Give Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving, from our family to yours! On Thanksgiving, we reflect that true wealth does not come from our possessions, but the measure of the love we give and receive. “Thanks giving” is an action. It means not just saying how thankful we are, but sharing what we have to make someone else’s life a little fuller. We should take the opportunity to focus on the things we have in this moment, and let go of the things we want or think we should have. Suddenly, what we have becomes enough. From the small and mundane to the extraordinary, remember that what we sometimes take for granted is often vitally important to others.

We remember to say thanks for possessions like food and shelter, and are quick to give donations to food banks and winter coat drives for those who are struggling. But what about other things like family and good health, and being shown kindness, love and respect? Things that so many still do not have or receive. This year, give as much kindness as canned goods, as much warmth and acceptance as coats. Be a friend to someone who feels alone, a voice for someone who has none. Put your thanks to action: give others the same caring and value you wish to receive.

So we ask, what are you thankful for, and how can you share that with others? Wishing you a holiday filled with joy, love and happiness.

Y Arts in the Community: Peter & The Wolf, featuring the NJSO


The Y Arts in the Community initiative provides enriching arts experiences, offering opportunities for all ages to experience visual and performing arts. We believe in the power of art to help youth realize their potential and improve quality of life. Children make connections to sounds even before they are born, which is why music can be a powerful influence on their development. Listening to music activates many areas of the brain including emotion, memory and motor response.

The best stories are the ones that move us. Telling a story through music brings emotion, excitement and suspense. Words and sounds coalesce to augment our emotions and deepen our connection to the story and characters. Stories come to life right in front of our eyes (and ears!), allowing us to immerse ourselves into them. And with the help of the award-winning New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, you are going to be able to do just that.

We are excited to welcome the NJSO to the Y for the second time! In the past, they have held an introduction to classical music workshop for our daycare children. On Sunday, November 20th, a NJSO musical quintet will be here for a special performance of Peter and the Wolf. The whole family will love this fun tale, combining the timeless arts of music and storytelling. Sergei Prokofiev wrote this classic children’s story and accompanying music in 1936 as a child’s introduction to the orchestra. Each character is represented by an instrument or group of instruments, highlighting the individual personalities of each instrument.  “The duck, bird, cat, wolf, hunters, Peter and his Grandfather are each represented by a specific theme and instrument, making this a wonderful introduction to the instruments of the orchestra, as well as a charming story.” (From

The performance is appropriate for children ages 4+ and will run approximately 1 hour. It will be narrated by the Y’s Performing Arts Director Laura Toth.

A Salute to our Veterans

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” 
—John F. Kennedy


Veterans Day is celebrated nationwide each year on November 11th. This was the day at the end of World War I when an armistice went into effect and fighting ceased between the Allied nations and Germany. For that reason, November 11, 1918 is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars,” and was thus made a legal holiday in 1938, celebrated as Armistice Day. In 1954, after World War II and the Korean War, congress amended the original legislation by replacing the word “Armistice” with “Veterans,” and so it became the holiday we know today: a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

Ceremonies around the country are held to honor and thank all who served in the United States Armed Forces. The National Veterans Day Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery begins with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues with a parade of colors by veterans’ organizations and remarks from dignitaries. It is a day to honor those who have put their lives on the line for our country, to defend the freedoms that we enjoy on a daily basis that so many others do not have. Freedoms of speech, religion, and love. The rights to assemble, have a trial by jury, and vote; especially significant in this election year coming up before us.

We want to take this opportunity to thank all veterans, especially those we are lucky enough to know and call a part of our Y family. It is our great honor to welcome you to our 6th annual Veterans Day luncheon, so in some small way we can show our gratitude for your service. You deserve to be recognized for your commitment to this country, today and every day. We will remember all you have fought to protect, and will exercise our freedoms with gratitude and the utmost respect.

The Giving “Spirit”: Giving Back for Halloween

Halloween isn’t here yet, and you’re already strategizing what to do with all that candy so your kids don’t get a two-week sugar high, and you don’t snack on it until Christmas. And those beautiful costumes you bought that the kids will grow out of next year? Ever consider donating them? Halloween is so focused on how much candy we can amass that giving back is often overlooked until Thanksgiving. But not every “spirit” has to be scary on Halloween! Why shouldn’t Halloween be a giving holiday, too? Another opportunity to think of those who don’t have as much as us? Check out these charities that accept donations of leftover Halloween candy and gently used costumes:


Operation Gratitude

Operation Gratitude sends more than 150,000 care packages annually to U.S. troops stationed overseas, veterans, wounded warriors, new recruits, first responders, care givers, and military families. Their mission is to lift the spirits and meet the evolving needs of our active duty and veteran communities. Help say “Thank You” to these servicemen and women and their families by giving them a taste of home and holiday comfort. Check the map to see what businesses are participating near us where you can drop off your leftover candy! You can also ship directly to the organization. Visit the website for more information about how to donate. Deadline is November 15th.

Operation Trick-or-Treating for the Troops

Founded in 2001 in memory of a Vietnam War hero, Operation Stars & Stripes, Inc. is an all-volunteer not-for-profit  organization that supports active duty service members at home and abroad, as well as veterans and military families. Every year during Operation Trick-or-Treating for the Troops, they accept donations of excess Halloween candy, which will be used to fill the stockings for their Operation Holiday Stockings Campaign. Packages of unopened candy can be sent to the organization’s Georgia headquarters. Specific shipping info can be found on the website.

Jersey Cares Halloween Costume Drive

Every October, Jersey Cares helps children living in New Jersey’s shelters to have a happy Halloween by collecting new and gently used children’s costumes, masks, accessories and make-up. So don’t throw out your costume! Save it until next year, when donations open up again in September.

Wyckoff PTO Economy Shop

Our neighbors right across the street, The Wyckoff PTO Economy Shop accepts donations of gently used items throughout the school year. 100% of the net profits are distributed equally to the PTO’s  7 schools. In the past 4 years, they distributed over $175,000 to Wyckoff Public School District Schools and Ramapo-Indian Hills High Schools. If you and your kids don’t plan on reusing your costumes (or need to get clear out past years’ ones), consider donating them.

Finally, don’t forget about your local soup kitchen, shelter, food pantry, retirement, or nursing home. Many take donations of unopened candy for residents and guests. It’s worth calling to find out if they accept treats.

By: Tracy L. Nieradka

Eating Seasonally: Autumn Harvest

Harvest the benefits of autumn produce this month! The Y is committed to keeping your family healthy from the inside out, which is why this week we’re highlighting popular fall “superfoods” you should add to your grocery list.

Did you know that buying in-season produce benefits not only your body, but your wallet and the environment? Seasonal produce is abundant because it’s at its peak growing condition, so it’s priced more economically than when out-of-season, giving you some more wiggle room in your grocery budget. Most grocery stores carry locally grown in-season produce, instead of it being shipped in from across the country or overseas. This reduces the number of miles your food has to travel, which means less pollution and fresher food for you. In-season produce is also less likely to be bleached, sprayed, waxed or irradiated.

Foods that are in-season are also at the peak of their nutritional value. Vitamins in produce naturally start to degrade as soon as they’re picked. Seasonal foods are consumed much closer to harvest, which mitigates the degradation of vitamins and nutrients that happens when stored for long periods of time. It’s also the perfect time to get any picky eaters to try new foods when they’re packed with the most flavor (ever eat an apple in February? Ugh!) So take advantage of the bounty that autumn offers by grabbing these popular fruits and veggies by the basket-full.

Apples: Eat the skin! Quercetin is the primary phytonutrient found in apples, and it’s far more concentrated in the skin than in the pulp. Quercetin is an antioxidant, which scavenges particles in the body known as free radicals, which damage cells. Apples are known benefiting our cardiovascular system, and lowering the risk of asthma and lung cancer.

Pears: Pears also contain many phytonutrients (like apples, they’re more concentrated in the skin), including antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and potentially anti-cancer cinnamic acids. Studies show that intake of certain flavonoid groups, 2 of which are found in all pears, has been associated with decreased risk of type 2 diabetes in both women and men.

Winter squash: Common varieties of winter squash include pumpkin (they’re not just for carving!) acorn, butternut, delicata, spaghetti, and kabocha. They are high in carotenoids, such as alpha- and beta-carotene, which give them their bright orange and yellow colors and have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Don’t forget about the seeds! Just like with pumpkin seeds, you can roast the seeds of other winter squashes for a snack packed with heart-healthy fats. The seeds contain the Essential Fatty Acid linoleic acid (omega-6, which is “essential” because your body can’t produce it), and oleic acid (omega-9: the same monounsaturated fatty acid abundant in olive oil).

Brussels Sprouts: An excellent source of Vitamin K (243% Daily Recommended Intake!) and Vitamin C (129%DRI). There is a notable connection between Brussels sprouts and cancer prevention, due to Brussels sprouts’ special nutrient support for the body’s detox, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory systems. This is due in part to their very high concentration of glucosinsates, (the highest of common cruciferous veggies), which are the chemical basis for a variety of cancer-protective substances. Try these recipes to get your kids to eat the dreaded “mini cabbages!”

Sweet Potatoes: With a whopping 214% of your DRI, sweet potatoes top the veggie chart for the highest percentage of Vitamin A, which is important for vision, immune support, and cell growth. Sweet potatoes are high in nutrients that act as antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and blood sugar-regulators. To get the most out of sweet potatoes’ beta-carotene content, eat them with a fat, which drastically increases our bodies’ ability to absorb this nutrient.

