Cuatt. He took me under his wing and gave me a crash course in nutrition and then an exercise regimen for me to follow. He didn’t have to do that; he has enormous responsibilities running the club on a day-to-day basis. Nonetheless, we would meet at the gym, I would email him my food menus and things started to change again! This has not been an easy journey. I had a few setbacks but, to date, I have lost 250 pounds!! As I type the number it seems surreal.

I take advantage of most of the things Club Fit offers. I have a MYZONE belt, I use it always and should I forget it, I am lost. I do the FIT-3D scans, which help you see the transformation you are attaining. This experience would not have been as successful without the help of so many of the personal trainers, instructors and coaches. I wish I could name all of you, as you are all very special to me, because at one time you made it a point to help me with your time, advice or even a friendly “Hello!”. ALL of you have made an impact in changing NOT only my outward appearance but teaching me that being healthy is an everyday choice. Mark Cuatt told me once, I am always going to wage this battle in my head with my weight. Some days I’ll win and some days I’ll lose; but “never give up” is the moral of this story.

So I thank Club Fit for helping me find ME — the me I was meant to be. You have helped
to give a healthy me back to my husband, children and granddaughter. Hopefully I
will be around a long time still working out, and if I can inspire ONE person
through my story, then I have made a difference!

To Keep You Inspired … Lizandra Vega

{by Lisa Olney, Club Fit guest blogger}

Lizandra with Tiana and Joe

To Keep You Inspired… Club Fit Member Lizandra Vega with Tiana and Joe

In 2014, Club Fit Briarcliff member Lizandra Vega had a birthday epiphany, and it was time to reassess her lifestyle. On the surface, her life was in perfect balance; a proud wife and hands-on mother of two — personal life, check; a 20-year career as an executive recruiter in Manhattan’s luxury lifestyle market, a certified image consultant, and an author — professional life, check; meaningful work giving back to the community — volunteer life, check. What she realized with striking clarity, though, was that she had slowly ceased stepping out of her comfort zone, challenging her own personal growth — a trait that she instills in her clients. “I motivate people, that’s part of my job,” says Lizandra. “I like to be authentic, so I have always put myself in situations that may not be comfortable at first in order to see how I’ll thrive.” On her blog, The Career Confidante, at www.LizandraVega.com, she lists her 10 Commandments of Success. The second commandment is “Thou shall not nurture anything but a positive physical, mental, and emotional state of being.” It was time to get back to nurturing her own healthy lifestyle.

Lizandra looked to her bucket list and decided it was time to conquer her fear of swimming. Raised in the Bronx with no real exposure to the water, she developed a fear of swimming after trips to the beach and constant warnings of the danger of the water. But Lizandra refused to pass that fear on to her children, who are avid swimmers. “Outdoors was never my thing,” recalls Lizandra, “But I made it my thing.”

A Briarcliff resident for the last 19 years, Lizandra turned to Club Fit to start her journey. She chose to take private lessons with swim instructor Joe Cave, who had taught many adults to swim, and he proved to be a great match for her. Initially, Lizandra could only float — no propelling herself forward and definitely no putting her head in the water. Her biggest fear was not knowing how she would be able to breathe, and it was paralyzing.

The lessons started in September of 2014, and Lizandra remembers feeling comfortable with him immediately. “I instantly trusted Joe the minute I shook his hand,” she recalls. “He would say, ‘I’m not going to let you drown. You are not going to drown with me here.’” This declaration was cathartic for Lizandra, allowing her to let go of her fear and begin conquering it. Lizandra felt it would take a long time just to get her head in the water, but her first lesson was empowering. “I was already doing little strokes — not with my head completely in the water, but I made such progress in just one lesson,” she remembers. “It felt so good, and I knew that I was really going to learn this time.” Step by step, she did just that, and she’s been taking lessons with Joe ever since. Today, she swims laps, working on technique and endurance for every stroke.

Saturday mornings quickly became Lizandra’s “me-time” with swim lessons at 10am. She added a small group training class, Women on Weights, with Master Trainer Tiana Gonzalez. Lizandra connected at once with Tiana, and in January 2015, began personal training sessions with her. Tiana’s supportive and caring style has helped Lizandra achieve many fitness goals and given her the confidence to step outside of her fitness comfort zone and use all the fitness options at Club Fit.

From Joe’s patience and ability to empower, to Tiana’s empathy and motivational style, Lizandra credits them both with helping her regain a healthier and proactive lifestyle. “Because I work in recruiting, staffing, and hiring, I am very discerning about who I hire to teach me,” says Lizandra. “Joe and Tiana show such professionalism, and their communication goes beyond expectations.”

Next on Lizandra’s bucket list are singing and ice-skating. While her Club Fit bucket list includes yoga and tennis, it’s safe to say that any area of the Club that Lizandra has yet to explore has a spot on her list. “I really am a person that loves to continue to learn and challenge myself,” says Lizandra, “When I become a member of a place, I’m all in.”

To Keep You Inspired… Jason Needle

photo collage, Jason and friends.

A photo collage of Jason Needle with his friends and peers at Club Fit, along with our newly redesigned name tags, inspired by and honoring Jason.

You may have noticed that we changed the design of the name tags that we proudly wear at work.  And it’s all for a very good reason — Jason Needle — our colleague and friend. Jason passed away on December 4, 2015.The new name tags will serve to remember Jason, and to encourage us to be supportive of others.  We have implemented Jason’s “I Can. I Will.” tag line on the new name tags as a reminder of who Jason was; a brave person who inspired others to live with a strong sense of community and commitment to live life to the fullest.

Jason Needle once described himself as an Iraq war veteran, a two-time cancer survivor, and a proud member of the Club Fit family. Beating cancer and defending our country are two things everyone can identify as substantial accomplishments. Although it may pale in comparison, Jay’s association with Club Fit would prove to be of paramount importance in his life story. Jay grew up coming to Club Fit and fell in love with the atmosphere. He enjoyed it so much that he went to college to pursue a degree in exercise sports science with the end goal of working at his favorite place.

