GAGA + YOGA returns SUNDAYS at the 14th Street Y

These kids are riveted. Focused. Gaga is the one thing besides video games that my kid loves to play. He is not an athlete, but just like all of his friends he LOVES Gaga. And this Sunday, February 1st, GAGA + Yoga returns at 3:00-3:45PM, continuing February 8th and March 1st.

gaga kids
GAGA at it’s finest

The point of Family Fitness initiatives at the 14th Street Y is to give opportunities for families to build healthy habits together.  Last year, we created the GAGA + YOGA model which gave parents a chance to use their Sunday to exercise, focus and relax, while their kids played a favorite sport with their friends, and with great instructors (Kevin Casidid is our GAGA guru).

Best of all, the 14th Street Y is now the proud owner of a professional GAGA Pit, which we debuted last Saturday at Pause/Play and will be using every Sunday!

gaga fam fit day
New GAGA pit!

Have questions about GAGA + YOGA or other Family Fitness Initiatives?  Contact our Family Fitness Coordinator for more information.

Pause and Play for Family Fit Day: Saturday January 24th 2-6PM

Cold Saturday Afternoons in January.  What to do?

In October of 2013, you may recall that we offered FAMILY FIT DAY for you and your family.  We saw how much kids loved to climb a rock wall, jump in a bounce house, and do activities normally featured in a summer camp day, like play GAGA or do martial arts with the fantastic Sensei Mark.  This year, we’re excited to do this in January (when the weather outside is frightful) and add the Family Fit Day element to our continued series, Pause/Play: Saturday Afternoons at the Y.  You can exercise together or in different sessions, celebrate sustainability and the new year for trees (Tu B’ Shvat Seder with Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein)….even take a family photo!

Take a look at the extensive schedule we’ve got planned right here.

FREE for members. Hope we see you there!

kids climb wall
Our Gym is transformed to a Rock Wall Climbing experience for kids!
PLAY in the 4th floor playroom!
Kids 4 and under get moving in our 4th floor playroom.
(kids really love GAGA)
Our Gym will also feature a new GAGA pit for lots of happy faces like this one.
Kids did Martial Arts,
Sensei Mark is back with martial arts
(it was a big crowd)
Toddler sing along and dance party with Debbie Brukman returns!
Family Yoga with Emily Sussell
Family Yoga with Emily Sussell

And so much more!  See you there.

Joy, Frustration, and Complete Satisfaction! Conversation with Jacobs Campbell Dance

Jacobs Campbell Dance is debuting 2 new works in commemoration of their 5 year anniversary as a part of the 1st Dance Series here at the 14th Street Y! The company is presenting 5 on December 12-15, 2013. Click Here for tickets!

See what the co-founders, Christopher Campbell and Whitney Jacobs, have to say about their number filled performances and their movement packed Family Fitness Class.

Q: Five years, Congratulations! What was the beginning of the companies journey and how has the company grown since its inception?
Thank you! Whitney and I met through my partner about 7 years ago and easily became friends. We are both 
Personal Trainers with sports and dance backgrounds and began collaborating on dance within our own independent projects. It was Whitney’s idea that we present our choreography together and share a showing. Then we were both like, “Hell, lets just form a company! ” Our first show was at The Tank in 2008. In terms of production, we didn’t know what we were doing, but we had a strong work ethic and knew how to complete a project. Everything about the company has grown; marketing, dancers, grants, contributions, ideas, creative output/input, our volunteers and audience. It has been 5 years of joy, frustration and complete satisfaction! We are blessed by having a wonderful a volunteer staff, an amazing photographer/designer, and beautiful dancers.

Q: What inspires you to create the work you present?
We have various inspiration. In general, I get my inspiration from visual artists, films and music. Currently, Whitney is in Grad-School and delving into the comedic side of dance. Both of us are very physical and like big aggressive movements.

Q: What do you look for in dancers?
JCD is an eclectic company made up of dancers and non-dancers. We look for dancers or athletes who are willing to learn, take risk, collaborate, have a strong work ethic and above all, enjoy the process as much as the results.