Fun fact: Sweet potatoes are not yams! Often confused, yams actually belong to a different plant family entirely. Don’t let the color fool you; many believe that red-skinned sweet potatoes are “yams,” but they are actually are just another variety of sweet potato. True yams are very starchy with bark-like skin, and are not carried in most stores. Grocery stores often label the “soft” variety of sweet potato as a “yam” to distinguish them from the “firm,” golden-fleshed sweet potato. Even if you think you’re buying a yam, you’re most likely buying a soft, orange-fleshed sweet potato! Who knew?

By: Tracy L. Nieradka

Back to School, Back to Healthy

6 Back to School Tips to Keep your Kids in A+ Shape

Back to school unfortunately also means back to germs! Changing weather and lots of time spent with other kids gives germs the opportunity to spread. Keep your kids healthy and arm them with a good immune system, not just hand sanitizer!

Everything you need to know about preventing and dealing with back-to-school worries. From illness like colds and the flu, to anxiety and bedtime routines. Here’s some insight on what you need to know as a parent and tips to make it happen.



1. Establish a bedtime routine. This will help ensure they’re getting enough sleep. When they’re rested, they’ll be able to fight off sickness, focus better in school, and perform better outside of the classroom. How much sleep is enough? Check out this article from the National Sleep Foundation.

2. Pack healthy lunches and snacks, and don’t skip breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for a reason! Choose something that’s full of whole grains, fiber and protein, and lower in added sugar. Sugary cereals and bars will just spike their insulin and energy, only to have it crash later. Eating properly throughout the day will boost kids’ attention span, concentration and memory. Teach them to “eat the rainbow” of colorful veggies and fruits. Check out this article for tips on how to get them to eat their veggies so it’s not a constant battle.

3. Remind young kids of hygiene rules. Hand washing is one of the easiest, most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Always wash hands before eating, after using the bathroom and after playing outside. Remind kids to cover their mouths and noses with their arm (not their hands) and use tissue when coughing or sneezing. Also, remind your kids that some things shouldn’t be shared, like hair brushes, hair ties, helmets and hats. This will help prevent the spread of lice and other bugs.

4. Do your research about the flu vaccine. While the flu vaccine doesn’t guarantee protection from the flu, as the virus strains change year to year, it may be effective for at-risk populations like people with chronic medical conditions. However, the flu vaccine remains a controversial topic regarding its risks and efficacy. Bottom line, do you research and decide what’s right for you and your family. The best natural protection against the flu and other viruses? A healthy diet and vitamin supplements. If nothing else, making sure your Vitamin D intake is adequate is the best action you can take to help strengthen immune function.

5. Stay home or tough it out? If your kids do get sick, it’s hard to decide whether to send them to school or keep them home. Know the difference between the flu and a cold. The flu usually hits fast and hard. Symptoms include a fever over 100 degrees, headache, congestion, nausea or vomiting, and body aches. If you suspect the flu, keep them home until they are symptom-free for 24 hours. A cold typically starts with a sore throat, accompanied with sniffling, sneezing or coughing. Symptoms usually subside within a week, so send them to school and ask the nurse to check on them.

6. Stay organized and stress-free. Make sure your kids have a schedule so you can keep them on track between homework, after-school activities and sports. And don’t overschedule them! Down time to relax with the family and their friends is important for keeping balance and reducing anxiety. Reduced anxiety means better sleep and better immune systems!

At the Wyckoff Y, we’re committed to keeping you and your kids healthy and happy. We’re offering flu vaccines on Saturday, Oct 15th, 9am-12pm YMCA Lobby and Thursday, Oct 20th, 5-7pm Lower Level (PR4). For more information, click here.

By: Tracy L. Nieradka

Oasis Summer Campers Learned to Swim with the Sharks


Our pool filled with Sharks and their campers!

This summer, the Wyckoff YMCA partnered with Oasis in order to provide a summer camp experience for children who may not otherwise get such an opportunity. Based in Paterson, New Jersey, Oasis strives to change the lives of women and children in need by providing programs that address basic needs, social services, adult education and youth development. The Wyckoff YMCA hosts approximately 106 campers, ages six through twelve, in each of the four two-week camp sessions.

For the sixth year, the Oasis campers were able to participate in a learn-to-swim program given by the Wyckoff Sharks at our pool facilities. Sharks swim team members, twelve year of age and older, volunteered their time as swim instructors for all Oasis campers. The Sharks volunteer instructors participated in a water safety training program run by the YMCA and taught swim lessons on Tuesdays for eight weeks, from 9:30am- 12:00pm in the Boye Pool. In addition to swim lessons, the Sharks were also able to provide campers with bathing suits, goggles, swim caps and prizes by partnering with USA Swimming’s “Make a Splash Foundation.”

The Sharks swim instructors taught water safety skills such as treading water and floating on the back, and basic swimming techniques for freestyle and elementary backstroke. These volunteers dutifully upheld the four pillars of the YMCA:Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility.


         Learning how to float

Instructors worked with one to two campers at a time so that each camper received an individualized learning experience, which also allowed the opportunity for Sharks swimmers and Oasis campers to create a lasting bond and many summer memories! This year, Sharks volunteer instructors were able to teach oasis campers how to submerge their faces in water, float, tread water, swim unassisted and even dive! Most importantly, they taught campers how to be safe around water while still having fun, and to be confident in their swimming abilities.

Thank you, Oasis, for allowing us to be a part of your summer. We look forward to seeing you back in the pool next year!

By: Tracy L. Nieradka

Tips for Working Out in Summer Sun

“If you can run six miles on a summer day, then you, my friend, are a lethal weapon in the animal kingdom.”- Christopher McDougall


We’re entering the dog days of summer that feature hot, sultry weather and lots of sunshine. We all want to get out and enjoy the long days of summer fun, but outdoor activities carry some risk if you’re not prepared to handle the heat. Sometimes you break a sweat just getting ready to go outside! Whether you’re going running, hiking, kayaking, swimming or cycling, when working out in hot, humid weather, you have to be especially cautious to avoid heat-related illnesses. These include heat cramps, heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. Follow these tips to make sure you’re working out safely.


Drink plenty of water the day before, and during, your outdoor activity. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty, that’s a sign you’re already dehydrated and you won’t be able to catch up. Your body sweats to regulate its temperature, so you need to replace the fluid you’re losing in order to make sure this system works properly. A general guideline is to try to drink 1 oz of water per pound of body weight. Also, stick to plain water and avoid sugary sports drinks, soda and juice. Unless you’re at an athlete who is working out for an extended amount of time or at very high intensity, you most likely don’t need the extra calories, and too much sugar will just make your more thirsty.

2. Avoid the hottest part of the day.

Don’t plan your run for high noon. If possible, get your workout done early in the morning or after sunset. Midday sun will wear you down quicker than you might expect. If you know you’re going to be out all day, reapply sunscreen throughout the day, wear a hat and seek refuge in the shade whenever possible.

3. Wear light clothing.

Your body doesn’t need help sweating any more than it already will be. Don’t wear long, heavy clothes to “get your sweat on.” Wear loose, light-colored clothing to reflect some sun, and moisture-wicking fabric to help the sweat evaporate off your skin and clothes faster to keep you cooler and prevent chafing.

4. Plan your nutrition.

If you know you’re going to be outside all day on a long hike or race, make sure you fuel up properly beforehand and bring additional supplies. In addition to water, pack snacks that are easy for your body to digest and keep you going. Fruit purees, energy gels, and shakes are good options. Avoid anything too dry and high in fiber (protein bars, crackers) that requires your body to use more water to digest. Salt tablets or even mustard packets are also good to have on hand to replace the sodium your body is sweating out, which helps prevent muscle cramps.

5. Know when to call it a day.

Be able to recognize the signs that your body is overheating and take action before you become ill. Symptoms of heat-related illness include:

  • Weakness (more than regular fatigue)
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion/disorientation
  • Pale skin
  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Loss of consciousness

If you experience any of these symptoms, immediately get out of the heat and rest, preferably inside in air conditioning, re-hydrate, remove any tight or unnecessary clothing, and take a cool shower or apply cool towels. If these methods fails to alleviate symptoms, seek medical attention.

Let’s get out there and get training! The Franklin Lakes Scenic Half Marathon and 5K is coming up just around the corner on September 25th! Are you ready?

By: Tracy L. Nieradka

13th Annual Oasis & Camp Wydaca BBQ

“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Camp Wydaca and Oasis—together accomplishing great things! 

On Wednesday, July 20th, Camp Wydaca and Oasis came together at our Annual Summer Celebration to commemorate 13 years of fellowship and sharing. In attendance at the lakeside BBQ were over 85 Oasis campers and counselors, the Oasis and YMCA Board of Directors, and Carl Pfeifer’s family, who ensure Carl’s legacy lives on through these children.

Oasis, A Haven for Women and Children in Paterson, NJ, was founded in 1997 to provide meal services to poor women and children. Today, they offer programs to provide basic needs, social services, adult education and youth development. Oasis’s youth development program, named Carl’s Kids Summer Camp in honor of Carl Pfeifer, serves 170 children aged 6-12 each summer. Oasis youth programs focus on teaching respect, teamwork and tolerance for all people, as well as promoting healthy and productive lifelong habits. These programs support working families by ensuring children have a safe haven to go to outside of school, keeping them off the tough streets of Paterson so they can continue to learn and grow.

