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Gym

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Health clubs, the gym, whatever you call them, have so much subtext to any visit.

First, I wave at the friendly, supportive people who check me in. I wonder, as they look at me and the photo taken when I got my membership, whether I look better than I did on that day. By definition, I’m older, but am I in one of those better periods or one of those I-just-got-back-from-a-wedding-after-eating-out-too-many-times periods?

As I walk towards my preferred piece of equipment, which is usually an elliptical machine, I hope it’s available.

Sure, there is a line of 17 other elliptical machines that provide the same exercise, but I hope the one that has the best view of the 12 TVs I can barely see when I take off my glasses and that has the smoothest stride as I kick into a higher gear, is available.

If it is, I drape the towel I bring with me — I’m not a huge fan of the non absorbent paper towels available throughout my gym — take a few moments to find the least offensive TV show or music on my iPhone and start pedaling.

As I start working out, the calculator in my head immediately starts to monitor how far I’ve gone and how many calories I’ve burned off for each five minute segment on the machine. I have a specific target I try to meet or exceed, which helps me push harder during the last two minutes of each five minute block. Within about 10 minutes, I’ve built up a good sweat and am starting to drift off into endorphin-boosted bliss, sometimes accompanied by one of Billy Joel’s songs or by a ridiculous Adam Sandler movie I wouldn’t dare put on the TV when my wife and I are getting ready for bed.

My journey into sweaty bliss, however, sometimes takes a detour when someone climbs aboard the machine closest to me, despite the availability of all the other pieces of equipment in the row.

“Can’t you use one of the machines further away?” I shout in my head.

At first, I try to ignore the start of their exercise, diving deeper into my leg pumping, while juggling thoughts about the work I have to do when I’m done.

But then the competitive part of me awakens. A monster version can’t help monitoring the speed at which the person next to me is pumping his arms and legs. Am I going faster? Is he on a higher level than me?

No, it doesn’t matter whether he’s 30 years younger, a college athlete or is clearly preparing for a triathlon with a body that repels any fat and that likely won’t age for decades. I have to win.

Of course, the person next to me isn’t always young and fit and doesn’t have the same age and genetic limitations. Sometimes, that person is not only older, but is also sharing a regular need to clear his throat or to cough without covering his mouth.

“Hey, have you heard of Covid, a tissue, staying home when you’re sick, or, I don’t know, another gym?” I again shout in my head.

I look away and breathe to the side, hoping whatever germs he’s expelling into the air are traveling in a different direction.

Even when people don’t exercise near me, I notice the groaning from the men who lift more weight in a day than I might in a year. They roar, Incredible Hulk style, as they drop weights heavy enough to cause the floor 30 feet away to vibrate sufficiently to register on a seismograph.

When I leave the elliptical machine, I circle other pieces of equipment slowly, as if I were selecting a menu item carefully, pondering whether to get the Brussels sprouts, the steamed broccoli or the french fries.

Who am I kidding, I shrug to myself. I’m unlikely to climb on any of these machines, particularly when I’m so sweaty from beating that young kid to the top of the imaginary mountain.

Covered in sweat, I triumphantly walk slowly out of the gym, knowing I’ve conquered another day of exercise and feeling revived, refreshed, stronger, faster and more alert. Now, if I could just remember where I parked my car.

Owners of Huner’s Fitness Advantage in Port Jefferson said they believe they should be considered essential for the work they do helping people remain active and healthy. Photo from Huner’s Fitness Advantage website

The effects of COVID-19 will no doubt change how businesses and customers interact. For gyms and fitness centers that could be challenging. Drastic measures may have to be taken in these facilities normally filled with people, sweat and germs. 

And with Long Island finally having started Phase 1 of the reopening process, gyms will have to wait longer than most to get back to some semblance of normality.

Anthony Amen, owner of Redefine Fitness in Mount Sinai, didn’t have much time to react to the news of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) shutdown order in March. He was busy training with a few clients. 

“We found out that morning and we were forced to close on the spot at 8 p.m.,” he said. 

Initially, Amen and other gym owners thought they would only be closed for a couple weeks, but that hope quickly faded as the magnitude of the coronavirus pandemic became evident. 

