Exercise, al fresco
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Exercise, al fresco

Sometimes it’s just nicer being outdoors. To help health enthusiasts get the fresh air they crave without sacrificing their exercise routines, the YJCC in Washington Township is offering an outdoor training course this summer.

Peter Kofitsas, director of health and wellness at the Bergen County Y, A Jewish Community Center, says there are definite benefits to training outside.

"You’re getting sun and Vitamin D, and that’s good," he notes. "Also, it’s just more exciting."


Group fitness activities build camaraderie and selfconfidence, says YJCC health director Peter Kofitsas.

Kofitsas — founder of Peter K Fitness, LLC; licensed physical therapist, nutritionist, and fitness consultant; and the author of the "Live Better Journal" — points out that there are some activities that can only be done outdoors, or, at least, can be done better in wide open spaces.

For example, he says, "we can do a lot of relays, [going] a longer distance and using things like cones and medicine balls." For the summer program, he plans to create activities involving different circuits — something that cannot be accomplished easily in a gym, he says.

The program offers two tracks, one for people over 17 and one for "kids and teens," says Kofitsas. Adults meet five times a week; kids meet twice a week, with the next full session beginning June 19.

The adult session, a continuation of the Y’s ongoing fitness class, consists of "60-minute total body conditioning," including aerobics, weights, and extras like obstacle courses.

The health director notes that the kids and teens segment attracts youngsters who are involved in team sports but who are in pre- or post-season, as well as "kids who don’t yet participate in group fitness."

Kofitsas, who says he is looking to create a program that is as enjoyable as possible, adds that he plans to modify team sports, such as basketball, in the service of fitness. His goal is "to get everyone moving through a program that combines fun with activities that work the entire body."

"Some people might call it a ‘boot camp,’ but we won’t use that word," he joked.

Kofitsas will also spend 15 minutes of each session teaching kids and teens about effective nutrition strategies, including how to choose healthy snacks such as fruit and whole-grain cereal bars.

He says he was "delightfully surprised" to find out that "some kids already have some knowledge about what foods are healthy and incorporate it into their lives. They come to me and tell me proudly that they ate a whole-wheat bagel," he said.

Kofitsas sees other benefits for youngsters participating in the program. "It helps to build camaraderie," he says, "and it builds self-confidence. And you don’t have to be sweating inside on a treadmill."

The Y’s summer program includes other new offerings as well. Free Pilates Mat introductory/demonstration classes will be held Tuesday, May 31, and Sunday, June 5, and the facility will offer new-members-only fitness classes.

For more information, call Kofitsas at (’01) 666-6610, ext. ’45.

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