Jay began working as a personal trainer in the fitness department in 2005. When he wasn’t working, he could still be found in the building working out, lifting weights, or playing basketball. Jay was outgoing, enthusiastic, friendly, and genuinely interested in other people. Because of this, it wasn’t long before everyone knew who Jay was – both staff and members alike. He was also one of the trainers who spearheaded the Parisi Speed School program when it was introduced. This is the area where Jay really shined. He had a passion for training young athletes; watching kids improve and achieve goals and, more importantly, gain confidence was everything to Jay. “Being able to help a child grow confident through fitness and performance is a beautiful thing to me,” he told the Briarcliff Daily Voice. He knew they looked up to him and never lost sight of that.

Jay was the picture of health and fitness when he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) in November 2010. He spent over 200 days in the hospital the first year of his treatment and achieved remission only to have the leukemia return less than a year later. He was then diagnosed with a rare gene mutation that made it difficult for treatments to be successful. During his five-year battle, he traveled all over New York City and Boston, spoke to countless doctors, went through over twenty different chemotherapy treatments, most of which were experimental trials, radiation and two bone marrow transplants.

Throughout his fight, Club Fit remained an important support system for him. A Facebook page was created entitled “Jason’s Army” which he posted on frequently to stay in touch with everyone. He used his Parisi clients as motivation for himself: “The excitement they show when they reach a new goal or do something they thought couldn’t be done is what drives me day in and day out. If these kids can do it, then so can I!”

And so Jay’s tagline was born. Jay coined the motto “I Can. I Will.” and believed with all of his heart that he would beat the odds against his disease. Again, Jay’s energy and sense of purpose was infectious. His positive and energetic posts more often than not served as motivation for its readers to work to make the world a caring, supportive place. His “I Can. I Will.” attitude exploded and the support was phenomenal as the page grew to over 1,100 followers.

Jay was able to use this following to help other people fighting against cancer as well. By hosting an annual 5k run/walk in 2013, 2014, and 2015, Jason’s Army raised over $40,000 for local charities that support cancer patients. For someone who was going through so much, all he wanted to do was give back and recognize others. He was so thankful for the support of staff, members, and clients from Club Fit that he wanted to help those who didn’t have the same support.

Jay died on December 4, 2015. As the legendary ESPN anchor Stuart Scott said, “When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live.” He continued by saying, “So live. Live. Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight, lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you.” The best way to honor Jason’s life and to keep his memory alive is to adopt his “I Can. I Will.” attitude and employ it in your own life.

To Keep You Inspired… Club Fit Instructor Lisa Coffman

by Lisa Olney, Club Fit guest blogger.

Lisa Coffman and her family

Club Fit instructor Lisa Coffman and her family of four.

For the last twenty years, Mahopac resident Lisa Coffman has helped the greater Club Fit community to reach their goals and overcome life’s challenges both in and out of the water. An aquatic exercise instructor, swim instructor and one of the assistant coaches for Club Fit’s swim team, Lisa has helped many members to strike back against potentially sidelining injuries and arthritis through aquatic exercise classes like H20 Waterwalking and Cardio Splash. She has helped members of all ages master the life skill of swimming both recreationally and competitively. Perhaps most impactful, she has also helped members overcome their fears of the water and learn to swim.

Lisa’s passion and loyalty to the Club Fit aquatics program has been a steadfast anchor over the years. These same qualities have also colored the pages of Lisa’s life from her childhood in the Dakotas and Minnesota to her career as a standout collegiate swimmer at Division III Cornell of Iowa where she swam the 50 meter butterfly at the NCAA Championships and then as a walk-on member of the Division I University of Minnesota Golden Gophers team. While in college she had her first taste of teaching people to swim, a feeling of reward and purpose that remains with her today. “One of the most rewarding aspects of what I do,” says Lisa, “is when I’m teaching somebody, and it just clicks.” Whether it’s in a class, in a swim lesson or on the swim team, Lisa has made a real difference to countless members of Club Fit.

Lisa brings this same passion and loyalty to her volunteer work as a member of the Yorktown Heights chapter of P.E.O. Founded in 1869, P.E.O. stands for Philanthropic Educational Organization. An international organization, P.E.O. has over 6,000 chapters in the U.S. and Canada and over 250,000 members. P.E.O. strives to increase women’s opportunities for higher education through scholarships, low-interest loans, grants, emergency funds and the Cottey College in Nevada, Missouri. In addition to supporting P.E.O. programs, the Yorktown Heights chapter donates funds to local organizations Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Friends of Karen, and Hope’s Door. They also sponsor local women for P.E.O. assistance and programs. To learn more about P.E.O. and the Yorktown Heights chapter visit www.peointernational.org.

Lisa has always led a busy life working at Club Fit, volunteering with P.E.O., and raising her family. She and her husband Paul have two children Paul, 28, and Stephanie, 25 — who works full time at Club Fit Jefferson Valley as the WSI coordinator, a swim instructor, and a swim coach. While Lisa has a full schedule, her goal is to log at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. Sometimes she’ll work out before her classes in the women’s section or on cardio in the fitness center. Some days it’s lap swimming, and some days it’s just walking outdoors and enjoying the fresh air. Lisa feels daily exercise in any form is important to keep physically and mentally healthy. “Get thirty minutes of something in every day,” says Lisa. “Whether it’s cardio, weights, or swimming, just do something.” From Nike’s “Just Do It” to the NFL’s “Play 60”, Lisa’s E-30 philosophy is something we can all strive to incorporate into our lifestyle.

To Keep You Inspired… Club Fit Instructor Harriette DeCarlo

by Lisa Olney, Club Fit guest blogger.

Club Fit Instructor Harriette DeCarlo

Club Fit Instructor Harriette DeCarlo

At 85 years young, Club Fit aquatic exercise instructor Harriette DeCarlo is an energetic powerhouse whose confident, welcoming handshake is indicative of the joie de vivre in which she lives her life. Always moving, always educating, Harriette leads those around her to a healthy body, a healthy mind and a healthy lifestyle.