“It was tough, I was like, ‘What the hell am I going to do?’” Amen said. 

The gym lost 80 percent of its clients due to the shutdown. In an effort to keep some of them on his books, the Mount Sinai gym owner had to get creative and began offering virtual fitness classes. 

“We had to adapt to the times,” Amen said. “We try to keep them on track with their goals and work with them as much as we can virtually.”

Amen said the industry had been evolving toward incorporating more online training even before the pandemic. 

“The shift toward online personal training has been coming, COVID-19 just sped it up,” he said. “The next phase will be an online/in-person training hybrid model.”

That shift and subsequent social distancing guidelines could cause several issues for larger gyms that thrive on constant foot traffic and by offering a plethora of gym equipment and machines. These facilities are used to cramming equipment side by side and will most likely have to spread out equipment, which in turn could lead to reduced capacity. 

In Hong Kong, some gyms have installed plexiglass barriers to give exercisers space and to keep any potential virus from spreading. In the U.S., larger gyms are poised to offer touchless entry, and increased cleaning, among other things. Retro Fitness, which has close to 10 locations on Long Island, has said it will scrub down equipment using hospital-grade cleaner throughout the entire gym, according to a press release.

Amen said for smaller gyms/studios like his, that process will be much easier. 

“We can definitely make more space by moving equipment — we can easily have one or two people come in and be able to be 6 feet apart,” he said. 

The Mount Sinai gym owner is hoping he can acquire some new clients, saying he could see some people not being comfortable going to their old crowded gym and wanting to be around less people in general. 

The question of when will gyms reopen still looms large. If you look at the state’s four-phase reopening process, gyms are in Phase 3. Given how Suffolk County finally reached Phase 1 reopening this week, it’s not a stretch that it could take several more weeks or even longer until gyms get the OK to open its door again. 

Nanci Huner, who runs Huners Fitness Advantage in Port Jefferson along with her husband Eric, said she believes they are an essential business and should be allowed to be open. 

Huners Fitness provides personal training, nutrition counseling and private and small group training. Their clients are mostly individuals in their 60s through 70s who rely on their services to stay active and remain healthy. 

“A lot of these people that come to us have diabetes, high blood pressure and other problems,” Nanci Huner said. “Exercising makes a big difference.”

Huner said it is essential for those clients to get structured exercise, as in some cases it increases their mobility and it makes it less likely that they could lose their balance and fall. 

“For a few of them it’s about keeping them from getting hurt and with us being closed, they are negatively affected by the lack of exercise,” she said. 

While they wait to reopen, Huner is optimistic that they can adapt to the potential new business climate. At most, there are four clients at their group sessions and even less personal one-on-one classes. 

Equipment spacing shouldn’t be a problem either, according to Huner. Before COVID-19 struck, the duo had moved in its fitness center to a warehouse space on North Country Road. Prior to that, for 15 years, they ran their business from their own home. 

The move happened so close to the shutdown that Huner said they didn’t even have time to put up their new sign in front of the building. 

“We’re hoping we can reopen as soon as possible,” she said. 

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By Lisa Steuer

When the holidays are finally over and January rolls around once again, it’s a time that can be overwhelming for many people. Most likely, the holidays were filled with indulgences, a lack of exercise, pounds gained and more. Plus, a new year inspires many people to make resolutions. But all too often, those resolutions are forgotten by February.

The good news is that if you really want to make a change this year, you do possess the tools to do so — no matter what your goal may be. Adam Gonzalez, Ph.D., is the founding director of the Mind-Body Clinical Research Center and assistant professor in the psychiatry department at Stony Brook University School of Medicine. In his role as a clinical psychologist, Gonzalez provides clinical services to the community and to patients at the hospital, with a focus on a holistic way of providing care to heal the mind and body. Gonzalez and his colleagues have conducted research to support the mind-body connection and help people work on stress management skills, improve their health and set and meet behavioral goals.