Oasis campers spend three days per week at the Wyckoff Y, where essential water safety and swim lessons are provided for this under-served population. Some of these children had never even seen a lake until they came to the Y! Upon seeing Spring Lake, one young camper commented in awe, “This must be what the ocean is like!” Many of these children had also never had swim lessons before, so with the help of Oasis counselors, Y staff and Sharks Swim Team volunteers, these children learn vital swimming skills while building lifelong friendships.

We’re so grateful we are able to host Oasis every year and love seeing the progress they make! Thank you for being a part of our Wyckoff Y family!

For more information about Oasis and how you can help, visit:

By: Tracy L. Nieradka

8th Annual Billy’s Buddies Golf Outing

At the Y, we believe all people of all abilities and should have the opportunity to be healthy, confident, connected and secure. Which is why we are dedicated to providing greatly needed services to the special needs community. The Y strives to support all individuals and families affected by mental and physical challenges.

“Billy’s Buddies” is an outreach program for children with Down syndrome and their families. Its goal is to create awareness and acceptance of individuals with DS, while providing their families with valuable resources and networking opportunities. Billy’s Buddies was established over a decade ago by Jimmy and Christine Hourihan, whose son Billy was diagnosed with Down syndrome. With the support of the Y, the Hourihans created a positive outreach program, demonstrating how amazing things can be achieved when people rally around an important cause.

Membership includes:

  • A caring, supportive parent network
  • Educational speakers and workshops to present accurate and up-to-date information on Down syndrome
  • Support for new parents
  • Lending library
  • Participation in the Buddy Walk of Bergen County
  • Social events for families: picnics, indoor swim sessions, holiday parties

Every year the Y holds The Billy’s Buddies Annual Golf Outing in support of this group. Board member and Chairman of the event, Lee Parker, started this event 8 years ago, by simply getting friends and family together to golf. This year, there are about 80 golfers participating. On Thursday July 14th, they will tee off at Ballyowen Golf Course, enjoying breakfast, a driving range, BBQ lunch, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, award reception, prizes, auction and 50/50 raffle. All proceeds go to support Billy’s Buddies program to defray costs associated with membership, which gives the opportunity for not just the children affected by DS, but whole families, to share resources and experiences. By creating awareness and expanding support networks, we can help these children reach their fullest potential.

If you’d like to be an event sponsor, please contact Jen Kaplan at 201-891-2081 ext 211.

By: Tracy L. Nieradka

Staying Nimble with Table Tennis

“If I can challenge old ideas about aging, I will feel more and more invigorated. I want to represent this new way. I want to be a new version of the 70-year-old woman. Vital, strong, very physical, very agile.” – Jamie Lee Curtis

Staying active as we age is important to overall physical and mental health.  According to studies by the Ping Pong Care Campaign, table tennis sees numerous beneficial effects such as improved mobility and mental health, improved sleep, increased cerebral blood flow, better coordination and joint mobility, increased upper body strength, and greater balance which reduces the risk of falls.

Anne in Action


Anne DuHaime is an avid table tennis player here at the Y. Suffering from severe arthritis,  it’s one of the few sports she can still play. She originally joined the Y for access to our warm pool to ease the pain of her arthritis. Soon after, she met Snow Chu, with whom she shared a mutual love of table tennis! Snow got a table set up in the senior room and gradually more and more people joined. So many, in fact, that they became a bit too noisy to share the Commons! So they got their own room and four tables, and now boast a membership of about 30 people.

When asked whether it’s “ping pong” or “table tennis,” Snow quipped “Well, ping pong is one way you can play…But we play table tennis!” Make no mistake, these ladies are serious about this sport. They even compete in the NJ Senior Olympics. For the past two years, Anne and Snow took the Gold and Silver, respectively, in their age group for singles. Last year, Anne also took Silver in the mixed doubles, while Snow took Gold in doubles and mixed doubles. They both look forward to competing against each other again this September.

It’s not all serious, though! Over the past five years, Anne has made thirty new, good friends through table tennis. The group has become very close and even enjoys celebrating each other’s birthdays together. She encourages others who may have certain physical challenges to check out their group for some good exercise and always a friendly atmosphere!

The Table Tennis Club meets Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10:30am-12:30 pm in the Rose Fernandez Commons. Get a workout with this active club and have fun serving, volleying and smashing.

By: Tracy L. Nieradka

34th Annual Wyckoff-Franklin Lakes Triathlon

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” ~Mother Teresa

The Wyckoff Franklin Lakes Triathlon is the longest-running and one of the largest in New Jersey. Attracting local athletes and some from around the country, thousands attend the event each year. It is one of the few triathlons that boast a significant number of elite and first time triathletes. This race has been inspiring the community to be active, healthy and fit for 33 years and counting!

Every June, we hold this charity event at Indian Trail Club in Franklin Lakes, in partnership with the Wyckoff-Midland Park Rotary Club. More than showing our commitment to fitness, this event is a community fundraiser: every single dollar goes back into our local communities to make them stronger.

Who are you racing for? All proceeds  benefit the Wyckoff Family YMCA’s outreach program, Wyckoff Y Cares, the health and wellness initiatives of the Franklin Lakes Mayor’s Wellness Campaign, and the community service projects of the Wyckoff-Midland Park Rotary Club.

Wyckoff Y Cares is a fund established in memory of Michael O’Shea and Pietro Maugeri, two individuals who were dedicated to improving the lives of others. This unique program incorporates many support systems to help local families navigate through life-altering challenges such as critical illness and other traumatic adversities by offering financial support, rehabilitation services, respite care, transportation, child care, and so much more…whatever it takes to restore and maintain family balance.

Last year the Wyckoff YMCA has been able to do so much more because of athletes like you! 

  • More than 4,000 kids learned to swim and gained life-saving skills, including Paterson’s Oasis kids.
  • More than 1,100 children were able to attend our Child Care and School-Aged Care Programs to gain knowledge for continued education.
  • 74 Active Older Adults received financial assistance for healthy living programs.
  • Special needs programs were subsidized for over 100 children and young adults.
  • 62 teens served our community and developed leadership qualities in our Teen Leaders Program.
  •  1,600 kids learned about themselves and the world around them at our summer Camp Wydaca.

Did you know…the Wyckoff-Midland Park Rotary Club

  • awards over $16,000 in scholarships each year to graduating seniors from the towns of Wyckoff and Midland Park?
  • raises and donates an average of $15,000 each year to local and regional charities and support organizations, including local fire departments and ambulance corps, the Buddy Walk, Oasis, and Center for Food Action?
  • financed and constructed the playgrounds at all the schools in Wyckoff, and at the Church of the Nativity, Eastern Christian, and the Wyckoff Methodist Church?
  • sponsors Interact Clubs at Ramapo and Midland Park High Schools and a ReAct Club at Eisenhower Middle School, providing our future leaders the opportunity to learn philanthropy and service?

The feelings of triumph and pride when you cross the finish line are a physical and mental victory for yourself, but the knowledge that you just did something great for someone else, too? That is an even sweeter victory.

Athlete Spotlight. One of our veteran triathletes, Jim Riley, talks about the race. 

Q: When did you start competing in triathlons and why? How long have you been doing the Wyckoff-Franklin Lakes Tri?

A: I was primarily a runner until the 90’s, then I started having back problems. I came to the Y when it was first built in ’98 and tried swimming. I ran into the Masters swim group, then run by Doug Eiel, and those guys were the ones who really taught me how to swim. They became my friends and that’s how I got involved with Team Excel. My first ever triathlon was the Wyckoff-Franklin Lakes in 2000, and this will be my 17th year competing

Q: What do you like most about the Wyckoff-Franklin Lakes Tri?

A: It’s really a fun time. I’ve done marathons, half Ironmans, Ironmans… but this race is a great reunion of old friends and training partners. So many of the same people compete in it year after year, and it’s always good, friendly competition.

Q:Any advice for first time competitors?

A: Stay calm and be comfortable, especially in the water. Just have fun. And stay to the right on your bike! That’s a rule in triathlons that a lot of people don’t know about…on the bike, you can only pass on the left.

Thanks, Jim and good luck to you and everyone else competing, seasoned athletes and first timers alike!


It’s easy to make a difference. Cast a small stone and watch the waves grow. For more information and to register, visit

By: Tracy L. Nieradka

Women’s Fitness: We Want More

“The fitness industry is surprisingly a women’s business by number and influence. In fact, 75 percent of IDEA’s members, which include personal trainers, group fitness instructors, program directors and business owners, are women.” -Kathie Davisfounder and executive director of IDEA Health and Fitness Association, the world’s leading organization for fitness and wellness professionals.

The culture around women’s fitness is changing. More women are involved in strength training, and “strong is the new skinny” is becoming the new motto. Even though women have a strong role in the fitness industry, there is still a definite gender gap that female professionals, trainees and athletes are working to overcome. In an interview, Beth Shaw, founder of YogaFit training systems, commented that “even though women are the ones moving the industry forward, men are still the decision-makers.”

Many women’s magazines still focus on the new hot tip to lose weight, or get that “bikini body,” while men’s magazines discuss ways to build muscle and stay lean. Some of the problems women face are perpetuated by pop culture and high-profile celebrities and their trainers, who evoke thoughts of  detox smoothies and spandex-clad women lifting pink dumbbells. Instead of empowering women with opportunities, they reinforce stereotypes of the “ideal” body type.

