On an average day in College Park, Maryland I typically walk between 10,000 and 20,000 steps on my college campus. When my university made the switch to virtual classes for the remainder of the semester and I came back to New York, I did not think I was going to miss walking from class to class as much as I did. For me, staying fit while at home has been all about walking with my family, friends (socially distanced, of course) and even by myself. Doing this allows me to recreate the feeling I have when I’m walking on campus and also gives me peace of mind and time to reflect.
Here are some of the ways other Northern Westchester residents have been staying fit… read on too on for insight on why some fitness enthusiasts aim to continue with online options while others say they are ready to go back to the gym.
Right now, gyms are offering virtual workout sessions through Zoom to keep members connected with the health club and each other.
One of the ways Chappaqua resident Jeff Samberg has been exercising is logging on to Adina Olan-Ellick’s Breathe Pilates and yoga classes.
“It’s so convenient. I roll out of bed and within five minutes, I am working out in front of the screen in a class, then five minutes after that I can be on a conference call,” said Samberg.
Marcia Heitlinger and her husband belong to Lifetime Fitness. One of their favorite instructors is holding a zoom class on weekdays and Sundays at 6:30 am. The instructor asks for donations through Venmo which she then passes on to the Westchester food bank.
“These Zoom classes are great because they are early enough where I can get the workout in before I do work for the day,” said Heitlinger.
Kristen Acosta’s main source of exercise during this time has been Zoom classes with her instructor, Lisa Gagliardi.
“There are over 70 people that Zoom in to take her class. She has done amazing things to keep our workout community connected.”
Tamara Leopold and her husband are members of Immortal Fitness in Pleasantville and have also been using Zoom to stay in shape. She said owner Tommy Carter maintains the gym community through three Zoom classes everyday excluding Sundays. Carter and his team pre-record the workouts the night before they release them so members of Immortal Fitness can have the classes on demand.
“If you can’t watch them live, you can still do them on your own,” said Leopold.
The Peloton app is a way people are staying in shape. The company offered a 90-day free trial giving people who were interested access to all their classes ranging from strength training to yoga to cardio and cycling.
Leopold said that they use a traditional spin bike paired with Peloton app as a way to take classes. She also enjoys their weight and yoga classes.
Heather Hecht also loves the accessibility and range of classes the app offers. She completed the 4-week “crush your core” program and when she finds the time she takes anywhere from a 30 to 45-minute yoga class.
Heitlinger also enjoys the yoga feature on the Peloton app. She even will meet up with a friend to do a socially distanced yoga session led by instructors on the app.
USING GYM EQUIPMENT AT HOME
Like the Peloton app, people have also been using a Peloton bike.
Hecht said previous to the stay-at-home orders, she used the Peloton bike in her house mainly on snow days or vacation days when she did not leave the house as much. However, the occasional ride has turned much more frequent as she has found creative ways to make the workout fun.
“With ‘everyone’ riding and the new hashtags, I have joined groups in town. We follow each other, favorite teachers and offer motivation. It keeps it fun,” said Hecht.
Heitlinger and her husband created a gym in one of the rooms in their home. Before gym closures, the room had a spin bike in it. Now, they added a set of weights, rubber mats and a bench.
Living in suburbs, there is the advantage of being able to spend active time outside.
In addition to the online classes through Breathe, Samberg has been riding a bike outdoors.
Heitlinger has also been spending time outside and finding ways to safely do so with others. Once a week, she does a socially distanced run with one of her friends.
Hecht has also been taking advantage of the sunshine and returned to the tennis courts outdoors to play singles with her hitting partner.
“It’s definitely great to be back on the courts and they are being super cautious,” said Hecht.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE OF EXERCISE LOOK LIKE?
The bottom line is that there is a mixed reaction to today’s status quo.
Some people don’t necessarily miss the gym; they may enjoy the time and cost savings and may continue to feel safer staying fit without leaving their homes. Options outside the traditional club memberships satisfy many so they are starting to opt-out, at least temporarily.