A swimmer in high school, Harriette has always been an athlete — an avid runner, rower, and follower of Tai Chi, which she practiced at the Chuang Yen Monastery, a Buddhist monastery on 225 acres in Carmel, NY. But it wasn’t until joining Club Fit 30 years ago, that exercise truly became a part of her daily routine. Recognizing Harriette’s passion and knowledge of aquatic exercise and Tai Chi, Club Fit hired her two years later as an aquatics instructor, and she helped the club launch its first aquatic Tai Chi class in the 1990s. Since then Harriette has been enlightening members at Club Fit to the strengthening and restorative power of mind-body fitness in the water. Currently, Harriette teaches “Mind/Body Aquatics” on Tuesday mornings at 10:00 am. The class — a blend of yoga, Pilates, balance, and tai chi — is a full body workout integrating breathing, core strengthening, balance and relaxation.

So, how does Club Fit’s version of the Energizer Bunny keep going? “I can’t imagine a week without exercise,” says Harriette. “The Club is so much a part of my life that I don’t feel good if I’m not here.” Her routine at the club anchors her day, and she works out three to four days a week. On Tuesdays before her 10:00 am Mind/Body Aquatics class, she arrives at the gym around 7:00 am, and does her normal workout of cardio, weights, and stretching. Then she goes to the Café to meet with her longtime breakfast group of almost 20 years. Next, she heads to the Aquatic Center for her class, and then it’s back to the café to meet her lunch group, which has been meeting since she started teaching in 1988. Yes, her lunch group is 28 years old and an amazing testament to the friendships formed over the common bond of exercise, camaraderie and healthy lifestyles.

“I don’t think there’s a club in Westchester that compares to this,” says Harriette, “I will never give up Club Fit.” Harriette also feels the club is not afraid to lead, to take the initiative to do things that haven’t been done before — and not only in programming. “This is the only club I know that hires people with special needs,” Harriett says proudly. “I’ve never worked in a club that had the guts to do that — that took the initiative to do that.”

So, what’s next for Harriette? Rest assured, it will be more of the same with the current aquatic trend featuring yoga and Pilates — components she already integrates into her Mind/Body Aquatics class. And, rest assured, Harriette stands ready to welcome newcomers and regulars, alike, to Club FIt, the Aquatic Center, or even her breakfast and lunch groups, with her captivating smile and and that joie de vivre that make her not only an amazing instructor, but an amazing friend.

To Keep You Inspired… Club Fit Member John Gillespie

by Lisa Olney, Club Fit guest blogger.

John before & after

Picture 1: Before: May 2014: John, 14 days into his stem cell transplant at 260 pounds from the impact of his treatment.
Picture 2: After: March 2016: John, healthy, fit and cancer-free at 190 pounds.

If you’re part of the 5:00 am exercise crowd, chances are you’ve met Club Fit Briarcliff member John Gillespie, 57, whose natural energy and captive smile is hard to forget. John’s early-morning workout includes cardio and weight lifting and gives him the energy and jump-start he needs to start his day as a health care public relations professional in the City. John, who recently moved to New York from his native St. Louis, had always led an active lifestyle filled with golf, running, and exercise. That is until two years ago on March 27, 2014, when a normal day at the office became anything but routine.

John was working at a St. Louis hospital in the health system that he worked for when excruciating abdominal pain sent him to the emergency room. John’s bloodwork showed a hemoglobin level of 8 (very low) and an iron level of 0 (non-existent). John was bleeding from his intestines, and his body was unable to stop it.

Diagnosed with a rare and advanced form of lymphoma, called peripheral T-cell lymphoma (PTCL), and four tumors in his small intestine, John’s treatment included a dangerously aggressive six-round, high-dose E-CHOP chemotherapy regimen followed by an autologous stem cell harvest. The E-CHOP began destroying the four tumors, however, two of the tumors burst, forcing emergency surgery to clean up the toxic contents spilling into John’s stomach and to sew his small intestine back together. “The good news was that the chemo worked,” said John, “and the bad news was that the chemo worked.”

Because of the damage to his small intestine and the proximity of one of the remaining tumors to his large intestine, an ileostomy was ordered rather than reattaching his small intestine to the large intestine. The ileostomy diverted the end of his small intestine through his lower abdominal wall where it was attached to an external waste bag for 18 months, a painful experience that made it difficult to exercise and get proper nutrition and hydration. Upon completing his chemo, the stem cells were transplanted and successfully grafted which regenerated his bone marrow. After being cancer- and chemo-free for one year, John was given the green light for an ileostomy reversal on November 4, 2015, to reattach his small intestine to his large intestine which would return his body to normal functionality.

John’s two-year battle with PTCL had been the most painful experience of his life, and he credits the love of his family and two children with helping him persevere. After the pain receded from the ileostomy reversal, John was cleared to begin an exercise program. Enter Club Fit’s HelpRx — a three-month, physician-referral, new-member program for $150 that offers support, guidance and motivation to help people successfully and safely integrate the benefits of regular exercise into their routine. For John, who had lost all muscle tone and a level of fitness and health that had always been a part of his identity, HelpRX was the answer, and he started on the Rx program the week before Thanksgiving.

Restricted from exercise involving abdominal strain for eight weeks, John began his routine with cardio and resistance training, transitioning to weight lifting in January. Under the guidance of Club Fit’s training staff, John’s fitness, strength, and energy quickly improved, and at the end of his three-month Rx membership he signed on to a regular membership because he did not want to go backward. “Exercising is not work anymore,” explains John. “It’s become a routine, a commitment.”

In his four months with Club Fit, John has lost 20 pounds, six inches, and his strength has increased dramatically. “I missed being fit,” said John. “The Club Fit staff has always been very supportive of my goals. I’ve never had to pay for training or classes to access their expertise.” John tries to exercise 5-6 days a week with 35-40 minutes of cardio exercise on the StrideClimber elliptical machines and 30 minutes of weight lifting, with bench pressing being a favorite activity. “Weight lifting has become my favorite,” says John. “Reaching new benchmarks is very rewarding.” John’s latest benchmark is seven reps at 190 pounds, and this month he may hit his next benchmark of 200 pounds.

