We’ve created a nutrient-packed and delicious heart-healthy smoothie in honor of Heart Healthy Month at Club Fit! You can order one in the café or use the recipe below to make and enjoy at home.
• ¾ cup of cranberries
• 1 apple, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
• ¼ cup chopped raw walnuts
• 1 tbsp maple syrup, honey, or other sweetener (optional)
• 1 cup almond milk
• ¼ tsp cinnamon
• 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)
• ice cubes (optional, if you prefer your smoothie more chilled)
1. Blend all ingredients until desired consistency is reached.
Cranberries: According to the American Heart Association, the micronutrients found in cranberries accelerate the condition of the digestive system and antioxidant system while also boosting positive heart health, potentially decreasing blood pressure and cholesterol as well.
Apples: According to Medical News Today, apples contain high levels of important antioxidants, flavonoids, and dietary fiber. The phytonutrients and antioxidants in apples could potentially lower the probability of developing cancer, elevated blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.
Walnuts: According to an article published by WebMD, a researcher stated that walnuts are the #1 nut for heart health because a study conducted showed that they contain a higher amount and better quality of antioxidants than other nuts. Nuts can help decrease cholesterol, lessen the amount of oxidative stress caused by free radicals (due to their antioxidant content), and reduce inflammation.
Honey: According to Healthline, honey contains a variety of essential antioxidants such as phenolic compounds including flavonoids. Two experiments found that buckwheat honey raised the amount of antioxidants in the blood, which are associated with a decreased probability of heart attacks, strokes, and certain forms of cancer.
Almond Milk: According to Medical News Today, almond milk is high in Vitamin E, which shields fats from oxidation, lessening the amount of oxidized LDL cholesterol, which is known to increase the risk for developing heart disease. Additionally, 50% of the calories in almond milk stem from fat, and oleic acid, the main fatty acid in almond oil, have been associated with lowering levels of LDL cholesterol and increasing levels of HDL cholesterol.
Cinnamon: According to WebMD, cinnamon has one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants out of all the spices. Additionally, studies have shown that taking cinnamon as a supplement can help reduce total cholesterol levels, which help decrease the risk for developing heart disease.
Protein Powder: According to Health Line, one study showed that consistently consuming whey protein daily was positively associated with a decrease in LDL cholesterol. Additionally, glutathione, a natural antioxidant produced by the body, requires a high abundance of amino acids, including cysteine, which at times is not available in sufficient quantities. Since whey protein is high in protein, it may increase the body’s ability to produce antioxidants and decrease oxidative stress. Finally, research has demonstrated that the intake of dairy is associated with decreased blood pressure due to lactokinins, an ACE inhibitor found in whey protein.
Hunter has been with our program for several seasons. His running skills on the track are strong and enthusiastic! He is often asked to demonstrate drills as his form is correct and powerful. Hunter’s upper body and core strength are on the rise and his agility is above par. Always with a story to share and eagerness to do well, he is always a positive part of our program. Congrats, Hunter!
Most Improved Dryland Athlete: Thurston Crane
Thurston has returned for his second year of Kids Conditioning. His endurance and strength has shown much improvement — encouraged by his outside hiking expeditions tackling mountain summits. He has a competitive spirit and is always looking for ways to improve. Obstacle courses are a strong activity for him as well as speed drills. A polite and positive young man and a pleasure to have in class. Keep up the good work, Thurston!
January 2019 Club Fit Briarcliff Trainer of the Month Sean Fewer
Sean will be giving a free-to-member presentation in our Conference Room on Monday, January 21 at 5:30 pm and Thursday, January 24th at 10:00 am
Subject: Balance & Mobility
Hello my name is Sean Fewer, A.C.E certified Master Trainer. I have worked in the fitness/health industry for twenty years. Along with working as a personal trainer, I have worked in Cardiac-Pulmonary Rehab and in Physical Therapy.
My interest in fitness began years ago when I was a member at Club Fit. I knew I could make a difference in peoples lives by helping them improve their physical condition. I have worked with individuals from eight to ninety eight years old. Whether a person is looking to get into better shape or manage a long-term medical condition (such as diabetes or heart disease), exercise is key! It is one of the major ways to continue living a productive and healthy life. In addition to finding time for my own workouts, I enjoy going to music concerts and trying new restaurants. I look forward to helping you achieve your goals and develop a healthier lifestyle.
Samantha Nunes is always pushing forward and is working hard to keep her trainers and her clients going in the same direction.
By Jeremy Brown
It’s long been an immutable fact that there are 24 hours in a day. No more no less. But, talking to Samantha Nunes, it seems as though she might have found a few extra here and there. Either that or she is actually superhuman.
As the Fitness Director and Master Trainer, as well as the Parisi Speed School Program Director, Nunes puts in a full 40 hours at Club Fit’s Jefferson Valley location. In between, she also manages her own personal training business, training clients before and after hours. Oh, and did we mention that she also has her real estate license.
“Even as a kid I always had to stay busy,” she says. “I’m not the kind of person that can sit behind a desk. I always have to be out and about.”
Still, in spite of her hectic schedule, Nunes knows the importance of time management, something she admits wasn’t always her strongest suit. “In order to keep all those plates spinning requires a schedule. It’s a balance,” Nunes says. “I try to fit everything into Monday and Thursday, so that, when it comes to the weekends, I’m able to have that for family time.”
