Archive for Silver Stars Fitness

February Classes; Telephone Qigong & Meditation; Weight Training for 50 and Older; Chair Chi & Prana

Happy February!

Berkshires Fireplace – Melissa Elstein

This short Winter month brings us Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day, and Black History Month.  It is a month when we tend to long for Spring to arrive, but grudgingly know we still have a couple more months of Winter.  So for those of us in the North East, how do we brighten our days and motivate when we are still dealing with snow and ice storms, and frigid temperatures?  I find myself wanting to hide under a warm blanket with a good book, and hibernate until the Spring thaw.  But, given I am not a bear, hibernation is not an option!

Taconic Trees by Melissa Elstein

I find that signing up for group classes keeps me committed to my workouts and my spiritual practices, and the group solidarity helps boost my mood as well (you all can tell by now, I am not a Winter person!).  Whether I am teaching a group class or taking one, the group interaction and solidarity is extremely motivating.  One of the classes I recently signed up for is a fun conditioning circuit class geared towards those of us 50 years of age and up,  taught at Silver Stars Fitness (fitness specialists for baby boomers and beyond).  I highly recommend this specialized fitness studio; see below for more details on their classes and training!

Another class I find personally uplifting due to the positive group interaction is the telephone class I offer for the Dorot Center for Seniors “University Without Walls”:  Seated Qigong, Tai Chi Easy Arms, & Guided Meditation.   Each week we discuss and read tai chi articles and my teacher Roger Jahnke’s qigong books. The intellectual understanding of this ancient philosophy is enhanced by guided gentle movement, guided meditations, and relaxation exercises.  This is now our fifth semester of our teleclass, and I have found that distance is no obstacle to having a profound group and individual experience.  In fact, I have found that focusing on the phone actually enhances our powers of concentration as we also must visualize what we are hearing described.  The next semester starts this Friday, Feb. 9, so please call Dorot to sign up, or to receive a catalog: (877) 819-9147.  No prior experience is necessary, and since this class continues through May 2018 you can sign up at any time (though I do recommend starting sooner rather than later)!  In general, Dorot’s University Without Walls is a wonderful resource for telephone learning and community-building, and their courses cover a myriad of topics.  Please help spread the word about this wonderful resource!  http://

Last year, I organized at home personal training for my father with a trainer from Silver Stars Fitness so that he could maintain and even improve his strength while he was going through various health challenges.  He really enjoyed his workouts with Mary who visited him in his apartment, as he could not commute to the Silver Stars Studio.  Mary brought the necessary equipment (like bands and other resistance tools), and because she has specialized training working with seniors, was able to safely teach him strengthening exercises, stretches, and balancing skills.  My father raved about Mary, and her visits were one of the highlights of his week!

In addition to Silver Stars’ roster of specialized trainers who will do at home training, they also offer small group classes and individual personal training in their beautiful gym located at 7th Avenue and 54-55th Streets.  Classes are limited to a maximum of 6 students, so there is much individual attention to form and safety.  I signed up for a weekly “30-Minute Circuit” class, which is a lot of fun and a well-rounded workout using weights, bands, balls, and balance boards, and including movement across the floor.  This class is offered five times per week, and they also offer a very practical “Balance & Fall Prevention” class.  If this sounds interesting to you, you can contact owner Jason Greenspan to schedule a consultation or attend their next Open House:  (646) 370-3843 or info@silverstarsfit,com  I believe that functional cross training (doing multiple modalities of fitness) is very important, especially as we get older, and that yoga or dance alone is not sufficient for full body conditioning.  As that saying goes, variety is the spice of life!

Working out at Silver Stars Fitness

Speaking of variety of movement, our next Chair Chi and Prana class will be held on a Tuesday this month – Feb. 27.  This class too has a great group energy.  The beautiful and historic yoga ashram Integral Yoga Institute has been hosting this class for many years, and it is accessible to both newcomers as well as experienced students.  This unique class is designed to increase our vitality, and improve balance and coordination by combining Chair Yoga, Qigong, and Tai Chi Easy™ walking. Seated and standing Yoga poses strengthen and stretch the body, gentle and flowing Qigong movements enhance one’s life force energy, and Tai Chi walking increases balance.  These practices are a moving meditation that calm the nervous system, focus the mind, and are accessible to all bodies and ages.  We end class with a long savasana and yoga nidra (deep relaxation) to fully relax and absorb the benefits of our practices.  All levels are welcome!