“I’ve gone from not being able to lift a carton of milk to bench pressing 190 pounds,” said John. “So if I can leave anyone with just one thought, it would be that it is possible to feel healthy again — to recover from cancer or severe injury or just to get healthy.”

To Keep You Inspired… Club Fit Member Mia Matteo keeps active

by Lisa Olney, Club Fit guest blogger.

Mia Matteo

Mia celebrating her 90th birthday in September with her youngest great-grandchild at the time, Connor. Two more great grandchildren have since blessed her family.

Aquatic classes, massage, lunch in the Café, if your personal Venn diagram includes any of these activities, chances are you’ve met the amazing Mia Matteo, who at 90 years old personifies perseverance, positivity, and inspiration. A Jefferson Valley member since 2001, Club Fit has become a part of Mia’s life, keeping her physically and mentally strong, helping her battle through breast cancer, a hip replacement, a pacemaker and Parkinson’s Disease.

A former lap swimmer at the Club, Mia has transitioned to the H2O Water Walking classes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:15. If she can’t make one of the class times, she’ll go in the pool on her own to exercise. It’s an energy and interaction that Mia looks forward to every time she goes to the Club. “The water classes and talking to people gives me a lot of energy. To just sit at home would be the worst thing for me,” says Mia. “Club Fit keeps me young.” Mia also adds massage therapy to her gym routine and sees her favorite massage therapist, Jayne D’Ambrosio, every other week. “Jayne knows my body and knows me very well,” says Mia. “My whole body just feels good after a massage.”

So, what is Mia’s philosophy? Stay active, move. “You just have to keep going every day,” explains Mia. “I go to church, I pray a lot, and I thank God every day that I’m still here.” After a life that for years was filled with uncertainty and tragedy this should come as no surprise.

Born in Austria, Mia’s family struggled and was on welfare. With no money and hardly any food, the family was starving. Her mother was also suffering from post-partum depression, and by the time Mia was four, she and her brothers were removed from their home and isolated from one another in different buildings of an orphanage in Vienna. Her mother was placed in a sanitarium.

Mia experienced loving, neglectful, and abusive situations while shuttled between foster homes and the home of her father who had begun a new life and a new family. All without her brothers; all without a sense of why this was happening. When Mia was 12 Adolph Hitler ordered the 1938 invasion of her homeland. The following year Mia’s mother was killed in the gas chambers of Hartheim Castle, a victim of Hitler’s adult euthanasia program, a mass-murder project to kill all mentally and physically disabled adults living in Germany and German annexed territories.

Mia was drafted into the German Air Force at 16 and captured as a prisoner of war alongside several female soldiers. She remembers the cruelty of her Russian captors and a grueling, nine-day march of 40 kilometers per day (24.9 miles) back to Germany where exile and a train to Siberia awaited. Mia and her best friend Annalie escaped as they neared the train station aided by “a group of German women who created a circle around us and hid us with their big dresses.” One of the women sheltered the two in her home where they rested before fleeing to the safety of the American side of the Austrian border.

Life began to shift dramatically for Mia. She married U.S. Air Force Tail Gunner Walter Donelan, and for once life was peaceful. In 1952 Walter was transferred, and the growing family of four made their way to Arlington, MA. Additional transfers took them to France, back to Boston, and finally to New Mexico in 1962. During this time, they had two more children, but the challenges of military life took their toll, and by the end of the year their marriage ended.

New Mexico, however, offered a silver lining when she met Alexander Matteo at a St. Patrick’s Day party in 1963. Kindred spirits, the two were instant soul mates, and ironically, both had four children — two boys and two girls, each — from their first marriages. The couple married that August in Tuckahoe, NY and moved to Shrub Oak where they added two children of their own for a total of ten. Al, passed away three years ago on Thanksgiving, and Mia’s third child, Peter, lost his battle to pancreatic cancer four months later. Like sturdy branches of a grand Oak, however, their family tree continues to grow — honoring the past, embracing the future. Today, Mia is the proud grandmother to 63 grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Mia’s unwavering positivity has seen her through the scariest and happiest times of her life. Together, Mia and Al built an impenetrable foundation for their family of love, hard work, and an active lifestyle that included Club Fit. With her children and grandchildren by her side, Mia is ready for next chapter as well — a chapter that will continue to include Club Fit, rain or shine. “I don’t care if it’s raining or if I’m tired — I go, because it always makes me feel so much better when I do,” explains Mia. “I had a very hard life, and I still want to live a little bit. So, I do a little every day and see what happens.”

To Keep You Inspired… Club Fit Member Luzmarina Lalli

by Lisa Olney, Club Fit guest blogger.

Luzmarina with her family

Club Fit Briarcliff member Luzmarina with her family.

They say exercise is medicine for your soul. And, if anyone doubts it, look no further than Club Fit Briarcliff member Luzmarina Lalli, wife, mother, grandmother, and warrior. Eternally young at heart, Luzmarina uses the Fitness Center, Group Fitness classes, and the Aquatics Center, with her hands-down favorite being Zumba classes. Sounds like a description that could fit many of Club Fit’s faithful members, however, there is a difference. Luzmarina is battling chronic kidney disease (CKD).

CKD is the gradual loss of kidney function over time. According to the National Library of Medicine, sometimes the loss of function can be so slow that you do not have symptoms until your kidneys have almost stopped working. Diagnosed in the 1990s, Luzmarina had no idea she was sick — no warning signs that her body was rebelling against her, until blood work at a routine trip to the doctor uncovered the disease. Doctors found none of the symptoms typically associated with kidney disease and urged her to keep up her healthy lifestyle. Luckily, a healthy lifestyle was routine for Luzmarina and her family. The only addition was check-ups to monitor her kidneys.

