An exercise program at The Bates House in East Setauket not only provides residents with a chance to get some physical activity but also the opportunity to donate to a local organization.
Port Jefferson Station’s Community Growth Center, which provides holistic health services, is currently offering its Walk, Yoga, Meditate & Chocolate series at the venue every Thursday for a suggested donation of $10. During the exercise program, participants are led on a 30-minute walk around the Frank Melville Memorial Park pond with flashlights in hand, then to an hour yoga session that ends in shavasana — a pose used for relaxation and meditation — and before they leave, everyone gets a piece of dark chocolate.
Michael Hoffner, co-founder and executive director of Community Growth Center, said the program ties into the center’s mission to create a sense of community and to give people an outlet to become healthier in mind, body and spirit.
“We’re really trying to build a community of people that are all working to heal and grow together,” he said. “All aspects of this event help to facilitate that type of growth. Whether it’s the physical exercise or the meditation or yoga, all of it ties into helping people grow in mind and body.”
Joanne Lauro, the center’s director of nutrition, leads the walks on Thursday nights, while the yoga portion is led by Erica Kremens. The program is different from other yoga classes as it starts with walking, which Lauro said is one of the best exercises to help with various health issues including heart and pulmonary problems and diabetes.
She said the group walks around the park three times, approximately a mile stretch. Participants can walk at their own pace whether briskly for exercise or slower to enjoying the swans in the lake and the deer and rabbits on the property.
“The person who comes can reap the benefits of whatever they enjoy,” Lauro said.
She added the center encourages “people to embrace their bodies and work a little bit harder so they won’t have heart disease or stiffness or pains.”
For a treat at the end of the night, everyone gets a piece of cacao — dark chocolate — donated by East Setauket-based Five North Chocolate, owned by Ben Conard. The director of nutrition said cacao is good for stress and anxiety, and due to being an antioxidant, it rids the body of free radicals.
Hoffner said the group calls the series a triathlon, and it was original board member Jennifer Ross who heard about the idea, as well as adding dark chocolate at the end, and thought it would be a fun way to raise money for the center, which doesn’t charge for its services.
Hoffner said the triathlon series is in its fourth year at The Bates House, and the agency has been grateful to the venue’s manager Lise Hintze who he said loved the mission of the Community Growth Center when he originally approached her. Hoffner said the center holds other events at the venue, including their upcoming Finding Balance: Wellness Conference, a Martin Luther King multifaith event in January and Spring Awakening at the end of April.
Lauro said she invites everyone to try out the class and take time out for themselves.
“Come down and enjoy the simplicity of nature and honoring your body and just being in a great place with like-minded people,” Lauro said.
Walk, Yoga, Meditate & Chocolate meets every Thursday at The Bates House until Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. (There is no class Oct. 31.) The series will start up again in the spring, and the suggested donation is $10 per class. For more information, call 631-240-3471.