Samberg said he recently gave his gym the notice that he would not be returning when they reopen.
“I have been able to get everything I need at home, this has changed my perspective. For smaller studios I plan to go back because I think they can be contained and sanitized and healthy,” said Samberg.
Then there are those who are interested in working out in classes and groups in proximity to live humans, so they are looking forward to getting back to the gyms. They also are bracing themselves for the changes.
“I would like to go to the gym after this, I am a big class person, so I’m a little worried, I do hot yoga and I would love for it to happen again but I do not know if it will,” said Heitlinger.
Yet others are also ready to be adaptable to changes gyms will make when they reopen whether that is smaller classes or stricter guidelines.
“I look forward to going back whatever capacity that is in. We miss being inside the four walls of the gym,” said Leopold.
Also, people are missing the sense of community that is found within a gym. Although health club owners are working hard at maintaining relations with and between members, there is something different about working out with others in person.
“I look forward to the day that I can walk back into my gym and see everyone’s faces. Although I feel connected with everyone from home, there is nothing like that in person, face to face, interaction,” said Acosta.
On Friday, June 12, families, residents and visitors to the town of Chappaqua gathered together to show their love and support for Horace Greeley High School’s 2020 graduating class through an early evening car parade.
While the line of cars made its way down Route 117 and King Street and Greeley Avenue, parents and guardians sat behind the wheel as their seniors stuck their heads out the window or through sunroofs to either wave back at all the well wishers or to simply absorb all of the excitement around them.
Caryn Shapiro, parent of Horace Greeley senior Lily Shapiro, said, “the car parade was a silver lining that came out of this pandemic. It was such an amazing event that brought the whole community together to celebrate our seniors who have lost the fun traditions that make the spring of senior year so special.”
According to Horace Greeley PTA Vice Chair Suzanne Lodge, the Chappaqua PTA worked together with the Chappaqua Central School District and in cooperation with the Town of New Castle and its police department to organize the parade in order to replace the traditional celebrations this year’s graduating class is missing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This led to the senior class car parade.
“We had seen other districts do the same thing but we also wanted to follow New York State guidelines, so I spoke to the New Castle Police Department and they were super supportive,” said Lodge.
Lodge managed the event and worked closely with community members, teachers, parents, seniors and the police department to ensure the car parade was well organized and successful.
Seniors and their families slowly began to roll into the Chappaqua train station parking lot around 5 p.m. Students painted the exteriors of the cars to celebrate their accomplishments.
Senior Charlotte Templeton said the car parade was “a great time and fun way to see classmates while celebrating being a senior.”
As more people filed into the parking spots, the noise level and energy built. Once the police officers leading the parade motioned for everyone to head back into their cars, the honking began.
The parade route started at the train station, weaved through town and ended at Horace Greeley High School. Throughout town, members of the community lined the streets with noise-makers, signs and cameras.
Cheers and shouts from community members combined with cars honking created a symphony that brought smiles to seniors’ faces.
When the seniors pulled into the high school, teachers greeted them by honking their horns right back at them and cheering loudly.
Lodge said the PTA advertised the parade in the town superintendent’s note of the week and in the elementary and middle school newsletters this week. The note encouraged community members to come out and cheer for the seniors while wearing masks and following social distancing guidelines.
Senior Lily Shapiro, daughter of Caryn Shapiro, said, “it was so fun to watch the whole town come together for the first time in a while, socially distanced of course, to celebrate the seniors.”
Lisa Kassin, parent of a Horace Greeley junior and college freshman, lined the parade route with her family to cheer on the seniors.
“My family had so much fun watching on Route 117 and cheering for the entire class of 2020. Seeing the smiles on the seniors’ faces while they stood through the sunroofs of their decked out cars was the best part of the parade,” said Kassin.
Before the parade Lodge said, “we are so excited to finally be celebrating these kids, they’ve worked so hard for so long and we were feeling a little disappointed they would not be having their usual accolades but I think Mother Nature agreed that they need a celebration because today is going to be a beautiful day.”
