Club Fit Member Spotlight: Richard Senato

November 26, 2018 by jeanne

The Season of Giving

By Jeremy Brown

Love Holds Life’s annual toy drive will bring holiday joy and happiness to the families who need it the most.

In 2012, Richard Senato, then a volunteer with the Red Cross, was approached by a friend with the prospect of starting a foundation. A young boy, Michael Montana, was battling leukemia at just 11 and the family was struggling financially. The proposed foundation would help raise money to fund Michael’s treatments.

“I agreed to do it,” Senato recalled, “and that’s how Love Holds Life was formed.”

Through fundraisers, motorcycle rides, golf outings charitable donations and toy drives, Love Holds Life helped raise more than $70,000 for the Montana family and has gone on to help families throughout the region at an average of $25,000 per child.”

“Our mission is to financially assist families whose children are battling cancer,” said Senato. “We want to help to relieve the financial pressure that they’re facing.”

Senato feels that Love Holds Life stands apart from other organizations due to the immediacy of the work that they perform.

“We have a powerful message and mission,” he said. “We do something that most people don’t do, which is take care of people who are battling cancer now. I’m looking to help those that are sick right now – whether it be your brother, your sister, your father or your mother.

As the holiday season approaches, Senato is looking ahead to Love Holds Life’s annual Toy Drive, which will be held on Saturday, December 15th at Lewis Tompkins Hose Company #1 in Beacon, New York. The event, which is officially titled “Cookies & Cocoa with Santa” will feature holiday treats, an array of superheroes and princesses to meet, and plenty of photo ops with Santa himself.

The drive is held each year in memory of Leticia Dos Santos, the eighth child to be sponsored by Love Holds Life, who passed away in 2016 at the age of 15. “She and I started these toy drives about five years ago,” Senato said.

Recently, Senato, in need of a little extra help, has been reaching out to Club Fit for their involvement. A long time member of the Briarcliff location, Senato said that Club Fit’s charitable and family-driven approach make them the perfect ally for Love Holds Life.

“I think they’re great,” he said. “They’re family-run and family-oriented, and they’ve got great staff members who are always smiling and happy and there to help you. I think everything that they stand for is great.”

For Club Fit members and families who are looking to help out with the toy drive, Senato said that boxes will be available at the Briarcliff location. People who wish to donate have until December 7th to bring new and unwrapped gifts ranging from board games to stuffed animals, books, sports equipment and Legos. Senato says that, however little or much each family wants to give, he can guarantee that it will be worth it.

“The kids get so happy and the parents are so grateful,” he said. “It brings people together. And the holidays aren’t just about presents, it’s about coming together. It’s about being happy and joyful. What could be better than that?”

Club Fit Staff Spotlight: Matt Macias

November 19, 2018 by jeanne

Marathon Man

By Jeremy Brown

Matt Macias’s run at the New York City Marathon turned tragic circumstances into a day of triumph.

It seems that Matt Macias is always running. Between teaching full-time in the South Bronx and working at Club Fit’s Energy Center, he’s perennially on the move. But recently, Macias was running not because he had to, but because he needed to.

Last month, Macias participated in the New York City Marathon, running to raise money for Alzheimer’s research. It was an emotional and challenging run, particularly because the cause is one that is very close to his heart.

“My grandmother was very sick with Alzheimer’s and dementia,” he said. “I was feeling kind of useless in a way. Like there wasn’t anything that I could do. So I decided to try and run and raise money for the cause.”

Macias said that he was inspired to take on the marathon by Chris Becker, another Club Fit employee. Two years ago, Becker ran the Chicago Marathon, raising more than $2,000 for breast cancer research in the process.

“He’s one of my best friends,” Macias said. “So I knew that, if he could do it, I had to one-up him!”

Macias had run a number of half marathons but had yet to actually run a full marathon. The closest he had come was a race in San Diego, but an injury had forced him to walk the course instead. In addition, his training was made more difficult by the fact that his grandmother had passed away.

“Everything was just so tense,” he recalled of that time. “The stress was getting to me physically. I know running probably would have been better for me, but I just couldn’t.”

Luckily, Macias said, he had a built-in support system at Club Fit, with many of his co-workers stepping in to help him out when things became too trying.

“Chris Becker was always there, Angelina Curcio always had my back, Kristen Saffo was also there for me,” he said. “All those people helped me every step of the way. I’m starting to realize that all my friends work at Club Fit!”

On the day of the marathon, the unthinkable almost happened when Macias awoke with a fever of 101 degrees. Determined to compete in spite of his illness, he hauled himself out of bed and hit the pavement. However, about halfway through the race, the fever began to catch up with him, and Macias began having second, and maybe even third, thoughts.

“I actually thought about quitting and started texting people saying, ‘I shouldn’t have done this, I’m too sick to run,'” he said. “But, in my armband, I had my grandmother’s prayer card. So I just took it out and ran with it in my hands the rest of the way. That’s when I knew that I was going to finish.”

Having crossed the finish line and raising more than $4,000 for Alzheimer’s research, Macias said that the whole experience was overwhelming.

“It was unbelievable,” he said. “Especially all the support I received from everyone. And not just the friends and family who came to watch, but all the people who were tracking me at home and everyone who helped me raise money for this great cause. And being able to run through the streets of New York City was just insane. There’s nothing quite like it.”

Next up, Macias and Becker plan to run a marathon at Disney World in Orlando, with a course that will take them through all five parks in one day.

“I haven’t started preparing for that one yet,” he said. “I’m giving myself time to recover from the last one. But the physical part isn’t as challenging as the mental part. Once you get to mile 18 and you say to yourself, ‘I still have six more to go!’, that’s when you start questioning what you’re doing.’ But the more you work at it, the easier it gets. Practice makes perfect.”

Club Fit Member Spotlight: Nancy Brophy

September 28, 2018 by jeanne

Stronger Than Ever

By Jeremy Brown

 

Nancy Brophy has been a member of Club Fit since its earliest days and shows no signs of slowing down!

When Nancy Brophy first came to Club Fit back in 1973, it was a very different place than what it is today. “There were just six tennis courts and you didn’t have to be a member,” she recalled.

As the ’70s gave way to the ’80s, the trend of racquetball began to grow. Brophy, always eager to take on a new challenge, decided to give it a try. “I’d never heard of it, but I like to try anything new,” she said. “So I gave it a go and I’m still playing twice a week!”

Born and raised in Peekskill, Brophy says that she always had a high energy level, most likely inherited from her mother, and has remained active well into her adult years. “I play golf, tennis, and racquetball,” she says. “And I used to ski, although I don’t do that anymore.”

When she’s not playing hard on Club Fit’s racquetball courts (where she can still be found every Tuesday and Thursday), Brophy is working just as hard as the director, owner, and founder of the Tom Thumb Preschool in Mohegan Lake. Brophy founded the school 50 years ago in 1968 when her circumstances forced her to think outside the box.

“I was teaching at Copper Beech Middle School, and I was going to have a baby,” she recalls. “And the laws at that time were when women began to show, they had to take a year off. They couldn’t teach and be pregnant.”

Not wanting to stay idle, Brophy sought out a piece of land owned by her father and decided to start a school.

“I had a year off with nothing to do,” she says with a laugh. “And here I am today!”

During her half-century teaching the children in and around Mohegan Lake, Brophy has seen the kids she once taught grow up and come back to her school to enroll their own children.

“The special part of it is that every day the children are the challenge,” she says of the joys of teaching. “I have a wonderful staff, hundreds of people who’ve worked for me over the years. My teachers and staff make possible my dreams for children come true. I’ve had a great run and I’m still there every day!”

But, she says, “I don’t let anything interfere with racquetball!”

That commitment to her twice-weekly racquetball games is part of Brophy’s philosophy of staying active and keeping oneself in shape. In fact, she is so devoted to that philosophy that she makes physical education a key component of Tom Thumb’s curriculum.

“Even with my four and five-year-olds, I’m teaching them how to hold a racquet and hit the ball against the wall,” she says. “They love to do that. I also try and teach them how to putt. We have some artificial turf where we do putting. Kids should have physical education every day. And I’m afraid for this new generation because they’re not active enough.”

