Riverbank State Park
I may have mentioned my fabulous neighbor M on previous occasions. She is in her 70s and is a good role model for how to enjoy retirement. She takes tons of classes (fitness, sculpture, music) and has a great lively group of friends and an incredible joie de vivre. I took a day off for my birthday last month, and M invited me to come to her water exercise class at Riverbank State Park on the Upper West Side. Riverbank was a bit controversial when it was built (it's built on top of a sewage plant) and I had never been inside. I was very pleasantly surprised. There is an ice skating rink, a nice gymnasium/fitness center, an outdoor track, a restaurant and -- of course -- a beautiful Olympic sized pool (as well as an outdoor pool).
The pool was huge and clean with beautiful views of the river (I could see the Palisades and George Washington Bridge as we exercised). M treated me to the Senior/Adaptive Water Exercise Class, which meets several days a week (it's very affordable -- $10 for drop in and $2 for Seniors). Our teacher, David, took us through a variety of exercises and stretches using noodles, buoyancy bells and kickboards. Overall, the 45 minute class was a fairly gentle workout, but I loved the arm exercises using the kickboard for resistance. There were about 50-60 students in the class, but the pool wasn't crowded. I loved the people in the class -- I was one of the younger ones (which is a nice thing as I teeter towards 50). There is a real sense of community at Riverbank (lots of chitchatting in the locker room after class). My fellow students were lively and welcoming. The locker and shower facilities are clean but I did see one roach in the locker room -- but hey, it's New York.
Riverbank is easily reached by the M11 bus (which goes right to the park) and the 1 train. Most of the aqua fitness classes are held in the morning, but the pool might be a good option for lap swimming later in the day.
What Not to Wear
I was flipping through New York Magazine and stumbled across this article on the latest swim fashion craze from China -- the facekini.