That word, family, is an important one to Nunes, and she says that Club Fit shares her appreciation for family.
“It’s very family oriented,” she says about the club. “I have a great team, they were very welcoming when I came in. When I first went into a manager’s meeting and everyone introduced themselves, there wasn’t a person in there who hadn’t been with the club for at least ten years. That says something about the company.”
As the Fitness Director, Nunes notes that there are many benefits to training at Club Fit, but stressed the importance of small group training, something she feels members don’t take enough advantage of.
“What’s so great about small group training is that you can train with family, friends or a group of people that share the same interest,” she explains, “and you’re all able to be front and center with a trainer that can walk you through biomechanics, watch your form and help you and your group all together.”
Even if you don’t opt for small group training, Nunes says that Club Fit offers so much for members that, whatever your fitness goals are, they’ll definitely be met. That said, with more than 80 classes to choose from, Nunes admits that it can be daunting for new members to decide which ones to take on first. But don’t worry, she says, the team has you covered. “Every member that signs up gets a free fitness orientation,” she says. “We assess your biomechanics, which is how your body moves, where your imperfections are and how we can fix them. We also do an upper body assessment to see where your strength is. It’s a free one-on-one session with a trainer. You can ask them questions and we go over all the important details that can help get you where you need to be to live a healthy lifestyle.”
In the end, that is the ultimate goal, says Nunes. Making health and fitness a cornerstone of your life. As she tells her clients, “Your body is the king or the queen of your castle. And if you’re not taking care of yourself, that king or queen is coming down and taking the whole kingdom with it! It’s not a selfish thing to put yourself first sometimes. Your kids are always the most important, but you have to keep yourself healthy so you’re around for them.”
Looking ahead to 2019, Nunes says she has big plans for her team of trainers.
“I want to see the trainers that I have to explode to an elite level and be training 60 to 100 sessions a month,” she says, “and for them to be the point of contact for anyone who needs help in the club.”
And, she adds, while she doesn’t usually make New Year’s resolutions for herself, this year might be a little different.
“I recently said to myself, ‘2019 is finally going to be the year of me,’” she says. “I always put everyone first, and I have a lot of goals that I want to be able to accomplish. So, for this year, I really am focusing on becoming a better version of myself.”
December 2018 Club Fit Briarcliff Trainer of the Month Alex Celcis
Alex will be giving a free-to-member presentation in our Conference Room on Tuesday, December 18th at 5:00 pm and Thursday, December 20th at 10:30 am
Subject: The Benefits of Boxing for Mind, Body, & Overall Wellness
Hello, I’m Alex Celcis — (NASM) Certified Personal Trainer, Self-Defense Instructor, Kick-Boxing instructor, Karate (Goju Ryu) Instructor. I have over 15 years of martial arts experience and five years’ experience years as a personal trainer.
My passion for boxing and the martial arts grew as a teenager, through watching movies and seeing ordinary humans do extraordinary acts. I then began to go to tournaments, and observe my passion in real-time. I began studying and training diligently as a young adult at the age of 19 and since then I have not ceased the journey of learning, growing and teaching the martial arts to others who want to become stronger, more confident, and healthier physically, mentally and spiritually. And as a result at the age of 36 I feel healthier and stronger then when I was 24.
Top Benefits of Boxing:
• Enhanced cardiovascular health — you need to do cardio to protect yourself from heart disease, burn calories, and lose or maintain your weight
• Improved total-body strength
• Better hand-eye coordination
• Decreased stress
• Improved body composition.
Michelle came to the program through her swim team participation. Her improvement since last season was apparent in the first few classes of this year. She strives to do her best during each class. Her running has improved tremendously as well as her footwork during speed drills. Michelle loves to do stability drills and always has a smile on her face. Proud of you, Michelle!
Most Improved Dryland Athlete: Ashlyn Goldberg
Ashlyn is new to the program this fall and has improved tremendously during her time working with the trainers. Her track times have gotten faster, she is more balanced on the functional equipment and her obstacle drills have gotten better. She is a pleasure to work with and always has a smile on her face. Congratulations, Ashlyn!
Master Trainer Ann Krobath is a fitness professional who utilizes a well-rounded understanding of cancer to develop exercise programs specifically suited for cancer survivors.
“Over the past few decades, I witnessed friends and families endure, survive and lose their lives to cancer. My mission is to empower cancer survivors to find their inner strength through improved fitness and emotional health. Created in collaboration with the American Cancer Society, American College of Sports Medicine/ACS Certified Cancer Exercise Trainers design and administer fitness assessments and exercise programs specific to a person’s cancer diagnosis, treatment and current recovery status. I am committed to upholding the gold standard as set forth by the ACSM and am passionate about helping cancer survivors attain a quality of life that may have seemed out of reach. It is my greatest joy to be a partner on this journey to hope and good health for people who have suffered through this devastating illness.”
An ACSM/ACS Certified Cancer Exercise Trainer is a fitness professional who utilizes a well-rounded understanding of cancer to develop exercise programs specifically suited for cancer survivors. ACSM/ACS CETs empower cancer survivors to display their significant inner strength by improving their own physical fitness.
Beyond assessing and creating individual exercise programs unique to each individual, ACSM/ACS Certified Cancer Exercise Trainers have working knowledge around cancer-related topics from surgeries to side effects, from diagnoses to survivor stages—specialized knowledge that allows them to better create the ideal fitness experience no matter what a client has been through. ACSM/ACS CETs truly uphold the gold standard by working to adapt fitness best practices that equip cancer survivors to attain a quality of life that may have seemed out of reach.