Brophy’s devotion to staying fit is part of what drew her to Club Fit, but it’s not the sole reason she’s remained a member for forty-five years. “It’s a great place to be,” she says simply. “They’re accommodating, the place is immaculate, and they throw wonderful parties for the members! They’ve got a lot of competition, as I do. And they’ve managed to stay afloat and keep getting better.”

 

Club Fit Member Spotlight: Loretta Whipple

August 30, 2018 by jeanne

Still Going Strong

By Jeremy Brown


Loretta Whipple has been a member at Club Fit for four decades, and she’s showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

During the 1970s, while attending graduate school at West Conn, Loretta Whipple struck up a conversation with her professor about their extracurricular activities. The professor told her he was a member of Club Fit in Jefferson Valley and waxed rhapsodic about racquetball. Whipple was immediately intrigued. “I investigated it,” she said, “and joined up with a group of ladies who played racquetball there, loved it, and stayed with it for many years.”

Whipple started playing racquetball at Club Fit back in the days when there were still eight courts available and she and her husband quickly became very involved in the sport. “We soon got wrapped up in racquetball and played frequently,” said Whipple.

An active traveler and adventurer who has visited all 50 states, Whipple came to Yorktown from the small farming town of Peabody, Kansas. “I was a farm girl,” she recalled. “After school, I went home and gathered eggs, fed the chickens, milked the cows, all those sorts of things.” When she arrived in Yorktown and began teaching 5th grade at Crompond School. Whipple made sure to bring a little bit of her hometown with her. “Kansas’s birthday was always a special day in the class,” she said. “And for a number of years, I actually made a sheet cake in the shape of Kansas and decorated it with products or towns related to the state. It was always a special day!”

Whipple’s impact as a teacher was strong enough that remains in touch with three of her students who had her as a teacher back in 1966. “That was 52 years ago and today they’re getting ready to retire! As a teacher, that’s one thing that’s a lot of fun, to see students that I’ve had through the years come over and say, ‘Do you remember me, Mrs. Whipple?’ It’s nice that they acknowledge some of the things that we have interesting conversations about their lives today.

Although she retired in 2000 after nearly 40 years on the job, Whipple continued her adventurous ways. That same year, she and her husband, Fred, made the journey all the way to Churchill, Manitoba to view polar bears in their natural habitat. “We took a lot of pictures of the polar bears on the tundra,” she recalled. “And then I came back and went to different classes and made presentations with the pictures that we’d taken. It was a lot of fun!”

Today, Whipple remains as active as ever. She and her husband visit Club Fit three times a week, and more in the winter months. “We love the variety of programs,” she said. “They have the swimming pool, they have racquetball, they have tennis. They have so many different types of classes, from spinning to yoga and many others. Club Fit is a family-oriented club, but they also have programs for seniors and programs for teenagers. They appeal to a wide variety of people and it’s very exciting to be a part of that.”

During their visits to the gym, Whipple’s husband tends to work out in the aquatics center, while she herself takes classes or works with a personal trainer. “It’s just something that’s a part of our life,” she said. “It’s never a case of our feeling lethargic or saying, ‘We’re too tired to go today.’ Having the space in our day to go to the gym is just something that’s always there and we do it often!”

This sense of staying healthy and active is something that’s important to Whipple and something that she hopes other people take seriously. “There are a lot of people that don’t feel like they have the time to develop an interest in going to the gym,” she said. “Age is a factor that diminishes your agility, your flexibility, your balance. So when you’re participating in activities and having the help of the personal trainers, exercise really makes a difference in people’s lives. It keeps you healthy mentally as well as physically. I think it’s important, that’s the bottom line!”

Club Fit Member Spotlight: Mark Voeltz

August 30, 2018 by jeanne

Remembering the Fallen
Mark Voeltz is on a mission to honor lost police officers, one name at a time.

By Jeremy Brown

 

When Mark Voeltz isn’t working as the owner of Mark’s Towing in Thornwood, he’s patrolling the streets of Fishkill as a member of the Duchess County town’s police department. It’s a difficult and demanding job, and one that Voeltz feels isn’t often given the respect and reverence it deserves. “People don’t realize what we do and the sacrifice we make when we go out every day,” he said. “They don’t know the amount of cops that are killed every year. On average in the United States, one cop gets killed every 53 hours.”

As Voeltz took note of the rising number of police officers killed in the line of duty, he knew that he had to act. “I thought, let me do something for these cops who are getting killed,” he said. “After they’re killed and the funeral is over, no one gives them recognition anymore. They’re making the ultimate sacrifice, so let me give some recognition to these guys.”

In 2016, Voeltz purchased a 2006 Crown Victoria formerly used by the Connecticut State Police and, with the help of volunteers, friends and family, had it decorated with the names of all the fallen police officers since 2015, along with an image of St. Michael, the Policeman’s Prayer, and images of the World Trade Center. Voeltz dubbed the project “Wheels of Honor,” and today the car makes regular appearances at law enforcement funerals, but also at parades, memorial services, and fundraising events. For Voeltz, Wheels of Honor is a way to keep the names and the memories of fallen officers in people’s minds long after the last honor guard shot has been fired. “When it’s all over, two days later, the family is on their own and the recognition is over,” he said. “So I think that, with this car, and having their names on the car, they’ll always be remembered.”

Unfortunately, the original Wheels of Honor car, although it has served Voeltz honorably and well, is growing a bit tired. Purchased used in 2006, the car already had 160,000 miles on it and that number has grown considerably in just two years. As such, with the help of Club Fit, a Casino Night fundraiser is planned at Club Fit Briarcliff on October 12th. Tickets can be purchased for a minimum donation of $25 and 100% of the ticket proceeds will go to the Wheels of Honor foundation to purchase a new car. This event is guaranteed to be filled with a night of fun, hours of “play” gambling, food samplings, music, and prizes! 350 tickets will be available for sale starting on September 1st at either the Reception Desk or Service Desk.

Having the fundraiser at Club Fit is fitting for Voeltz, as he is a long-time member of the club. In fact, he can be found there hitting the weights six days a week. “I’ve been going there for years, and it’s a great club. I usually do a lot of weights, although recently someone pushed me to try out some of the classes as well. But most of the time I’m just training with weights.” A former high school wrestler and football player, Voeltz knows the value of staying in shape. “It’s really important to stay healthy,” he noted. “Especially in my line of work. You can’t afford to be out of shape when you’re a police officer.” And, when it comes to staying healthy, Voeltz says that Club Fit fits all his needs. “It has everything you could want,” he said, “It’s clean, the staff are all professionals It’s just a great place.”

Briarcliff Group Fitness/Fitness Alert

August 10, 2018 by jeanne

 

Group Fitness Schedule Updates

Studio 4 will re-open on Wednesday, August 15th

Monday 8/13 Update

9:30 am Pilates Mat and 10:35 am Hatha Yoga will be held in racquetball court # 2.

TRX classes will not be held.

Tuesday 8/14 Update

Vinyasa Yoga will meet from 8:00 – 8:55 am in studio 1. Yin Yoga will meet from 5:30 – 6:25 pm in studio 1.

TRX classes will not be held.

 

Wizard of Water – Larry Koffer

August 1, 2018 by jeanne

Meet the Wizard of Water

By Jeremy Brown

Larry Koffer has been swimming all his life, but his biggest challenge is yet to come.

For Club Fit swimming instructor Larry Koffer, being in the water is just a way of life. “I love swimming,” he says, “and I’ve been doing it all my life, one way or another.”

Born and raised in the Bronx, Koffer began swimming in the Bronx River and was a competitive swimmer in high school and college. “I wasn’t the fastest guy on the team,” he said. “I remember when we’d swim, my coach would use a sundial to time me!” Koffer, however, is just being modest. In fact, he was the Bronx Park Department 100-meter swim champion in 1964.

From swimming in the river to swimming in the pool, Koffer knew that he had found a second home in the water. From then on, he was always trying to find a way to get wet, diving in whenever and wherever he could. When he sold his construction business, the opportunity suddenly presented itself to make swimming a full-time pursuit. “Looking at retirement, I thought, what am I going to do?’” he said. “So I became a Red Cross instructor.”

Koffer’s Red Cross training eventually paved the way for him to become a swimming instructor at Club Fit. At the club, he says that he gets a particular thrill from passing on his love of swimming to people.

“I love teaching people how to swim,” he says. “It’s magical to me. Swimming is an out-of-this-world experience. It’s the perfect exercise and it’s very meditative.”

