Top FIVE Reasons to join a Gym

Hi, I am Jennifer and I work here at the 14th Street Y as the Membership Sales Coordinator.

I basically introduce people to the Y and get them started on membership.  In this role, I am often called upon to be a motivator and an ear for people who have hit a wall in their health and wellness and don’t know how to move forward.  I feel like I have gotten pretty good at motivating, and I think it is because I am, in a way, talking to myself.

I am a normal woman who skips workouts, indulges from time to time, guilts myself for not fitting into a mold and throws a nasty side eye at fashion magazines with unreachable images of beauty.  Most mornings, my alarm goes off, my eyes crack and with a sigh of sadness I dramatically heave myself off of my bed to begin another day.   I make a mental list of everything I have to accomplish that day and working out is always on that list.  And every day, almost immediately, I start scheming ways to get out of it.  Is that a headache?  A cramp?  Wasn’t I supposed to call my best friend and talk her through a crisis?

How do I motivate myself and how do I talk to people about fitness when they come to the Y?  I begin with honesty.  I don’t like to work out.  More precisely, I hate it…for the first 10 to 15 minutes.  Once I have passed that initial hatred and my heart rate really starts going and I realize that it is too late for me to leave, then I feel GLORIOUS!  Like everything in life, the key to success is getting past all the negative stuff we allow to hold us back and move into the “I deserve to feel good and live a good life” phaseBelow are the all the things I tick off in my head when I talk to people about fitness and the very things that form my health and wellness philosophy.

1.  Support from your peers.
Your peers are the people who are around your age and share the same ideas and goals as yourself.  I will broaden that definition when speaking about the support network you get when you join a gym:  You have a building full of people who are working hard to achieve the same goals that you have!  You want to succeed, they want to succeed, you want them to succeed and vice versa!  It is a virtual love fest of the best kind of people feeding off each other’s best energy.  If you stick with exercising and make it a regular part of your life, you actually have an endless supply of support and help as often as you walk through the door!

2.  It’s Social.  But not in that way.
I am just going to say it-sometimes it is nice to get away from your friends and family and the people you work with.  Sometimes it is nice to be surrounded by people who you don’t know very well.  Gym friends are sharing the same goals as you and can be an awesome support system but beyond that, joining your community and being present in your life outside of work and family obligations is good for the soul. Some of the best conversations I have had about books and music have happened in the locker room after an intense workout when I was feeling relaxed and quite pleased with myself for working out hard.  Try putting the incline all the way up on the treadmill and chatting with the woman next to you about Game of Thrones (this usually turns into ten people gathered around a treadmill nerding out in all the right ways).  You don’t have to talk about working out while you are at the gym, you can actually just BE at the gym in a way that you cannot BE at work when you are filling deadlines and answering endless emails.  Trust me, it is magical.

3.  Addressing Stress Relief, Seasonal Depression, Energy Levels, or a combo of all three.
Instead of sitting at home and watching The Bachelor (seriously, don’t watch The Bachelor, it is bad for your brain) and sinking deeper into seasonal depression, GET MOVING.  When you are exercising and burning fat and building muscle, you have all kinds of endorphins running around like crazy in your body telling you how very awesome you are.  And you are awesome, you just didn’t realize it when you were drinking your third glass of wine last night and wondering if you will get four or five hours of sleep before you have to go to work the next morning.  If you work out regularly you WILL sleep better, have more energy during the day, be more motivated to achieve goals and cut WAY down on your stress levels.  I like you better already!

4.  Being the person you are meant to be!  (treat Yo’self!)
Not much to say about this other than the fact that being your best self is the truest of love stories.  Looking good, feeling good and surrounding yourself with people who support you being happy leads to a great life.  And who does not want a great life?  You deserve it and so do the people you love.  Stop looking at working out as something that you have to do and look at it as time spent taking care of yourself.  If you can put it on the same level as getting a pedicure or taking yourself to the movies then you are one step closer to making exercise a regular part of your life.

5.  Your Basic, Overall health
There is a ton of science out there about what to eat and how to work out.  I won’t try and sell you any of that.  I am just saying to move.  Walking on a treadmill, stretching on a mat, jumping in the pool and doggy paddling in a circle-these all lead to immediate health benefits.  A long life sounds wonderful but imagine if you could live a long life where you also FELT great?  Doesn’t that sound like something you would want for yourself?

jennier in snow

Jennifer Cutillo is the Membership Coordinator of the 14th Street Y with over 10 years experience in the fitness industry.

Winter is her favorite Season.

Member Spotlight: Weighted Workout!

This is Lisa!
This is Lisa!

Sometimes the best workout ideas come from people we meet at the Y!

Lisa’s workout starts with the cardio of her choice
and moves quickly to this strength building workout. She never lets go of the weights, goes from one exercise to the next without stopping, and adds reps each time through (start with one,
end with eight!).

Lisa, a mom of two needs quick, intense workouts for her body and her mind. Try it and let us know what you think!

Lisa's workout blog slide final

Working out with Nili (OMG QHCBTG)

Here's Nili!
Here’s Nili!
OMG! QHCBTG!
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.