Ann will consult with the our Briarcliff Cancer Wellness program participants and develop a program to meet their specific needs. Contact her at ext. 2260 or email@example.com for more info.
September 2018 Club Fit Briarcliff Trainer of the Month Leslie Kesselman
Leslie will be giving a free-to-member presentation in our Conference Room on Monday, September 17th at 3:30 pm and Thursday, September 20th at 11:30 am
Subject: Active Aging
My name is Leslie Kesselman. I am a master trainer and a group exercise instructor at Club Fit. I have been in the business of exercise; educating and working with individuals for 35 years. I have been at Club Fit for 21 years. I have learned, grown and received much gratification along the way.
When we moved up to Westchester I decided to join a gym, mostly to meet people. I started going to group fitness classes and really enjoyed them. I found that exercising made me feel good. It felt healthy to be moving. I felt better than I did in years. I became a fitness instructor that year. I was fit, healthy and happy.
During my tenure as a group fitness instructor and master trainer I have worked with many different populations. Today the focus of my work is with the active aging population. The aging process presents many changes physiologically. We lose muscle mass, our joints become arthritic and stiff, our bones lose density, our neuromuscular system slows down, our balance and ability to react are compromised. There are postural changes. Maybe you’ve had a joint replacement? These issues can be addressed and improved with different forms of exercise such as; strength training to build bone density and muscular strength, balance exercises to prevent falling, proper alignment and core work exercises to help keep you injury free and flexibility exercises to increase range of motion around a joint to ease symptoms of discomfort.
Aging is a slow but inevitable process. You have the ability to delay that process and be as active and healthy as possible. Let me help you achieve that. I will design an individualized exercise program for you that takes into account your interests and goals as well as your limitations and health risks.
Exercising is worth the time and the effort. It makes you healthier. It makes you feel better. You can continue to do more of the activities that you enjoy. You can live your life to the fullest!
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. Happy hiking!
● Lift smaller loads of snow, rather than heavy shovelfuls. Be sure to take care to bend your knees and lift with your legs rather than your back.
● Use a shovel with a shaft that lets you keep your back straight while lifting. A short shaft will cause you to bend more to lift the load. Using a shovel that’s too long makes the weight at the end heavier. Step in the direction in which you are throwing the snow to prevent the low back from twisting. This will help prevent “next-day back fatigue.”
● Avoid excessive twisting because the spine cannot tolerate twisting as well as it can tolerate other movements. Bend your knees and keep your back as straight as possible so that you are lifting with your legs.
● Take frequent breaks when shoveling. Stand up straight and walk around periodically to extend the lower back.
● Backward bending exercises while standing will help reverse the excessive forward bending of shoveling: stand straight and tall, place your hands toward the back of your hips, and bend backwards slightly for several seconds.
Here are some Healthy Tips for Safely Shoveling Snow
Stretches that target the trunk, legs and upper body:
● Counter-Top stretch (Low back): Place your hands on your kitchen counter and walk backwards until your body makes an L-shape. Bend or hinge forward from your hips, while keeping your back lengthened your arms forward. You will feel a stretch in your back and throughout your trunk. Hold this for 10 long, deep breaths.
● Heel Up On a Chair stretch (hamstrings): While holding onto some support, straighten your leg out and place your heel up on a chair, tighten that thigh, and pull those toes towards your body. Feel the stretch in the back of your leg. There’s no need to bend forward and it’s better if you don’t. Just stand up tall and keep both legs active. Hold 10 breaths. Repeat other side.
● Bent Knee with Ankle in Hand stretch (quadriceps): Keep holding onto some support as you grab one foot with one hand behind your buttocks and hold it as you bend that leg. You should feel this stretch in the front of the thigh of the bent leg as you hold for 10 breaths. Repeat other side.
Core Strengthening Exercise:
● While standing, imagine pulling your belly button in towards your spine and engage your abdominal muscles without letting your pelvis tuck under. Try holding this for 5-10 seconds while breathing normally and repeat this a few times until it makes sense. This exercise uses the innermost layer of abdominal and back muscles and reminds your body where the center of your core strength is.
● As you are shoveling snow, focus on the rotating movements happening in your hip joints. You can place your finger on the front of your hip joints (located at the top of each thigh near the groin) and practice a few sways side to side, simulating raking. Avoid letting the rotation happen at your waist—this will cause unnecessary movement around your lumbar spine.
● Continue to focus on the core strength exercise above and engage your belly button in towards your spine as you rake, activating those lumbar spine stabilizers. Pay attention to loosening up any stiffness in your legs and trunk muscles and you will go a long way to preventing injury to your back!
If your back hurts from shoveling snow or you have complaints of neck or shoulder pain, call to make an appointment with one of our staff of knowledgeable physical therapists for a free 15 minute consultation. Our experienced and dedicated licensed physical therapists can also help you get started with treatment. With Direct Access a prescription is not required to be evaluated. . Most insurance plans are accepted. Contact IvyRehab Briarcliff (914) 762-2222 and IvyRehab Jefferson Valley (914) 245-8807 or visit our Website —www.ivyrehab.com — to learn more about Direct Access.