How do our female fitness professionals feel about all of this? We asked group exercise director Jeannie Cattafi what she thought!

Q: What made you want to get involved in the fitness industry/at the Y?

A: I really enjoyed the feeling of doing something I loved where I could help others too!  Not to mention the health benefits that come along with the job. It’s important to embody the lifestyle you’re trying to teach others.

Q: Have you seen any changes from when you started?

A: My passion is primarily in group fitness and there has been a definite change in the types of workouts women want to do. We want more than just jumping jacks and grapevines.  We want challenging workouts like boot camp, weight training and spinning. The goals are focused more on strength and endurance, not just weight loss.

Q: What stereotype or myth about women in the fitness industry would you most like to debunk?

A: That women shouldn’t lift heavy! Women have been taught to focus on cardio and avoid strength training because of the fear of “bulking up” or looking “manly.” In reality, women simply do not produce enough testosterone to get that result. Actually, increasing muscle mass will speed up your metabolism and you will burn more calories at rest, whereas with cardio, the burn stops when you do. It’s especially important to strength train as we age to combat loss of bone and muscle mass, and decrease the risk of osteoporosis. 

Q: What advice can you give to women (both trainers and trainees) in the fitness industry?

A: There are so many different avenues within fitness now. From a variety a formats to train or teach in, especially groups. Don’t pigeonhole yourself to one fitness methodology.

At the Wyckoff Y, we’re committed to empowering women through fitness. From Bootcamp, Power Pump, R.I.P.P.E.D and more, check out all we have to offer in our Group Exercise Classes.

From Pike to Shark: Our Swim Team Shines at National Championship

 “Somehow I kept my head above water. I relied on the discipline, character, and strength that I had started to develop as that little girl in her first swimming pool.”- Esther Williams

The Wyckoff YMCA Sharks swim team flashed some speed at this year’s 2016 Short Course YMCA National Championships. Overall, the team placed 30th out of over 200 YMCA teams in attendance and in doing so broke 10 Wyckoff YMCA team records. This year’s team, like most past teams, sent a contingent of swimmers with roots that started as small children right here at our YMCA.

From swim lessons to Sharks, our progressive instructional swim program offers excellent instruction and a continuity not found in most programs. From Pikes learning how to blow bubbles, all the way to Sharks making some serious waves, our progressive swim program offers a comprehensive method that can teach your child all the strokes and skills necessary to enjoy the water safely at any level…from recreation to elite competition.

Sharks Head Coach Ken Berk would like to commend all 23 of our Sharks National Team swimmers for the outstanding performances and recognize their commitment to the Wyckoff YMCA and the surrounding community. Congratulations and here’s to another outstanding season!

By: Tracy L. Nieradka

Community Trunk Sale

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris

Out with the old, in with the new…de-clutter, de-stress and socialize at our Community Trunk Sale on Saturday, April 30th!

Did you know that your spring cleaning ritual actually has psychological benefits? Aside from the obvious of your house having less dust and allergens, spring cleaning is associated with improved mood, decreased stress and heightened creativity!

Clutter can be distracting and overwhelming, so it’s no surprise that most Americans cite home organization and cleanliness as one of their top 5 stressors. Women specifically have shown to have chronically elevated cortisol (a stress hormone) when they perceive their homes to be cluttered. More than causing grouchiness, chronically elevated cortisol levels can lead to blood sugar imbalances, insomnia, high blood pressure, weight gain, and other health problems. When we remove clutter as a source of stress, we tend to be calmer, more positive and patient.

Beyond putting you in a bad mood, a disorganized space is also associated with less physical activity, while organization and order have been associated with healthier eating habits and being more generous!  (Not to mention cleaning itself is a great workout!)

Head for the Hills: Spring Hikes with the Y

“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.”
–Henry David Thoreau

Bridge at Ramapo Reservation

Experiencing gym fatigue? Need a change of scenery? Step off the treadmill for a day and go on fun, challenging hike with the fitness department this spring!

Research shows that going out for a walk in nature is not only a great workout, but can also improve your mental well-being. Just one hour of hiking can burn over 500 calories, and breathing fresh air can actually increase your energy levels! Hiking on natural, soft trails rather than pavement is also a great way to get joint-friendly workout. The long, steady-state cardio afforded by hiking can also lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and strokes.

One study even suggests hiking contributes to improved mental and emotional health. Researchers compared the benefits of hiking a trail through the woods to walking in an indoor shopping center. They found that the hikers reported themselves to have improved moods, increased self-esteem and decreased depression, while indoor walkers ended in the opposite condition!

So get out and get some fresh spring air! You be happier, healthier, and come back feeling full of spring vigor.

The dates for our hikes are Tuesday April 26th, Tuesday May 17th, and Tuesday June 14th. We will meet at Ramapo Reservation at 9:45am. Bring a snack and water. Open to all levels! Sign up in the fitness department.

Active Older Adults: Finding a New Vitality

“Aging is not lost youth, but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”- Betty Friedan

Staying active as you age is extremely important for both your physical and mental well-being. Exercising regularly can help prevent or delay many injuries, diseases and disabilities, and in some cases it’s an effective treatment for many conditions. We have many programs for our Active Older Adult (AOA) community here…everything to keep you moving and healthy!

Mary Jo Dervos works as a swim instructor for all ages and as an exercise instructor for the Y’s Nia and Exercise for Parkinson’s classes.  She also leads meditation workshops at the Lake House.

Mary Jo began her career in health and physical education 25 years ago. She was then working in Columbus, Ohio as a Recreation Leader to develop recreational programs at senior centers that offered no forms of exercise for their residents. She implemented programs such as aerobics, chair exercise and line dancing… all geared toward seniors to keep them active and mobile. One center also had a pool, which is where she got the idea to teach swimming. She already had a background in swimming and she loved the sport, so she decided to get her WSI (Water Safety Instructor) certification as well as a personal training certification to work specifically with seniors.

A few years later, she moved back to Glen Rock, NJ where she began coaching the town’s summer swim team, and teaching PE and health at Paramus Catholic High School, as well as coaching their swim team. She relocated again to Chicago, but it was there where she quite literally stumbled upon something that would become a huge part of her career here at the Y. She saw an advertisement for Nia, a form of exercise which draws from disciplines of the martial arts, dance arts and healing arts, using the body’s natural design to improve function. She immediately fell in love with the philosophy, and knew it would be perfect for seniors, since her instructor was 70 years old! There was no one teaching Nia in Northern NJ, so she pitched it to the Y, and well, the rest is history! She’s been here ever since.

Many of the techniques she utilizes in her classes are rooted in her own practice of meditation, which she started 25 years ago when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She’s beaten cancer twice now, saying that “meditation keeps me peaceful and balanced. I don’t get upset about adversity or feel overwhelmed.” Her calm and peaceful demeanor, and visualization and breathing techniques that she’s learned from years of practicing meditation, help her adult beginner swimmers overcome their fears. Her students have gone from being afraid to put their faces in the water, to swimming laps for an hour in her Workout 101 class!

“I just love seeing people have fun and enjoy life in ways they never thought they could before,” Mary Jo said. What makes her such a great instructor is that she herself is a true embodiment of vitality. By harnessing her own strength and energy, and of that in the world around her, she is able to create a sense of self-empowerment. Power giving not just continuance, but enjoyment and peacefulness, of life.

By: Tracy L. Nieradka

Y News: Two Staff Members named “Coaches of the Year”

We’re proud to have two “Coaches of the Year” on our staff!

Jeff (left) and Bryan (right)

A big congratulations to Bryan McDonnell, named High School Boys Swimming Coach of the Year by the Bergen Record, and Jeff Ziegler, High School Girls Swimming Coach of the Year. Triathlete and former Ramapo College swimmer, Bryan is the aquatics and multi-sport specialist at the Y, and coach of the Indian Hills swim team. Here, he coaches the advanced stroke clinic, triathlon swim training classes, directs the Wyckoff Y Tri Club and manages Spring Lake during the summer. Jeff, physical therapist and former swimmer for Misericordia University and coach of Pascack Regional swim team, leads our Masters swim program and also coaches triathlon swim training classes.

They both had outstanding seasons: Pascack Regional went 8-1-1, and finished 4th at the Bergen County meet of Champs, and Indian Hills went 9-2 and made it to States for the first time. But being Coach of the Year goes deeper than having a winning season. They both have a palpable enthusiasm for swimming and wealth of knowledge to bring out the best in their athletes. Students also praised them for their mentorship and positive attitudes, making them more than great coaches, but great leaders.

Even though they’re rivals during the high school swim season, they’re friends in the water. Fondly referred to as “the dynamic duo,” they’ve gained a loyal following of swimmers and triathletes at the Y, who return to them session after session. “They’re always willing to help you with whatever goal you have…to get faster for the triathlon, learn flip turns or master your butterfly,” one member commented,”Jeff excels at breaking down stroke technique, and Bryan’s workouts are killer!” No matter whose class you take, you know you’re getting the best coaching around.

Read the full stories from the Record on

H.S. boys swimming Coach of the Year: Bryan McDonnell, Indian Hills

H.S. girls swimming  Coach of the Year: Jeff Zielger, Pascack Regional

Give Kids their Best Chance: Register for Session IV Programs!

Extra-curricular activities have many benefits for kids, and it’s never too early to get them involved.

Turf's Up! Get moving this spring on our new fields, newly equipped with stadium lighting!