He says that he really enjoys being able to work with people who aren’t used to being in or around the water and seeing that “moment” when it all clicks for them. “I teach a lot of adults,” he says, “and they haven’t learned how to swim, and they’ve got some anxiety about it. And to get them loosened up and approach swimming as fun, when they get it, it’s like bells go off. Suddenly it all fits.”

Koffer’s enthusiasm and passion for swimming has earned him the nickname “The Wizard of Water.” Although, in the interest of full disclosure, he admits that he is responsible for the moniker.

“On some memo, I signed off as ‘the Wizard of Water,’ and it stuck!” he says, laughing.

After a lifetime of swimming, Koffer is about to undertake his most exciting challenge on the water, a one-mile swim across the Hudson River, from Newburgh to Beacon, on July 28. The swim is a charity event to raise money for the care and maintenance of the River Pool in Beacon. Even more than the challenge of swimming across the Hudson, Koffer is excited about the feeling of unity that comes when a group of swimmers all get together. “I love being on the beach with hundreds of water babies, swimmers who are all loving the water, some are skilled, some are Olympians or near Olympians, national champions,” he said. “But they’re all loving the water, and it’s just like this camaraderie. Some want to swim for a record, some just want to be in the water.”

After crossing the Hudson, Koffer might try for a two-mile swim, he said. But, whatever comes next, he is just grateful for every day in the water. “When I was in junior high school, my best friend’s family had a house on Lake Mahopac, so I came up here 50 years ago,” he said. “And now, to be back here as an adult, living here, swimming in the lake, having wonderful friends…this is perfect.”

Club Fit Member Spotlight: Maria Sanchez

May 29, 2018 by jeanne

Club Fit Member Spotlight: Club Fit’s Tennis Community Comes Together for One of Their Own

By Lisa Olney

A lot more than winning records, aggressive net play, and plantar fasciitis are cultivated on the tennis court. So are lifelong friendships with people so special that it can be hard to remember a time when they weren’t in your life. Just ask Club Fit member Maria Sanchez from Yorktown, who met some of her best friends on the Club Fit Jefferson Valley and Briarcliff tennis courts almost 25 years ago. Like family, Maria and her tennis friends have shared the celebrations of each other’s milestones along with the despair of life’s tragedies, such as the loss of one of Maria’s four vibrant, accomplished children, Maribel Sanchez Souther to breast cancer in 2016 at the age of 41.

Maribel was a five-year cross country and track star at Yorktown High School, beginning as an eighth grader. She won multiple Section 1 cross country championships and finished fourth at the indoor National Championships at two miles. Maribel attended Dartmouth from 1992-1996, winning several Ivy League titles in Cross Country, Indoor Track, and Outdoor Track, leading the 1996 cross country team to a fifth-place NCAA finish. The first Dartmouth female runner to be an All-American in Cross Country, Maribel ended her collegiate career as a four-time All American. After college, she ran professionally, coached the Hanover High School track team, and returned to Dartmouth as its head cross country coach and assistant track coach. Maribel’s time as a collegian at Dartmouth is credited as the catalyst in rebuilding the women’s track program.

In March of 2014, the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center launched its annual Team Tennis to Smash Cancer fundraising event at Dartmouth’s Boss Tennis Center. Maribel presented her mom with the ultimate of family visits – play in the all-day tennis fundraiser and visit the grandkids – a definite win-win for this 4.0 USTA player. Maria was partnered with an oncologist from the Cancer Center. Little did she know, that just a month later, her new tennis friend would be the oncologist who delivered an unexpected diagnosis to Maribel: Stage 4 breast cancer. Just two and a half short years later, Maribel lost her battle against cancer on December 31, 2016.

The Hanover and Dartmouth community lost an inspiring, joyous, hardworking leader that day, evidenced by her alma mater renaming their invitational, season opening cross country meet to the Maribel Sanchez Souther Invitational. Maria’s closest tennis friends rallied around their dear friend in any way they could. When Maria shared that she was continuing her annual trek to Hanover for the 2017 tennis fundraiser in honor of Maribel just a few months after her passing, Dee Young, Margo Smith, Ginger Canfield, Andrea Oncioiu and Maria Borg packed their tennis bags and joined her in Hanover, forming the team, Maria’s Crew.

Still wondrous that her friends would drive all the way up to Hanover for her, Maria remembers thinking, “It’s too much for them, how can they do it? I was very surprised — not even our family could come up.”

This year, Maria’s crew couldn’t make it to Hanover for the fundraiser so they took the fundraiser to Club Fit, organizing a round robin on Sunday, April 29, from 3pm to 6pm at Club Fit Jefferson Valley that drew 25 women and raised $2,400 for the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. Dee, Margo, and Ginger organized the event and Kelly Thomann created the format for an easy, fun, and non-competitive round-robin format, ensuring a great format for all skill levels. Maria’s son, Silvio Jr., and granddaughter, Camille, were on hand as well to cheer on this outpouring of love and support from the Club Fit tennis community.

When a last-minute venue change was required, Michael Bratt, Club Fit Jefferson Valley’s Tennis Program Director, accommodated the event and donated three courts for three hours, becoming the event’s knight in shining tennis armor. Michael provided a level of support – before, during, and after the event – beyond the call of duty, exemplifying Club Fit’s mission of supporting their members. “Mike is warm and gracious and always willing to lend a helping hand,” Margo says. “I can’t give Mike enough praise,” adds Dee. “He was so helpful and supportive.” Maria couldn’t agree more with the level of commitment Mike shows to the Jefferson Valley tennis family. “I don’t have words to describe Mike or to thank him for all the things he did. I hope he stays here forever,” says Maria. “We need somebody like that. He’s doing great things for the Club and made sure we were taken care of. He was a lifesaver.”

From graduations to grandmother showers, no other recreational sport creates such opportunities for the development of deep-rooted, lifelong friendships. Years of playing as partners, on season courts, or in the competitive USTA and club leagues, builds strong bonds and a family dynamic. “We all try to have each other’s backs,” explains Margo “and given Maria’s circumstances, there is nothing we’d rather do than be there for her in any way we can.”

Perhaps Margaret Mead said it best when she penned “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Maria Sanchez’ tennis family at Club Fit and beyond embodies this philosophy, and it is clear that their show of solidarity will remain with Maria forever. “I feel that I owe my life to them,” Maria explains. “Even if I can’t help my friends, I can and will help someone else.”

Club Fit Instructors Enter ACE Hall of Fame

April 27, 2018 by jeanne

Three extraordinary women are honored for their commitment to fitness and community.

By Jeremy Brown

Karen Cornetz, Liz Mallon and Olivia Kapush are three women from different backgrounds who have found themselves all on the same journey. Through years of dance, and health and fitness instruction, each of them found their respective ways to Club Fit. They have thrived as teachers, instructors and members of the community. Club Fit is proud of their achievement with the ACE Hall of Fame, each being certified by the American Council on Exercise for 30+ years.

During the early 1990s, Karen was running her own successful dance studio in Yorktown Heights. But even then, she knew about Club Fit and its reputation for not only offering top-flight fitness, but also for giving back to the community. “That was one of the reasons I wanted to work here,” she said. “Because the club does so much for the community.” In 2001, she joined Club Fit as the Group Fitness Manager, and has been with the club ever since. “Coming here was like coming home,” she said. “Because I knew so much about the club and the reputation it had.”

All three women have been involved in Club Fit’s various community efforts, ranging from Think Fit for Kids to Relay for Life. They’ve also worked hard to form positive, long-lasting relationships with the members. Liz Mallon, who brings to the club an extensive dance back ground, which includes a prestigious Alvin Ailey Scholarship, has earned a reputation as being a strong and supportive teacher who members can turn to when facing all sorts of crisis. “I am passionate about learning, laughing, and teaching what I love,” says Liz. “It is a synergy — I give what I have and in return get back so much more — gratitude, smiles, energy, dedication.  I am truly blessed.” She brings both her dancing and personal skills to the club’s assorted Zumba and Pilates classes. “She’s a real talent,” says Karen. “And she’s very warm, kind and personable. She’s the kind of instructor who really represents what our core values are about.”