Club Fit Jefferson Valley member Denise D’Amico is a change maker and a problem solver, a trusted force in the Yorktown community. As a local real estate broker for over twenty years, a co-founder and past president of the Yorktown Chamber of Commerce, and a charter board member of Support Connection, helping others and creating meaningful change is simply what Denise does. In 2015, however, she discovered a new person in need of help — herself.
In January of 2015 a visit to the doctor revealed a serious weight-related health issue — pre-diabetes. That was the day that forced Denise to face weight issues that she had battled for years. Her doctor laid two options before her: take several medications every day; or 2) lose weight and see if her body responds. Amidst a flood of emotions, Denise called upon her inner grit — and chose option two. She also chose Club Fit as her partner in getting there.
Quarterly doctor appointments became the new norm for Denise, and after three months her doctor noticed a difference. After six months, everyone was noticing a difference. By the time July of 2016 rolled around, Denise had lost 125 pounds, thanks to her new routine at Club Fit, her modified diet, and her steely resolve and can-do attitude. Most importantly, Denise reversed her health issue, and as a result does not need any medications.
So, how did this inspiring transformation occur? After consulting with her doctor on nutrition and exercise, as well as her daughter who is a nurse and athlete, Denise changed her diet, eliminating most carbohydrates and sugar. Over time, she switched from meats to fish and from yolks to egg whites. Water is a constant throughout her diet as well, and she drinks half her weight in ounces, daily. Advance journaling of her food has been a key ingredient in her success as well. “If you know what you’re going to eat in advance, you’re less likely to fail,” Denise says. “Food is medicine, and the planning is vital to success.”
Denise exercises at Club Fit five to six days a week and feels it sets the pace for her day, keeping her centered. Her balanced blend of activity is a vital part of her daily routine. A typical day for Denise begins in the locker room with a weigh-in, and she feels it has been one of her most important habits throughout her weight loss. “It keeps me accountable to my goals,” she explains. By 6:30 am Denise is in the Club Fit lap pool where she swims one mile, daily. At 7:50 am, she switches gears and powerwalks two miles in the Fitness Center. Next, it’s time to get her dancing shoes on, and she meets her friends for the 9am Danceology class — her favorite Club Fit activity. On specific days, she now does kickboxing as well as the Circuit for her bone strength. Denise laughs that exercising is a love-hate relationship for her. “Sometimes, I hate to do it, but I love the way it makes me feel,” says Denise. “I wouldn’t trade that feeling for anything. It’s euphoria.”
Denise’s husband, Lou, joins her daily at the gym, taking a spin class, after which they return home for breakfast at 10:30am. In the afternoon, Denise takes advantage of the track where she lives and powerwalks two more miles. At 2:30pm she has lunch—typically a large salad with homemade dressing. Many times, Lou will join Denise for her afternoon walk, as well, but forgoes the powerwalk opting for a leisurely, relaxing pace. In the evening, Lou and Denise have a dinner around 4:30 of protein — typically salmon — and a variety of vegetables. Her special treat (from time to time) has become a square of Ghirardelli chocolate.
Weaving nutrition and exercise together was key for Denise in losing weight and reclaiming her health. She credits her Club Fit routine as essential in her weight loss success — both physically and mentally. “Club Fit is #1 and sets the pace for the rest of your day,” says Denise. “Exercising makes you happy; it makes you want to engage with others.”
As we age the ability to maintain balance becomes more difficult. Many factors influence good balance, some of them are biological; and some we are able to influence and are able to improve. 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.
Good balance is dependent on sensory input form 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. This is associated with an increased risk of falls and hip fractures. It also has a great affect on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. 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 the 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. Flexibility exercises, stretches, gentle yoga will help improve flexibility of major muscle groups and therefore improve ones ability to complete everyday activities.
Postural changes develop as people age but not because they age. Rounded shoulders, forward head postures, increased thoracic curves in the spine are common postural changes. 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.
Medications also contribute to the deterioration of the balance system. Research has shown that adding new medications in the previous two weeks increases the risk for falling.
There are many ways we can adapt to the changes in our bodies as we age. Some helpful tips include:
Promote safety in the home by using non-skid surfaces, eliminating area rugs & improve lighting in the home
Get a yearly eye exam
Proper nutrition and hydration
Know the side effects of your medication
Use caution with pets running around in your home
Different forms of exercise, such as strengthening exercises, flexibility and stretches, postural exercise, yoga, tai chi, and aerobic exercise such as walking, will all contribute to decreasing the risk of falls and improve your balance.
Guidelines from The American College of Sports Medicine suggest that:
1) Healthy adults under the age of 65 should aim for:
– Moderate intense cardiovascular exercises 30 minutes a day (aerobic exercise), five days a week or vigorous intense exercises 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week and strengthening-exercises twice a week
– Flexibility or stretching exercises are also recommended a minimum of 2-3 days a week
2) Healthy adults 65 years or older:
– Low-to-Moderate aerobic exercises, 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week and gentle strengthening-exercises (very light weights), 2- 3 times a week
– Flexibility or stretching exercises at a minimum of 2-3 times a week
For beginners, you can simply start out by learning the basics of the talk test, which is a rule of thumb for doing moderate-intensity activity and you can still talk, but not sing during an activity. However, if you are doing a vigorous-activity you would want to learn how to find your target heart rate and determine what intensity range you should be exercising at for optimal cardiac performance.
