To Keep You Inspired … Lizandra Vega

July 25, 2016 by karen

{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… Club Fit Instructor Lisa Coffman

April 22, 2016 by karen

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

April 22, 2016 by karen

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.

Tips for Water Safety this Memorial Day and All Summer Long!

May 20, 2015 by Liz

Memorial Day is coming up and this is the time of year people begin opening their pools for the Summer. To ensure your family has a happy and safe Memorial Day and a great Summer packed with Swimming, here are some tips to help keep you and your family safe all season long!

Here is some helpful advice from Club Fit Briarcliff Aquatics Director, Ruth Garcia!

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 3.14.24 PM If you are a pool owner, make sure your pool is surrounded by an adequate fence or barrier to protect your family as well as potential wanderers.

Children should start learning to swim around 2.5 years of age. We recommend starting even sooner with infant/parent classes to get them acclimated to the water.

If swimming in an unsupervised area, make sure you have another person with you. Children should never be unattended.

Do not consume alcohol while swimming. It impairs coordination, judgement and your ability to function normally in an aquatic environment.

Use Coast Guard approved gear and non-inflatable pool toys and swim aids. Inflatable floatation devices pose an increased risk of drowning as they are prone to popping. We also do not recommend using mermaid-like/uni-fin fins. This new trend is cute, but not necessarily safe as it positions the body in an unnatural way and has the potential to cause a distressed swimmer.

Be sure to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. Here are some suggestions from the American Cancer Society on how to stay safe in the sun!

Sign up for a CPR class so you are prepared in the event there is an emergency. Click here for dates in May.

If you need further information on water safety, visit the American Red Cross for their top recommendations.

Interested in swim lessons at Club Fit? Contact braquatics@clubfit.com or call and speak to someone in our Aquatics department for more information! Club Fit Briarcliff: 914.762.3444 ex. 2108)

Meet Marc Quintiliani, Master Swim Instructor, Assistant Swim Coach and Lifeguard

July 30, 2014 by karen

Lifeguard Marc Quintiliani
Club Fit Master Water Safety Instructor, Assistant Swim Coach and Lifeguard Marc Quintiliani

“One step at a time” is a common sense approach, but not everyone practices it. For a child with special needs, it’s a recipe for success. So says Club Fit Master Water Safety Instructor, Assistant Swim Coach and Lifeguard Marc Quintiliani, who teaches students of every age and skill level, but has a definite connection with this particular group of students.

Marc, a former mechanic who has been with Club Fit for five years and has been a swimming instructor for close to fifteen years, loves to see his students realize they can accomplish what once seemed out of reach. “I like breaking down their walls,” he says of his special needs students. “It’s especially rewarding when I hear parents say they can’t believe what their child is doing, milestones they couldn’t imagine reaching,” he says.

Most parents opt for private lessons, which is helpful because Marc can focus on a child’s particular needs. And “one step at a time” is key. “The first thing I focus on is getting them to be comfortable with me,” he says. He tries to schedule these lessons when the Aquatics Center is quiet, so the student doesn’t have to deal with sensory overload. On the other hand, a certain amount of distraction can sometimes be helpful with children who are nervous about being in the water. “One of my students had a previous bad experience, so I gave him things to do like counting drills to take his mind off of being in the pool.” Another boy would get in the water but actual swimming was a particular challenge…today he is comfortable swimming in all areas of the pool. “I try to get the kids to let their guard down and just relax,” says Marc.

Kaleb is a current student whose grandmother Linda Schulman can’t say enough about the strides he’s made. Kaleb, who turns three on August 2, had a stroke at a very early age, leaving him with motor issues, and one side of his body weak and less functional. Hoping swim lessons would strengthen him, but not completely optimistic, Linda turned to Marc, and has seen improvement in the short amount of time that Marc has worked with her grandson. “Kaleb has a great attitude, and our sessions got even better after I realized that he sometimes uses sign language to communicate,” said Marc, who now supplements his vocal praise with encouraging signs. “We focus a lot on getting him to use his left side more, since that is his weaker side.” Linda is extremely happy with his progress. “Kaleb is almost fearless in the water now,” she says.

Marc’s experience includes more than 10 years of competitive swimming, including Junior Olympic, County and State meets. He currently has a diverse clientele at the club, including everyone from his special needs kids, to triathletes, to seniors. He also serves as Assistant Coach for the Club Fit Swim Team under Head Coach Bill Walsh, and has seen a great improvement with the team. “We had some work to do, but the kids are starting to come together and I’m excited about the upcoming season,” he says, which begins in September.

