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Friday, July 19, 2013

Aqua (Con)Fusion at the 92nd Street Y (or Splash Dance -- Oy What a Feeling!)

The city is very hot and steamy this week, and all of my regular classes have been extra crowded (probably due to the hot weather, but maybe there are some Metro Mermaid readers in the mix). I found a lovely respite from the heat at the 92nd Street Y swimming pool.

I have a long relationship with the 92nd Street Y, starting with nursery school. Here I am at age 3 honing my creative (pre-blogging) skills in my Y nursery school class (and looking vaguely like a very young Edna Mode).

I think I actually took swimming lessons at the Y as a preschooler. I always loved the water but I was terrified of the deep water until I was about 12 (thanks partially to my then-teenage brother's obsession with the film Jaws). I finally conquered my fear at summer camp -- thanks to a patient swim teacher and a shark-less lake. The following summer, I actually worked as an assistant at the camp lake, teaching younger kids how to swim. But I digress....

Anyway, over the years, I have taken dance and art classes, appeared in theater productions (Lucy in You're a Good Man Charlie Brown), and attended lectures and cultural events at the Y, and I even swam there for a few years when I lived on the East Side after college. The pool at the Y is great -- an old fashioned 25 yard tile pool on the third floor with lots of windows (so it's nice and bright). Compared to Equinox, the lanes are a bit wider so it seems a little less congested. They used to have bleachers along one side of the pool. They have re-done the pool deck in the intervening years, and the bleachers have been replaced by two jacuzzis, which are really divine (except during a heat wave). The Y has a very comfortable neighborhoody/family vibe.

When I was doing my "knee-search" for water classes, I came across a description for the Y's Splash Dance, which was advertised as follows: "Get groovin' and build stamina in this high-energy impact water-dance aerobics class." I was slightly dubious about the word "groovin'" but reviews of the class and online videos described/depicted music and dance moves. It sounded fun, so I registered for a 6-week summer session.

The first clue that something was off was when I arrived, and the advertised instructor Bettina turned out to be a man named David. There was no music, no dancing, and no explanation. I was a little puzzled but I was already in the pool, so there was no turning back. The 45 minute class was fine, but more splash than dance. The following week, I learned that the original instructor was injured and that the class was actually "Aqua Fusion," which cleared my confusion.

Unlike Aqua Boot Camp, Aqua Fusion is a less active workout (your Bubbe's aqua fitness class). There is a little bit of aerobic exercise at the beginning, but the focus is more on stretching, toning and strengthening. We move the whole time but it doesn't get the heart racing. David -- who is one of the senior trainers at the Y -- has a boxing background, so the class incorporates some boxing moves. The class is geared more towards seniors with a few younger students in the mix (the folks in the class are a close knit group and very welcoming -- I sort of imagine them going out for coffee and a nosh after class, and maybe one of them has a nice single son for the Mermaid). David has introduced me to some great arm exercises, and he is well versed in kinesthesiology -- he keeps an eye on us to make sure we are doing the exercises properly, and is also attentive to posture, alignment, etc. He is a good teacher and the class is fun. Overall, I am not sure I am going to take the class again (I don't find it challenging), but it is a good complement to the more aerobic/rigorous workouts. The stretch at the end of the class is always excellent. I would definitely train with him -- he clearly knows what he's doing.

If you live on the East Side, check out the Y's website for this class and other offerings. The Y has multiple aqua fitness classes during the day and several evenings a week. They are free to members of the Y's May Center, and pretty reasonable for non-members (it worked out to about $20/class when I registered online). Groupon occasionally offers membership specials for the Y -- keep an eye out for them -- it is a very nice well run facility. They even have a little cafe outside the fitness center.

The Y locker rooms are spacious and very clean, and someone on the cleaning staff is an undiscovered towel art genius -- I leave you with three of her recent creations which I have entitled Towel Dogs, Towel Oasis  and Towel Bouquet (I am very literal).

A Google search revealed that several others had photographed the towel dogs -- clearly I am not the only one who finds them fascinating.

The Y is located at 1395 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10128, (212) 415-5500. The fitness center is open 7 days a week.


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