If you would like to improve your current level of fitness, but still have questions about how to begin a safe exercise program if you had an injury or illness, our experienced and dedicated licensed physical therapists can help you get started. With Direct Access a prescription is not required to be evaluated. Contact Ivyrehab Briarcliff (914) 762 – 2222 and Ivyrehab Jefferson Valley (914) 245 – 8807 or visit our Website: www.ivyrehab.com to learn more about Direct Access.
You may have noticed that we changed the design of the name tags that we proudly wear at work. And it’s all for a very good reason — Jason Needle — our colleague and friend. Jason passed away on December 4, 2015.The new name tags will serve to remember Jason, and to encourage us to be supportive of others. We have implemented Jason’s “I Can. I Will.” tag line on the new name tags as a reminder of who Jason was; a brave person who inspired others to live with a strong sense of community and commitment to live life to the fullest.
Jason Needle once described himself as an Iraq war veteran, a two-time cancer survivor, and a proud member of the Club Fit family. Beating cancer and defending our country are two things everyone can identify as substantial accomplishments. Although it may pale in comparison, Jay’s association with Club Fit would prove to be of paramount importance in his life story. Jay grew up coming to Club Fit and fell in love with the atmosphere. He enjoyed it so much that he went to college to pursue a degree in exercise sports science with the end goal of working at his favorite place.
Jay began working as a personal trainer in the fitness department in 2005. When he wasn’t working, he could still be found in the building working out, lifting weights, or playing basketball. Jay was outgoing, enthusiastic, friendly, and genuinely interested in other people. Because of this, it wasn’t long before everyone knew who Jay was – both staff and members alike. He was also one of the trainers who spearheaded the Parisi Speed School program when it was introduced. This is the area where Jay really shined. He had a passion for training young athletes; watching kids improve and achieve goals and, more importantly, gain confidence was everything to Jay. “Being able to help a child grow confident through fitness and performance is a beautiful thing to me,” he told the Briarcliff Daily Voice. He knew they looked up to him and never lost sight of that.
Jay was the picture of health and fitness when he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) in November 2010. He spent over 200 days in the hospital the first year of his treatment and achieved remission only to have the leukemia return less than a year later. He was then diagnosed with a rare gene mutation that made it difficult for treatments to be successful. During his five-year battle, he traveled all over New York City and Boston, spoke to countless doctors, went through over twenty different chemotherapy treatments, most of which were experimental trials, radiation and two bone marrow transplants.
Throughout his fight, Club Fit remained an important support system for him. A Facebook page was created entitled “Jason’s Army” which he posted on frequently to stay in touch with everyone. He used his Parisi clients as motivation for himself: “The excitement they show when they reach a new goal or do something they thought couldn’t be done is what drives me day in and day out. If these kids can do it, then so can I!”
And so Jay’s tagline was born. Jay coined the motto “I Can. I Will.” and believed with all of his heart that he would beat the odds against his disease. Again, Jay’s energy and sense of purpose was infectious. His positive and energetic posts more often than not served as motivation for its readers to work to make the world a caring, supportive place. His “I Can. I Will.” attitude exploded and the support was phenomenal as the page grew to over 1,100 followers.
Jay was able to use this following to help other people fighting against cancer as well. By hosting an annual 5k run/walk in 2013, 2014, and 2015, Jason’s Army raised over $40,000 for local charities that support cancer patients. For someone who was going through so much, all he wanted to do was give back and recognize others. He was so thankful for the support of staff, members, and clients from Club Fit that he wanted to help those who didn’t have the same support.
Jay died on December 4, 2015. As the legendary ESPN anchor Stuart Scott said, “When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live.” He continued by saying, “So live. Live. Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight, lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you.” The best way to honor Jason’s life and to keep his memory alive is to adopt his “I Can. I Will.” attitude and employ it in your own life.
Osteoporosis is a disease affecting approximately 10 million men and women in America. It is the progressive loss of bone mineral density. With bone loss over time the bones become weak and brittle leading to the increased likelihood of fractures, and bone deformation. The cost to our nation’s economy can be as much as 13 billion dollars per year in lost productivity and health care costs.
Who is at Risk for Osteoporosis?
Eighty percent of those with Osteoporosis are women. Women over 65 years of age are at much greater risk than men for Osteoporosis. Anyone diagnosed with Osteopenia, low bone density and a precursor to Osteoporosis is at greater risk. Other risk factors include women who are white or Asian, postmenopausal, cigarette smoking, sedentary lifestyle and some medication. Also women who have had long-term menstrual problems or have mineral absorption problems may also be at risk.
What can happen if you have Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis causes a hunched forward posture and the formation of a hump, in the middle back and decreasing height. Poor posture and muscle tension due to the hunched posture can contribute to the increase of falling because the person’s center of gravity is shifted forward. Weak and brittle bones increase the likelihood of fracture during falls or fractures of the spine.
Some symptoms that may be caused by Osteoporosis include back pain, poor posture, lost height and decreased mobility. Anyone over 65 or postmenopausal women should be screened for osteoporosis even if symptoms are not present. Doctors will perform bone density scans to rate the persons bone density and determine their diagnosis based on that scan.
Tips on how Physical Therapy can help Osteoporosis:
1. Physical therapy can be utilized to manage to progression of Osteopenia, Osteoporosis and their symptoms. The patient’s goals include prevention of bone loss and increasing bone density.
