RED BANK – “Take a nice deep breath; and inhale … and exhale.”
A few weeks ago, the Community YMCA held its free summer fitness class in Riverside Gardens Park. The yoga, Zumba, and Pilates classes are every Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. from May 13 to Sept. 30 and are open to everyone.
By 6 p.m. men and women of all ages lined the grass. They were exuberant and friendly, creating an easygoing, non-judgmental environment. The instructor for the night, Lauren Nicosia, welcomed everyone with a few jokes and a bright smile.
Karla Rodriguez, 51, of Red Bank, said the class helped to stretch parts of her body that have never been stretched. The prior week, Rodriguez attended Zumba class, which she enjoyed as well. “I just love the ambience, and it’s very relaxing,” she said. “I love to exercise.”
During Pilates, Nicosia walked around the class to help others get into position, cheering them on with her supportive, personable nature.
Three local friends in their mid-20s decided to check out Fitness in the Park as a way to “exercise outside in the sun” with each other, one of the girls, Erin Leo of Rumson, said.
The individuals gushed about the calm atmosphere and the free cost. “It’s a fun, outdoor, free activity,” Grace Donnelly, 24, of Tinton Falls, said. Through the program, the Y looks to give back to the community. According to Kelly Scheurer, Healthy Living director at the Y, Fitness in the Park is in conjunction with the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign, an initiative that provides mayors with the proper apparatuses to promote better well-being for their towns.
“One of our core values is social responsibility,” Sheurer said, pertaining to the Community YMCA. The classes encourage a healthy, active lifestyle for those who live or work in Red Bank, encompassing a variety of exercises and workout plans.
The Riverside Gardens Park has a breathtaking view of the marina and a vast lawn where the classes take place. The brisk, cool breeze from the water softens the summer heat.
“There’s no better way to enjoy yoga or exercise,” Sheurer said. “I mean, you’re in the sun, you’re looking at the river.” The delicate ringing of church bells soothed the air during the session, adding to the serenity.
Fitness in the Park is relatively new, but it is growing, according to Sheurer. Residents and visitors of Red Bank easily become aware of the program
while passing the park, gaining it more attention.
Half-way through the class on Wednesday evening, and even 10 minutes before the class ended, interested passersby decided to participate, settling in with the rest of the members and following the instructor’s lead without disrupting; others watched with curiosity.
“You can honestly just jump in off the street and join in if you wanted to,” Sheurer said. “We would never turn anyone away.”
For more information, call the Community YMCA at 732-741-2504 ext. 210.
– By Samantha Caramela
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