Luzmarina joined Club Fit 15 years ago and immediately found a place for her passion for dance in the group fitness classes. When Club Fit first started offering Zumba classes, Luzmarina was hooked, and she’s been sashaying her way across the Club Fit studio floors ever since. Her current routine is two to three Zumba classes a week, if her schedule allows, followed by a workout on the Hoist Strength Training Circuit. She’s just discovered the Aquatic Arthritis class and the post-class visit to the whirlpool that is not only medicine for the soul, but medicine for an arthritic knee.

20 years into her diagnosis, Luzmarina’s CKD has, unfortunately, progressed to an advanced stage. While she’s feeling better now, August through mid-December of 2015 was a struggle marked with fatigue. Still Luzmarina tried to make it to Club Fit for Zumba and strength training when she could, but it was difficult. “Sometimes I could hardly stay awake,” recalled Luzmarina. “In Zumba I was so slow, but it was great for my attitude to go and be able to feel that I accomplished something.” Though fatigued and sick, she was still able to maintain a high enough level of fitness to avoid dialysis. Her doctors at Columbia-Presbyterian in Manhattan want to keep it that way.

Luzmarina’s doctors have recommended pursuing a living donor kidney transplant before a deceased donor kidney transplant. According to Columbia University Medical Center’s Renal Transplant Program webpage “A deceased donor kidney has a 50/50 chance of functioning for 10-20 years, post-transplant. In contrast, a live donor kidney has a 50/50 chance of functioning over 20 years. In addition, 50-60% of deceased donor kidneys are fully functional immediately upon transplantation, versus 97% of live donor organs” (Deceased Donor Kidney Transplant, 2015.)

So, while her family and friends rally around her to help find a match, Luzmarina is back to her routine, maintaining her health and fitness, while inspiring everyone around her with her energy, positivity, and love of Zumba. When a match is found, one thing is for sure — our Zumba warrior will be ready.

To learn more about chronic kidney disease and kidney transplantation, visit the following websites:

Reference:

1) Chronic Kidney Disease. (2016, Jan.). Retrieved from:
https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000471.htm

2) Deceased Donor Kidney Transplant. (2015). Retrieved from: http://columbiasurgery.org/conditions-and-treatments/deceased-donor-kidney-transplant

Additional Source:

3) Transplantation: Living Donor Kidney Transplants. (2015). Retrieved from:
http://nyp.org/services/transplantation-surgery/kidney-transplant-living-donor.html

Fitness Success Story: Mary Healy

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Mary Healy joined Club Fit in February 2015 and began personal training with Master Trainer Beth Kear in March. Here is what she has to say about her fitness journey with Club Fit:

Most of my life I have been overweight. After much time and effort, at this point in my fitness journey, I have lost over 65lbs and I am now off Hypertension medications. My main interest in joining Club Fit was to use the pool for exercise post back surgery. Once I felt stronger I wanted to learn how to use the Fitness Center but was anxious regarding safety. Soon after, a club manager suggested working with a personal trainer to ease my way into a new fitness regime and help with my balance and strength weaknesses. Master Trainer, Beth Kear stepped into my life and everything changed. She has shared her knowledge as tools to use everyday until they become part of you. My strength, balance, and endurance has all increased, but most of all — my confidence. This is my first experience joining a health club, it has been one of my best decisions I have made. It is true you never stop learning!

We are so happy for your success Mary, congratulations in your progress and your accomplishments!

Mary before and after

Mary’s fitness journey had yielded amazing progress, as shown in these before and after photos.

These are photos of Mary before her weight loss and after.

Rosemary’s Fitness Success Story

Rosemary-Burgos-Bennett-w
My name is Rose Burgos-Bennett, and I have been struggling with weight loss for most of my life. I am the type of person that loses interest quickly, and I have explored many different ways to lose weight. I have even taking my plans to the extreme. After I had my son, I was at my heaviest — 280 lbs! I tried various home programs to lose weight; the P.I.N.K method, Shaun T’s Insanity and T-25. From these programs, I lost approximately 45 to 50 lbs. I also tried Crossfit and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but due to a shoulder injury and then a neck injury, I had to stop. I was in physical therapy for almost 2 1/2 years, but my weight remained at 230 lbs. I needed to get into Physical Therapy, and this is when Club Fit came into my life. Once recovered, I wanted to try to get fit and healthy and continue my weight loss journey.

My husband and I decided to join the Summer Shape Up program with personal trainers Tiana Gonzalez and Nick Paganelli. Both my husband and I had completely different goals. Steven’s goal was to gain muscle mass and mine was to lose weight. I was hesitant at first to begin personal training but Tiana has been a class act! She has been extremely helpful, and worked with my abilities and pushed me to do more. She has been an incredible coach and cheerleader and has celebrated my success every step of the way. She was also attentive to form and intensity to ensure I never injured myself during the workouts. During the 8-week program I lost 17lbs! MYZONE has been an essential tool in the process. Tiana used it to monitor me during training and paced me accordingly. I love that it tells me how many calories burned during an activity and that it shows how much I am pushing myself during my workouts. I am always trying to get to the red…LOL. It has been excellent — and I love it.

My husband and I use our MYZONE belts even when we are not in the Club. We monitor each other when jogging/walking on the outside track. We go out there as a family and we try to engage both our kids in all we do. I know I am not at my goal weight yet, but I am going in the right direction. I am taking it a day at a time and celebrating my successes in my continual journey to lose weight.

Club Fit Briarcliff Fitness Director Susie Reiner

— written by Club Fit Member and Guest Blogger Lisa Skelton

Club Fit Briarcliff Fitness Director Susie Reiner loves
helping Members improve their well-being.

Club Fit Briarcliff Fitness Director Susie Reiner

Club Fit Briarcliff Fitness Director Susie Reiner

When you put yourself in the hands of a Personal Trainer, that’s exactly what it is for many people… personal. You trust that your trainer has your best interests at heart, and you need to feel comfortable opening up to them about your goals, your insecurities, your expectations. And feel comfortable letting them see you pre-shower, in all your workout glory!