2. According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), “The right exercises and good habits can keep bones strong and prevent or reverse the effects of osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, is an important way to build and maintain healthy bones. Muscle strengthening exercises have been found to stimulate bone growth and can help prevent and treat osteoporosis. These types of exercises are best if started early in life and done regularly. However, it is important to remember that you can begin exercising at any age and still reap great benefits”.
3. Avoid exercises and daily activities which round the spine, such as sit-ups, crunches, bending down to tie your shoes, certain exercise machines that involve forward bending of the trunk, and even movements and sports that round and twist the spine. Instead, hinge forward from your hips, while keeping your back straight.
4. Practice balance exercises (even at a wall or holding on) to reduce falls and resulting fractures. An individualized program may include a walking regimen, Tai Chi, yoga, Pilates and other exercises geared toward conditioning, balance, and coordination.
5. The APTA recommends: Using proper posture and safe body mechanics during all activities protects the spine against injury. Here are some tips:
– Keep your back, stomach, and leg muscles strong and flexible.
– Do not slouch.
– Use good body positioning at work, home, or during leisure activities.
– Ask for help when lifting heavy objects.
– Maintain a regular physical fitness regimen. Staying active can help to prevent injuries.
6. Always consult with your physician or physical therapist before beginning an exercise program, if you have osteoporosis, are at high risk for a fall, fracture, or have a medical condition that might affect your ability to exercise.
If you would like to be seen right away for learning how to set-up an exercise program, prevent an injury or chronic pain under Direct Access (no prescription is required), contact us at: www.ivyrehab.com.
Ivyrehab accepts most insurance plans (which our office obtains pre-approval from your insurance carrier) and will submit your office visit treatments for payment. You will be responsible for your co-payment depending on your particular insurance policy.
With one-on-one care this permits the therapist to construct a personalized program for the individual. After all, when it comes to rehabilitation, “it’s all about the people”.
1. National OP foundation, www.nof.org/osteoporosis.
2. Meeks, Sara Walk Tall. Triad Publishing Company (FL); 1st edition (June 15, 1999).
3. Bassey E. Joan, Exercise for prevention of osteoporotic fracture. Age and Aging. Nov. 2001: 29-31.
4. Rahmani, Poupak, Morin, Suzanne. Prevention of osteoporosis-related fractures among post menopausal women and older men. CMAJ. 2009:181; 815-820.
5. American Physical Therapy Association, Bone Health.http://www.moveforwardpt.com/Resources/Detail/bone-health-2
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.
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.
Let’s talk about how good it is to stay hydrated! What does your body need? Water! After all, the adult human body is comprised of 60% water. More details about the water inside you can be found on the U.S. Geological Survey in this great article on water properties!
Did you know that you need different amounts of water depending on your lifestyle? The general recommendation for how much water an adult needs daily is 3 liters for men and 2.2 liters for women according to the Mayo Clinic. If you exercise you need more, if you are pregnant or nursing you need more. Consult a complete list of daily recommended amounts.
You should never be thirsty. If you are, you are not hydrating enough. If you prefer drinking beverages that have more flavor, try adding some lemon to your water! Not only does it taste refreshing, but there are added benefits. Some of which include, cleansing your system, helping to keep your skin blemish free, added vitamin c and even gives your immune system a boost! More great benefits of drinking lemon water are right here on Lifehack.
Get yourself a nice water bottle (glass or metal is preferable) and start drinking water throughout the day! Hydrate and stay happy!
Come and meet Dr. Dhar and Brian McLean, DPT on April 28th at 6:30 PM inside the lobby of Club Fit Briarcliff. Attend the lecture from 7:00-8:00 PM (upper conference room).
Collegiate and High School females are 9-10 times more likely to suffer a non-traumatic Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury than males in similar sports. This is the result of an anatomical increased angle at the knee in women, also known as a “Q” angle, which puts more pressure on the inside of the knee . However, according to Dr Yasmin Dhar, “It is more common to tear the ACL from a noncontact injury, like hyperextending or landing and twisting the knee, than a direct contact injury.”
Does a torn ACL have to be fixed with surgery?
From Dr. Yasmin Dhar’s experience with ACL tears, “The ACL cannot heal on its own, but not all tears of the ACL need surgery; treatment can depend on your activity level and amount of instability in your knee. People participating in sports or activities where they plant their feet, and twist or cut are susceptible to having an unstable knee and may be better off with surgery. Also if they are unable to modify their activities and desire an unrestricted lifestyle, they should consider surgery to have the best chance of returning to their pre-injury functional level. On the other hand, people who do not perform many cutting or pivoting activities, have no feeling of looseness in their knee, or lead a sedentary lifestyle may be able to function well with physical therapy to strengthen the leg, and possibly a brace. However, even sedentary people can experience giving way with simple activities such as going down stairs or stepping off a curb. When there is instability or giving way with simple life activities or sports, surgery is needed to restore normal kinematics and stability to the knee, preventing further damage to other structures in the knee.”
Come and learn more about ACL injuries and treatment options from Dr Dhar. www.YDharMD.com
Ways to Prevent and Minimize Knee Injuries
In order to prevent or minimize knee injuries, Brian McLean, DPT and Director at Ivyrehab Briarcliff will discuss the ACL Screening & Prevention Program that is currently being performed at Ivyrehab Briarcliff and Ivyrehab Jefferson Valley. By using a video analysis of the athlete’s knees in several positions of jumping (start position, before and after jumping), suggestions are made on the athlete’s exercise program, which is recommended to be done 3 times weekly for 6 weeks.