Similarly, Olivia Kapush, who came to the club in 2001 after teaching in lower Westchester, has won over many of the members with her excellent teaching style and kind, approachable manner. Kapush got her start teaching aerobics, but has been a spin instructor for the last 18 years. “In spinning, even though we ride as individuals, we come together as a team,” says Olivia. “Members cheer as a new person makes it through their first ride!” “She’s made a lot of friends over the years,” Karen said. “The members always tell her what a difference she’s made for them. Her classes give them something positive to look forward to.”

Now, after so many years of serving the community and the members of Club Fit, all three women have been named to the American Council on Exercise’s Hall of Fame. “We consider it a great honor to be ACE Hall of Famers,” said Karen. “We feel very fortunate to be teaching this long and to continue to be working with Club Fit and its members.

However, as welcomed and appreciated as such accolades are for all three ladies, the real thrill comes each and every day when they step into the studio to begin another class. After so many years of teaching, that thrill hasn’t dissipated and Karen says that she doesn’t see that happening any time soon. “We plan to teach until we can’t do it anymore. It’s a part of us — a joy and a privilege to assist members on their journey to health and wellness.”

Club Fit Staff Spotlight: Clint Hodder

April 3, 2018 by jeanne

Club Fit Staff Spotlight: Clint Hodder, Director of Maintenance & Special Projects

By Lisa Olney

March Madness came early to the Hudson Valley as Mother Nature rained four nor’easters upon the Hudson Valley, backing up Punxsutawney Phil’s unpopular prediction of six more weeks of winter. Winter storm Riley hit the area on Friday, March 2, leaving communities from Briarcliff to Jefferson Valley without power – some for over eight days, including Club Fit Jefferson Valley. Club Fit’s Director of Maintenance and Special Projects, Clint Hodder, and his crew sprang into action assessing damage at both Clubs. Club Fit Jefferson Valley was forced to close while Clint tracked down an industrial strength generator in Connecticut, and his crew worked tirelessly to restore the club to functionality for its members. Down the Taconic, however, Club Fit Briarcliff seemingly dodged a weather bullet, remaining fully operational for members of both clubs – that is until 9:30 p.m., the next night.

On Saturday, Club Fit Briarcliff closed at 9:00 p.m., and the maintenance team – a few men down due to cleanup and repair efforts at Jefferson Valley – began their overnight shifts, readying the Club for the following day. At 9:30 p.m., one of the crew was grooming the courts in the tennis bubble when he heard a loud pop and the ominous sound of a steady rip followed by the sudden listing of the bubble due to a pressure imbalance. As it turned out, Club Fit Briarcliff did sustain a hit from the relentless 60-plus mph wind gusts, and the bubble absorbed a 60-foot tear when an anchor bolt gave way, cutting through the bubble.

Club Fit’s tennis bubbles are nearly indestructible, so the issue was not of the bubble collapsing, but of the growing pressure imbalance within and the still gusting winds which could topple the unbalanced bubble, taking out the fences and damaging the exterior of the Club. Clint, however, had a contingency plan in place, and the call was instantly and decisively made to take the bubble down and wait out the raging winds. The only X factor was time. Nor’easter #2 was due to arrive on Wednesday, promising over a foot of snow.

After the weather stabilized on Sunday, Clint’s hardworking team once again rose to the challenge, surpassing expectations by having the bubble repaired, restored, and cleaned with one court playable by Tuesday evening and the remaining six courts ready for play the following morning. This huge project with an extremely quick timeline included two men heat welding the tear while five others held the material in place, cleaning and drying the bubble and the fixtures within, resurfacing the courts, and checking the electrical and HVAC systems. The dedication and work ethic of Club Fit’s maintenance team is nothing new, but never had it been more on display then during this mad month of March.

“Never doubt the power to accomplish monstrous tasks when a thoughtful, committed group of people work together,” said Club Fit Tennis Director Rodrigo Schtscherbyna. “Getting our bubble fixed and all courts ready for play only a few days after the storm is a major accomplishment, and all parts of our Maintenance Team should be commended for it.”

21 years ago, when Club Fit first decided to install tennis bubbles, David Swope, the Club’s co-founder, did his research and hired Clint, who was an expert and respected professional in tennis court construction and bubble installation, to manage Club Fit’s tennis bubble project. Clint also had a background in exercise physiology, and while living in the City, he worked as a fitness director, helped with the building of the Roosevelt Island Racquet Club, and ran his own tennis bubble business. It wasn’t long before David and co-founder Beth Beck brought Clint on board as their full-time special projects manager.

“David and Beth gave me the freedom to learn and grow on my own,” Clint recalls of entering the area of health club maintenance and construction. “It wasn’t my field, so I was self-taught, I watched, learned, paid attention, did my own homework. And, I adapted it to this industry.”

David Swope and Beth Beck had an uncanny knack for finding employees who combined specialized expertise with tremendous growth potential. “Our members, particularly tennis players, probably don’t know how lucky they are to have Clint working on our courts and bubbles. He’s one of the most knowledgeable people in the country with regard to tennis court maintenance and bubble procedures,” says Club Fit President Bill Beck. “When other businesses in this industry need help, they are often directed to Clint for troubleshooting by the manufacturers and suppliers, themselves,” explains Bill. “Clint does a great job.”

So, when you are heading to Club Fit for your next tennis clinic or workout rest assured that Clint Hodder and the Club Fit maintenance crew are always hard at work, doing their part to make your Club Fit experience the best it can be.

David Swope

February 22, 2018 by jeanne

The following is contributed by long time Club Fit member and friend of David, Geoff Thompson, along with David’s family. Here is an insightful look at the life of the pivotal figure in our community’s history. 

David Swope of Ossining, a prominent Westchester environmentalist, philanthropist, community leader and business owner, died Wednesday. He was 76.

Among his many roles he served as Chair of the Board of Trustees of Westchester Community College in Valhalla, the Teatown Lake Reservation Environmental Education Center in Ossining, and the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville. As a co-founder of Club Fit health and fitness centers in Briarcliff Manor and Jefferson Valley, he was a pioneer in the development of full service health and fitness membership clubs. He was also the owner of Tappan Hill in Tarrytown, now Abagail Kirsch catering.

Born in Mount Kisco, NY, September 24, 1941, he was the son of David and Sarah (Sally) Porter Swope. He was the third generation of his family to live in the Ossining area. His grandfather, Gerard Swope Sr., was President of General Electric and owned The Croft, a large equestrian-oriented estate which was donated by the family to form the original part of Teatown Lake Reservation.

David, known as Dee to family and friends, graduated from the Scarborough School in Briarcliff Manor and the Loomis School in Connecticut. He was a graduate of Harvard University and earned a law degree from Columbia University.

In the early 1960s he answered President Kennedy’s call and joined the Peace Corps spending two and a half years in India. This proved to be a life-changing experience and forged his life-long interest and love of India and Indian art and culture. It also inspired him to form a legal aid society in Bombay (Mumbai.) Throughout his life he visited India and maintained an extensive network of Indian friends both at home and abroad.

After returning to the U.S., he worked as an attorney in Manhattan, first with the White & Case, and then the Davis Polk law firms. In the late 1970s his father became ill and David moved back to Ossining to assume his business interests which included the Briarcliff and Jefferson Valley Racquet Clubs and Tappan Hill. With his business partner, Beth Beck, they began adding exercise equipment and other facilities to what had been strictly tennis clubs. Over the ensuing decades they continued to expand and modernize the clubs making then among the first full-service clubs of their kind in the region and both clubs remain highly successful today.

As he entered his 60s, David gradually shifted away from his business interests and devoted his time to working with not-for-profit organizations. Throughout his adult life he played a major role in the evolution and growth of Teatown, and he also supported numerous other environmental organizations and programs including the Westchester Land Trust and the Pace University Environmental Center. He spent many years on the Westchester Community College Board including overseeing the search for a new president to succeed long-time president Dr. Joseph Hankin. The effort culminated in the hiring Dr. Belinda Miles, the current President.

He took an early interest in the creation of and growth of the Jacob Burns Film Center and as board chairman worked to support the major expansion and outreach of its educational programming. He also served on the boards of the Ossining Children’s Center and Phelps Memorial Hospital in Sleepy Hollow, and offered generous financial support to numerous other groups and organizations.

In addition to living in Westchester, from childhood David loved both short and long stays at his mother’s family’s ancestral cottage at Wauwinet on Nantucket where he welcomed guests and friends from back home as well as Nantucket. He supported land preservation efforts on the island and various non-profit organizations.

