Fitness Instructor Spotlight: Cloe Andrade

Masala Bhangra 1

Meet 14th Street Y fitness instructor Cloe Andrade! Cloe teaches Masala Bhangra, an Indian-dance based fitness program, to people of all ages and fitness levels.

Cloe originally turned to fitness as a way to cope with the grief of losing her father. After three years of training with Sarina Jain, the founder of Masala Bhangra, Cloe decided to challenge herself and train to teach classes. Now a Master Trainer, Cloe teaches future Masala Bhangra Ambassadors.

Masala Bhangra is special to Cloe because of the connections she’s made throughout the years. She is inspired by her students’ progress, growth, and motivation. She especially loves teaching at the 14th Street Y because of our amazing member community.

Cloe will be teaching a Masala Bhangra pop-up classes at on Saturdays 1014, 10/21, and 10/28 at 12:30 PM.  In addition to at the 14th Street Y, she also teaches Masala Bhangra at Manny Cantor Center, our LES sister site.

Fitness Instructor Spotlights: Celeste Rivera & Bobby Albanez


Meet 14th Street Y Zumba instructors Celeste Rivera and Bobby Albanez!

Celeste is an AFAA certified group fitness instructor, dancer and choreographer. She trained at Ballet Hispanico of New York for 15 years and performed with their student company throughout the NYC metro area. In addition to studying dance, she studied political science and Latin American studies at Barnard College and law at Hofstra University.

Bobby was born and raised in Los Angeles. Bobby pursued his passion for dance in college, where he learned the fundamentals of ballet, jazz, modern, African, and Bollywood dance. He fell in love with Zumba during his very first class, which felt like a “huge party,” and has been teaching dance since 2011.

Why do you love Zumba?

Celeste: I started taking dance classes when I was 3 years old, and I was hooked. I love Zumba because it brings dance and the rhythms of the world to the masses. You don’t need dance experience or knowledge about any of the styles to be able to do them in a class, and you walk out feeling energized and inspired as well as having learned something new about the world.

Bobby: I have always had a passion for dance. Especially growing up in a Hispanic household; every chance we had, we just danced. I love Zumba because, in a hour class, you can feel like you have touched every part of the world because of the fusion of the music. One moment you’re in South America [and] the next you’re in India.

What is your favorite workout song?

Celeste: It’s hard for me to pick just one. I love music, and it also depends on the workout. It can be anything from hip hop to pop to salsa to country to dancehall. But one of my favorite songs right now is Despacito by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee.

What makes a good workout playlist?

Bobby: I don’t have a favorite [workout song] because my music playlist is always changing, but my current favorite is U-RITE by THEY. A good playlist has to have different levels emotionally. In my opinion, if one moment I’m listening to Trap and then the next moment I’m listening to 60’s soul music, then that playlist is hot.

What is your number one wellness tip?

Bobby: Do it for the ENDORPHINS!

Celeste: My number one wellness tip is to do what you feel passionate about, whether it is Zumba, yoga, weight lifting, running, or anything else. Find what you love and stick with it. It will be the easiest commitment you ever made.

Check out our full schedule of fitness classes, including Zumba. For more information about the 14th Street Y, please visit our website at

Benefits of Isometric Contraction

lauren-mann-plank.jpgThe tendons in your body are truly the powerhouses behind your daily routines. These elastic pieces of tissue connect your muscles to your bones, helping to support the weight and force you exert onto your muscles. Since your tendons do so much work to support your muscles, it’s important to maintain and increase your tendon strength.

According to the department of Sport Sciences at the University of Tokyo, isometric exercises help to strengthen and stiffen tendons.  Isometric exercises are exercises which involve contraction of the muscle where the length of the muscle does not change — for example, the plankScientists have found that long holds of muscle contractions produce a whopping 14% stiffer tendon than exercises that involve short duration contractions, such as jumps and sprints.