Give kids the chance to develop their talent or find it! Nurture their potential in sports and arts, or new skills like swimming, cooking or music. Where else but the Y can you go straight from art class to lacrosse practice, or hop in the pool in-between? We offer a variety of recreational and sport opportunities, all in one place, so kids can discover what they love most and have the best chance to reach their potential! Our plentiful extra-curricular activities help kids broaden and build their skills, set goals, and create a healthy balance between school and play.

Studies show that kids who are involved in activities outside of school actually perform better academically than kids who do not. Moreover, kids who are exposed to a variety of activities have the opportunity to meet, work with and learn from people from different backgrounds, perspectives and abilities which fosters respect and acceptance. They will also develop life skills such as individual responsibility, team work and perseverance.

How can we help? Our sports classes are for all ages…try our new lacrosse, baseball, flag football, soccer, and speed and agility classes on our brand new turf fields! We also have sports leagues where your kids will be taught and coached by the Y’s professional sports staff. We put a strong focus on skill instruction, along with teaching the concepts of team play, developing athleticism and sportsmanship.

Our kids’ programs for infants through grade 6 allow kids to play, learn, grow and explore. Activities include music, dance, art, cooking, reading, science, computers and more! Don’t forget that spring is the perfect time to prepare your kids for summer fun in the water. Our aquatics instructional program lays a foundation of water skills and safety so kids can enjoy a lifetime of safe, healthy, aquatic activities. Our popular dance program includes everything from ballet and jazz, to modern, Irish step and tap; kids will learn the beauty and expressive qualities of movement, and the value of self-worth in a non-competitive environment.

Everything from youth sports programs, swim lessons, dance and art…we have it all! What can your kids do? Anything. From building self-confidence and self-concept, to giving kids the skills, confidence and desire to succeed, you can always rely on Y programs to help them reach their potential. Register on

Put Play in Your Day!

The Y is for Youth Development, Healthy Living, and Social Responsibility.  Come see it all rolled up into one event at our Annual Healthy Kids Day®, on Saturday, March 19 from 10am to 1pm.  Healthy Kids Day is a national initiative which gathers families together for a fun, free day of activities, games, raffles, prizes, music, interactive demonstrations and community partners who volunteer to bring healthy options to our families. All to improve the health and well-being of kids, and to encourage overall health and wellness.

Healthy Kids Day offers an array of fun activities provided by Y staff, community volunteers, and local vendors. Children can participate in Family Zumba, Yoga, Tae Kwon Do, and visit various stations to collect stamps in their “Passport to Health.”  Meet the members of our Wyckoff Fire and Police Departments, and learn about aquatics and bicycle safety from our experts. Visit with a local nutritionist and chiropractor, and join in a planting lesson from HealthBarn USA. At 11am, grab your basket for our Easter Egg Hunt followed by an indoor obstacle course and “March Mayhem” games.  Get cooking with a healthy foods demonstration from Wyckoff’s own Chef Angie, kick up your heels with an appearance from Studio 691’s Company dancers, and meet the NJ Jackal’s mascot, Jack!

Recommendations, information and taste testing will be provided by the Y’s Healthy U program, which is used at hundreds of NJ Y’s to help families connect healthier choices in childhood with better behavior and grades among school-aged children. Learn about the 5-6-7 Rule…5 fruits or vegetables a day, 60 minutes of physical activity a day, 7 days a week! The Healthy U curriculum encourages kids to reduce screen time in exchange for physical activity, and to get moving in both organized and individual activities while learning how to make smart food choices.

Kids who feel like getting a little dirty can register for our 4th Annual Warrior Challenge Obstacle Course for 6-12 year-olds (check in at 8:15am, race at 8:30am, pre-registration and $15 fee required) which includes a 1-mile course featuring hurdles, army crawls through sand, climbing through tires and over tables, a rope maze and medicine ball carry. Mud and obstacle runs for adults are really popular, so this is a chance for kids to try it!

Mark your calendars and join us on the 19th for a fun filled day of healthy activities!

The Tale of the Active Mariner: Swimming for a Longer Life

“Heave Ho! My Lads, Heave Ho! 
It’s a long, long way to go.
It’s a long, long pull with our hatches full,
Braving the wind, braving the sea,
Fighting the treacherous foe.” – “Heave Ho, My Lads”: official song of the U.S. Merchant Marine.

Captain John Hill of the U.S. Merchant Marine has been a YMCA patron since his high school days in Chicago.  This is the 4th YMCA with which he has been associated. He no longer sails, but his friends here have become his honorary crew. He’s proof that swimming is an activity that is important to lifelong fitness, thanks to its low risk of injury, full-body engagement, and joint-friendly cardio. As John says, “I may be the slowest one in the pool, but I just keep going!” You don’t have to be a competitive swimmer to reap the benefits of the water.

John has been on the water a long time, but he wasn’t always a swimmer. He joined the Merchant Marine right out of high school and quickly fell in love with the sea. The Merchant Marine, different from the Navy, is the fleet of ships which carries imports and exports during peacetime and becomes a naval auxiliary during wartime to deliver troops and war materiel. John started sailing during the Vietnam War, and humorously recalls that his first voyage to Vietnam was to deliver not ammo or bombs, but 10,000 tons of beer!

Up until about 2000, he was primarily a runner, whether it be from a base of the Seamen’s Church Institute in lower Manhattan, or the steel decks of some of his ships (where 5 laps was equal to 5 miles).  He has run several triathlons, including 3 Wyckoff Triathlons over 33 ago, as well as 3 full-length marathons, clocking a personal best of 3 hrs 35 mins in 1980.  But the ravages of time left him with too much knee pain to continue running, so 10 years ago he switched exclusively to swimming.

In January 2013, John was diagnosed with renal failure and had to start kidney dialysis 3 times per week, for 4 hours at a time. This didn’t stop him from swimming. In the beginning, the treatment drained his stamina, making it hard for John to do even 1 lap in the pool. Little by little, John regained much of his strength and now swims at least an 1 hour per day, 6 days per week. He says that swimming gives him a such a feeling of wellness. John says “I have great faith in a strong work ethic, so I toughed it out, until now it is no problem doing a hour each workout—my longest workout last year was close to 3 hours.”

He keeps swimming because he hopes to get a transplant this year, and wants to be in the best shape possible when that day comes. Sometimes life can feel like navigating through rough seas, in the fog, with no radar (something John is actually all too familiar with!) He says that his experiences here have been great, because “Y people are a special breed of positive folks,” which buoys his spirits. As a sailor, John is used be being thrown hither, thither and yon through rough waters, not being certain you’ll make it to port. Our pools are a little more tame, but he is thankful all the same that his fellow members, friends (that he calls his “locker room war heroes”) and staff are here to help keep him steady and navigate to shore safely.

Y Yoga?

Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.”~B.K.S. Iyengar

You might be wondering, what is Yoga, exactly? The word Yoga, from the Sanskrit word yuj means to yoke or bind and is often interpreted as “union” or a method of discipline. More than just physical postures, Yoga connects the movement of the body and the fluctuations of the mind to the rhythm of our breath. Connecting the mind, body, and breath helps us to direct our attention inward. Through this process of inward attention, we become more in tune with our thought patterns. We become more aware of our experiences both in moments and in-between them. The awareness that we cultivate is what makes yoga a practice, rather than a task or a goal to be completed.

There are many disciplines and types of Yoga…and we offer 15 here at the Y! We can help you build a strong, flexible body and a deeper mind-body awareness. This healing and balancing of the physical body will help bring clarity and peace to the mind.

Our classes are open to all levels, and our certified instructors will guide you through all levels of movements, whether you’re a beginner or expert. Because there are so many types of Yoga, we also offer workshops at our Lake House, which allow you to delve more deeply into various schools of Yoga and meditation. Coming up are the Yin Yoga workshop on March 5th, and the Kundalini Yoga workshop on March 20th.

Active Older Adult Gentle Yoga: As the body ages, muscles and joints begin to tighten which causes discomfort and anxiety about one’s physical well-being.  Learn deep breathing and relaxation techniques that will help you remain healthy and active. Class will be performed standing and on the mat.

Chair Yoga: This class is a gentle form of yoga. You will practice yoga sitting in a chair or standing using the chair for support. Complicated maneuvers and complex movements are NOT present in this class.  Yoga postures, breathing techniques, meditation and ways of relaxation will be practiced.

Hatha Yoga: Hatha yoga refers to a set of physical exercises, and sequences of asanas (postures), designed to align your skin, muscles, and bones. Experience greater flexibility, strength, range of motion, balance and reduce stress.

Family Yoga: Family yoga includes postures for the whole family.  Enjoy a fun, healthful class while bonding with your loved ones. For ages 4 and up.

Power Yoga: An athletic class for mixed levels.  A  traditional Hatha Yoga practice that generates heat through a vigorous flowing series of yoga postures and coordinate with enhanced breathing to develop strength and flexibility.

Restorative Yoga: The use of props and postures to restore the body’s joint, bones, and muscles.  The instructor observes, monitors and teaches the proper alignment for each client. The goal is to alleviate muscular tension by stimulating a natural healing response. REGISTRATION REQUIRED. Full Members: Free. Basic Members: $45 (per session)

Rock Your Vinyasa: Prepare to rock your yoga practice with this Vinyasa-based power class set to both modern-day and classic rock music. Students will flow through poses challenging their strength, balance, flexibility and cardio, while making the mind-body connection that a Vinyasa practice supports. Some yoga experience recommended.