Q: Christopher is teaching Family Fitness Class here at the 14th Street Y. How important is physical fitness to your company? What do you do as a company to stay fit?
Physical fitness is of utmost importance to the company. Almost all of the company members work in the fitness industry or have a pre-professional sports background. We all workout, train and take classes (yoga, Muay Thai, track & field, etc.), participate in events, or even coach.
We are really excited about our upcoming show at The 14th Street Y Theater and honored to be presented alongside the companies in this seasons itinerary. 

See the company in action December 12-15th at the Theater at the 14th Street Y. Click Here for tickets. Want to dance along with Co-founder Christopher Campbell and your family at the Family Fitness Class on Saturday December 14th from 11-12PM? Click Here for more information!

Family Yoga in Action!

It is the end of class and I sit quietly observing my students in Savasana, or relaxation pose. Wrapped in flowing and colorful silk scarves, they are curled up with each other in pairs, enjoying a rare moment of stillness together. This is Family Yoga, and this season I am fortunate to share the class every Sunday at the Y.

During the class we listen to and play the singing bowl, perform a version of the sun salutation as a “Sun Dance,” skip and laugh through a game of yoga freeze tag, and recline on each other in comfy partner poses. Flushed faces, deep breaths, and giggles fill the room.

fam yoga new

The students gently awaken and come to a sitting position.  I ask them to share something they feel thankful for. 8 year old Anna shares, “I am thankful for my family.” Jess, a mom, says, “I am thankful for watching my daughter grow up.” It is easy to sense the closeness and appreciation in the room as well as the release felt after a good workout.


fam yoga new 2

Feel free to join Family Yoga anytime. The class is geared toward families with children ages 4 and up (although you are welcome to bring younger ones too).

It is free for members every Sunday at 2:30pm and no experience is required. As the weather cools, yoga offers us a way to build our immune systems and stay healthy and it’s a great way to Get Fit Together!


> For more information email

Working out with Nili (OMG QHCBTG)

Here's Nili!
Here’s Nili!
Oh My Gosh! Quads,Hammies,Calves,Biceps,Triceps& Glutes!

This weeks trainings hit every single inch of my body and it hurts so good! As The burn intensified as I lunged “around the world” (doing a set of lunges forward, side and back) with Glenna, my mind became at ease.

It was in that moment that I really realized the importance of working out. I understood the obvious reasons, but in this moment It became clear that my mind has a lot going on in it and sometimes I can’t turn it off. This usually occurs right around 10pm when I’m preparing for sleep. When I do these full body workouts with Glenna, this not only physically exhausts me, it mentally exhausts me. THIS is the combination I have been searching for.

After our training session yesterday, I think my endorphins were on overdrive and Glenna and I sat for a second to confirm our training schedule. We started chatting and I learned some fun facts about Glenna. She was a teacher herself, and I instantly I started to think about the children I teach and how I strive to be a role model for them and their families on many levels, especially health and wellness.

Each year it is a teaching goal/strategy of mine to physically/cognitively challenge each child who enters our preschool. Again, the obvious physical challenges of kicking a ball in the gum or sliding down the slide on the roof are easy ways to target physical challenge, but the big question is, how to present activities that challenge both the physical and the cognitive? I have challenged myself over the years to research and experiment with this inquiry, and have found small doses of success. As with most things in life, more answers led to more questions, the next lesson to be learned or the next goal reached.

By participating in full body trainings, I am now able to understand more of what exactly I am seeking for the students in my classroom. It is one of my teaching strategies and my philosophy, that if a child is physically and cognitively challenged, they are then able to understand and control their bodies, brains and actions. If a child is connected to their body, they are able to connect deeper to learning and build more meaningful relationships. It’s been amazing to fully experience what I want for my students, and find out how well it works! The science behind early childhood fascinates me and I feel grateful that I am in a profession I am passionate about.

Enough reading! Go challenge your mind and body!

Nili Talis is one of our beloved preschool teachers who had an epiphany about what it might take to truly be at her best.

In January, each preschool teacher at the 14th Street Y was given the opportunity to participate in “the passion project.” The idea behind this project was to motivate, inspire and connect each teacher with the feeling of passion. It was up to each individual to define their passion. When we found out that Nili would pursue her passion for health and wellness with us, we asked her to share her workouts with us, in the hopes that it might inspire a passion for health in others.

Working Out With Nili

Nili Talis is one of our beloved preschool teachers who had an epiphany about what it might take  to truly be at her best. 