So exactly why is it so difficult for so many people to actually stick to their New Year’s resolutions and make a big change? Gonzalez pointed out three main reasons: setting unrealistic goals, getting distracted or losing focus, and finally, not knowing where to start. If you want to make a big change in your life, a good way to begin is to monitor your current behavior, notice where the behavior is occurring, your thoughts and beliefs about the behavior, as well as some of the thoughts you are having while the behavior is occurring, said Gonzalez.

“If I start thinking, ‘I’m a failure, I’ll never make this change, I can’t keep up with this,’ I’m likely not to keep up with it.” — Adam Gonzalez, Ph.D.

“All of our thoughts, behaviors and emotions interact, so if you work on your thinking style or work on managing behaviors, that can affect emotions and also the behavioral outcomes,” said Gonzalez.

For instance, if someone wants to make changes in their sleep, Gonzalez would have them monitor how much sleep they are currently getting, what their current bed time is, what time they wake up, etc. If a person wants to make changes to their eating habits, that person might want to think about who these behaviors are occurring with ­— who are the friends he or she is going out to eat with and where, and think about whether anyone else is helping to drive that behavior.

“You want to get supportive people around you who actually can be there to help foster the behavior change that you’re looking for,” said Gonzalez. “If the people that are around you aren’t supportive, I would suggest addressing it head on: letting the individuals know what, specifically, you need from them, whether it’s something you need them to do or not do.”

One pitfall that many people fall into when trying to make a change is getting discouraged when a lapse in the behavior change occurs — examples include slipping on your diet, having a cigarette if you’re trying to quit, etc.

“The way you interpret the hiccup or lapse will have a profound effect on your next step. So don’t get discouraged or beat yourself up too hard when you have a lapse in the behavior that you’re trying to change,” said Gonzalez.

Another instance where many people get discouraged is when they make a goal to get to the gym a certain amount of times a week and then fail to meet that goal one week, Gonzalez noted.

“If I start thinking, ‘I’m a failure, I’ll never make this change, I can’t keep up with this,’ I’m likely not to keep up with it,” said Gonzalez. “First is recognizing it for what it is — that you missed two days this week and next week you’re going to be going to the gym the four days you wanted … or, it’s re-evaluating the goal and your plans. Maybe four times a week … [with] your schedule is a little too intense. So maybe it’s scaling back your goals and making it something that’s more attainable.”

And once you reach your goal, how do you stay motivated? Many people, after losing weight for instance, may find it difficult to stay on the path and instead go back to old habits.

juggling-w“It’s important to consistently remind yourself of why the goal is important,” said Gonzalez. “So it’s building up motivation in your mind, and sometimes we will recommend that people put Post-its around that might have motivational statements on it or something that’s very personal or relevant to them to remind them of why this goal is important.”

 

SMART goal-setting

Gonzalez shared the SMART goal-setting technique, which is used in programs at Stony Brook’s Mind-Body Clinical Research Center:

Specific: Make sure your goals are straightforward, specific, and emphasize what you want to happen. “So you don’t want to just say, ‘I want to lose weight.’ It’s good to be specific and say, ‘I want to lose 10 pounds,’” said Gonzalez.

Measurable: Make a goal that you can make measurable progress on so that you can see the change occurring, and set time frames so that you can see if you’re reaching your goal or not.

Attainable: Identify goals that are most important to you and aren’t too far out of reach. “Losing 50 pounds in three months is probably a stretch, so you want to make sure it’s something attainable,” said Gonzalez.

Relevant: The goal should be something that you’re really willing to put effort in and work toward.

Time-based: Setting a time frame can be very helpful in achieving goals. Plus, setting long- and short-term goals can help you achieve them. For instance, set a short-term goal of losing five pounds. Once you meet that goal, it can motivate you to keep making progress toward a larger weight-loss goal.

Exploring
A 2004 Ford Explorer was stolen after its owner left the vehicle and went to an ATM on Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station on July 26 at around 1 a.m. A wallet containing credit cards was left in the car, and police said the cards were used.

Not kool, man
An unknown masked man demanded money and took off with the whole cash register from the Kool Mart on Hallock Avenue in Port Jefferson Station, at around 9:20 p.m. on July 21.

Forgetful
A wallet left behind at a 7-Eleven on Old Town Road in Port Jefferson Station didn’t make it back to its owner. Police said the owner reported returning to the convenience store on July 20 to find someone else took it.