The ACL injury prevention program consists of an exercise program that includes: (1) warm-up exercises for maximum efficiency and conditioning, (2) integrating the components of ACL injury prevention for muscle and joint preparation with (3) combining flexibility and strengthening exercises and (4) plyometric exercises and agility drills that can facilitate a quick transition into practice activities.
Dr Yasmin Dhar is the Sports Medicine and Arthroscopic Surgery Specialist for Specialty Orthopedics in Harrison, New York. She completed her orthopaedic training at Westchester Medical Center, a level 1 trauma center, and her Sports Medicine fellowship at University of Pennsylvania. She is board-certified in orthopedic surgery as well as sports medicine. An avid athlete herself, her clinical practice focuses on the prevention and treatment of sports-related injuries of the shoulder, elbow, hip and knee.
She currently serves as the Chief of Sports Medicine at Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital, Assistant Clinical Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at New York Medical College, an affiliate physician for the LPGA tour, team physician for a number of local schools, and an Associate Master Instructor for the Arthroscopy Association of North America. http://www.ydharmd.com/
For additional information about attending this presentation please contact Ivyrehab Briarcliff at 914-762-2222.. You can also visit our website at www.ivyrehab.com.
Space is limited so call or stop in the register.
National Physical Therapy Month (NPTM) is hosted by The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) each October to recognize how Physical Therapists help transform society by restoring and improving motion in people’s lives. This October the focus is on Health Aging.
As movement experts, the goal of the Physical Therapists at IvyRehab Briarcliff and IvyRehab Jefferson Valley, which are now located inside Club Fit, will be offering free 10 minute screenings and advice to its’ club members to overcome pain, gain and maintain movement, and preserve their independence-without the need, in many cases, for surgery or long-term prescription drug use.
If treatment is required individuals now have the opportunity under the Direct Access Law in New York State to be evaluated and treated without a prescription for 10 visits or treatment within 30 days before seeing their physician.
Exercise may be the closest thing we have to the fountain of youth. The right type and amount of it, prescribed by a physical therapist, can help prevent or manage many age-related health conditions.
Stop by the lobby at Club Fit Briarcliff on the following days/times to learn tips on aging well and about Direct Access. You can also sign up for a 10 minute free screening for sports, balance and/or spinal screening by our Licensed Physical
10/05/15 9:00 – 10:30 AM (Monday) Meryle Richman, PT, DPT, Senior Director
10/15/15 8:30 – 10:00 AM (Thursday) Meryle Richman, PT, DPT, Senior Director
10/19/15 9:00 – 10:30 AM (Monday) Meryle Richman, PT, DPT, Senior Director
10/29/15 5:00 – 6:00 PM (Thursday) meet our NEW Director Brian McLean, DPT
OR Stop by the lobby at Club Fit Jefferson Valley:
10/01/15 7:30 – 8:30 AM (Thursday) Jacek Golis, PT
10/06/15 9:00 – 10:00 AM (Tuesday) Meryle Richman, PT, DPT, Senior Director
10/12/15 9:00 – 10:30 AM (Monday) Meryle Richman, PT, DPT, Senior Director
10/22/15 4:00 – 5:00 PM (Thursday) Deborah Lenihan, PT, Director
10/26/15 9:00 – 10:30 AM (Monday) Meryle Richman, PT, DPT, Senior Director
At either location fill out a free raffle and win a chance for a free gift ($75.00 Basket/gift card), when you stop by to say hello and learn more about how the staff at IvyRehab can help you. Any questions please contact us at IvyRehab Briarcliff (914) 762 -2222 or IvyRehab Jefferson Valley (914) 245 – 8807. Visit our website at www.ivyrehab.com.
— written by Club Fit Member and Guest Blogger Joy Cain
Club Fit’s Syd Berman shares her experience to promote stroke awareness.
The morning of June 6, 2012 was like any other beautiful spring morning at Club Fit. Swim classes were going on in the program pool, treadmills and stair climbers were being used in the fitness area, and up in Studio I, Syd Berman was leading her Dance ‘n’ Funk class, just as she had done hundreds of times before. But about 15 minutes into this particular class, things went awry. And Syd Berman’s life was changed forever.
“I didn’t feel anything,” Syd responds when asked if she felt pain. “I was just teaching a dance, and I thought, ‘Wait a minute. I’m an instructor, and it’s almost like I’m stumbling.’ Then I said something over the microphone and two of my students recognized what was going on and stopped the class.”
What was going on was that Syd was having a stroke. The alert students who saw Syd’s unusual stance and heard her slurred speech reacted immediately. They notified the front desk, and 911 was called. Syd was whisked off by ambulance to Hudson Valley Hospital. A day later, she was transferred down to Columbia Presbyterian, where she remained in the ICU for a few days. When doctors determined that she wasn’t in imminent danger of having another stroke, Syd was transferred to Burke Rehabilitation Center in White Plains for what turned into a six-week stay.
For those in the Club Fit family, the overwhelming sentiment surrounding the entire episode was one of shock and incredulity. This wasn’t some weekend warrior, some wannabe jock who suffered the stroke — this was SYD! Syd… who had begun working here when the facility was known as the Jefferson Valley Racquet Club. Syd… who, since 1993, had been the Club’s dance coordinator and was later put in charge of all the group exercise programs. Syd… who ate all the right foods and slept the right number of hours and who, at the age of 59, was in better physical shape than most women half her age. The stroke had happened to Syd! And the underlying thought was this: If a stroke can happen to someone like Syd, what chance do the rest of us have?