David traveled extensively having visited every continent and he had friends across the nation and the globe.

He is survived by his sister, Dorothea (Dorry) Swope, by many cousins and by hundreds of friends. Funeral services will be private. Those interested in making contributions in David’s memory are asked to consider Teatown Lake Reservation, Westchester Community College, the Jacob Burns Film Center or a worthy organization of their choice.

Club Fit Staff Spotlight: Pam Rotando

January 26, 2018 by jeanne

Club Fit Staff Spotlight: Pam Rotando: 32 Years & Full Speed Ahead

By Lisa Olney

Pam Rotando, Club Fit Director of Communications

When Pam Rotando walked across the stage at Fordham University in a cap and gown, she carried with her a range of interests, on a foundation of passion and energy. All she needed was a job offer that would combine her love of sports, the outdoors, her inherent drive for self-improvement and her natural leadership ability. All of these traits had been apparent to her bosses in the part-time summer job she held at Club Fit Jefferson Valley, working in the Café and helping with tennis court maintenance as she worked toward her degree.

Graduating from Fordham in 1986 with a degree in communications, Pam reached out to Club Fit, who had just opened its Briarcliff location, for work while looking for that first full-time job. Club Fit recognized in Pam someone they wanted to keep on their team and offered her the full-time position of Reception manager — also working with tennis programming. This month Pam will celebrate her 32nd anniversary as a full-time member of the Club Fit team.

In addition to that first position as Reception Manager, Pam has worked as a Membership Sales Representative, Member Services Director and in her current position as Club Fit Communications Director in which she manages membership communication, database management, and manages club marketing projects. She has developed a diverse skill set, effective management style, and leadership qualities throughout her steadfast career at Club Fit, a feat that many in today’s job-hopping workforce feel is only attainable by switching companies every few years. Pam’s 32nd anniversary exemplifies the unique longevity and supportive environment that Club Fit has always provided.

“I am very fortunate and grateful for the opportunities that Bill Beck and Ellen Koelsch have given me. I was able to grow with the organization,” explains Pam. “The basic philosophies that were established when David Swope and Beth Beck started Club Fit in 1973, are still the core values that Bill and Ellen instill in us today; to help people maintain good health and wellness and to live a healthy life. It’s just a wonderful place for members and staff.”

Raised in Yorktown Heights, Pam grew up in an athletic family playing volleyball and softball, biking, and sailing at their family home in Cape Cod — a place that is still her haven. While at Yorktown High School, Pam discovered her passion for tennis and went on to play doubles for the Fordham Lady Rams. Pam continues her passion for tennis, while managing to play on the club courts in the morning. No stranger to tennis facilities around the region, she also says that Club Fit’s year-round tennis facilities are terrific and among the best she’s played at.

Pam lives near the Ossining Riverfront, and when not playing tennis, she loves biking, hiking, and sailing. Her favorite local trails are the Ossining-Croton loop along the Riverfront as well as the North County Trailway that runs directly behind Club Fit Briarcliff. She often takes advantage of the North County “rail trail” and says it’s literally one of the nicest that she has seen. Pam has also joined friends for 50-mile bike tours around the Eastern United States and looks forward to training toward another tour in the future. Her other outdoor passion is sailing, and while she acknowledges the undeniable beauty of the Hudson River, she prefers open water sailing. Among her favorite spots have been sailing the Atlantic off of Cape Cod and Newport, as well as the Caribbean Sea. “Any chance I have to get on a boat, I am on a boat,” she laughs.

Growing up with a grandfather who was a violinist and a father who introduced her to the free-spirited magic of both jazz and Frank Sinatra, Pam is an aficionado with eclectic musical tastes and a collection to match. One of her favorite trips was to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and her last concert was the Dave Matthews Band.

After 32 years at Club Fit, Pam feels there probably is not much about her that her Club Fit family doesn’t already know. However, some lesser-known fun facts about Pam are that she is an amateur outdoor landscape photographer — a hobby she picked up in high school. And, while she’s not a huge traveler, her new goal is to see as much of the United States as possible, including the National Parks. A couple of years ago, she took one of her two favorite trips to visit Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

Besides traveling the country, what does the future hold for our Club Fit extraordinaire? “I see Club Fit continuing to be a very important part of my life,” says Pam, “and hopefully, someday I’ll retire near the water — maybe Cape Cod.”

 

To Keep You Inspired:

November 27, 2017 by jeanne

 Marie Senno & Barbara Dellicurti: Zumba-ing for a Cause….

by Lisa Olney

The Club Fit philosophy is all about empowering its members, its staff, and the community to be the change they’d like to see – whether in the world or in their own health and fitness journeys. Group Fitness instructors Barbara Dellicurti and Marie Senno have perfected this philosophy by merging their passions for fitness and philanthropy, touching many lives along the way.

Marie has been a fan-favorite on the Group Fitness schedule since 2013. Using her lifelong love of dance, she brings a distinct motivational style to her Club Fit classes, which include Booty Barre, Sculpt, 20/20/20, Pilates, and Piloxing (a cardio fusion of standing Pilates, boxing and dance). Barbara has been a Zumba instructor at Club Fit since September of 2016 and also teaches kids’ yoga. Her energy and happy feet are infectious, making her classes a can’t miss option for Zumba veterans and newcomers, alike. Her early morning Sunday class draws both early birds as well as night owls still yawning as they enter the Studio. Recognizing the early hour, after class Barbara will ask, “So who’s sorry they came?” Her students laugh and readily acknowledge that they never regret coming to class. Waking up early and dancing the morning away with a full-body workout makes them feel proud for staying committed to their fitness goals.

Marie and Barbara first met at a small exercise studio five years ago. They instantly recognized in one another the same effervescent energy, commitment to health and fitness, and the need to help others. Since that day, they have been devoted to making the world a better place, one charity event at a time. “Our energy together gets things done – we support each other and feel so blessed to give back to the community,” explains Marie. “We haven’t known each other forever, but we are forever friends. Forever moving forward together – helping people in need.”

Marie and Barbara organize approximately four fundraisers a year for causes such as the American Heart Association, local animal rescue organizations, breast cancer research, local food pantries, Toys for Tots, and disaster relief. This September, after watching Hurricane Maria’s devastating impact on Puerto Rico, Barbara and Marie knew that they needed to act.  “In October, our focus is usually breast cancer, but this year we felt that Puerto Rico was on everyone’s minds and hearts and decided that should be our focus,” recalls Barbara. It is the first year that Club Fit has served as the venue for one of their philanthropic events, and the level of support was overwhelming. The two were moved not only by Club Fit’s assistance, but also the way in which the Club Fit membership embraced the opportunity to make a difference. In the end, members raised over $2,500 for hurricane relief efforts at the October Zumbathon for Puerto Rico.

With frosty temps and a chill in the air, Marie offers the perfect complement to a winter workout with her sage and sincere advice, “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” On Friday, December 8th, from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm at Club Fit Jefferson Valley, the dynamic duo invites you to do just that as they kick off the holiday season with their Toys for Tots Zumbathon. Collection boxes will be at the event and will also be at the Club for a few days afterward for those who would like to support the toy drive by bringing an unwrapped, new toy to brighten the holidays for those less fortunate. “This is our way of giving back,” explains Barbara. “It is also a way of thanking the members for their generosity with a great, holiday-themed Zumba class led with our fellow Zumba instructors.”

The Hiking Club

October 30, 2017 by jeanne

By Lisa Olney

Balancing the 24-7 responsibilities of everyday life while taking time for oneself can be as elusive as catching a cloud, and, often, the first casualties of this struggle are one’s own health, fitness, and sense of serenity. Experienced hiking leaders and Club Fit Jefferson Valley members Peter Meskin, Andrew Stein, and Michael Capsuto have the antidote, however, and it’s the longstanding Club Fit Hiking Club that has traversed the trails of the Hudson Valley for over two decades. A free activity for Club Fit members and their guests, hikes range from easy to challenging, and the only prerequisites are good physical condition, hiking boots, and a sense of adventure. The ability to combine exercise with the natural wonders of the Hudson Valley has never been easier … or more fun!