 

Pretzels and the People- A Story From Our Afterschool Program

All around the world, people are embracing a commitment towards a greener, more sustainable planet. Even in the United States, where climate change skeptics have often derailed the conversation with cries of false science and a nefarious liberal agenda, recent extreme weather events like the summer droughts, raging fires, and hurricane Sandy are causing people across party lines to sit up and take note. But what does it mean for our Jewish community—individuals, institutions, movements, etc.—to truly embrace a commitment to tikkun olam and start repairing the world? With many of our natural resources exploited, wildlife populations threatened, and an ever-growing sense of futility in the face of a dire yet abstract crisis, where should we even start?

How about with a room full of energetic K-5th graders in afterschool at the 14th Street Y in New York City? Let’s start with something tangible and mundane, like that small bag of pretzels we eat for snack. And let’s start with a question: how do those pretzels get to us, and where do they go when we’re done?

Since Oct. 5, the kids, afterschool director Chloe Markowitz, and I have been in hot pursuit of the answer. We know that everything starts with the earth and goes back to the earth in the end. We know that, somewhere in the middle, those earth-products pass through our mouths and hands. And we are beginning to uncover many of the untold stories lying latent inside the cellophane—from the farmers growing wheat to the factories assembling the package, to the landfills and sewage works, and all the pilots, conductors and drivers who earn their wages connecting the dots.

On paper, “sustainability” is incredibly simple and instinctually obvious. All we have to do is live in balance with our natural habitat, avoiding unnecessary damage, and only taking that which can be replenished. In the real world, however, our attempts to live sustainably get caught up in a tangled and complex web of pre-existing, enveloping, and often unsustainable systems.

A bag of pretzels is not just a bag of pretzels. The ingredients represent a farm bill that subsidizes industrial monoculture, highly processed foods, and underpaid, overworked laborers. The bag denotes our dependance on oil for disposable, sanitary packaging, and an underlying assumption that we can afford to waste. Its physical existence and near instant evaporation embodies big rigs lumbering down long stretches of freeway, and delivering gratuitously high asthma rates to New York City’s disenfranchised outer boroughs, where most warehouses, waste transfer stations, and unsightly sewage treatment works are located. Etc., etc., and so forth.

But we are not just the sum of a system. We create and shape our society every day in innumerable actions both pedestrian and profound. Who we vote for, how we spend our money, the ideologies and policies we promote in our companies—almost every engagement with the larger world serves to sustain the status quo or forge a path towards greener pastures.

The key word, however, is “we.” There’s really very little that the average person can do. Even a CEO, who may cast a wider net when she takes her company green, represents only one link in a global chain. Yet those links are all connected, and seven billion average people maintain what already is, even when we can’t see them doing it.

Our after school kids now know that the tables they sit at for snack don’t set themselves up. Sami sets them up. They know that they are warm in the winter because there are radiators. They took pictures when Conrad, the Super, brought them to what he calles “the heart of the building,” turned on the boiler, and pointed out the pipes that carry steam up, up and away. They understand that every plastic wrapper means more waste into the large dumpster Jane showed them out back, and more trips to our out-of-state landfill.

And then Jane opened the compost bin so they could look inside.

We can’t just talk about change; ideas are only one link in the chain. We have to support new paradigms with concrete action. Our afterschool “Green Friday” program is only one piece of the 14th Street Y’s greater commitment to sustainability  under Executive Director Stephen Hazan Arnoff. From a pedagogical perspective, it’s important that our kids can talk about industrial food systems with me, and also taste local produce from the Hazon CSA on Thursdays. From an institutional perspective, it’s critical that their commitment expresses itself holistically—from the way their physical structure is maintained and improved, to the supplies ordered and materials produced, their egagements with stakeholders and the greater community, etc. Otherwise the change itself is not sustainable.

It’s not always obvious or easy. In just one bag of pretzels, we found a whole Pandora’s box. But if there’s one thing the kids have taught me so far, it’s that we can’t see the forest until we’ve seen the trees. If we want to get closer to the earth, we have to know just how far we’ve come from it. Only then, piece by piece, can change begin to ripple from the farmer to the factory, to the front desk, to us, and right back out again.

  The 14th Street Y sang about going GREEN last Spring with this original song by Nathan Tysen

Shawn Shafner is the Founder of The POOP Project and Green Educator for the 14th Street Y Afterschool Program.

Family Fitness Continues!

The 14th Street Y is committed to the fitness and well-being of your entire family.  Though our Family Fitness Intensives had to take a break due to conditions from Sandy, this Sunday we’re back, and more fun than ever!

Family Capoeira is a fun and energetic workout based on martial arts, dance and simple acrobatic moves.  You and your kids will have a blast together and get a great workout at the same time! 

Family Capoeira is FREE for members.   If you have a friend or two you’d like to bring with you, please contact Camille_Diamond@14StreetY.org.

We can’t wait to Capoeira with you!

FAMILY FIT DAY This Sunday October 21st!

Why?  Because Families are busy, but still want to spend time together, build great habits, and model a healthy lifestyle for their kids. 

We’re celebrating our Family Fitness Initaitives with FAMILY FIT DAY  at the 14th Street Y.  Climb a rock wall, play silly sports, run fun relays (gunny sack races, anyone?) and play super soccer stars TOGETHER.  Sponsored by Beyond Sushi (YUM!), East Village Body Works (chair massage for adults!) Tu-Lu’s Bakery (also, YUM!) Gym Source, Web MD (thanks!) and our friends at the wonderful Ciao for Now.

11:00AM-2:00PM.  Hope to see you there!