“I had none of the precursors,” Syd says. “I’m just happy I was here when it happened because our emergency response was excellent.” What Syd had was an ischemic stroke, which means that a blood clot interfered with the flow of blood to her brain. Doctors told her that the clot probably formed after she made a sudden movement with her head. “When I do the warm up, I get very high energy, so I might have just twisted too hard or something,” she says. “My doctor told me that was it. I said, ‘Well why hasn’t Beyonce stroked out ?’ and he said it’s just the luck of the draw. My GP told me that sh*t happens — so I said, ‘Thanks a lot — that really helps me out.’ But you know what? I’m still here and I feel very lucky because everyone has a story. Everybody has a tragedy in their life and I’m lucky I survived, because stroke is the No 4 killer in the country.”
Syd is speaking from the bridge area overlooking the pool at Jefferson Valley, waiting for a chair yoga class to begin. She has gained weight in the three years since her stroke, which is to be expected given that she is so much less mobile than she used to be. She needs a cane to get around, and her left arm is virtually useless. But her speech is back to normal and the smile on her face is real. She’s wearing a black Club Fit shirt with the words Live, Laugh, Love on it, and around her neck is a rhinestone turtle, a gift someone sent to her when she was rehabbing at Burke. The turtle is her reminder that recovery from stroke is a slow process — but the idea is to keep moving forward.
When she arrived at Burke, Syd had absolutely no movement in her left arm or her left toes, and her left leg felt like it was in a bucket of cement. The left side of her face drooped slightly. She was riding on an emotional roller coaster, going from a place of initially joking about her predicament in the hospital (“little did I realize the joke was on me,”) to a place of feeling no emotions at all. It wasn’t until some instructors from Club Fit sent 100 red roses to her room at Burke that Syd finally broke down and cried.
She knew that she would do whatever she could to restore her health.“Any testing they had at Burke, I volunteered for it,” she says. “Electrical stimuli (I felt like Frankenstein), a low carb diet that was supposed to help the brain — I was game to try anything I could.“ She went to physical therapy three times a week and eventually made such amazing progress that, in 2014, she was asked to return to Burke to share her story at a clinical conference.
Which brings us to today.
“I’m good. It’s a struggle everyday to live with a disability — boy, do I have appreciation now for people that have disabilities! — but I get along. I still have a good arm, a good leg, and my husband (Howie) is so good at taking care of me!
“I can do pretty much everything myself — except I can’t cook on the stove because that’s dangerous. I’m left-handed, so I try to write, but I can’t write too well — I sort of scribble with my right hand.
“I feel very lucky. I get to take care of my grandkids, I see my friends, I get out and about. I joined a singing group — we’recalled the Sweet Seasons — and we have such a good time! Everything I read says that the more you do for your brain, even without a stroke, the better it is for you.”With that in mind, Syd tries to keep mentally busy. One of her goals is to learn Spanish. Also, Syd recently took the written test to recertify herself as a group instructor; perhaps one day she’ll be able to lead a fitness class for those with special needs.
Still, she fatigues easily. An occupational therapist regularly visits Syd at home, and, among other things, makes Syd get down on her hands and knees to try and do push ups. That, along with trying to lift her left arm by itself, are two of her most challenging physical tasks. Although doctors have told her that her disabilities are permanent, Syd refuses to accept that. “I’m not gonna stop working,” she says. “I’m never gonna give up hope.”
Life has a way of teaching us everything we need to know. Prior to the stroke, Syd says that she was super critical of her looks. “I was very self conscious and didn’t think I was good enough. Now, of course, I look at pictures and say, wow, I was pretty good,” she says. The lesson here? “Appreciate your body — no matter how big it is, how thin it is. Embrace yourself — don’t let society tell you that you have to be perfect. Embrace yourself and just make the best out of it.
“A lot of people just don’t want to go out when they’re like this [with physical challenges] — but you know what? I’m here and I’m gonna live my life the best I can.”
She’s also doing what she can to make a difference. Syd’s proud of the fact that Club Fit partnered with her to raise funds for the National Stroke Association (NSA). Among other things, the NSA seeks to educate people about strokes, help stroke victims receive extended therapy, and advise hospitals on how to become better equipped to deal with stroke victims. In May, this Club Fit fundraiser was held in conjunction with the So You Think You Can Choreograph contest and raised over $4,000 for the NSA. Last year’s fundraiser raised over $3,500.
Syd is also proud of the fact that so many of the women she taught in Dance ‘N’ Funk contributed in some way to the fundraiser, and that they are still there for her — and for each other. Says Syd: “The dance girls are unbelievable. It makes me so happy to see them bonding and being friends.”
More than 30 years have passed since Syd Berman and Club Fit first crossed paths, a path that has seen its share of twists and turns. And as Syd looks back over what’s transpired these last three years, some more of life’s lessons are revealed.
“Family is more important than anything — and keeping your spirits up, no matter what happens, is important.,” Syd says. “I’ve discovered that I have so many wonderful friends at the club, it’s like my second home. And I also discovered that I am strong. I used to wonder what would I do if something happened [to me],