Although “Honk for Seniors” is traditionally held on the first and last days of school at Horace Greeley, this car parade may become a new way of holding the event and celebrating the seniors in the future.
“I think ‘honk for seniors’ may have been more special than ever before, and I think this would be an awesome tradition to have each year,” said Lily Shapiro.
As the coronavirus continues to spread all around the world, many local businesses have reported a massive drop in revenue as consumers remain at their homes. The virus has dealt a devastating blow for hundreds of restaurants and other small businesses as they are forced to close in response to public health guidelines. According to the U.S. Labor Department, as of May 14th, 36.5 million people have filed for unemployment in the past eight weeks bringing the unemployment rate to 14.7 percent in April – the highest since the Great Depression.
I had the pleasure of speaking with many local businesses from the surrounding area about their experiences with the coronavirus and how they have been adapting in these unprecedented times. As a resident of Chappaqua, I have patronized many local businesses and understand their value to the members of the community. While I spoke to the businesses (all generous/recent sponsors of the Inside Press which has also been working hard to stay the course), many expressed feelings of caution and worry even as they inch closer to “Phase 1” and “Phase 2” reentry dates. https://www.westchestergov.com/home/all-press-releases/8388-april-15-county-executive-george-latimer-gives-westchester-county-coronavirus-update-westchester-forward-phase-i
To date, many businesses have been applying for loans, first federal ones, and more recently a state option loan called New York Forward has been very specific to small businesses, and was announced by Governor Cuomo. https://forward.ny.gov/ Meanwhile, the owners of small businesses describe Herculean efforts between finding time to explore and pursue loan options while also keeping focused on creating new and unique solutions to handle the hurdles they face in a safe and secure manner, and just basically keep up with the day to day tasks involved in running a business. From transitioning to virtual platforms to implementing curbside pickup, the local businesses are following emerging guidelines and figuring out how to continue to serve the community in whatever way they can, and prepare for any ‘new normal’ the future may bring. Here are eight businesses whose owners offered a glimpse into both current day challenges AND relaunch/reentry plans!
Tim Shea, the owner of Armonk Tennis Club expressed the intense precautions that people have to take while at the club. “As soon as people arrive on the property, they are assigned a court to go play on. It is only singles at this point. When they get to their court, it is recommended that they have labeled their own tennis balls. We don’t have benches or water on the courts and we are sanitizing the nets everytime after people play – this is no longer the ideal club.”
Much like any other store or club, Armonk Tennis Club is ready to resume their day to day operations. “Physically we are ready to go back to last year within a day.” However, there is one caveat – “we don’t know what the new normal is.” Shea furthered this by expressing that “hopefully at some point doubles and group teachings are allowed and that social distancing can be maintained.” Armonk Tennis Club was the first recreational facility to close down in March. Despite that, Shea passionately explains that the club is “truly following the guidelines handed down by the county, which is taking their orders from the state.”
“As a hair salon, it is very hard to know when we are going to reopen because it’s not listed anywhere,” explains Leticia Villagran, owner of Aura Salon and Style Bar. “It is really hard to prepare for the reopening – nobody was prepared for this.” However, Villagran seems more than ready for the challenges that lie ahead. Like many businesses, she is practicing curbside pickup for hair coloring agents and other supplies. Looking forwards, she has “ordered masks, sanitizers, and a very heavy duty UV lamp. Everytime I will use a comb or scissors, I will put them under the lamp for 10 minutes before using it on the next client – it is all about being safe.”
She has also ordered a disposable plastic shield for the chairs, but most important to securing the safety of her clients and workers is the structure of her salon. “The building I have the salon in is three floors, and this is going to be great because I plan on having a few stylists on each floor. This way I can have more clients while still being safe.” Villagran feels like she is confident to accommodate people in a cautious manner when her store reopens. “From the chairs to the tools that we are using we are going to be making sure that everybody is safe.”