Sun Salutations: We will start our morning off right with deep breathing combined with poses that help to stretch and wake up the body, followed by a quiet meditation to prepare ourselves to carry our inner peace throughout our day into all that we do.

Vinyasa Yoga: Coordinates the breath with dynamic flowing movement. Emphasis is on Sun Salutations, balancing poses, increasing flexibility, and raising the heart rate, always finishing with relaxation in Savasana for complete balance.

Yoga for Flexibility: A  series of poses to restore and increase flexibility.

Yoga Basics: New to yoga? Yoga Basics will introduce you to a practice that can bring strength, balance and flexibility to your life. Through basic postures and alignment principles you will be able to discover the benefits of yoga at your own pace.

Yoga Challenge: Experience greater flexibility, balance and body alignment by focusing on neuromuscular re-education and conscious movement.

Yoga Mix: A challenging mix of poses for all levels that incorporates breathing practices and mind focus for optimal strength, mental clarity, energy and relaxation all rolled into one!

Yolates: Yoga meets Pilates for whole body integration. Strengthen, sculpt, and generate heat in a powerful class that will leave you feeling energized and more flexible.

 By: Tracy L. Nieradka

Top Fitness Trends for 2016

Are you following the trends, or caught up in a passing fad? (Please, drop the shake weights and throw away the ab roller.)  Every year, The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Health & Fitness Journal  surveys thousands of health and fitness professionals in various fitness environments worldwide to determine emerging trends. Rather than buying into the latest hot products or classes, sold on infomercials or endorsed by celebrities, we as individuals and the fitness industry as a whole should inform decisions about health based on what sticks around from year to year.

Here are the top 10 fitness trends for 2016

1. Wearable Technology: It seems like almost everyone has an activity tracker, GPS tracker, heart rate monitor or smart watches from popular brands like FitBit, Jawbone, Garmin, Nike+ Fuelband, and the Apple Watch. These devices can monitor your heart rate, sleep patterns, number of steps taken and calories burned. Although the accuracy of these devices hasn’t been proven (especially when it comes to calories), studies show that people are 30-40% more active when using wearable technology. So, perhaps the accuracy of the device is less important than the fact that they seem to do a good job of just getting people moving more.

2. Body weight Training: These programs use minimal or no equipment, which makes it a very inexpensive way to exercise effectively, and easily be done at home to accommodate busy days when you just don’t have time to get to the gym. Examples of body weight exercises are plyometrics, pushups, pullups, squats, and lunges. As the #1 position in last year’s survey, body weight training is clearly a trend to watch for the future.

3.  High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): Falling from the top spot in the 2015 survey, high-intensity interval training typically involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by a short period of rest or recovery and typically takes less than 30 minutes to perform. HIIT has been shown to improve aerobic and anaerobic fitness, cardiovascular health, insulin sensitivity, cholesterol profiles, and abdominal fat and body weight while maintaining muscle mass. Try it out in our Corebar HIT class!

4. Strength Training: Everyone, from young to elderly, men and women, are using strength training to help maintain and combat the loss of muscle mass by increasing muscular fitness. It can also prevent osteoporosis, decrease the risk of heart disease by lowering body fat, decreasing blood pressure, improving cholesterol, and lowering the stress placed on the heart while lifting a particular load.

5. Educated, certified and experienced health professionals: An increased demand for fitness professionals is provoking interest in more regulations, either from accrediting agencies within the industry or from the government. Which means more people are getting degrees and certifications, so the quality of training is increasing.

6. Personal Training: As more professional personal trainers are educated and become certified, they are increasingly more accessible in all sectors of the health and fitness industry, which means highly individualized coaching that addresses your specific needs. NJ is also one of a few states that introduced legislation to license personal trainers. We offer both 1/2 hour and 1 hour personal training sessions.

7. Functional Fitness: Replicating actual physical activities someone might do as a function of his or her daily routine, functional fitness is defined as using strength training to improve balance, coordination, force, power, and endurance to enhance someone’s ability to perform daily activities, like lifting grocery bags, shoveling snow or running to catch a bus. Challenge yourself with our “W.O.W” Workout of the Week class!

8. Fitness programs for older adults: There’s a growing market for age-appropriate and safe exercise programs for the aging sector of the population. Programs might focus on balance and ability to perform activities of daily living (functional fitness) of a lower intensity, like strength training to stand up from a chair, or yoga to increase range of motion and reduce joint pain. The Y offers these and many more programs for Active Older Adults!

9. Exercise and weight loss: Specifically, weight loss programs (i.e. Weight Watchers) that include exercise along with calorie-restricted meal plans. The combination of exercise and diet is essential for weight loss and weight maintenance, but can also improve compliance to the weight loss program.

10. Yoga: Yoga comes in a variety of forms, including Power Yoga, Yolates, Vinyasa, Hatha and Bikram Yoga (Hot Yoga). There is always some new form of Yoga popping up, which keeps this trend interesting and accessible to all. We have 14 different Yoga classes here at the Y!

You can read the full top 20 trends at ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal.

By: Tracy L. Nieradka

From Down-and-Out to Triathlete: A Transformation

“I do not train to swim, bike, or run faster, I train to remove quit from my body and from my mind.”- Greg Almstad

Featuring: Frank Bloise. 

Special thanks to Jim Parks, interviewer.

Frank’s Transformation

Most of us cannot imagine not being able to sit comfortably in a chair, or fit into the clothes we want, and have to worry about our breath stopping during the night, but two years ago this was Frank Bloise’s reality. At 50 years old, 385 pounds, suffering from sleep apnea, and at risk for heart attack, stroke and diabetes, Frank knew he had to make a change if he wanted to see his 60’s.

So in April of 2013, he started simply by being more active, shooting hoops at his local middle school and riding his bike one lap around the 3-mile track around Rockland Lake. Through a chance encounter at a friend’s party, Frank met one of the Y’s spin instructors, Annette Naples Prizzi, who recommended training at the Wyckoff Y. He signed up and has been with us ever since, using the pools, fitness center, spin and aerobics classes, yoga and Tri-Club to embrace the triathlete in him that was waiting to break out. “Annette really was pivotal in my success. She coached me back to a healthy life. I am very grateful for her,” Frank said. Another spin instructor introduced him to a support group called “From Fat to Finish Line,” which has also been instrumental in Frank’s weight loss. By December of that year, he had lost 80 pounds. Come March, it was a total of 120 pounds lost and the completion of his first indoor triathlon. Since then, he has completed 6 triathlons and the Y’s “Triple Crown” of Lap the Lake, the Wyckoff-Franklin Lakes Triathlon, and the Scenic Half Marathon.

Frank’s willpower to continue his journey has been tested several times: he went through a divorce shortly after beginning his journey, followed by two car accidents, and then the loss of his career in October 2014. He was facing a trifecta of emotional, physical and financial devastation, but coming to the Y was always a top priority for him. “I had nothing else. This is what I was living for,” Frank said. Even though it hasn’t been easy, Frank perseveres. His best quality might be his ability to stay positive and embrace the journey: the ups and the downs. Finding spirituality within himself is a huge part of how Frank copes. It gives him the sense that everything is going to be okay and helps him see the good in everyday life. He said, “I am grateful for all my days…good and bad. I learn the lesson from the bad and let it go, and keep only the good with me.”

Through the host of new friends Frank has made at the Y, he has learned how impactful it is to “love one another and build each other up.” It’s what inspires him and keeps him going. Feeling freer and more at peace with his life than ever before, he’s proud to be continuing the weight-loss journey and is enjoying his new job as a chess coach. Even though it’s a far drive for him, Frank says that he feels connected to this place and it’s somewhere he’s meant to be; “The Wyckoff Family YMCA has helped me, inspired me, and empowered me to a healthy wellness that I enjoy today. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

From Frank, we learn that being a triathlete is a state of mind, and your body is capable of so much more than you think. Starting the race is the easy part, but do you have the heart to finish?

Whatever your goal is, you can achieve it. The Wyckoff Y has become a hub for triathlon training, whether you’re training for our own Wyckoff-Franklin Lakes Triathlon or Ironman. Our Triathlon Club is open to full members interested in the sport of triathlon. All abilities are welcome. It is a great place for inexperienced athletes to learn the sport of triathlon alongside seasoned veterans!

By: Tracy L. Nieradka

Healthy is a Lifestyle, Not a Diet: The “Detox” Diet Fallacy

“A healthy outside starts from the inside.” -Robert Urich


Are you looking for a quick fix to jump-start your weight loss? After the holidays, we often see people blending up all sorts of concoctions  to “detox” or “cleanse” their bodies of impurities that they feel have accumulated  from poor eating, lack of exercise and other vices. But is there any legitimacy in these  claims? Can you really reset your body in 3  days for the low price of 29.99?

The answer is no–don’t fall for the scam. Products like detoxifying tablets, herbal juices and purifying smoothies do not magically undo an unhealthy lifestyle and reset your body. Your liver and kidneys can’t be thrown in the washer on rinse cycle and come out spotless. These products do nothing that your body can’t naturally do on its own. People claim things like dramatic weight loss, but most likely this is due extremely low caloric intake or diuretic/laxative effects of the detox plan (and most of this weight will come back anyway after the detox if lifestyle habits are not changed.) While homeopathic detox treatments based on herbs, vitamins and minerals probably will not cause you any harm, and might actually give you a dose of much needed vitamins that you were lacking from a poor diet, they are not a cure-all.

