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Invest In Health

 Don’t know where to invest now? Start with your health. The falling economic barometers signal doom for the extravagances of the past. No more dinners at Daniel followed by a two hour session with your personal trainer the next morning. We need to get back to basics, cut the fat, so to speak. The simple truth is eating well and physical exercise does not need to be expensive. Sure, it is easier to pick up the phone to order in or to hire a personal trainer but times like these call for a little “creativity”.


Make no mistake: all of us need to exercise. While NYC is a Mecca of high priced personal trainers and upscale gyms, there are great ways to work out that are more affordable.  Isn’t it now time for us to try a different type of exercise? How about learning to ice skate or to ride a bicycle or yoga? Below are some of the terrific options available:

  • Running or walking. Central Park. The Great Lawn Oval is 0.5 miles, the 72nd Street lower loop is 1.7 miles, the Upper Loop is 3 miles, the loop around the reservoir is 1.5 miles, and the loop around the entire park is 6.03 miles. Exercising while surrounded by natural beauty delights the eye and lifts the spirit better than the treadmill. The New York Road Runners offers, not only running classes, but also classes in pilates, strength and flexibility and biking. Cost for classes is reasonable, averaging $10.00-$20 per class. NYRR Healthwalking is taught by a former marathoner, Lon Wilson, and is designed to motivate seniors to walk for fitness. Save the wear and tear on your joints by fast walking for heart health! To get you started, there is a series of four 1 hour classes for $40.00.
  • Ice skating is good cardiovascular exercise, strengthens your legs, and improves balance. Some venues are pricier than others; rinks listed are in order of cost. The Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers (Pier 61 23rd St. & the Hudson River) - most expensive - offers indoor ice skating in the afternoon Mon-Fri 1:30-5:20pm, Tues. and Thurs. 1:30-4:50pm and Wed. 1:30-3:50 pm. Weekends are 1:00pm-3:50pm. Cost for adults $12.50 (10 pass - $105.00), for children $7.00 (Ten pass - $80.00) Skate rental is $7.00. Ice skating classes for adults are held on Monday nights and weekends for $33.00 per class.
  •  Rockefeller Center Rink (5th Ave. between 49th and 50th streets) is open Mon-Thur 9am-10:30pm Friday and Saturday 8:30am to midnight and Sundays and holidays 8:30am-10pm. Admission for adults is $10.00 (Fri-Sun and holidays $14.00) Children and seniors pay$7.50 (Fri.-Sun. and holidays $8.50). Central Park Wollman Rink (Between 62nd and 63rd Streets.) offers a majestic view of the Manhattan skyline. It is open November through March, 7 days a week. The admission is $10.00 per adult weekdays (weekends and holidays are $14.00); $5.25 per child under 12 years weekdays (weekends and holidays are $5.50). Skate rentals are $6.00. Hours: Mon-Tue 10 am – 2:30pm, Wed-Thur 10:00am – 10:00pm. Lasker Ice Skating Rink is located in Central Park further uptown. The rink is beautifully maintained.( Entrance is just south of park entrance at 110th Street and Lenox Avenue) Admission is $6.00 for adults, $2.25 for seniors, and children $3.50, irrespective of weekday or holidays. Hours are: Mon-Fri: 10am-3:45 pm. Sat.: 1pm-11pm, Sun. 12:30-4:30pm. Also open in the evening: Tues.8pm-10pm and Fri. 7pm-11pm. Skate rentals are $5.25.
  • Greatest bargain – NYC’s only free admission ice skating rink: The Pond at Bryant Park is open daily Oct. 24 – Jan.26, Sun-Thurs 8am-10pm. Friday and Saturday 8am-midnight. What a romantic date for a winter evening!
  •  Bicycle riding. Central Park provides a car-free environment with flat and hilly terrain. The Park is closed to traffic on Monday through Friday, 10:00 am to 3:00pm, and 7:00pm to 7:00am, and weekends from 7:00 pm to 7:00am Monday. You can rent a bicycle at the Loeb Boathouse, if you do not want to ride to the park. Prospect Park in Brooklyn offers traffic-free bike paths.
  • Exercise classes. If you like attending classes, it makes good sense to join a gym that will give you the most for your money. Financial tip number one: If you are joining a gym, negotiate all fees and be sure you can freeze your membership if you anticipate being away from NYC. Gyms are feeling the recession, they are will do almost anything to sign you, trust me. It might interest you to know that many of NYC’s top group fitness trainers teach the same classes at both the high end gyms and less pricey community centers. Why spring for the high initiation fee when you can have the same class for less? The JCC at Amsterdam and 76th Street is Manhattan’s best kept fitness secret, with a wide range of classes including: triathlon training, samurai sword fencing, belly dancing, tap and ballroom dance, and fall prevention for seniors. The classes are included with a fitness membership, which ranges from $120/month for students (three month maximum), to $1,500/year for individual, to $3,345/year for a family of 3 or more. Non-members may sign up for individual classes for $18/$25 or for a 10-class pass for $150/$195 or a 20-class pass for $265/$315. If there is just one specific class that you are interested in, the class pass is the best deal. The YMHA (Lexington and 92nd Street) has a good selection of fitness classes; membership is $1,075/year. The Asphalt Green (89th Street and East End Avenue) offers swimming lessons, joint-friendly pool exercise classes and sport training for $89/month. The YMCA branches (McBurney 5 West 63rd St., Vanderbuilt 224 East 47th Street, Harlem 180 West 135th Street, West Side 125 West 14th Street, Chinatown 273 Bowery, ) have full gyms and basic fitness classes. The membership fees vary by location and include a one-time joining fee and monthly membership dues. Top price paid by adults is $90/month plus a one-time joining fee of $125 (at the McBurney branch). Keep in mind that joining the facilities listed is an expense; only the JCC will allow you to sign up for individual classes. Even the low-cost YMCA is an extravagance if you are only going once or twice per month. Best bargain: YMCA in Bedford-Stuyvesant offers an adult monthly rate of $40 and they have a swimming pool!
  • Dancing. Take a look at a professional dancer if you have any doubts about a dance class being a good work out; balance, posture, co-ordination, core strength, alignment, and muscle power are addressed in dance class. Two excellent, inexpensive dance studios are Steps on Broadway (2121 Broadway) and the Alvin Ailey extension(405 W. 55th Street at 9th Avenue). Both studios offer group classes taught by professional dancers at a cost of approximately $16 per class (with discounts if you purchase a series of classes).