Adina Ellick, the owner of Breathe Pilates and Yoga in downtown Chappaqua described how her business has been dramatically altered due to the virus outbreak. “My business is completely virtual now. My hope is to lean into private sessions as soon as I am able with limited people in the studio at each time” she states. The state of her business also impacts how her clients approach their traditional yoga experiences. “I have some clients that don’t want any part of it, and they are waiting until the doors open again. However, I have other clients who have taken more classes than they have ever taken – they love the availability and accessibility. Finally, I have clients that I would have never been able to get.”
Ellick also has some special ideas available for the public when her store reopens. “I will be offering re-entry packages when I open, virtual classes will still be available and I will be implementing a virtual package for those people who want more than just the studio.” At the end of the interview, she passionately asserted that she “wants people’s opinions. I want people to reach out to me – tell me their fears, tell me their desires. Tell me what I can do to help them move to the next phase of re-entering back into some sense of normalcy – we need to start to meld back together into a community.”
“I think the face of retail is completely changed,” exclaims Peter James, the manager of Chappaqua Paint and Hardware. “We are sanitizing every 20 minutes. Masks are worn throughout the store. Gloves are worn throughout the store.” Chappaqua Paint and Hardware was deemed an “essential” business during this time, but regardless, “it is always safety first in everything that we do. Even before everything started, it was a matter of not only keeping our customers safe, but our staff healthy as well.” Chappaqua Paint and Hardware has also been adopting a phrase that is becoming part of the norm – curbside pickup. “You have to remodel your business because now you are taking a lot more phone calls – it’s definitely a change in the way that we are operating.”
James seemed to be optimistic about the future. “Once we do start opening up, it’s going to be a great thing.” He continued, referencing his fellow businesses in downtown Chappaqua, stating “There have been a lot of businesses that haven’t been able to open their doors and adding them back into the mix will invigorate people to start coming outside. It’s going to be nice to have a downtown that is rejuvenated and open for business.”
Many businesses are adapting the best that they can to the ambiguous “new normal.” Jaime Herman, the manager of Eye Designs in Armonk states that “I haven’t really been open – it’s just been on an emergency basis – a few times a week. We have a lot of things in place for cleaning and disinfecting frames if someone touches them. We have masks, face-shields and everything necessary.”
Herman further explained that business has been almost “non-existent.” However, they are finding creative solutions to the problems presented. “I have been able to order contact lenses for people and have them be shipped directly to the patient so they don’t have to come in.” Eye Designs is in a precarious position as to buy eyeglasses “you really need to come in. That personal aspect is missing.”
Herman included that the store will be “offering $120 off for a complete pair of prescription eyeglasses.” Herman concluded on a positive note, exclaiming that “We look forward to serving the community, like we have for the last 20 years, and we hope to be there for the community throughout this process.”
“This has been a big negative for any retail business, particularly one that relies on relationships,” Barry Mishkin, co-founder of Family Britches in Chappaqua explains. “Customers make appointments and come in, but everybody is staying home and following orders.” Most of their business at the moment has come from mail, phone and online orders. Despite this, Family Britches is committed to ensuring the well-being of their customers. “We are staying in touch with our clients and are reassuring them that everything is going to be okay. We have called over 1,000 people over the past nine weeks.” When the store reopens, they have “masks available, a UV light and hand sanitizer.”
Family Britches is devoted to providing the same personalized service that they have done in the past for their customers. “We are here to help and assist our customers. We are not like a department store where you ‘promote, promote, promote.’ We are here to fill their needs and we want them to feel comfortable going into a place where they can see and speak to the same people they have spoken to for years.”
Other business owners have detailed how the virus has been affecting them. Skip Beitzel, owner of the well-known Hickory and Tweed Ski and Cycle in Armonk was at loss for words when asked about how the bike shop is faring. “I can’t describe it. I just can’t describe it. The bike business is exploding – none of the vendors has any more bikes. Tuning bikes is all we are going to be doing from now into the summer – we don’t have anything else to sell.”
