When Storm Sandy closed our parks, we took it to the streets. Building scaffolding is a great place for a modified push up.

When Storm Sandy closed our parks, we took it to the streets. Building scaffolding is a great place for a modified push up.


How resilient are you? You may have noticed that there’s been a lot of talk lately about resilience in many fields. In physical health, it means bouncing back from an illness or trauma; in mental health, it means coping with psychological blows and disappointments; in the environment, it’s how well a community can deal with a storm like Sandy, the big hurricane that just devastated parts of the US and Caribbean.

In New York City, where I base my home and business, Sandy took a huge toll, and tested our resilience in every way. I’m really proud of the way we and others hit by the storm have greeted this latest calamity, with fortitude, altruism, practicality, and good cheer in ways big and small.

In the outdoor exercise world, it tested our ability to continue our fitness programs. Even after the storm itself passed, we were challenged. Many programs are based in parks and all our parks were closed for many days because of the danger of weakened tree limbs and paths blocked with the downfall. Over 100 trees are down or injured in the one park near me alone. It is heartbreaking; we stand, staring in awe and disbelief. Some parks are only now opening in parts, but then again were closed to prepare for and recover from the next storm. I don’t even know if I will be able to post on my blog, or if many of my fans will receive it, since our internet service flickers in and out like a candle in the wind.

Get those legs up! Getting ready to do the 130 steps that lead to Overlook Terrace, a popular local substitute for an indoor stair machine to nowhere.

Get those legs up! Getting ready to do the 130 steps that lead to Overlook Terrace, a popular local substitute for an indoor stair machine to nowhere.


But here’s the thing: we are carrying on. In Fort Tryon Park, for example, we are meeting just outside the entrance to the park, in our usual place. We are fortunate to have a large, beautifully landscaped traffic circle ringed with benches on which to do our Nancercizes, as well as a group of benches outside a local church; other street features to commandeer as exercise equipment; streets with lovely tree canopies for walking along; and an impressive step street with 130 steps to climb up and down or use for other endurance-building moves. We have buildings with scaffolding, and curbs to play with.
Off we go; never a wasted moment, we add arm movements while we walk. We don't look--or feel--crazy because we're a group!

Off we go; never a wasted moment, we add arm movements while we walk. We don’t look–or feel–crazy because we’re a group!

Sandy Made Me Do It
So, one of our workouts looked something like this: (numbers refer to the numbered exercises in my book, “Nancercize: 101 Things to Do on a Park Bench.”

Standing outside the park: Warm up

Benches outside the park:
Upper body strength: Basic dips, (#52), Cross-legged dips (#53)

Curb:
Lower body strengthening: Hooray step up (#83)

Street wall:
Flexibility: High lunge (#94)

Step street: Climbing down and up plus:

Endurance exercises: Power jump (#41), Power taps (#42)

Scaffolding:
Upper body strength: modified push-ups (#44), pulsing push-ups (#45)
Core work: modified plank (64)

Step street: (repeat) Climbing down and up plus:
Endurance exercises: Power jump (#41), Power taps (#42)

Benches by the church:
Core: Basic bicycle (#63)
Flexibility: Butterfly stretch (#18), Forward flow and twist (#20), Wishbone (#21)
Cool down

Our local stepstreet--130 steps. But who's counting?

Enjoying our local stepstreet–130 steps. But who’s counting? Try it with groceries.

“Everybody, Arms Up!” Hey, I said everybody!

“Everybody, Arms Up!” Hey, I said everybody!

All of this is totally in keeping with the philosophy of Nancercize—get outdoors and use whatever you find out there! You don’t need fancy equipment . . . all you need is a park bench. In fact, as these photos show—in a pinch, you don’t even need a park bench. And when the weather is too ugly to go outside at all, you can still adapt Nancercizes to chairs, tables, countertops and so on. (I give you tips on how to do this in my book.) So, don’t let that be an excuse. You’ll feel much better and thank me–and yourself–in the end. Remember, once you stop, it’s hard to start up again, so keep that momentum going, no matter what, to make it easy on yourself.

So, what can you use in your environment, right now?

The living end: An uprooted tree in one of our parks, viewed from the street side. We didn’t let park closures turn us into couch potatoes.  Although I admit, we did like the park better than the street!

The living end: An uprooted tree in one of our parks, viewed from the street side. We didn’t let park closures turn us into couch potatoes. Although I admit, we did like the park better than the street!

2 Responses to “After Frankenstorm Sandy—Exercise and Resilience”

  1. Hey Nancy, those of us who have fallen in love with Fort Tryon Park and outdoor exercise thanks to your Nancercize programs have also been introduced to volunteerism and public service in the Parks. In addition to helping out on the regular “Clean Up Your Parks” days, I volunteered for special post-Sandy cleanup in Fort Tryon, picking up fallen branches, raking piles of leaves and sweeping mounds of dirt –along with hundreds of other volunteers — to help re-open Broadway Promenade and other areas of the Park which had been closed due to damage caused by Sandy’s wind and rain. It is such a pleasure to help upkeep our beautiful green gym and have it open for our regular year-round workouts!!

    Reply

    • Denise, your comment means a lot to me, to Fort Tryon Park, and to parks all over the world. It is my hope and conviction that by becoming familiar with our local parks, we come to love them more… and take care of them as if they were our our own–which they are! And what a lovely full cycle, since the physical actions required to steward a park add to your fitness!

      Reply

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