As for kids like Kaleb, Marc will continue to work his magic and help them achieve what once seemed impossible. “It’s great to see the kids succeed,” he says. “They come in thinking they have so many limitations, and realize that it’s not so hard to overcome them.” For more information on programs available, contact braquatics@clubfit.com.

Adaptive Swim Program Benefits Special Needs Children

July 30, 2014 by karen

Adaptive Swim Coach Helen Peters
Adaptive Swim Coach Helen Peters with happy student Adam

“I DID IT!” Those three words are probably the sweetest three words a parent can hear from a child with special needs. And it’s a phrase that Club Fit’s Helen Peters has the privilege of hearing from her students in the Adaptive Swim program.

Helen, who has been a swim instructor at Club Fit for more than 20 years, is also a Special Education teacher in the Newburgh School District. When Club Fit decided to incorporate the Adaptive Swim lessons into the Aquatics programming about seven years ago, Helen’s experience in both teaching and swim made her the perfect candidate to teach. She holds a master’s degree in Special Education from Fordham University, and has been a swim instructor since the age of 16.

“We teach kids all along the spectrum, and we try to group the kids by age and ability,” says Helen. Some parents prefer to do private or semi-private lessons, but the 4:1 student-to-teacher ratio does allow Helen to give each child the needed attention. The small-group classes are offered three days a week, and are available to members and nonmembers.

Helen works with each child in the group and modifies her approach based on each child’s limitations. She is currently working with two blind children, who cannot see her directions so she needs to actually do the movements with them. Some children have sensory issues, which may require trying different types of goggles to see which are more comfortable, as well as a little more time to get used to the water. Helen has actually found that with most kids, the water is a soothing environment. “The water can calm them down, and usually the hardest part of the entire lesson is at the end, when they don’t want to get out of the pool!” she says.

There have been students as young as three years old, including two three-year-olds with cerebral palsy. The program is available to kids up to age 13. “It’s a unique program that isn’t offered many places,” says Helen. “Our students run the gamut, from those afraid of the water to those who can do laps on their own, but at whatever level it is so rewarding to see their sense of accomplishment.” One student recently passed the Aquatics Center swim test required for him to swim independently in the pool. Another, who is blind and started out with a fear of swimming, recently mastered jumping in the pool by himself. Others are involved in sports programming outside the club, and Helen loves to hear about their accomplishments out of the water. “The kids get so much out of any activity where they can work toward a goal, not matter how big or small, and master it.”

Helen, married and a mother of three, lives in Peekskill and uses the club herself to keep in shape. She does cardio and plays racquetball, in addition to her time in the Aquatics Center. “People sometimes don’t recognize me outside of the pool!” she says.

The next session of Adaptive Swim will begin September 8. If your child or someone you know would benefit from this unique program, please contact Kristina Wolak at kwolak@clubfit.com. It’s a win-win for everyone involved, including Helen! Visit us online to learn more about Adaptive Swim Lessons and to register!

Swim Team makes more waves!

March 24, 2014 by Liz

Oh Yeah! Here we go again!

13 CFJV swimmers qualified and attended the SVY March Madness LCM meet at Princeton University on 3/18. Danielle Taps was Event Champion in the 200 FR, and 2nd in the 400FR and 200 IM. Lea Frenkel placed 3rd in the 50 BK with a Zone qualifying time of 35.00 and Remy Eppner qualified for Junior Olympics in the 50 BR. Way to go Club Fit/JV!

For more information on joining the Swim Team please visit us!
Click here: Club Fit Jefferson Valley Swim Team

Finding (and scrapping) a workout routine.

November 30, 2012 by Kendra

At this point, I’m about three months into my fitness journey, and I’m really happy with how far I’ve come.  I thought that because of my weight, it would take much longer for me to see results in my fitness level, but I’m so pleasantly surprised to find that I’m able to work harder, faster, and longer, in a shorter period of time than I expected, which is really encouraging.  Also, last night after spin class, another member stopped me to tell me I’m doing a fantastic job, and to keep it up. That kind of compliment from a complete stranger is a HUGE motivator!!! It totally made my day.

After trying a lot of what Club Fit has to offer, I’ve settled myself into a routine.  I love spinning and water aerobics for cardio, and body pump and TRX for strength training, and I know which instructors motivate me the most and when they teach.  There is something very comfortable about my routine; I know what to expect, and I’m less likely to skip a workout when I’m feeling tired or irritable, because it’s such an ingrained part of my schedule.