Beitzel went on to describe the retail aspect of his store. “I think we are going to be having appointment based shopping, but we are going to be doing more with online shopping and curb-side pickup – I’m hoping for the best, but I am strategically planning for the worst.” In the future, Hickory and Tweed will be offering half off for everything in retail for ski wear during the summer
Much like any business, Hickory and Tweed is dedicated to maintaining the safety of their customers by “listening very carefully to what the county executive, George Latimer has been saying. Everyday is unique and presents a different challenge.” Beitzel also hopes to learn from other businesses, stating that this process requires a lot of “learning by doing.”
“It’s pretty easy to control how many people are in the store at a time,” describes Debra LaGravinese, owner of LaGravinese Jewelers in Armonk. “We post on Instagram and social media that one or two people are allowed in the store at a time and we have curbside pickup. We have changed to manage within this.” Similarly to other local businesses, LaGravinese Jewelers is implementing curbside pickup into their adaptations to the restrictions of the coronavirus. In order to cope with the loss of business, LaGravinese has people “text me directly. I have repairs people left here so I would meet them or deliver them.” Debra is hopeful for the future of her business as “people still want to celebrate the good birthdays and graduations.” She continued stating that “June is usually one of our busiest months.” However, there are still some hindrances before things get completely back to normal. “Things have changed because my employees have kids who don’t have daycare that is open right now, so my hours are completely different.” She concluded stating “the best thing I can do is to make people feel safe and comfortable when they come.”
Editor’s Note: Please scroll to the bottom of the story for the district’s graduation plans as they stand now as conveyed by HGHS’s Andrew Corsilia and Lauralyn Stewart in a letter to parents and students. Graduation Day is June 20th, and will be a car-based ceremony, site not yet confirmed, according to the letter which was forwarded to my attention just this morning after I posted the article below.– Grace Bennett
In a class of 342 graduating seniors, all yearning for a meaningful and memorable graduation, one thing is for certain: there are many, many throughout the school district and community at large who care about the kids deeply and who are rooting for them to experience just that.
That was a primary message gleaned from an interview with Andrew Corsilia, principal of Horace Greeley High School, who commented on the HGHS Class of 2020 at large and the plans being discussed.
“We have essentially a small town,” said Corsilia. “The seniors have grown up with the same families, the same Main streets, with most in the same schools for 13 years, so what it means to be a Senior, what Senior year means to them: those are questions that have really loomed large in their imaginations, and in their expectations. Some of these events that we have planned for them are not just celebrations. They are milestones-with a ritualized way of getting to leave.”
“The whole community is feeling for these students and wanting to celebrate them,” Corsilia emphasized. While no official plan has of yet been announced (SEE EDITOR’S NOTE ABOVE), a video message to the entire community, shared Corsilia, is planned for release next week. It will contain information about the multiple celebrations which typically place around the traditional ‘Senior Week’–a much celebrated time leading up to the actual graduation.
Corsilia said he had heard from many students and families and by and large, he said, “No one wants a virtual celebration; they made it clear that it would be anticlimactic to be sitting on your couch watching your own graduation; it’s not interactive.”
“They are clear that they want to be together,” he said. “It was a no to individual ceremonies.”
Corsilia said HGHS was “holding out for a social distancing graduation similar to that held by the U.S. Air Force; we are scouting locations and coming up with back up plans.”
Nothing is set in stone, given the coronavirus challenges. “We are grappling with a new set of circumstances every week,” as the schools receive news of any updates to rules and regulations from the County and State. “Our first choice if allowed by county and state would be to create something as close to the real thing as we can make it.”
The location of the Greeley graduation has traditionally been under the big white tent on the athletic fields. “A tent is out this year because it compacts everyone into a very small area,” Corsilia explained, but the the fields and its vast space is the likely choice for any social distancing graduation for the class. (SEE EDITOR’S NOTE ABOVE)
Corsilia emphasized his and the district’s intention to “do right” on behalf of the seniors who he commended.