In January,  each preschool teacher at the 14th Street Y was given the opportunity to participate in “the passion project.”  The idea behind this project was to motivate, inspire and connect each of us with the feeling of passion.  It was up to each individual to define their passion.   When we found out that Nili would pursue her passion for health and wellness with us, we asked her to share her workouts with us, in the hopes that it might inspire a passion for health in others.

-14th Street Y

My adrenaline shot up to the sky after this opportunity was presented to me.   After the proposal paper was in my hand, my energy dropped to the ground.

Passion!? Oh No, who has time for passion? A list of all of the things I need to accomplish before June raced through my head. I need to pass four different state teacher certification exams, write a thesis, complete 2 more graduate school courses, spend time with my family and teach! How would I ever fit a passion project into my life?

I took a month to ponder the possibilities, I could learn to play the ukulele, scuba dive, speak a different language or even improve upon my mind reading skills.  All of these sounded interesting, but nothing ignited the passion within me.  Just as I was about to return the form and decide I didn’t have time for this project, it hit me.  When do I feel the most passionate? When I am at my best.

That was my aha moment:  I needed to focus on me in order to be the best graduate student, educator, wife and Mother.  The best way I know how to do this is to lead a healthy lifestyle.  Over the years I have gone in and out of focusing on being the best me.  And currently with my plate overflowing, working out has been put in the freezer…until now!  The focus of my passion project would be to begin a workout routine with a trainer at the Y to ignite my desire for a heathy lifestyle and to be the best me possible.

Here's Nili!
Here’s Nili!

FIRST WORKOUT:  “Oh no here goes something!”

As I slowly make my approach over to my Personal Trainer Glenna and begin what I had been calling a “tuchas whooping”.

I kept telling myself I need this more now than ever.  Life has taken over my hours in each day.  I love my life and wife,  don’t get me wrong, and working out has become a hobby I participate in on occasion.

Glenna was kind, gentle, intelligent, positive and focused.  As she conducted her initial physical test on me we started to talk about my goals and vision for our training sessions.

I told her that growing up I was always on a sports team and really never had to worry about working out. I want to bring back that type of training that uses all natural body weight training. I wasn’t interested in treadmills or other large equipment.

Glenna’s knowledge and confidence quickly eased my mind and we jumped into the training session.  She opened up a tiny bag filled with a few bands.  We used these bands in a variety of way that worked every single muscle in my body.  As I was doing the reps I kept thinking, “This isn’t so bad, I’ve got this!”

I also questioned if I was working hard enough?  After our first session Glenna and I hugged and said see you next week.  I left feeling really good but still asked myself did I work hard enough? I continued on with my busy day and got home around 8pm that night.  After I completed our family night-time rituals, I went to sit on the couch to read a book.  After about an hour of sitting, I wanted to get a drink and then BOOM it hit me!  I COULDNT MOVE A SINGLE MUSCLE!  As I stood up half way I started to laugh “I guess I did work hard enough!”

And it felt awesome!  This is the feeling I’ve missed.  Every inch of my inside and out was physically and mentally challenged and I wanted more!

-Nili Talis

Interested in working out like this?  Try Glenna’s FREE Fitness Intensive this Saturday, May 11th at 12:00PM  PRIMAL MOVES.


Our Gymnasium: From Drab to Fab

We hope you’ve had a chance to play or take class on our new Basketball Court!  Your support has been invaluable during its renovation.  Since you didn’t get to see the process over the last few weeks, we wanted to share some pictures of the gym’s journey from drab to fab!

Our Gymnasium: From Drab to Fab

Here is our beloved old basketball court. It served us for 16 years with many fabulous games, classes and fun. But change was needed! And since we were changing….


Why not get the best?  Our new gym has a shiny new wood floor (state-of-the-art!) fresh paint, and repaired ceiling.

Here’s what you didn’t see:

panorama (2)

The new floor on its way in!

photo (20)

Wood prepped and ready to paint.


Painting almost complete!


And ready to go.

Here’s to many more years of legendary play!  Thank you, 14th Street Y community for your patience and commitment to this important project.

We couldn’t have done it without you!

New Arrival!

New Arrival!

Last week our newest ‘bundles of joy’ –our new floor– arrived in bundles of beautiful wood. Today, these bundles have been installed and set beautifully in the gymnasium! We’re right on track for a mid February re-opening. Stay tuned for more updates!