Sometimes though, I can be a capricious twit!  I crave routine and stability in order to keep up the habit, and then suddenly I want to scrap the whole thing and be a dancing fool.  Thankfully, there’s so much to do here, that I can always find something new to try when I get antsy. I’d love to hear your feedback about how you keep your workout routine both stable and fresh. Please share your tips in the comments below!

Superhero Transformation, Part 7: Extreme Power

October 10, 2012 by Kendra

It’s clear at this point how much I love being in the water, so it was only natural for me to eventually try out a water aerobics class.  I was hesitant at first, because from the classes I had observed, it didn’t appear to be much of a challenge, but I reminded myself that superheroes don’t say no, and I suited up to try Extreme Power.

I was surprised by how intense of a workout it was!  Superheroes: don’t be fooled into thinking this class isn’t for you.  It’s fast-paced and heart-pounding, and a great aerobic workout, all while the water keeps you cool.  When I started out the class in the shallow end, I felt a lot of impact on my knees, so I moved into the deeper end of the program pool, thinking that I’d get more resistance with my movements and less impact.  This was true, but it also slowed me down and I couldn’t keep up the pace, so I found a happy medium in the center of the pool and reminded myself that the water wasn’t going to completely absorb the shock of my rebounding, and that I had to work a little harder.  Once I got my head on straight with that, I was in business.

Carol, our instructor, was fabulous at reminding us to keep working harder, and I’m glad she did.  When you start getting tired during with water exercise, it’s hard to resist the temptation to just float, or at least ease up a bit, thinking that no one can see your movements underwater anyway.  Trust me; you cannot fool Carol!  She sees right through it, but she will look you square in the eye, flash you a big smile, and give you the encouragement you need to keep going.  This was a really fun cardio class, and I’ll definitely be back.

Superhero Transformation, Part 4: In Deep Water

September 26, 2012 by Kendra

Whenever I’m away for exercise from a period of time and find myself needing to “get back in the swing of things”, I always return to the water.  I have always loved swimming (and hated sweating) so an aquatic workout is always ideal for me to begin again.  Instead of just laps, I challenged myself this time to try something new, so I took a chance on the Deep Water Workout class.

Our instructor Carol was fabulous, and I was surprised to find out how much of a full-body workout it was!  From far away, I’m sure the small group of us looked like a school of bobbing heads, but underneath the surface we were working hard!  I know from my swimming days (long ago) that moving through water offers twelve times more resistance as moving through air, so every single move you make underwater is twelve times more effective, making an aquatic workout both cardio and strength training at the same time.  The best part was that there was no impact on my joints (a nice break), and I could go at my own pace. An extra bonus is that the water keeps you cool during your workout.

Also, my inner child needs to tell you that the floaty-belt is super fun. I highly recommend this class for all superheroes-in-training. (And really, isn’t that all of us?)

Superhero Transformation, Part 1: Out of the Desert

August 29, 2012 by Kendra

Hi, Club Fitters! My name is Kendra, and I’m so glad to have been invited to share my fitness journey with you on the Club Fit blog. In many ways, I feel like I’m starting from square one – emerging from what I think of as a fitness desert. I’ll get right to it: for the past two years, I have struggled with major health issues, originally stemming from benign uterine fibroid tumors, and ending with a shocking diagnosis of a very rare uterine cancer. I endured multiple surgeries, lengthy hospital stays, severe pain, and even blood transfusions. I’m so glad to say that I’ve come through it, my strength is back, and I have more determination than ever to get (and stay) fit and healthy. I will call this journey my Superhero Transformation, because in my opinion, a superhero isn’t a smaller clothing size, or a shorter running time. A superhero knows that their personal best is being at their healthiest: preventing disease and health problems, and being ready to fight hard should it unexpectedly cross their path.

Here’s the problem: I have always hated “the gym.” The thought of getting on an elliptical machine for an hour and feeling like a hamster on a wheel truly makes me want to cry. Lucky for me (and for all of us), Club Fit is so much more. When I first took my tour, it was abundantly clear that Club Fit was not “the gym”, and that there isn’t just something for everyone; there’s plenty for everyone, no matter what your fitness interests are.

Somewhat overwhelmed with my options, I craved something familiar, and armed with my residual Olympic inspiration, I decided to hit the lap pool. I stuck to 30 minutes and took it pretty easy, but it felt so good! Supported by floating, and working through the water’s natural resistance helped me reawaken my muscles and feel totally invigorated. Just writing this now makes me want to dive back in! And I certainly will, but not before I try out some other new things and report back to all of you with another Superhero update.