“This class is incredibly mature. They are community minded. They are a pleasure to work with. They give off a wonderful positive energy when they are together. They distinguish themselves academically and creatively.” He spoke of how they excel in science. He expressed his joy for them that they were able to produce a beloved senior production in the nick of time. This year, it was High School Musical, and “it was a ton of fun,” he said.
In the meantime, he has kept in touch with student progress since the pandemic took hold. He shared his impressions of the 290 students who are participating in internships and independent projects. Typically most of the students would be in internships from a workplace supervised in a traditional professional settings and 20-30 percent would be engaging in independent projects.
This year, those figures were ‘flipped,’ he said.
“70 to 80 percent have had to abandon showing up at a workplace although some of the kids transitioned into a remote internship for these workplaces; the vast majority transitioned to engaging in independent projects, in which “their creativity has really come out!”
They have included: students creating a podcast as to how the pandemic has impacted small businesses in Chappaqua; students designing and producing fashionable masks being sold in Chappaqua; and those “diving into literature” whether by recent Pulitzer Prize winning authors, or classic literature. Others have worked on something deeply personal, whether learning to play guitar or building and creating cookbooks containing traditional family recipes by their parents and grandparents.
The support and warm feelings toward these seniors has been felt throughout the community. “I’ve had older people call me, those who have no students in this school, asking me what they can do for these seniors. They’ve seen the graduation signs around town that the PTA surprised parents with in the middle of the night. Everyone’s feeling for them… We’re just incredibly proud and want to do right by them.”
Is there anything else you would like the class to know, I asked. “They are really an amazing class,” said Corsilia. “We miss them.”
May 28th Letter to the Class of 2020
Dear Class of 2020,
We hope that you and your families are well.
As we head into June, we are happy to share our plans for a full schedule of senior-week activities, culminating in graduation. We want to thank your class leadership, PTA, administrators, and town, for planning and organizing these senior week events.
June 10th – Senior Awards
We will hold a virtual awards ceremony, including a personalized presentation for each senior receiving an award. Those students receiving awards will receive an invitation to the ceremony.
June 11th – Post Greeley 101
Our PTA has organized a series of Zoom seminars about life after Greeley, hosted by returning graduates, parents, school staff, and community members. Historically, our seniors comment on how valuable this experience is, as they prepare to leave Greeley.
June 12th – Honk for Seniors Parade
Our PTA and New Castle Police have organized a driving parade (parent drivers), starting at the train station in the early evening and ending with a drive through the Greeley campus to celebrate the final day of classes for seniors. Expect a more detailed communication from our PTA.
June 15th – Color Wars
Your class leadership is sponsoring a digital version of our traditional color wars, where you will get to show your elementary school pride and compete against your classmates. Let’s see which elementary school wins!
June 15th – Athletic Awards
Mr. Semo and Greeley Sports Boosters have organized a virtual ceremony to honor our senior athletes. Students will receive commemorative booklets prior to the virtual event which will begin at 7:00 p.m.
June 17th – Cap and Gown Drop Off
We will deliver to your home, via school bus, a care package, including your cap and gown and Senior Beach Day towel.
June 18th – Senior Montage
Our PTA will release the senior montage video to commemorate your senior year.
Your class leadership and PTA have reserved Trump National Golf Course and are working to schedule your prom at a future date, when it is safe to do so.
Your yearbooks are looking great, but due to printing delays, they will not be available until August, at which time, we will schedule a process for picking up your yearbook.
June 20th – Graduation
We have heard from our students and our community that you want to be together for graduation, and we know that your first choice would be to have an in-person, socially-distanced graduation on our fields. The New York State Executive Orders, at this time, do not permit such a ceremony. Unless these guidelines change, we will hold a car-based graduation on June 20th in Chappaqua. We are currently confirming the site, and you will hear additional details about location and logistics, as we move closer to the date. In this way, we can keep our original date, bring the class together, and send you off to an amazing summer.
As we move closer to these dates, you will receive additional communication, specific to each event.
Class of 2020, we look forward to celebrating you in style.
Best, Mr. Corsilia and Ms. Stewart
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