At Chelsea Piers, Welcome to the CLUB
BY SCOTT STIFFLER | From jogging to juicing, health and fitness trends come and go — then come back, with a fresh public image for a new generation. That cycle includes…cycling. Today’s spinning class? It’s yesterday’s mountain bike craze, brought indoors and ramped up a notch. Those commercials for Insanity and P90X? For those who lived through the era of VHS home aerobic workouts, it’s yesterday once more — minus Jane Fonda, and with a bit less spandex.
“I’ve been a personal trainer for some 30 odd years,” says Chelsea Piers Sports Center trainer and Exercise Physiologist Sharone Huey — who, at age 56, wants to bring members of her generation out of the sedentary shadows and back into a workout routine that helps maintain strength, flexibility and balance. Although certain physical realities might mean the days of jazzercising and endurance running are over, having to slow down doesn’t mean you should stop entirely.
“Most people, after they’ve turned 50,” says Huey, “figure life [in the gym] is pretty much over for them, because there are not a lot of low-intensity options. What I’ve found is, people will walk by a class, look at it [see the younger people] and go do an exercise or two on their own. They’re a little shy, maybe a bit nervous.”
Huey understands where that timidity comes from. A well-traveled fencer who regularly competes against those decades her junior, she’s all too familiar with “going to a tournament and having kids’ mothers look at me like, ‘Why are you here?’ ”
Developed and taught by Huey, Sports Center at Chelsea Piers’ new “SC 60 CLUB” offers senior-specific group classes that remove the intimidation factor — while encouraging a healthier and more active lifestyle. Offered Monday through Friday, members work on a range of fitness principles that improve their abilities to tackle the challenges of one’s daily routine.
Recalling the process of creating SC 60’s four classes, Huey says, “I thought about what would be the best way to excite these people and get them to do something a little out of the ordinary.”
For some, embracing the unusual simply means showing up. “We have people who haven’t done anything for the past few years, and some who’ve just started coming back to the gym,” says Huey. For those members, SC 60 will “help with your daily activities, like going to the grocery store and being able to carry the shopping bags. That’s what you get from strength exercises.”
For others, a combination of sheer will and doctor’s orders provides motivation. “To improve overall health,” says Huey, “we’re focusing on agility, balance, strength and posture. Maybe there’s somebody who’s had some cardio issues, heart surgery, or has high blood pressure and they’re afraid to do something themselves. The fact that they have someone to guide and encourage them has helped a lot. Some of our members have been taking a lot of yoga, but they haven’t been doing a lot of movement. So having a low-impact class is beneficial to them.”
THE SC 60 CLUB WEEKLY SCHEDULE
Mondays & Wednesdays,
Huey starts the class — a total body workout to increase strength, flexibility and balance while building stronger bones and improving the cardio-respiratory system — by having members engage in some “light marching. Then we’ll do light boxing moves, modified jumping jacks and cardio.” After 10 or 15 minutes, once the heart rate is up, weight training with “manageable weights” puts the chest, back, shoulders and triceps through a workout. Then it’s on to tubing, done with “an exercise tube that has a handle,” whose resistance options moderate from easy to difficult. Other exercises in the class help improve agility and coordination.
Keep the Pace
This walking program takes place indoors during the fall/winter months, then outdoors in the spring/summer. Having debuted SC 60 Club in February, members have yet to venture outside — but very soon, when they do, Huey says they’ll be “equipped with pedometers, and we will walk along the piers. We have 17 acres here, so I’ll map a course out.” For now, though, it’s indoor track work. “Everyone goes at their own pace,” says Huey. “The goal is to do as many laps as you can in 30 minutes.” Most participants, she notes, “are up to a mile and three quarters.”
Tour De Pier
This indoor stationary cycle program starts with “warming up at a very low resistance for three or four minutes. Then, we up the intensity to Level II or Level III, depending on who the individual is. We do 30-second sprints, four times, resting for 30 seconds.” That’s active rest, Huey points out. “You’re not stopping, but you’re not peddling as hard. It’s low resistance, so your heart will return to a lower rate than your exercise level.” Improving cardio respiratory function, helping to build strong bones and lowering your resting heart rate are the goals of the class. “The average heart rate for an active person is 72 beats per minute,” explains Huey. “The more exercise you do, the stronger your heart becomes and the lower your resting heart rate is. Say, it’s in the 80s. After six weeks [of work in this class], your rate should come down a couple of beats.”
Through sports activities and games, this class places emphasis on exercises meant to improve hand/eye coordination, balance and stability, posture and agility. “So far,” says Huey, “we’ve been playing ping-pong and basketball.” Harder than it looks (and it doesn’t look easy), Huey says ping-pong challenges you to, literally, “keep your eye on the ball. The timing has to be just right…and it really helps with overall flexibility, because you have to move when you play ping-pong.” Besides, she notes, it takes everyone back to a time when exercise wasn’t the main goal of play. “They have a lot of fun with this.” The day Chelsea Now spoke with Huey, she’d just concluded an Activities Day class. “We were bouncing basketballs using our non-dominant hands,” she recalled, noting that the best part of it all seemed to be the pleasure taken (and pounds shed) by “doing things we haven’t done since we were kids.”
FITNESS SC 60 CLUB AT THE SPORTS CENTER AT CHELSEA PIERS
Pier 60 (20th St. & Hudson River Park)