Peter Meskin is a former New York City high school English teacher whose innate gift for teaching earned him several awards for innovation in teaching his students desktop publishing in the days when computers were practically unheard of in the classroom. His inspiring teaching style still touches everything he does, whether in a classroom or in the great outdoors. The hiking bug first bit Meskin as a child growing up in Brooklyn, and as a young man, he went on day hikes with the American Youth Hostels hiking club throughout the Hudson Valley. Later, as a member of the Westchester Trails Hiking Club and the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), he became a hiking leader and received extensive training from the AMC at the 1,800-acre Blue Mountain Reservation in Peekskill. Not limited to dry land, however, Meskin was also a sailing instructor for the New York Sailing School on City Island, received his Coast Guard Captain’s license, and had his own charter boat business in the British Virgin Islands. His hobbies also include sculpting in wood and stone along with photography, and he and his wife, Diane, volunteer at a humane society animal shelter and Guiding Eyes for the Blind where they foster puppies to help socialize the potential guide dogs at a young age.

22 years ago, Club Fit Jefferson Valley reached out to Meskin about creating a hiking club, and it was about this time that Meskin met fellow Club Fit member Andrew Stein. Another avid hiker who grew up in the Bronx, Stein has hiked all over the country including Alaska and the Rockies, and as a videographer he has documented some of his favorite experiences. Encouraged by friends to share his local hiking experiences, Stein decided to look into starting a hiking club. As if Mother Nature herself introduced these two, their meeting couldn’t have happened at a better time. “Andrew is a caring and engaged hiking leader and has hiked the local trails since he was a boy,” says Meskin. “He shares his vast knowledge of local history and lore with the hikers, and his friendly dog Molly accompanies him on the trails, greeting all of the hikers and giving them even more reasons to smile. Andrew has been very important to the success of the hiking club.”

Hand-picked from within the hiking club, Club Fit’s third hiking leader is Michael Capsuto, a Yorktown resident who has been hiking since childhood. Capsuto discovered the hiking club 10 years ago, and his vast knowledge of area trails along with his Red Cross certifications in adult first aid/CPR/AED make him a valued addition as a hike leader. “Michael has an intimate knowledge of the trails from many years of hiking with the Club Fit Hiking Club and on his own,” says Meskin. “He is a caring and compassionate person who only wants the best for our members.”

Meskin, Stein, and Capsuto all combine working out at Club Fit with their outdoor exercise routines and agree that daily exercise is the key to staying healthy. They can often be found in the cardio area on the treadmills and elliptical machines or in the strength training area using equipment like the FitLinxx circuit. “I’ve been working out at Club Fit since the 1980s,” says Meskin. “They are constantly reinventing themselves, integrating new exercise strategies and programs to keep everyone involved and motivated.” Combine that with the physical and mental benefits of hiking, and the result is a full mind-body workout that spells balance with a capital B.

The Club Fit Hiking Club is always ready to welcome newcomers and familiar faces, alike. Hikes take place all year long, ranging from easy to challenging. No sign-up is required, and as part of the Club Fit membership, all hikes are free to members and their guests. The next two hikes are November 4th at Teatown with a Teatown naturalist and November 12th at the Fahnestock Park Appalachian Trail.  To view a Hiking Club photo montage from Hike Leader Andrew Stein, click here. Happy hiking!

To Keep You Inspired: Katherine Stern

September 25, 2017 by jeanne

To Keep You inspired….. Club Fit Member Katherine Stern

By Lisa Olney

Days before embarking on the July 9, 2016, 31-mile Manhattan Kayak Circumnavigation, known as “The Circ”, 67-year old Club Fit member Katherine Stern received a diagnosis that would send her into unchartered waters:  early-stage breast cancer.  No one would have faulted her for pulling out of The Circ, but for Katherine kayaking offered a spiritual solitude in which to think, to clear one’s mind, and to take charge.  And 31 miles cutting through the currents of the Hudson and East Rivers provided her with the best therapy for what lay ahead.

Two days after completing The Circ, Katherine had a lumpectomy. “I consider myself one of the lucky ones because of early detection,” Stern says.  When her oncologist explained the diagnosis, prognosis, and everything in between, Katherine interrupted, simply asking, “Is it going to kill me?”  “No,” was her doctor’s answer. “Then I don’t want to bother with details” Katherine replied.  “Just tell me when and where to go.”  Chemotherapy began in August – every three weeks in four-hour sessions through February 2017 – followed by a six-week daily course of radiation.

While Katherine was strong and fit heading into her treatment program, the chemo and radiation robbed her of her strength and vitality making her feel like a prisoner in her own body.  After each chemo treatment, she would have ten days of extreme sickness and fatigue that worsened over the course of her treatment.  “Within months, I was an old lady, and as the months went on, those 10 days got worse and worse,” Katherine remembers.  “Food was difficult, and I could only seem to handle white foods – things that I had never kept in my house before.” With no energy, Katherine gained 40 pounds and remembers it as being a very isolating time.

Her treatments ended in mid-April, and Katherine was ready to take back her body.  Her doctor recommended Club Fit’s Help RX program, a physician-referred exercise program designed to ease patients back into exercising. A discounted three-month membership program, Help RX features personalized attention from Fit Coaches in order to set goals and achieve lifestyle changes.  To ease her re-entry into an active lifestyle, Katherine traveled to a yoga and boot camp spa in Mexico. “I had no idea how young everyone was going to be there, but I thought I would just go for it,” she laughs.  “It was the start of taking control of my body.”   Upon returning home, she began her Club Fit Help RX program, with a dual goal in mind: to regain her strength and to complete the 2017 Circ on July 15.

At the gym five days a week, Katherine’s workout included strength training, treadmill, and a Pilates class.  A fitness level that was once in her wheelhouse, however, was now difficult to recall – especially in Pilates.  But with the help of Club Fit’s Fit Coaches, instructors, and her laser-like drive, she stuck with it.  Everyone she encountered at Club Fit made her feel like she could reach her goals. “Eric, one of my Fit Coaches, treated me as if I was a regular person, but 20 years younger,” she recalls.  “He was no-nonsense with a sense of humor and would always say, ‘You can do it!’  He sensed that this was really important to me, and once I was at Club Fit, I knew I could do it.“  After just a couple months, her fitness level soared.  She could not only handle the Pilates class, but her goal of the 2017 Circ, became a reality on July 15 as she lowered her kayak into waters of the Hudson under unusually ideal weather conditions.

Today, Katherine has lost 28 pounds, kayaks on the weekends, is at the gym four days a week, but most importantly, she is cancer free.  Strength training remains her favorite activity and she still catches up on CNN while on the treadmill.  “I feel strong again and that’s my way of being in control of my body.”  Katherine continued her Club Fit membership after the three-month prescription period due to the supportive atmosphere throughout the Club. “I would never have considered coming to Club Fit without the Rx program, and I probably would have gone back to my old club,” says Katherine.  “It would have been a totally different experience, because I would have had no motivation to work on the equipment.  But at Club Fit, I knew that working on the circuit would help me to regain my strength, and this was the key.”

Owner of Katherine Stern Design, Katherine is an interior designer and stager.  She also volunteers with the Northern Westchester Hospital Cancer Wellness Center in Mt. Kisco and is the driving force behind promoting a lesser known cancer therapy option called Cold Capping, a method that prevents hair loss by freezing hair follicles. If she could impart any wisdom to her friends and the Club Fit community it would be to get annual mammograms.  “You’ve got to get regular mammos,” says Katherine.  “There is no history of cancer of any kind in my family, but I’ve always been very good at getting regular mammograms.  And, then they found something.”

Thanks to early detection, Katherine is now spending her weekends kayaking around local lakes, rivers and the Eastern Seaboard.  If you’re out in the Hyde Park area along the Hudson this October and see any kayakers, give a wave, because there’s a good chance one of those kayakers just may be our own Katherine Stern.

 

Laura Bunt (2)

August 27, 2017 by jeanne

“To know Laura is to smile, to be energized, to be inspired.”

By Lisa Olney

Calvin Coolidge was president when Laura Bunt was born on the Rockefeller Estate in her family’s apartment above the large, stone coach barn. Her father worked for the Rockefellers for 60 years, and if you visit Kykuit today, Laura, at 92-years young, may be the one waiting there to give you a tour and share her personal experiences of what it was like to be born and raised in Pocantico, the Rockefeller Family Estate. That is, she may be your tour guide if she’s not working out at Club Fit Briarcliff, visiting art museums, or challenging herself with adventures like the EdgeWalk Challenge, a walk around the circular observation deck of Toronto’s CN tower — one of the tallest in the world.

