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Cross Country Skiing in New York’s Central Park

When the mounts of snow become a permanent fixture in the city grid, you know you have very good chances to enjoy an adventurous day in the heart of Central Park. Call two or three of your friends, rent the appropriate number of skis and poles and make plans to meet in Central Park.


Cross-country skiing is challenging but it is very rewarding both as a cardiovascular exercise and as a “bonding with friends” experience.


There are a few things to keep in mind for everyone’s safety and fun:


1. Start small. Find a nice stretch in the park that is relatively open and not populated with too many people.

2. Keep it interesting. Create a challenge for you and your friends and set a destination point to which you should arrive within a certain amount of time.

3. Make it adventurous. Don’t follow the easiest path but rather the most challenging, one that will have you work hard and think hard (how can I circumvent that huge rock without getting hurt?)

4. Venture out. Considering that you choose a relatively easy first stretch, move on to a new location. You have warmed up already and you have good command of your skis and poles. Set another challenge for you and your friends.

5. When you finish visit the local recreation stand. Is there hot chocolate? That’s all you need along with a pat on the back for having organized a fabulous treat for your group. Enjoy the chocolate while you organize your next outdoors fitness venture: if the snow is still around next weekend, you may want to repeat. If the weather has improved considerably, we will propose a different outdoors activity that is fun and rewarding.


(Post by Thomai Serdari)


Exercise and winter blues


I have been inconsistent for the last three months. In November I was preparing for a trip, which became a good excuse for me to skip the gym. There was always a project that had to be completed and my usual trick of taking the train that gets me to the gym before it gets me home did not work!

The trip was wonderful and I remained active throughout the ten days of my stay in a different city. But I did not go to the gym. I didn’t even go to the gym in December when I was back in New York. A few new projects came up and kept me away from my fitness routine. While I am not the type of person who gets involved with the holiday frenzy, the prospect of Christmas and the idea that during the break I would have plenty of opportunities to resume my training were the perfect excuse for missing even more work outs in December.

The rest will sound a little bit like a weather forecast. The blizzard was impressive and completely inconvenient. The trains were not running. I lost my TV, phone, and Internet connections for three days, and, in reality, I had a few miserable days stuck at home. Even worse, my break from work was over, the illusion that I would be working out like mad for two weeks completely evaporated.

Fast forward to the last week of January: Here we are!  It is freezing cold and everything has become too heavy. The boots, the overcoat, the gym bag are all weighing me down. Yet, the desire to work out is back with me… along with a few more minutes of daylight at the end of my workday. What a delight! I challenged myself with a difficult workout during the weekend and was overwhelmed with a sense of satisfaction when my routine was over.  In fact, I cannot wait to hit the gym again today. Looking back, I cannot comprehend how I was able to bare these last three months without a consistent fitness routine.


(Post by Thomai Serdari)


Working out in cold weather


It is snowing again in New York. We thought we got our fair share of snow with December's blizzard but the truth is that this is just the beginning. We have another good three months of winter ahead of us. 

This brings up the question: How can one work out in such weather? It is not easy. Yet, I have seen and admired plenty of runners, especially in the area around Central Park and in the park. They all look totally unfazed by the cold weather and completely dedicated to their work out. Very impressive indeed.

For the rest of us, an extra bit of motivation is needed. Our team at Work Out – Work Up strongly believes in indoors training for the New York region, since winters get particularly harsh here. This is why we are working on subsidizing gym memberships for teenagers in the New York metro area. A clean, warm space with all the necessary equipment is the perfect motivation for a successful and fun work out.

Still, for those who prefer running outdoors, here is some good advice from San Francisco based trainer Samuel Harvell.




(Post by Thomai Serdari. Email us at:



Partners and Mentors

        My visit to the gym today reminded me of the reason why I believe our organization, Work Out Work Up Inc., is doing important work.

What is our mission? We want to find teenagers who are attending school in New York City and who would like to go to the gym to exercise but do not have the means to do so. We will try our best to match them (in terms of geography) to a gym that is near their school and that will accept them as members during after-school hours and approximately from 2 pm to 4 pm. We are also enlisting help from fitness professionals who will guide and motivate the students to work out correctly, safely, and efficiently.