We recommend using durations of seconds to help guide your sets of stretching and isometric exercising. This will help you to make sure you are holding your contraction for long periods during exercises, which has been shown to cause a larger increase in tendon strength than sprint-like forms of contraction. Please feel more than welcome to ask one of the 14th Street Y trainers any questions regarding strengthening your tendons – or anything else!

For more information about the 14th Street Y, please visit our website at



Fitness Instructor Spotlight: Desira Barnes

Meet Pilates instructor Desira Barnes! Desira is has been teaching Pilates at the 14th Street Y since September 2016. She is originally from San Jose, California. After studying dance in college, Desira moved to New York. She was introduced to Pilates by another dancer and has not stopped since. As she puts it, “Pilates lends itself to dance, so it was meant to be.”

Desira is motivated to stay healthy in order to prevent injuries, pain, and weakness. When she is healthy, she feels like she can accomplish anything; “the best feeling in the world.” She believes that Pilates is a special type of workout because it is the foundation for all other forms of movement, helps the body to take on any type of activity, and brings awareness to posture and alignment.

In addition to teaching at the 14th Street Y, Desira has also partnered with her best friend to start a Pilates studio, Cinch Pilates, in downtown Brooklyn.

Meet Desira at a special pop-up Pilates 101 workshop on Saturday, April 22 from 12:30 – 2:00 PM, or try out her weekly class, Pilates Fundamentals, on Thursdays at 6:40 PM. 

For more information about the 14th Street Y, please visit our website at

30 Day Challenge: Plank

Artboard 1 copy@72xDay 1: How many seconds can you hold the position with good form? Find your baseline number and build from there.
Day 2: Time to get in plank position! Hold a plank for 10-30 seconds; repeat 3 times.
Day 3: Rest day! Taking a day off will give your muscles time to recover and adapt to this new exercise.
Day 4: Plank for 10-30 seconds; repeat 4 times.
Day 5: Try a side plank. Hold this position for 10-30 secs/side, repeat 3 times on each side.
To do a side plank, start in regular plank position, t
hen shift your weight to one arm and rotate your hips so that they are perpendicular to the floor. Use your bottom arm for support, and put the other hand on your hip. Tip: try to “stack” shoulders, knees, and hips so that they are all in line.
Day 6: Rest day. You deserve it.
Day 7: Test day! How long can you hold the regular plank position with good form?
Day 8: Plank for 15-35 seconds; repeat 5 times.
Day 9: Side plank for 15-35 seconds/side; repeat 4 times on each side.
Day 10: Plank from 20-40 seconds; repeat 6 times.
Day 11: Rest day! Do you feel your core getting stronger?
Day 12: Plank for 25-45 seconds; repeat 4 times.
Day 13: Rest day!
Day 14: Two weeks of planks… wow! How long can you hold the position with good form?
Continue reading “30 Day Challenge: Plank”

Let us bring you some light

Suddenly we all are holding hands and swinging
Doubling our smiles and tripling love and blessing
Adding up to one so helping keeps us free
That is what we learn and teach the world to be

By Becky Skoff

These words are from Suddenly Perfectly, the first English translation of the Hebrew song Tov Lanu Pitom, by Rafi ben Moshe. The song appears in the musical version of the iconic Israeli book Simlat HaShabbat Shel Hannale (Hanna’s Sabbath Dress), by Itzhak Schweiger Dmi’el. We have translated it for an American audience for our original musical, Hanna’s Moonlit Dress, which we are presenting in just two weeks at the 14th Street Y.

These words are a little hard to absorb right now. As the voices of talented young actors fill the halls of our preschool, smiles on their faces and enthusiasm in their dance-steps, I find myself wondering: is this a message parents want to hear right now? Will they feel moved to get up and dance with their children? Are they ready to smile? Will they even come?

Our team at LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture at the 14th Street Y has been working since fall 2011 to bring these words and their story onto the stage and into the hearts of the Jewish community. Now, two weeks before we open a 3 week run of our play, it is almost ironic that we are staging a show about idealism, unity, good deeds and self-sacrifice, for an audience largely heart-broken by recent events that have called these values into question.