An enviable picture of balance in motion due to her love of learning, adventure, arts, and fashion, to know Laura is to smile, to be energized, to be inspired. Laura graduated from Barnard College with a degree in chemistry. As many young graduates do, Laura’s career path took her in a different direction, and along with her husband and brother, she opened the Tarrytown clothing store John Charles, Ltd., a community fixture for over 40 years. During that time, Laura managed the women’s department, ran several fashion shows, and was the store’s buyer.

Laura joined Club Fit Briarcliff 10 years ago and soon discovered a passion for fitness, and her go-to activities became stretching, dancing, and swimming. Today, Laura’s workout routine includes group fitness classes (Trifecta Stretch twice a week with Denise Weber, Zumba Gold with Elizabeth Ford, Yoga and Meditation with Irene Sakamoto, Retro Low/Dance with Karen Cornetz) and lap swimming three to four times a week. Laura enjoys everything she does at Club Fit and feels more relaxed and energetic after her workouts, adding that “…my teachers have been so caring and loving that it is as good for my brain as it is for my body.”

“Laura is an inspiration to all,” says Group Fitness Manager Karen Cornetz. “Her amazing spirit is catching and her smile lights up the studio. She is always genuinely happy to be in class, and the members and instructors love dancing with her.” Karen also applauds Laura’s self-awareness in knowing her limitations when exercising and doing what her body allows. “We are in awe of what she can still do, and is willing to try, like the EdgeWalk Challenge,” says Karen. “It’s the most amazing thing thats, Laura was gutsy enough to take on.”

Laura’s son surprised her this past March with a ticket to the EdgeWalk Challenge, a walk on the edge of the CN Tower’s Observation deck in Toronto. While wearing a harness secured by long cables to the roof of the observation deck, Laura walked the walk along the edge of a circular surface that is over 1,168 feet above the ground and 492 feet long — a feat that many would happily decline. Laura admits that while she didn’t try “all” the tricks that her younger Challenge goers did, she wasn’t as scared as she imagined she would be.

Next on the fitness agenda for Laura is to continue her current workout routine of dancing, stretching, swimming, and yoga. Whether that includes more unnerving, pulse-racing walks on skyscrapers, only time will tell.

Club Fit Aquatics Director Patrick Montgomery

August 24, 2017 by jeanne

To Keep You inspired….. Club Fit Aquatics Director Patrick Montgomery

By Lisa Olney

Club Fit Aquatics Director Patrick Montgomery, a man of kaleidoscopic interests, has a simple, guiding philosophy that ensures his constant growth while steering him clear of the pitfalls of ennui. “Stay active, keep learning, and don’t sweat the small stuff.” As Patrick nears his 70th birthday in November, his life’s palette draws from vibrant art galleries and cultural centers, a not-for-profit organic farm, and the rebuilding of vintage motorcycles and cars. He is a drag racing aficionado, and most recently, Patrick has earned his place as a certified yoga instructor.

Born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, Patrick moved to Chicago one week after the 1968 Democratic National Convention riots to continue his post-secondary education at University of Chicago and the Chicago Art Institute. While in Ontario he lived in Toronto and Stratford, pursuing an art career in public museums and galleries. In the late 1970s his art career took him to New York City. Continually evolving and craving new experiences, in 1981 Patrick lived and worked on a not-for-profit organic farm on Cortez Island in British Columbia where he milked cows, cut hay, raised cattle, and pigs. “I often refer to it as a form of graduate school,” he laughs. After that experience he and his wife, Heather, moved to Vancouver where he returned to working in the arts in galleries, his own fine art services business, and as the Executive Director for the Evergreen Cultural Centre.

If you ask Patrick what brought them from British Columbia to his Duchess County home, he has one word: family. With two of their three daughters living in New York – and the other in New Orleans – the couple moved back, buying a house in Pleasant Valley. His first experience with Club Fit was on the maintenance crew taking down the bubble in the spring of 2012.   After working for Club Fit, his well-rounded resume, depth of managerial experience, and love of education and programming quickly earned him consideration in other areas of the Club, and in 2014 he became the Aquatics Director for Jefferson Valley. Patrick’s goals for the Aquatic Department are to continue providing high quality services in programming and safety education. “The single most important aspect of the positon is actively making hundreds if not thousands of people safe around water every year,” says Patrick. “In addition, we are introducing people of all ages to a lifetime of aquatics enjoyment that they can pass on to their families — making the world a better place one swimmer at a time!”

Throughout Patrick’s life health and wellness have always been a priority, and he dabbled throughout the years in yoga. At the age of 67, however, Patrick was inspired to take his yoga to the next level. “The week after my 67th birthday in 2014, I looked in the mirror, and realized that either I had to do something about my aging body, or prepare for a walker,” he laughed. To gain a deeper understanding into the yoga philosophy and practice, Patrick took the 200-hour teacher training course that Club Fit offers to current and future yoga instructors, as well as serious yoga students. At the time, he participated as a student of yoga, but after six months, Patrick found himself growing, once again, embracing a leadership role in yoga. Now, a certified yoga instructor, Patrick has been added to the Club Fit roster as a substitute yoga instructor and is excited to be working with Club Fit’s Group Fitness Manager to develop a yoga program focused on his peer group. “I hope to assist in prolonging an active and energetic lifestyle that is focused, flexible, and fit,” explains Patrick. Words to live by in everyone’s palette of lifetime experiences.

Club Fit Member Spotlight: Laura Bunt

August 21, 2017 by jeanne

To Keep You inspired….. Club Fit Member Katherine Stern

By Lisa Olney

Days before embarking on the July 9, 2016, 31-mile Manhattan Kayak Circumnavigation, known as “The Circ”, 67-year old Club Fit member Katherine Stern received a diagnosis that would send her into unchartered waters:  early-stage breast cancer.  No one would have faulted her for pulling out of The Circ, but for Katherine kayaking offered a spiritual solitude in which to think, to clear one’s mind, and to take charge.  And 31 miles cutting through the currents of the Hudson and East Rivers provided her with the best therapy for what lay ahead.

Two days after completing The Circ, Katherine had a lumpectomy. “I consider myself one of the lucky ones because of early detection,” Stern says.  When her oncologist explained the diagnosis, prognosis, and everything in between, Katherine interrupted, simply asking, “Is it going to kill me?”  “No,” was her doctor’s answer. “Then I don’t want to bother with details” Katherine replied.  “Just tell me when and where to go.”  Chemotherapy began in August – every three weeks in four-hour sessions through February 2017 – followed by a six-week daily course of radiation.

While Katherine was strong and fit heading into her treatment program, the chemo and radiation robbed her of her strength and vitality making her feel like a prisoner in her own body.  After each chemo treatment, she would have ten days of extreme sickness and fatigue that worsened over the course of her treatment.  “Within months, I was an old lady, and as the months went on, those 10 days got worse and worse,” Katherine remembers.  “Food was difficult, and I could only seem to handle white foods – things that I had never kept in my house before.” With no energy, Katherine gained 40 pounds and remembers it as being a very isolating time.

Her treatments ended in mid-April, and Katherine was ready to take back her body.  Her doctor recommended Club Fit’s Help RX program, a physician-referred exercise program designed to ease patients back into exercising. A discounted three-month membership program, Help RX features personalized attention from Fit Coaches in order to set goals and achieve lifestyle changes.  To ease her re-entry into an active lifestyle, Katherine traveled to a yoga and boot camp spa in Mexico. “I had no idea how young everyone was going to be there, but I thought I would just go for it,” she laughs.  “It was the start of taking control of my body.”   Upon returning home, she began her Club Fit Help RX program, with a dual goal in mind: to regain her strength and to complete the 2017 Circ on July 15.