March Schedule; Staying Grounded in Qigong; Women’s March Post Cards; Baby Boomer Fitness

Happy March 2017 to you all!  What a bumpy ride we are on – from our political situation, to extreme weather shifts. This week, I was eating in a sunny outdoor cafe one day and the next day freezing in my winter coat!  In many respects, it feels like we are on a roller coaster ride, and staying grounded is so very key.

I find in addition to doing standing poses in yoga, especially mountain pose, standing qigong meditation is also very helpful for grounding.  Like seated meditation in yoga, one follows the breath as a tool for quieting the mind.  But instead of sitting in a chair or cross-legged on the yoga mat or meditation cushion, we stand in the qigonghorse stance“.  To create this position, stand with the legs slightly wider than the hips, leg and buttock muscles will engage by slightly bending the knees, abdominal muscles will be slightly lifted to protect the lower back muscles, and the arms are in front of you as if you are wrapping them around a tree in nature.  Feel all areas of the feet (the toes, the ball of the foot, the heel) grounding down into the earth, and if you are not outside on the earth doing this meditation, imagine you are in a beautiful place in a favorite natural setting.  Feel the breath expand across your chest, your back, your rib cage area, along your spine from tail to crown as you inhale, and crown to tail as you exhale.  Soften your gaze, and you can even bring the tongue to the roof of the mouth. You decide how long to stay in this calming and grounding meditation pose.  Try one minute and then increase it as you develop your inner and outer strength with practice.  Please let me know what you think!  For those of you who take my classes in person, you will recognize this practice from the Tai Chi Easy(tm) part of my classes.

Seated Meditation            Standing Meditation

I recently saw on social media that March 15th this year is being hashtagged #TheIdesofTrump and is an international day of sending postcards to the White House.  These postcards can be sent in support of the administration or for voicing one’s opposition to this new administration’s policies and stances. If you send a postcard on March 15, you can take a selfie with the card and post the photo to your social media pages with the above hashtag.  You should decide how comfortable you are with using your social media platforms for political advocacy and review the various privacy setting options. Alternatively, just send a card and know you are joining hopefully millions of others to voice your First Amendment right of free speech.  If you would like to use a Women’s March postcard, my local mom and pop copy center, 85 Copy & Graphics, has the template below and you can order them in bulk for the following prices: 30 cards $35; 20 cards $25; and 10 cards for $20.  85 Copy Center is located at 173 W. 85th Street, just east of Amsterdam Avenue.  Call (212) 769 – 4470 or email and say Melissa referred you.

Most of you know I am a fan of cross-training, as I often discuss that in class.  I love yoga, but do not believe that practicing yoga to the exclusion of other fitness activities is sufficient. To achieve my fitness goals, in addition to yoga, I do cardio, weight training, pilates, gyrotonics, walking, boxing, and dance classes. Not only does varying the activities keep me interested and prevent boredom, but it also challenges my body and brain. Last month, I met Jason Greenspan, owner of “Silver Stars Fitness” at an open house (he was recommended to me by a lovely yoga student). Jason and his team of trainers specialize in fitness for the “Baby Boomer & Beyond“, and I was impressed with his presentation and understanding of the workout needs of the older person.  It is very important as we age that we adapt exercises and weight training to our unique bodies with our individual histories, and not just be engaging in the latest fad exercise.  Safety is paramount. If you would like to learn more about “Silver Stars Fitness”, their next Open House is on Wednesday, March 22 from 10 am – 6 pm.  Attendees will receive 20% off all future services, a free copy of Jason’s book “Fitness For Real Life“, and a free fitness consultation.  To RSVP call 646-573-9724 or by email: . “Silver Stars Fitness” is located at 850 7th Ave (West 54/55th Streets), Suite 305. Lunch and snacks will be served as well!  If you attend, please let me know your thoughts and tell Jason I say “hello”!  Check out his website at