I originally fell in love with this book because of its vision of optimism, hope, and promise. The story seems deceptively simple: a young girl – Hanna – lives alone with her mother. Her mother has stayed up late at night, laboring over the creation of a beautiful, white Sabbath dress for her daughter. Soon, Hanna finds herself in a predicament: a stranger, carrying a large sack of coal, is in need of her help. But if she helps him, her new, white dress may be ruined. Of course, Hanna makes the right choice, and magic ensues, leading us to this cheerful song, a talking moon, and a lesson in how easy it can be to bring warmth to others.

You may wonder what a coal man was doing in Israel. Itzhak Schweiger Dmi’el wrote Simlat HaShabnat Shel Hannale in 1930s British Mandate Palestine, and published the story in Davar, the influential workers’ newspaper. The coal man – along with the absence of Hanna’s father – is symbolic of the suffering, isolation, and incompleteness of the Jewish people at this moment in time. Pre-state Israel was a time of dreaming. Most people had very little and were struggling just to survive. Dmi’el wrote this story for a community of big dreamers – people who believed that with every seed planted, they were creating a better future for the Jewish people.  This was the idealistic, pioneering vision of Israel; a vision of pure hope and promise.

Fast forward to today. The idea of helping a stranger struggling with his workload becomes equally relevant.  How can we help the coal men in our society – both in America and in Israel? Where is the little girl in a white dress, willing to get dirty to do the right thing? When will the moon be ready to give us some magic to help ease the way?

I don’t have all the answers right now, but I do know this: I need a positive way to talk to my son about the power of doing good in the world. He needs to see examples of the joy of community, and of love for each other.  I need to sing, dance and smile with my child. I need a little joy in my life too, and a reminder of the power of idealism. We all do.

If you are ready to emerge from your cloud of disbelief and anxiety, open the curtain with us in the coming weeks. Come be transported to another world and time. The clouds may still be there when you leave the theater, but I promise: you’ll leave with a little more light in your heart.

Adding up to one so helping keeps us free
That is what we learn and teach the world to be

Hanna and the Moonlit Dress plays December 2-18 at the Theater at the 14th Street Y, at 344 East 14th Street.  For tickets, please visit

A Message from Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein

Photo by Bridget Badore
Photo by Bridget Badore

Dear 14th Street Y Community,

I am writing this letter after the 2016 presidential election. After an election season filled with rancorous argument, it has been a breath of fresh air every day to walk into the 14th Street Y to see the warm and welcoming faces of our members and staff.

Here at the 14th Street Y, we are a diverse and supportive family. From the newest babies to our members over the age of 100, we laugh together, learn together, workout together, and build relationships that last a lifetime.

Our country ended fall as a nation divided. While we are looking hopefully towards spring, as this letter goes to print, the mood in our community is one of uncertainty. Whether by the election outcome or by responses to the election outcome, some of you have shared that you’re feeling distraught about what’s next. Many of us are also experiencing painful and divisive conversations with family and friends who may have a differing view on the country’s future.

I don’t have any magic fix to this uncertainty, but I know that here at the 14th Street Y, we pride ourselves on being and supporting a diverse, welcoming, and caring community. As a staff we promote tolerance, listening, and respect. We each have many different beliefs and political ideas, but each of us comes together in a values-based community because we want to make our world and nation better. Here at the Y, we focus on you; our valued members. The time you spend at the 14th Street Y exercising your body or mind in a positive way is an opportunity to meet someone face-to-face, learn from someone different from you, build a friendship, and thereby strengthen the local community we live in every day.

We are all in this together. When you enter the 14th Street Y’s front doors know that you are not alone. In our lobby, pool, fitness center, classrooms, or basketball gym—we look one another in the eye and see that we all equally human. This support can give us all a greater sense of security and hope.

As we all listen to each other and learn from each other, I hope to hear more from you. My email is My ear and my heart are open to you, as I hope yours will be to each other.


Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein
Executive Director
14th Street Y