Bumper cars
A 51-year-old Port Jefferson Station woman was arrested and charged with leaving the scene of an incident involving property damage on July 21. According to police, the woman was driving a 2013 Chevy Traverse on July 1 in Setauket when she struck the right side of the rear bumper on a 2006 Honda minivan and fled the scene.

Shattered
A resident on Main Street in Port Jefferson awoke to glass breaking at around 3 a.m. on July 26 and reported a door pane had been broken.

Knocked down
A man was knocked unconscious on West Broadway in Port Jefferson at around 1:40 a.m. on July 25. Police said the man was punched in the face, fell on the pavement and struck his head. He was transported to a local hospital for medical treatment.

Not fast enough
A woman who had dropped her cell phone in a Miller Place parking lot on Route 25A on July 20 reported that someone else claimed and took the phone before she returned.

Garden Road getaway
A Garden Road resident in Rocky Point returned home on July 20 at around 3:30 p.m. to find the front door open and several items, including two flat-screen TVs, jewelry and an Xbox 360, stolen.

Game on
At around 8:30 p.m. on July 25, a man entered a Game Stop in Centereach and demanded cash. Police said he displayed what appeared to be a weapon wrapped in a white cloth. The store clerk obliged and the man fled with cash.

Mission: Impossible
At around 10:30 p.m. on July 21 an unknown person or persons broke through the wall of a Middle Country Road store in Centereach to gain entry to the adjacent shop and attempted to pry open a vault there but was unsuccessful.

Dine and dash
Someone stole a leather wallet from a 2006 Toyota parked at the Suffolk Diner in Centereach at around 1 p.m. on July 20.

It’s personal
A 24-year-old Middle Island woman was arrested in Selden on July 22 and charged with second-degree forgery after she forged a signature on a personal check and chased it.

Off-road thief
A Clearview Avenue resident in Selden reported on July 24 that between 1 and 6 a.m. someone stole a 2005 Yamaha ATV from the backyard.

A quick DWI
Police said a 22-year-old man from Setauket was arrested in Stony Brook on July 25 at 1:42 a.m. and charged with driving while intoxicated. Police said the man was pulled over driving north on County Road 97 in Stony Brook because he was speeding.

DWI crash
A 23-year-old woman from North Massapequa was arrested in Stony Brook on July 24 and charged with driving while intoxicated after being involved in a motor vehicle crash. Police said the woman was driving a 2014 Nissan southbound on Quaker Path in Stony Brook at about 6 p.m. when she was involved in the crash.

Tablet grab
Someone entered an unlocked 2010 Honda Civic parked at a Bentley Lane home in Stony Brook on July 25 and stole an iPad tablet. The incident occurred sometime between 5:13 and 8 p.m.

That Chase
Someone stole money from the Chase bank account of someone who lives on Pheasant Court in Stony Brook. The incident happened sometime around 9:18 p.m. on July 24.

Infiniti window shattered
Someone entered a locked 2012 Infiniti by shattering the rear driver side window and stole money from the car. The car was parked at World Gym in Setauket on Mark Tree Road. The incident happened sometime between 2 and 3 p.m. on July 24.

Stop & Punch
Police said a woman reported that a man punched her in the face while at Stop & Shop on Route 25A in Setauket-East Setauket on July 24 at 9 p.m. She said the punch caused a cut lip.

Stop for a DWI
A 32-year-old man from Medford was arrested in Smithtown on July 25 at about 2:30 a.m. and charged with driving while intoxicated. Police said he was pulled over at Route 25 and Terry Road in Smithtown after failing to stop for a red traffic light.

To the left, to the left
Police said a 34-year-old man from Nesconset was arrested on July 23 at 12:07 a.m. and charged with driving while intoxicated. According to police, the man, who was driving westbound on Lake Avenue in Nesconset, was pulled over after he failed to signal left and was observed speeding.

Sloppy DWI
A 20-year-old woman from Setauket was arrested in Nesconset on July 23 and charged with driving while intoxicated. Police said she was driving eastbound on Route 25 at 2:20 a.m. in a 2009 Jeep and failed to maintain a single lane of travel, driving onto the shoulder of the road.