At the gym five days a week, Katherine’s workout included strength training, treadmill, and a Pilates class.  A fitness level that was once in her wheelhouse, however, was now difficult to recall – especially in Pilates.  But with the help of Club Fit’s Fit Coaches, instructors, and her laser-like drive, she stuck with it.  Everyone she encountered at Club Fit made her feel like she could reach her goals. “Eric, one of my Fit Coaches, treated me as if I was a regular person, but 20 years younger,” she recalls.  “He was no-nonsense with a sense of humor and would always say, ‘You can do it!’  He sensed that this was really important to me, and once I was at Club Fit, I knew I could do it.“  After just a couple months, her fitness level soared.  She could not only handle the Pilates class, but her goal of the 2017 Circ, became a reality on July 15 as she lowered her kayak into waters of the Hudson under unusually ideal weather conditions.

Today, Katherine has lost 28 pounds, kayaks on the weekends, is at the gym four days a week, but most importantly, she is cancer free.  Strength training remains her favorite activity and she still catches up on CNN while on the treadmill.  “I feel strong again and that’s my way of being in control of my body.”  Katherine continued her Club Fit membership after the three-month prescription period due to the supportive atmosphere throughout the Club. “I would never have considered coming to Club Fit without the Rx program, and I probably would have gone back to my old club,” says Katherine.  “It would have been a totally different experience, because I would have had no motivation to work on the equipment.  But at Club Fit, I knew that working on the circuit would help me to regain my strength, and this was the key.”

Owner of Katherine Stern Design, Katherine is an interior designer and stager.  She also volunteers with the Northern Westchester Hospital Cancer Wellness Center in Mt. Kisco and is the driving force behind promoting a lesser known cancer therapy option called Cold Capping, a method that prevents hair loss by freezing hair follicles. If she could impart any wisdom to her friends and the Club Fit community it would be to get annual mammograms.  “You’ve got to get regular mammos,” says Katherine.  “There is no history of cancer of any kind in my family, but I’ve always been very good at getting regular mammograms.  And, then they found something.”

Thanks to early detection, Katherine is now spending her weekends kayaking around local lakes, rivers and the Eastern Seaboard.  If you’re out in the Hyde Park area along the Hudson this October and see any kayakers, give a wave, because there’s a good chance one of those kayakers just may be our own Katherine Stern.

Ergonomic Tips for Driving

July 17, 2017 by jeanne

Ergonomic Tips for Driving

By Chris DiSisto PT, DPT, CHT Director of Ivy Rehab Briarcliff

 

1) Position your seat tilt so that your knees are approximately at the same height as your hips (thighs parallel to the floor. This position will decrease pressure on your lower back and more evenly distribute vibration forces while driving.

2) Position the seat height so that your line of site is approximately 3in. above the dashboard and all mirrors are visible and adjusted appropriately.

3) Seat distance should enable you to completely depress both the accelerator and brake pedals without having to lean forward or backward.

4) The angle of your seat back (recline) support should be approximately 100-110 degrees to optimally position your pelvis and lower back.

5) The head rest should be fixated at a height which will approximate to the middle of your head.

6) Seat depth should allow for approximately 2-3 inches of space between the back of your knee and the front of the seat cushion so as to prevent pressure on the back of the knee. (back cushion may be added if necessary)

7) Lumbar support should allow the pelvis to rest in “neutral tilt position” or half way between 6 o’clock and 12 o’clock with reference to the pelvic clock. A lumbar roll may be added for desired positioning.

8) Position your steering wheel height so as to prevent obstructed vision of the road and drivers console (speedometer, odometer, fuel level, etc). Wheel distance should be 10-12 in. from your chest and create slight (20-30 degree) bend of your elbows, shoulder relaxed at your sides, and hands positioned at 8 o’clock and 4 o’clock respectfully.

9) The seat belt should cross directly above the (L) shoulder so as to prevent obstruction of shoulder mobility while also preventing strangulation hazard in the event of an accident.

To Keep You Inspired: Club Fit Member Eric Gelber

June 29, 2017 by jeanne

Club Fit Member Eric Gelber—Journey Toward a Cure

{by Lisa Olney, Club Fit guest blogger}

Many people run for the exercise, the relaxation, or the coveted runner’s high. But Club Fit Briarcliff member Eric Gelber runs for a different reason — he runs for others; he runs to raise awareness for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation; he runs for Anita, a dear family friend who battled Multiple Myeloma, a cancer in which malignant plasma cells accumulate and form tumors in the bone marrow, pushing out normal plasma cells that help fight infections.

Anita had been diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in 2003, but by 2006, she was struggling. Watching a loved one struggle is a helpless, powerless feeling, and in 2007, Anita’s fight inspired Eric, at age 40, to dust off his running shoes and run for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) in the New York City Marathon in 2007. In 2008, he ran in the New York City Marathon, again, following it up with the Stone Cat Marathon in Ipswich, MA. In 2009, he entered the challenging world of ultramarathons, running a 50K, 60K, and 50-mile race and had a philanthropic epiphany. “I ran my first ultra as a personal challenge,” remembers Eric. “But I quickly realized that the harder — the crazier – people thought my runs were, the more they were willing to give.”

In 2010, Eric ran 100 milers in Raleigh, NC, Scottsdale, AZ, and Atlanta, GA. In 2011, he unsuccessfully applied for entry into the Badwater 135, one of the most grueling ultras in the world with temperatures above 120 degrees when the race is held in July. Starting in California’s Death Valley at 279 feet below sea level, the Badwater ends at the trail head to Mount Whitney, an elevation of 8,360 feet. Despite not making it into the Badwater 135 field, Eric and his wife Tani, who also serves as his ultramarathon crew chief, created a solo charity run and called it the Catskill 155 in which Eric would run from a friend’s house in Oneonta, NY to his parents’ house in Suffern, NY. They raised $36,000 and were inspired to continue raising money for the MMRF under the banner of Journey Towards a Cure, and to date have raised over $1.1 million. In 2012, Eric was accepted into the Badwater 135 field, and completed the “World’s Toughest Foot Race” in both 2012 and 2015.

But it was in 2013 that he and Tani embarked on a new journey, run a record setting 200 miles non-stop around Central Park, 33 loops in just one weekend.  While Eric was unsuccessful in his first and second attempts in 2013 and 2014 covering 164 and 176 miles respectively, on Sunday, September 18th, Eric made history by crossing the finish line at 8pm in just under 60 hours. They raised over $320,000 in his third attempt for a total of over $1.1 million all for the benefit of the MMRF.

The outpouring of support behind Eric’s quest to conquer the Central Park 200 now in memory of Anita whose lost her battle in 2012 and the MMRF was palpable. His journey has left an indelible mark with friends, family, and cancer survivors, many of whom would show up in Central Park to show their support for his efforts. In 2015, Westchester Magazine reported that one Myeloma patient was visiting New York City from London during Eric’s 2014 attempt. After hearing Eric’s story on the ABC News, the Londoner walked down to the park from his hotel room, found Eric shook his hand and simply said thank you.

Eric is the first to say that there is no way he could do this without Tanis’s support, not only as his wife and partner, but as his ultramarathon crew chief. Preparation leading up to an ultra is also critical to success, and Club Fit personal trainer Tommy Calandrucci has been an integral part of Eric’s physical and mental training. “I am a very self-motivated guy, but Tommy has a way of pushing me and helping me realize that I can do more,” says Eric. “Sometimes I need that little nudge to see that I can push myself harder. I think we all need that sometimes, not just in the gym but in life.”

When training for ultras, a typical workout plan at Club Fit includes treadmill work, cross training with swimming, rowing, turf work, stairs, and Tommy’s endurance class. At peak training, Eric runs three days a week alternating between three workouts: 1) a medium 8 to 15-mile run; 2) a 5 to 8-mile hill workout with many hill repeats including one he calls “Uncle Dreadhill” that consists of running a 10-minute per mile pace, starting at a 1% grade and increasing the grade every ¼ mile by .5% until he can’t handle the incline at the pace; 3) a long 25 to 35-mile run. Occasionally, he throws in a six-hour treadmill run for what he calls monotony training. When not training for an ultra, he does the same type of workout but at a shorter duration with less intensity.

While Eric doesn’t know where or when his next run will be, he is certain that there are more in his future, and he says he’s open to suggestions. “It takes a team in life to accomplish our goals, and together we can do so much. I hope everyone gets out there with their support team and pushes themselves in some way,” says Eric. “Do it for someone else, it’s the most selfish thing you can do — it’s that rewarding!”

 

To learn more about Eric’s epic Central Park 200 run check out the documentary 200 Miles at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yC9AOY6Tdk&feature=youtu.be