Stress Busters. For the stressed out urban warriors, it is time to focus on inner strength. Calm down and breathe. The cost of inner peace doesn’t come with a price tag. Try one of the following:

  • Yoga. Many yoga studios offer free classes to first timers. Atmananda Yoga (324 Lafayette Street), Integral Yoga (227 West 13th Street),  and Sivanada Yoga (243 West 24th Street) offer the first class free. The NY Open Center (83 Spring Street) is a nonprofit holistic organization with classes in yoga. One hour lunchtime yoga class is $12 and you can bring a friend for $8.
  • Meditation. The multiple benefits of meditation have been documented through technology that has shown reduction in blood pressure, slower heart rate, and changes in brain waves. If stress has begun to take its toll on you, it is worthwhile to give meditation a trial even if you do not consider yourself to be the meditative – type. Meditation centers in NY tend to be held in humble, bare bones spaces. The best bargain is an exception to the rule: The Chopra Center (1710 Broadway in the Dream Hotel) is a calm, elegant spa which offers free guided meditation daily (Mon – Fri 12pm and 6pm; Sat and Sun at 10 am).

There is a lesson here: personal trainers and luxurious gyms are nice but not essential for fitness. Save your money. Until the economy improves, think of getting into shape as a do-it-yourself project!

In times like these it is imperative that we focus on health. Indeed the current financial uproar illustrates the transient nature of material belongings.

My Gift To You

Lace up your sneakers, put on your mittens, and join me for a complimentary aerobic walk in Central Park on Thursday mornings at 8am.
Reservations are a must. Please RSVP by Wednesday at 1pm. A 24 hour notice for cancellation is appreciated.

To register for the aerobic walk please call 212-288-9595.

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