The word”detox” itself is a marketing scheme, used to make people think that toxins are accumulating in our bodies. The term has no legitimate meaning outside of its use as the medical treatment of life-threatening levels of drugs, alcohol, or poison. So what “toxins” do detox supplements claim to eliminate? Well, they don’t actually specify! If these unnamed toxins were actually accumulating in our body in dangerous amounts and our bodies were not able to process them, we’d likely be very ill or dead.

In 2009, the Voice of Young Science published the “Detox Dossier,” which was a report of their search for scientific evidence behind 15 popular detox products. The summary of their findings is as follows: “No one we contacted was able to provide any evidence for their claims, or give a comprehensive definition of what they meant by ‘detox’…Many of the claims about how the body works were wrong and some were even dangerous.” 

There is no scientific evidence to support the claims of detox products. They simply don’t do anything. Your liver, kidneys and even skin work naturally to keep your body healthy as long as you’re nourishing it properly. Save your money, skip the gimmicky products, and start thinking of “detoxing” as simply adopting healthy habits: exercise regularly, don’t smoke or use drugs, and eat a clean, whole-foods diets avoiding processed foods filled with added sugars, artificial and chemical ingredients.

There is no quick way to becoming healthy. It’s a lifestyle choice that you must embrace, but it can be hard to figure out where to start. If you need help with optimizing your diet for weight management, athletic performance, medical issues, or pre- or post-natal needs, contact our Registered Dietitian Nancy Cooper at 201-675-0693, or, or Holistic Nutrition Counselors Faith and Angelica (see them in the Fitness department!) to set up an appointment. For more information, visit our Wellness Services page.


By: Tracy L. Nieradka


Keeping Your Resolve

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” -Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Happy 2016! It’s that time after the holidays where we emerge from our ugly sweaters and renounce all of our holiday indulgences, making zealous declarations to lose weight, eat healthier, save more, learn something new… “New year, new you,” right? Well, it’s easy to make a new year’s resolution, but often we find ourselves struggling to keep it after January when things start getting difficult and life gets in the way. We should take this opportunity to seriously ask ourselves: “What do I want to accomplish this year? Who do I want to be? What can I do to be happier?'” We need to set goals to give us direction and drive us forward.

The most commonly used definition of the word “resolution,” and how we understand it as part of the phrase “new year’s resolution” is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, “a firm decision to do or not to do something.” It is a commitment, a pledge, a promise. But, interestingly, the word resolution comes from the latin word resolutio(n-), from re (expressing intensive force) + solvere, which means “loosen, release.”  I think the origin of the word reveals more about how we should think about our new year’s resolutions. They’re not simply decisions to change. Something is letting go, subsiding, healing. Maybe it means that the previous year is loosening its grip, releasing tension, intensively throwing us into the next…(ready or not, here it comes.)

And it’s actually here already. Not the Starting-Over, but The Continuation. January 1st is not a re-set button, nor should it be seen as one. The worries and mistakes of 2015 have not been erased, but will be let go. Release any negativity, but never forget how it affected you, so that halfway through your new year’s resolutions, you’ll remember why you can’t give up.

Here are some tips that can help you stick to your resolution:

  1. Set one realistic, specific goal: Sure, this sounds silly, but don’t take on more than you can handle, otherwise you risk burning out and being disappointed in yourself. Can you really quit smoking, travel to Europe, and train for that marathon you want to run? Probably not. Focus all your willpower on something really meaningful to you.
  2. Write it down and tell someone: You’re more likely to stick to your goal if you write it down and share it with others! Stick a Post-It on your computer or fridge for a constant reminder, and update family members and friends with progress- they’ll help hold you accountable. Better yet, have them join in!
  3. Be specific with your plan: “Be healthier” gives you no real concrete things to attack. Instead, set smaller, tangible goals that will help you to achieve the larger one, like ” in order to lose 5 pounds by the end of the month…I will take the stairs instead of the elevator, pack a healthy lunch instead of eating out, and hit the gym 3 times this week.”
  4. Don’t worry about being perfect: Changing a habit or revamping your lifestyle is seriously hard work. The “21 days to make or break a habit” is a myth- on average it takes between two and eight months for a behavior to become habit. Allowing yourself wiggle room will keep you from feeling overwhelmed and keeps you in a more positive mind-set. If you’re trying to lose weight, don’t be wracked with guilt for going out to dinner one night. If you miss a day at the gym because you’re just too tired, don’t beat yourself up. Studies show that missing an opportunity to perform your habit does not interfere with the habit-making process. Allow yourself to make mistakes so you can develop a strategy to get back on track.
  5. Reward yourself: Celebrate tiny victories, like losing 3 pounds, or not drinking soda for 2 weeks, by doing something nice for yourself. Buy yourself a workout shirt for your new fitness class, get a massage, go to the movies. Rewarding yourself keeps you motivated and reinforces your positive behaviors.

Remember that new year’s resolutions are a journey. Build on last year’s accomplishments and re-build from the failures. Wishing you all much love, happiness and success in the new year. 

By: Tracy L. Nieradka

Building a Community: A Glance at “5am’ers”

“What do you mean? Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good on this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?” -JRR Tolkien

Waking up with the owls at 5 o’clock in the morning (the birds are still asleep) every day has its advantages. No traffic on the road, the constellations are visible on clear mornings, and the world hasn’t started its hustle.  The 5 am crowd (yes, crowd) at the Y hosts a cast of characters that make waking up before dawn worthwhile. Unlike most of us who groan and roll back over when our alarm clock goes off, these early bird swimmers are positively chipper and are among the friendliest people I’ve ever met. Dedicated to their routine, pre-dawn at the pool is a time when people socialize just as hard as they exercise, with the goal being to always leave the pool smiling. It’s practically impossible not to leave in a good mood. There a few who are absolute fixtures at the pool, and everyone notices when they’re not there. It really is a family, where everyone supports and encourages each other, and small, simple acts like saying “good morning” and “have a nice day,” are sincerely felt and appreciated.

Holiday Luncheon Group

The patriarch of the 5 am swim group is Lindsay, rightfully seated at the head of the table. A man in his 80s, you’ll never meet a truer gentleman. In a landslide victory, Lindsay was fondly dubbed “The Mayor of the Pool,” as he is one of the most dedicated swimmers of them all! Every day he walks around the Y until the pool opens, where he swims for precisely 1 hour and 50 minutes (to the minute, every time) before stretching and heading to work. He’s the fittest 80-something-year-old I know, and swimming keeps him, and a lot of other swimmers, going. Partly because if you dilly dally too long, he’s not afraid to give you a love splash and say, “Get in the pool! Let’s go!” And if you promise him to “see you tomorrow,” you’d better show, because he’s like your grandpa that you just can’t stand to disappoint. As a way to show his gratitude, every Christmas he hosts a holiday luncheon for all the early morning swimmers. This event reveals the tight fellowship that has developed amongst the 5am’ers, fostered from a combination of little sleep and a lot of love.

The group wouldn’t be complete without the class clown, and the award for that goes to Jeb, who always fills the room with his boisterous presence and laughter. Jeb, who sometimes talks more than he swims and likes to do flips underwater, quips that “everyone should be upside down at least once per day. It’s all about changing perspective!” He and his buddy Jamie are also known to break into duets of Broadway show tunes or SNL skits, which can be heard echoing throughout the men’s locker room. Jeb has recently returned following a motorcycle accident, and the outpouring of support for him was incredible to see. Every day people asked how he was doing or how they could get in touch to speak with him or send him a card. His pool friend Vinny even offered to drive him to his doctor’s appointments. After being away for 8 weeks to heal, Jeb is back and he said he has finally realized what the “family” part of Wyckoff Family YMCA meant. He said, “I always thought it meant that the Y was for your family…things to do for mom, dad, kids…but now, being away for so long, I see that it is family, my ‘Y family.’”

By: Tracy L. Nieradka

Not Merely Players

“The creative arts are the measure and reflection of our civilization. They offer many children an opportunity to see life with a larger perspective…The moral values we treasure are reflected in the beauty and truth that is emotionally transmitted through the arts. The arts say something about us to future generations.” –Ann P. Kahn, Former President of The National PTA

We have a commitment to the performing arts at the Y, because we believe in the power of music, dance, theater and visual arts to inspire and expand the minds of children and adults alike. A society that holds the arts in high esteem reinforces the creativity, innovation, confidence, and vision of its people. Art opens our minds to see connections in the world around us and within us: connections between generations, across cultural or social divides, and our own individual spirit.

Does art imitate life? Or life imitate art? Great theatre challenges how we see, and encourages us to participate in, the world around us to make it more like the plays we so love. Who wouldn’t want a nanny like Mary Poppins, full of song and imagination? Wouldn’t you love to see a sidewalk artist draw something so beautiful you could picture yourself jumping into it? That’s why our Performing Arts Council works tirelessly to raise the community’s awareness of the power in performing arts and raise funds to support our theatre programs: the Y Arts Theatre Company and Studio 691. We want to improve the quality and value of our lives and the lives of those around us. Because shouldn’t everyone get to experience life as if they were in a Comedy, not a Tragedy?