If the thought of using a Personal Trainer intimidates you, spend some time with Club Fit Briarcliff Fitness Director Susie Reiner… you’ll feel totally comfortable in no time. Susie has served as Director since June 2014, and not only is she one of the most approachable staff members here at Club Fit Briarcliff, she is highly qualified for the position. She began as a dancer, earning her BA in Theater from CUNY Hunter College, but through her own experience with fitness regimens soon realized that personal training was a better fit. “I realized that personal training could accomplish more than just treating someone’s injury or disease. I could get instant feedback, and felt I was actually affecting and preventing disease.”

Susie went on to earn her Master’s in Exercise Science & Health Promotion from California University of Pennsylvania, and began at Club Fit Jefferson Valley as a Group Fitness Instructor in 2009. Her personal training career began in 2010 with her appointment as Personal Training Coordinator. She took a break from Club Fit with a few other positions, including time spent at Texas A & M University, where she served as Fitness Coordinator in the campus gym and as Lecturer in the Health & Kinesiology Department. Lucky for us, she’s back at Club Fit!

“I’m not a salesperson, and I don’t hire salespeople,” says Susie, who is a Certified Exercise Physiologist (ACSM) and a Performance Enhancement Specialist (NASM). “All I know is that fitness is good for you, and I want to make sure everyone is here for the right reasons. I want to improve our members’ well being and quality of life.” That explains Susie’s focus on staff, and their development and growth. She also emphasizes that she does not want any of her staff members to focus on one demographic group. “I want the Club Fit Trainers to be in a position to help everyone, at every age and ability level.” In order to do this, Susie has been putting an emphasis on education and certifications.

Since Susie started, the Personal Training staff has taken an important step in differentiating itself from other health club trainers – Smart Fitness certification. The program was rolled out at Club Fit in January 2015, and in six months, every trainer had successfully completed the program. “It sets us apart from the competition because the training equips the trainer with a baseline knowledge that qualifies them to work with and handle certain medical conditions if a doctor suggests a client begin a fitness regimen,” says Susie. The program also helped put our veteran trainers and the new hires on the same level. For more information on each of our Personal Trainers, click here.

Club Fit is also partnering with CUNY Lehman and Mercy College, with students interning in our Fitness Center. Susie and Club Fit Briarcliff General Manager Mark Cuatt have also been guest lecturing at Mercy College. “It’s a growing relationship, in a growing field,” says Susie.

Susie is also working to create more options for members within the Fitness Center. “Ideally, we can offer a variety of different small group programs at different price points,” she says. “But almost all of our Fit Coaches are now certified Personal Trainers, so you are getting the biggest bang for your buck no matter what you do!”

For more information on Club Fit’s Fitness programming and Personal Training packages, contact Susie at sreiner@clubfit.com, or 914-250-2795. And begin to make the most of your workout time!

Club Fit Instructor and accessories maven Barbara Aronowitz

— written by Club Fit Member and Guest Blogger Lisa Skelton

Club Fit Instructor Barbara Aronowitz is co-owner of In2Style accessories, available in The Shop at Club Fit

Barbara-Aronowitz

Barbara Aronowitz in The Shop at Briarcliff, which carries In2Style accessories.

Many of us know and love Barbara Aronowitz for her heart-pumping Spin classes at Club Fit Briarcliff. But what many members DON’T know is just how long Barbara has been a part of the Club Fit family, and the roles she has played in the Club’s history!

Barbara, who now lives in White Plains, was a member at Club Fit Jefferson Valley when she joined the staff as a Group Exercise instructor in 1988. But it wasn’t about Spin back then. “We taught any and every Group Exercise class, Step… any new program that came along,” she says. In 1997 she moved to the Briarcliff club as Group Exercise Manager, and then became part of the club’s original Human Resources Team when it was established in 2001.

All the while, she continued to teach and eventually became a certified Spin instructor, which is her current role at the club these days, where she teaches four classes. Along the way, Barbara has become close with co-workers and club members alike, including Spin class participant Patti Loomis. Patti, who lives in Briarcliff Manor, has been a Club Fit Briarcliff member for 15 years, and loves it. “I take all of Barbara’s Spin classes, and also enjoy Pilates and Definitions.” The friendship between Patti and Barbara began about three years ago, and has now bloomed into a business partnership.

Patti, a former paralegal, was running a gift and accessories business from home, attending distributor shows at the Javits Center in Manhattan and visiting New York City showrooms and selling through local shops. Barbara started tagging along to these shows and one day, about six months ago, the light bulb went on: “Why don’t we go into business together?” And In2Style was born.

Today, Barbara and Patti are selling their wares at The Shop at Club Fit, where shop manager Lauren is helping move their merchandise along. “We love to get feedback, so we hope that shoppers let Lauren know what items they’d like to see offered,” says Patti. “We’re out all the time looking for the latest, newest trends in accessories.” Barbara and Patti also pride themselves on offering multiple price points. “We have things for everyone’s budget!” Keep that in mind when holiday shopping time comes around!

Interestingly enough, this new venture brings things full circle for Barbara, who has a degree in Fashion Merchandising! She says has loved being with Club Fit for these past 27 years, especially because of the flexibility she has had to grow within the club, as well as outside the club. “I feel like I have a special relationship with Club Fit,” she says. “It’s just a great place!”

To get in touch with Barbara and Patti about their venture, or to offer suggestions on what you’d like to see in The Shop, you can email in2stylebp@gmail.com. They’d love to hear from you! Or just tap Barbara on the shoulder after Spin class, she’s always ready to talk shop!

A 9-11 Survivor’s Story

potter
It’s been nearly 14 years since the attack on the Twin Towers, but we can remember that day like it was just yesterday. This is especially true for those who were in the World Trade Centers and the surrounding buildings when they were hit, as well as their family and friends.

Club Fit member Jean Potter was working on the 81st floor of the North Tower that day, just below where the first plane hit, and walked down the stairs to safety. Her husband, Dan, a New York City firefighter, raced to the towers and, while looking for Jean, helped others find their way to safety. Jean and Dan were finally reunited at a Chinatown firehouse later that day.

