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: 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.”

Learn how to prevent changes in balance for a fall-free future

February 19, 2015 by Liz

Learn how to prevent changes in balance for a fall-free future.
Practice exercises to improve your balance!

Debbie Lenihan
PT Director
Physical Therapy at Jefferson Valley

As we age the ability to maintain balance becomes more difficult. Balance and stability are important factors for aging adults to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Loss of balance is the primary factor in falls, which often results in serious injuries.

Many factors influence good balance. Some of them are biological and some we are able to influence and improve. Good balance is dependent on sensory input from the eyes, the correct functioning of the balance system in the inner ear, posture and center of gravity, and our ability to sense the position and movement in our feet, legs and arms. Vision affects the balance system, as the eyes send messages to the brain, telling us where objects are in space.

Aging adults are affected by a loss of muscle mass and strength, and have an increased risk of falls and hip fractures. Weakness in the ankle musculature may cause difficulty in recovering lost balance more quickly. Strong quadriceps muscles are necessary for good balance and walking. Evidence shows that strength and aerobic training can lead to a reduction in falls.

Loss of flexibility occurs with age. This may lead to difficulty climbing stairs, transferring from sit to stand and/or getting out of bed without difficulty. Much of the loss of flexibility is due to inactivity.

Postural changes can develop as people age which includes rounded shoulders, forward head postures and an increased thoracic curve in the spine. These changes affect the center of gravity in the body, moving it forward. With changes in the center of gravity, older adults are more prone to loss of balance and an increased risk of falls.

There are many ways we can adapt to the changes in our bodies as we age. Different forms of exercise, such as strengthening exercises, flexibility and stretching exercises, yoga, tai chi, and aerobic exercise, such as walking, will all contribute to decreasing the risk of falls and improving balance.

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Join Physical Therapy at Club Fit Jefferson Valley for a free lecture: “Use it or Lose it” on March 31!

If you would like to attend this free presentation contact Physical Therapy at Jefferson Valley at (914) 245 – 8807 to reserve a seat. Space is limited to 10 participants.

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