Missing jewels
Someone stole a jewelry box on the bathroom vanity of a home on Nissequogue River Road in Smithtown sometime between July 25 at 10 a.m. and July 26 at 9 a.m.

Hotel heist
A woman from Madison Street in Smithtown told police she gave someone a deposit on what she thought was a six-night stay at a hotel, but the person had no connection to the hotel. The bank transfer occurred on July 17 at about 10 p.m.

Car parts jacked
Tires and rims were stolen off of a 2015 Chevy parked at Enterprise Rent-A-Car on East Main Street in Smithtown on July 21 at 8:45 p.m.

A dark day
Someone took Ray-Ban and red Maui Jim sunglasses and jewelry by breaking a rear driver-side window of a BMW parked at Carrabba’s Italian Grill on Smithtown Bypass in Smithtown on July 22.

School graffiti reported
An unknown person made graffiti at the R.J.O. Intermediate School on Old Dock Road in Kings Park by spray-painting two walls sometime between noon and 1:49 p.m. on July 25.

Cadillac grab
Someone stole a 2009 Cadillac containing property from St. Johnland Nursing Center on Sunken Meadow Road in Kings Park sometime on July 23 at 11:20 p.m. to July 24 at 8:30 a.m.

Lights out
Someone damaged the left taillights of two vehicles on Ellen Place in Kings Park on July 23 sometime between 11:30 and 11:45 p.m. There have been no arrests.

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North Shore native revives homegrown business, using late wife as motivation for revamped brand

By Jenni Culkin

After two decades, a Smithtown-based fitness clothing line that once enjoyed stellar success in the 1990s is making a brute and swift comeback.

Robert Alario stands with a model showing off his BRUTE FORCE fitness clothing line. Photo by Jenni Culkin
Robert Alario stands with a model showing off his BRUTE FORCE fitness clothing line. Photo by Jenni Culkin

Robert Alario, who was born and raised in Smithtown, started bodybuilding as a junior high school student.

He used his weight-lifting skills to develop his wrestling team reputation, eventually becoming co-captain of the team.

“Fitness has always been at the center of my entire life,” Alario said.

Alario originally began selling his products under the brand name BRUTE FORCE INC., during 1988 at Macy’s through a licensing agreement. The brand was completely homegrown with a Smithtown resident using Smithtown businesses to help propel him to fitness clothing prominence on a local scale and beyond.

But Alario eventually decided to take a break from the business, citing a problem with the licensing agreement.

Alario officially began bringing the line back in 2013, raising funds from private investors and crowdsourcing.

Alario is making his way back to success in his business without a licensing deal this time.

“I’m setting the stage for a multimillion-dollar platform,” said Alario. “I’m going for it.”

BRUTE FORCE’s website will be up and running in mid-May. The World Gym in Ronkonkoma will also be selling the clothing.

“I call it fashion-forward fitness ware,” Alario said about his clothing line.

Alario continued to describe the clothing line as sexy, explaining that the clothes don’t conform to the status quo.

Products from Alario’s BRUTE FORCE clothing line are being manufactured locally in a factory in Bellmore. But what motivates Alario most of all, he said, is bringing the clothing line back to life in the wake of his late wife Angela, who died from a pulmonary aneurysm after undergoing a surgery several years ago.

Angela was once a model for Gold’s Gym television commercials and was enthusiastic about fitness just like Alario. Alario restarted his business, calling her the inspiration for the new and improved line of clothing.

The tags on each piece of clothing even bear the words, Inspired By Angela.

“She’s amazing in every way,” Alario said about his late wife, explaining that she was always encouraging him to get back to his business. “I learned a lot from her and I see through her eyes.”

Alario currently lives in Miller Place with the hope of moving back to his hometown of Smithtown sometime soon to spread the word of his comeback. He has two stepsons, Angela’s sons, who are planning on becoming doctors.

BRUTE FORCE has huge plans, including plans to eventually expand into footwear to go with the clothing line. Alario can be reached at 800-326-9059.

“This is not a small-time thing,” Alario said. “We’re going to make it big.”