Both Jean and Dan firmly believe that their faith in God got them through that morning. “I felt that God was with me as I was walking down those stairs,” says Jean, and Dan agrees. “Before I found Jean, I prayed to God for the clarity to know what to do, and He got me through.” In the ensuing days, they reluctantly decided to leave their Battery Park apartment in New York City, just a few blocks from the World Trade Center site. “It was a war zone,” Jean said, and the memories were simply too overwhelming to ignore. They moved to Westchester and eventually began a new life in Northeastern Pennsylvania, where they had family, but it was not easy. “I’m a city girl!” says Jean. “ It took a lot for Dan and I to leave our city life and our friends.”

In 2012, Jean and Dan felt the pull back to New York and decided to return to the area, settling in Shrub Oak. Both have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, in addition to Dan’s injuries from that fateful day, causing his retirement from the FDNY, but they have achieved a new feeling of peace. “As I keep saying, God puts us where we need to be, and everyone has embraced us here,” says Jean. “We’re home.”

Soon after settling in, Jean joined Club Fit Jefferson Valley. She had always incorporated fitness into her routine, and goes so far as to say that her good health and fitness helped her get down those 81 floors! Today, staying fit is just a healthy way to spend her newfound free time. “I just love it at the club, there’s such a positive energy there!” She is a particular fan of Zumba, and wants to get more into yoga. Dan is active with the planning and emergency committees of their condominium in Shrub Oak, and Jean has started journaling again. “It’s amazing how people continue to reach out to us,” Jean says, so despite her desire to slow down, she may have more work ahead of her!

The road that Jean and Dan Potter have traveled is truly inspirational. They may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, but they took that negative experience and used it to help others, through their continued willingness to give to those in need as well as offer guidance through Jean’s book. If you are interested in reading more about the Potters’ experience, By the Grace of God: A 9/11 Survivor’s Story of Love, Hope, and Healing is available at www.amazon.com, as well as at most bookstores and libraries.

A 9 11 Survivor’s Story

Jean & Dan Potter

Jean & Dan Potter

It’s been nearly 14 years since the attack on the Twin Towers, but we can remember that day like it was just yesterday. This is especially true for those who were in the World Trade Centers and the surrounding buildings when they were hit, as well as their family and friends.

Club Fit member Jean Potter was working on the 81st floor of the North Tower that day, just below where the first plane hit, and walked down the stairs to safety. Her husband, Dan, a New York City firefighter, raced to the towers and, while looking for Jean, helped others find their way to safety. Jean and Dan were finally reunited at a Chinatown firehouse later that day.

Both Jean and Dan firmly believe that their faith in God got them through that morning. “I felt that God was with me as I was walking down those stairs,” says Jean, and Dan agrees. “Before I found Jean, I prayed to God for the clarity to know what to do, and He got me through.” In the ensuing days, they reluctantly decided to leave their Battery Park apartment in New York City, just a few blocks from the World Trade Center site. “It was a war zone,” Jean said, and the memories were simply too overwhelming to ignore. They moved to Westchester and eventually began a new life in Northeastern Pennsylvania, where they had family, but it was not easy. “I’m a city girl!” says Jean. “ It took a lot for Dan and I to leave our city life and our friends.”

Both built new lives, Jean counseling inmates at a local facility. “I came to understand that incarceration is a second chance at life,” she says. Dan began working with local fire departments and devoted time to the local Red Cross. “Everything that has happened to us is part of God’s plan. This was our own second chance, and He put us where we needed to be.” In 2011, Jean published By the Grace of God: A 9/11 Survivor’s Story of Love, Hope, and Healing, chronicling their 9/11 experience and their subsequent spiritual journey. Jean says, “The book is our story, but is also meant to honor those who perished, and share our strong message of faith.”

In 2012, Jean and Dan felt the pull back to New York and decided to return to the area, settling in Shrub Oak. Both have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, in addition to Dan’s injuries from that fateful day, causing his retirement from the FDNY, but they have achieved a new feeling of peace. “As I keep saying, God puts us where we need to be, and everyone has embraced us here,” says Jean. “We’re home.”

Soon after settling in, Jean joined Club Fit Jefferson Valley. She had always incorporated fitness into her routine, and goes so far as to say that her good health and fitness helped her get down those 81 floors! Today, staying fit is just a healthy way to spend her newfound free time. “I just love it at the club, there’s such a positive energy there!” She is a particular fan of Zumba, and wants to get more into yoga. Dan is active with the planning and emergency committees of their condominium in Shrub Oak, and Jean has started journaling again. “It’s amazing how people continue to reach out to us,” Jean says, so despite her desire to slow down, she may have more work ahead of her!

The road that Jean and Dan Potter have traveled is truly inspirational. They may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, but they took that negative experience and used it to help others, through their continued willingness to give to those in need as well as offer guidance through Jean’s book. If you are interested in reading more about the Potters’ experience, By the Grace of God: A 9/11 Survivor’s Story of Love, Hope, and Healing is available at www.amazon.com, as well as at most bookstores and libraries.

Stroke Awareness and Recovery

— written by Club Fit Member and Guest Blogger Joy Cain

Club Fit’s Syd Berman shares her experience to promote stroke awareness.

Syd Berman promotes stroke awareness.

Syd having fun with friends from the Club Fit “Dance ‘N’ Funk” crew.

The morning of June 6, 2012 was like any other beautiful spring morning at Club Fit. Swim classes were going on in the program pool, treadmills and stair climbers were being used in the fitness area, and up in Studio I, Syd Berman was leading her Dance ‘n’ Funk class, just as she had done hundreds of times before. But about 15 minutes into this particular class, things went awry. And Syd Berman’s life was changed forever.

“I didn’t feel anything,” Syd responds when asked if she felt pain. “I was just teaching a dance, and I thought, ‘Wait a minute. I’m an instructor, and it’s almost like I’m stumbling.’ Then I said something over the microphone and two of my students recognized what was going on and stopped the class.”