Who are we? We are a team of six professionals, each one with a different career, different trajectory in life, and different daily routine. We all believe in helping others to be their best and we are all committed to making this program succeed. We see ourselves as facilitators in bringing together those who need to exercise with those who can provide the space and equipment for exercise. We are working on developing programs that will teach students the benefits of physical training both in terms of fitness, health, and well being but also in terms of developing one’s own character and confidence.

Our goal is to see these students graduating from high school healthy and full of ambition to tackle life either pursuing academics in college or finding a suitable profession where they can be successful.

        What triggered this train of thought today? As soon as I walked into my gym I saw Kelli, another trainer at Equinox, who has also been my partner (in addition to Lisa about whom I wrote yesterday). Kelli studied modern dance at UCLA and moved to New York City only a couple of years ago. She is full of energy and good humor. She radiates positive energy and taught me how to use the treadmill correctly since I am not a runner. It is thanks to her that I discovered that I could make this otherwise straightforward piece of equipment work for me. Moments later, I met Peter on the second floor. Peter was trained as a massage therapist at the Swedish Institute in New York and uses a holistic approach to teaching individuals how to train correctly for their body type. In addition, he has magic fingers that find everyone’s painful spot and treat it instantly. I don’t know how he does it, I truly believe it is magic. Peter’s energy and healing power gave me many a boost when I needed one, a few times actually during the last year and a half.

        While Lisa, Kelli, and Peter are all trainers at my gym I have a special relationship with each one of them. They are my partners and they are my mentors in teaching me how to maintain my fitness and health.

        Work Out Work Up is an organization with a similar ambition. We hope to be able to provide New York teenagers with the partners they need to learn something new about fitness. And we hope to provide them with a vast network of mentors who will also guide them in discovering themselves and their own abilities.

Post by Thomai Serdari

Abundance in New York’s Real Estate

    Does my headline sound like a contradiction? I realize life is full of them. Do you happen to be a gym member? I am. Have you noticed the peak and valleys in members’ attendance? I have. That of course implies that I am a regular gym member so that I can observe this phenomenon throughout the year. Not that this is new. Even gym management knows about it and I would imagine, management could not care less. Why would they? The memberships are prepaid, either for the entire year or for the month. The fewer the members who come to the club the less the wear the equipment suffers.

    Tonight it hit me. There I was on my treadmill, six treadmills (yes! six treadmills) away from the next gym member during the 5:30 to 7:30 time slot that, in theory, is the busiest one. Where was everybody? The floor with the free weights was not too populated either in spite of the new rope that appeared only two weeks ago hanging from the ceiling inviting everyone to test their climbing abilities. Compared to last week’s excited chatter of the trainers and gym members who gathered around the rope in awe (and in secret hope that they could climb that rope as fast as Jack Shephard climbed out of a dark, bottomless well in LOST’s final season—if not faster), tonight’s silence, pierced by the occasional and timid “cling-cling” of the free weights used by a member on the bench next to the window facing Lexington avenue, was striking. This got me thinking.

    Since I moved to New York in 1995, I have joined several gyms. First, there was The Racquet and Health Club on 12th Street off 5th Avenue. Then, there was the NYU gym on Houston Street, followed by Lucille Roberts on 5th Avenue and 14th Street (I was very poor at the time but I thought that finding an inexpensive gym was a necessity), followed by the NYU gym on 14th Street, followed by the New York Sports Club on 14th Street, followed by Synergy in Astoria, followed by The New York Sports Club on 59th Street, to, finally, Equinox, my current haven on 63rd Street and Lexington Avenue where I have been going since 2005. So many gyms have given me such a consistent experience over the years. I am referring to the valleys of gym attendance, those long periods of time when New York gyms—built on expensive real estate—remain empty or, at the very best, so scarcely populated that the receptionist, completely exhausted by boredom is ready to hug you as soon as he swipes your membership card.

    From a financial point of view, this type of real estate is like gold. From an economic point of view however, I cannot help but think of the waste. Such an abundance of prime quality square footage goes to waste unused, deserted, silent and sad when so many who need to access it have never heard the “swoosh” of the rowing machine or the “sweesh” of the cable machine. Ah yes! Life is full of contradictions.

    Post by Thomai Serdari ( We welcome guest posts. Email us at