Family Fitness from a Friend of the (14th Street Y) Family!

We’re reposting a magnificent blog written by one of our favorite fitness bloggers, Jeannine Trimboli of Real Fit Life.  Jeannine lives in upstate New York, is a mom of 4 and a super example of  how healthy living can fit sustainably into a busy, happy life.   We often feature her workouts on Fitness Tip Tuesday and Workout Wednesdays.

On the day after Hurricane Sandy, Jeannine posted this blog in the Times Union about the 14th Street Y and our Family Fitness Initiatives, a program still very near and dear to our hearts.  In fact, though we missed our planned Nov. 4th Fitness Intensive, Family Track Day, we play on rescheduling it sometime soon!  Meanwhile, get ready for Family Capoeira on Sunday, December 2nd at 2:30PM!

Thanks so much to Jeannine for writing about us and what we’re up to.  We’ll be bringing you more of her fabulous workouts on our Facebook and Twitter pages soon!

The 14th Street Y

It seems super appropriate that I write a blog about one of my newly found friends in Manhattan today. Since the storm hit their area so hard they are without power at the moment so I want to wish them and all of their neighbors safety and a speedy recovery. To be really accurate, they found me. Or at least Camille Diamond did. Camille is the Director of Community Engagement and Communications at the 14th Street Y and she reached out to me a while back asking if I would be interested in collaborating on a family fitness campaign.

Camille and her son at Family Yoga

As a mom of four, and fitness professional, who often writes about the importance of making fitness a family affair, I was on board right from the start!

We have so much influence over our kids. The habits we instill in them at a young age carry over into their adult lives. I know my kids understand that healthy eating, fitness, and other self –nurturing habits are topics that I am very passionate about.

The other day, for instance, I decided to get a quick twenty minute workout while my kids were hanging out in the living room. Two of my boys were sitting down playing a video game together, and my daughter was on the couch listening to music. Lying down in the middle of the living room floor I started on my first set of reverse crunches with the physioball. My hips lifted off the ground, my knees and the ball went over my head, and as my spine slowly descended back down to where it started, my 5 year old boy said with excitement: “Whoah, HOW do you DO that?!? Without skipping a beat, my 11 year old son replied. “Sheer strength! And independent woman power”

Now that response made me laugh a lot. It also made me very happy. I want my kids to see me fitting fitness into my life and making it a priority. I also want them to see it as something fun and cool.

Just like us adults, kids are all different. They like different types of activities and sometimes you may have to experiment a little before you hit on something that gets them enthusiastic about fitness.

I love the approach 14th Street Y is using. They are literally experimenting with new programs right now and trying to find out what kinds of parent – child activities are the most successful.

To kick off this venture they held a Family Fit Day last Sunday, October 21st. They had a “Fun, Walk, and Roll” event, rock wall climbing, sparring, fitness contests, and relay races. I also love that the

food provided at the event was equally healthy. Instead of the usual cupcakes and pizza, they provided sushi and gluten free granola.

The 14th Street Y also creates time that specifically caters to families within their facility. They have family swim seven days a week and family basketball court time every Saturday. In addition, they are offering special fitness intensives for families the 1st Sunday of every month. Their first one was Family Yoga on October 7th, from 2:30 – 3:30.

I think all of this is great. Instead of having the kids hang out in a child care room while mom and dad “go work out”, this allows kids to be engaging in fitness activities right along side with them. I think that sends a powerful message to kids.

Fitness is not something we have to wait to participate in “when we are old enough”.

As parents and as communities, we need to be engaging our kids in activities on a regular basis. If you need to get a workout in, great! Take your kid with you! If you don’t think you can get sufficient exercise with a child at your side, then maybe it is time to rethink what you consider REAL exercise.

I know my kids LOVE to have races. They like push up challenges. They also like to watch me lift weights. I also let them lift the weights that are appropriate for their age. Safety first, always!

Kids feel really special when we allow them to see a glimpse into our world and when we make them feel like they are special enough to be a part of it. That in itself can make a huge, positive impact. Not to mention, it does oodles of good for their confidence!

So, if you don’t live close enough to the 14th Street Y, that’s okay! You can make up your own great activities.

Best wishes to the 14th Street Y!  In the future, Camille and I will be happy to share some of what they learn along the way