What was going on was that Syd was having a stroke. The alert students who saw Syd’s unusual stance and heard her slurred speech reacted immediately. They notified the front desk, and 911 was called. Syd was whisked off by ambulance to Hudson Valley Hospital. A day later, she was transferred down to Columbia Presbyterian, where she remained in the ICU for a few days. When doctors determined that she wasn’t in imminent danger of having another stroke, Syd was transferred to Burke Rehabilitation Center in White Plains for what turned into a six-week stay.

For those in the Club Fit family, the overwhelming sentiment surrounding the entire episode was one of shock and incredulity. This wasn’t some weekend warrior, some wannabe jock who suffered the stroke — this was SYD! Syd… who had begun working here when the facility was known as the Jefferson Valley Racquet Club. Syd… who, since 1993, had been the Club’s dance coordinator and was later put in charge of all the group exercise programs. Syd… who ate all the right foods and slept the right number of hours and who, at the age of 59, was in better physical shape than most women half her age. The stroke had happened to Syd! And the underlying thought was this: If a stroke can happen to someone like Syd, what chance do the rest of us have?

“I had none of the precursors,” Syd says. “I’m just happy I was here when it happened because our emergency response was excellent.” What Syd had was an ischemic stroke, which means that a blood clot interfered with the flow of blood to her brain. Doctors told her that the clot probably formed after she made a sudden movement with her head. “When I do the warm up, I get very high energy, so I might have just twisted too hard or something,” she says. “My doctor told me that was it. I said, ‘Well why hasn’t Beyonce stroked out ?’ and he said it’s just the luck of the draw. My GP told me that sh*t happens — so I said, ‘Thanks a lot — that really helps me out.’ But you know what? I’m still here and I feel very lucky because everyone has a story. Everybody has a tragedy in their life and I’m lucky I survived, because stroke is the No 4 killer in the country.”

Syd is speaking from the bridge area overlooking the pool at Jefferson Valley, waiting for a chair yoga class to begin. She has gained weight in the three years since her stroke, which is to be expected given that she is so much less mobile than she used to be. She needs a cane to get around, and her left arm is virtually useless. But her speech is back to normal and the smile on her face is real. She’s wearing a black Club Fit shirt with the words Live, Laugh, Love on it, and around her neck is a rhinestone turtle, a gift someone sent to her when she was rehabbing at Burke. The turtle is her reminder that recovery from stroke is a slow process — but the idea is to keep moving forward.

When she arrived at Burke, Syd had absolutely no movement in her left arm or her left toes, and her left leg felt like it was in a bucket of cement. The left side of her face drooped slightly. She was riding on an emotional roller coaster, going from a place of initially joking about her predicament in the hospital (“little did I realize the joke was on me,”) to a place of feeling no emotions at all. It wasn’t until some instructors from Club Fit sent 100 red roses to her room at Burke that Syd finally broke down and cried.

She knew that she would do whatever she could to restore her health.“Any testing they had at Burke, I volunteered for it,” she says. “Electrical stimuli (I felt like Frankenstein), a low carb diet that was supposed to help the brain — I was game to try anything I could.“ She went to physical therapy three times a week and eventually made such amazing progress that, in 2014, she was asked to return to Burke to share her story at a clinical conference.

Which brings us to today.

“I’m good. It’s a struggle everyday to live with a disability — boy, do I have appreciation now for people that have disabilities! — but I get along. I still have a good arm, a good leg, and my husband (Howie) is so good at taking care of me!

“I can do pretty much everything myself — except I can’t cook on the stove because that’s dangerous. I’m left-handed, so I try to write, but I can’t write too well — I sort of scribble with my right hand.

“I feel very lucky. I get to take care of my grandkids, I see my friends, I get out and about. I joined a singing group — we’recalled the Sweet Seasons — and we have such a good time! Everything I read says that the more you do for your brain, even without a stroke, the better it is for you.”With that in mind, Syd tries to keep mentally busy. One of her goals is to learn Spanish. Also, Syd recently took the written test to recertify herself as a group instructor; perhaps one day she’ll be able to lead a fitness class for those with special needs.

Still, she fatigues easily. An occupational therapist regularly visits Syd at home, and, among other things, makes Syd get down on her hands and knees to try and do push ups. That, along with trying to lift her left arm by itself, are two of her most challenging physical tasks. Although doctors have told her that her disabilities are permanent, Syd refuses to accept that. “I’m not gonna stop working,” she says. “I’m never gonna give up hope.”

Life has a way of teaching us everything we need to know. Prior to the stroke, Syd says that she was super critical of her looks. “I was very self conscious and didn’t think I was good enough. Now, of course, I look at pictures and say, wow, I was pretty good,” she says. The lesson here? “Appreciate your body — no matter how big it is, how thin it is. Embrace yourself — don’t let society tell you that you have to be perfect. Embrace yourself and just make the best out of it.

“A lot of people just don’t want to go out when they’re like this [with physical challenges] — but you know what? I’m here and I’m gonna live my life the best I can.”

She’s also doing what she can to make a difference. Syd’s proud of the fact that Club Fit partnered with her to raise funds for the National Stroke Association (NSA). Among other things, the NSA seeks to educate people about strokes, help stroke victims receive extended therapy, and advise hospitals on how to become better equipped to deal with stroke victims. In May, this Club Fit fundraiser was held in conjunction with the So You Think You Can Choreograph contest and raised over $4,000 for the NSA. Last year’s fundraiser raised over $3,500.

Syd is also proud of the fact that so many of the women she taught in Dance ‘N’ Funk contributed in some way to the fundraiser, and that they are still there for her — and for each other. Says Syd: “The dance girls are unbelievable. It makes me so happy to see them bonding and being friends.”

More than 30 years have passed since Syd Berman and Club Fit first crossed paths, a path that has seen its share of twists and turns. And as Syd looks back over what’s transpired these last three years, some more of life’s lessons are revealed.

“Family is more important than anything — and keeping your spirits up, no matter what happens, is important.,” Syd says. “I’ve discovered that I have so many wonderful friends at the club, it’s like my second home. And I also discovered that I am strong. I used to wonder what would I do if something happened [to me],