The Y Arts Theatre Company started back in 2008, and have been growing ever since to be recognized as Wyckoff’s bona fide Cultural Arts Center. There has since been over 12 musical productions, 5 operas, 4 Studio 691 dance showcases and 4 Y Arts Youth Theatre Company performances. Y Arts is different than most theatre companies…They’re not a storefront dance studio seeking profits, charging high fees to students and high ticket prices to the public. They try to keep costs as low as possible (and actually most of their performances run in the red) and never turn anyone away for financial hardship.

Two people who have dedicated their time and passion to Y Arts are father/daughter duo Steven and Olivia Fornasieri, who embrace our mission and epitomize the qualities of the arts that are so important to developing and expanding our creative sides, which enrich our lives and allow us to be stronger, more well-rounded individuals. Steven and Olivia are currently starring in the Y’s production of Mary Poppins as Bank Chairman/Park Keeper and Jane Banks, respectively.

Olivia and Steven Fornasieri

Steven, an all-around active member of the Y whom you may see in the early morning at the pool, in various fitness classes, or competing in the Wyckoff-Franklin Lakes Triathlon and Lap the Lake, is performing in his fifth Y Arts Theatre Company performance and is also an active member on the Y Arts Performing Arts Council. He’s been in previous Y Arts productions as Lord Farquaad in Shrek the Musical, Smee in Peter Pan, Grandpa Joe Bucket in Willy Wonka, and Marcellus Washburn in The Music Man. He is currently casted as Buddy Bob Morgan in Zombie Wedding, a Joe Corcoran production.  Steven always had the acting itch from the time he played Marcellus Washburn in The Music Man in grammar school! So when he got the same role in the Y’s production, it must’ve been providence, and he’s been hooked ever since. Like most of us, he’s had his moments of self-doubt: the “I stink, I can’t do this” moment, but he says you work through it, sometimes singing quietly in the back until you build up your confidence. It’s easier when you’re surrounded by other confident, fun people, Steven said.

Olivia, now 13 years old, has been involved in various dance classes, and has been on stage in Y Arts productions since she was in 1st grade. She has previously performed as both Charlie Bucket and Violet Beauregarde in Willy Wonka, LeFou in Beauty and the Beast, Gretl in The Sound of Music, Molly in Annie, Red in Into the Woods, Nicely Johnson in Guys and Dolls, Amaryllis in The Music Man, Les in Newsies, the Flower Girl in Zombie Wedding, and many other Y Arts productions. She’s excited to use her British accent playing Jane in Mary Poppins, a character she says she can relate to, especially the close relationship with her brother. Olivia carries herself with confidence, a hard thing for anyone to do, let alone a 13-year-old; just as amazingly, she never even gets stage fright! She loves being on stage and being able to step into any role and showcase a range of emotion. She said, “I like to play with my characters and test my limits when I act.” She has big aspirations and would love to be on Broadway someday. When asked what she likes most about performing at the Y, she said the people. “It’s a community, like one big family…A lot of the same people are in my dance class and do all the shows, so you get to make a lot of friends.” Big things are definitely in store for this talented and motivated girl!

Steven and Olivia love performing together and will continue to do so, and they are very excited to be part of the future of Y Arts. They give due credit to Laura Toth (Performing Arts Director), Tim Santos (Production Specialist), Reegan McKenzie (Director), Tiffany Rolsing (Director of Dance Education and Program Development) and Georgianna Pappas (Musical Director) for being such a committed team. “They love what they do and it shows. The talent here is really getting better and kids are sticking with it,” Steven reflected. He also shared how he feels that Olivia’s involvement in performing arts is helping her grow. “It prepares you for life…you can get up in front of people and not be shy. You let yourself shine,” he said.

Being a part of Y Arts in the Community helps you realize your potential and empowers you to lead a happier, more successful life. Our programs here exemplify our mission to show that the universality of arts bring people together, and lift them up, thereby lifting up whole communities. By revealing on stage what motivates us, what aches us, what makes us laugh…all these emotional truths let us widen our perspective on the human experience and make us more accepting of, and, most importantly, willing to help, one another.

Finding Comfort, Surrounded by Water and People

“If the people we love are stolen from us, the way to have them live on is to never stop loving them.” ~The Crow, written by James O’Barr, David J. Schow, and John Shirley, 1994

Featuring: Bruce G. Hetzel

Unassuming, Bruce walks in to the Y almost every day for aquacise or aqua therapy. Looking at this man, you would never know how big his heart is, because he’s not one to boast. Over the past few years as a lifeguard, I’ve been lucky enough to get to know Bruce, standing at the doors waiting for the New Pool to open. Thanksgiving and the holidays hold special meaning for Bruce, because they remind him of his wife.

Ellen and Bruce Hetzel, 2012

The way things often go for men, Bruce started coming to the Y because of his wife, Ellen. At the age of 67, Ellen didn’t know how to swim. It was something she always wanted to learn, so she started coming to aquacise classes in the morning and Bruce joined her. Ellen has always been, and still remains, Bruce’s inspiration and motivation to keep going. It’s fitting that Bruce ended up at the Y, surrounded by water and people: this environment is familiar to him, and it’s where we come in to this story…

As a 1st Class Petty Officer in the United States Navy, the water has always been in Bruce’s life. He was part of an advanced military training group called the Seabees. Part of his training included swimming several miles in the ocean every morning, and even a 5 mile swim in Narragansett Bay in November (without a wet suit!) Already you can see how tough and dedicated Bruce is. When he was deployed to Vietnam in the fall of 1964, he started working with the locals, teaching them how to build things. A year later, on November 1st, 1965, he was sent by Public Works to maintain the Navy bases in Saigon. This also happened to be the fateful day he met Ellen. Born in Canton, China, Ellen was then living in Saigon because she was working as head cashier for the Navy Exchange, due in large part to her proficiency with foreign languages, of which she spoke six. “I fell for her instantly,” Bruce recalled, “It was something I never expected…I always thought I’d marry a German girl!” Ellen didn’t give in that easily though. Bruce asked her out again and again for almost a month until she finally agreed. He took her out on their first date to the “cinema” on Thanksgiving. Six months later, he proposed (which she also refused at first!) Ellen’s parents weren’t too sure about Bruce, but Ellen was smart, brave and most importantly, in love. So, they got married in Vietnam before moving to the U.S., with Ellen bringing nothing more than a suitcase. Shortly after arriving, they bought a Mustang convertible and drove across country from San Francisco back to Bruce’s home in New Jersey, where they built their life and family together.

With a love for Ellen that was passionate and consuming, Bruce never expected to have to live a day without her. So when Ellen passed away unexpectedly in January 2013 of complications from heart surgery, Bruce’s heart also broke. After being married over 40 years, to suddenly have to live life without the person that had been by your side all that time was overwhelming. Ellen and Bruce had only been Y members for about 2 years when Ellen passed, but the support and kindness Bruce received was incredible. What struck Bruce the most was the sheer goodness of people from his aquacise class. Bruce reflected, “The people were always good…they asked how I was doing, and if I needed anything. They brought me trays of food, and some of the instructors even came to Ellen’s viewing.” These people are why Bruce keeps coming, even though it’s hard to come without Ellen. “I come almost every day, I don’t like being home alone all the time. Being in the water feels good, and just talking to people, it takes my mind off things,” Bruce said. Veteran support is also something that Bruce appreciates here at the Y: “It’s great that the Y offers the veterans’ breakfast and lunch every year. I met my friend Rick at aquacise, and now we sit together at the luncheon. It’s nice to be able to get together with everyone and to know we’re remembered and appreciated.” What Bruce is most thankful for is being able to talk about Ellen and keeping her memory alive, and taking his experience as a way to help comfort others. He became involved in grief counseling services for veterans, where he helps coach others through traumatic emotional events such as depression and loss.  Bruce would also like to go to Boston on one of the Y’s trips to go on a duck tour around the city, which he and Ellen had talked about but never got the chance to do.

-By: Tracy L. Nieradka

It’s here!

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” -Melody Beattie

In honor of Thanksgiving, we are launching our new “StorYbook” blog, in which we will celebrate your unique stories and thank you for being the amazing people you are. By sharing your stories with us, you remind us to be thankful for what we have, what we’ve experienced, and what is yet to come.


Tracy L. Nieradka


Coming soon…Our Blog is Getting a Make-Over!

Starting this Thanksgiving, our blog will be transforming into something that we feel has been missing from the Y. Thanksgiving is a holiday about family, and everyday we hear stories from and about our “Y family” about how the Y has affected their lives. Often humble, only a lucky few of us really get to know these wonderful, fascinating people. From facing illness and hardship, to overcoming fears or finding a place to belong, the common thread in these accounts is always one thing: the Wyckoff Family YMCA.

This is why we think it’s about time we share these stories with all of you to celebrate the diversity of our Y family, and thank you all for allowing us to be a part of your story. Whether we enter the plot at the beginning, middle or end, we hope that by learning more about each other we can strengthen our community and help give everyone a happy ending.


Tracy L. Nieradka

The Wyckoff Y Celebrates 21 Years of Serving the Special Needs Community

The Wyckoff Family YMCA’s Shining Star Express program for Special Needs recently celebrated 21 years of serving this population by hosting a ”formal” for its group participants.

 The Y’s “New Year’s Social” was attended by 70 special young adults donned dresses, tuxedos and bow ties while enjoying a buffet dinner, DJ, and dance party.  “The significance of giving these young people their own ‘special moment’ is a vital component of the outreach of the Y,” said Nina Reisman, Shining Star Program Director.  “Most of these individuals have been with our program for 19-21 years.  We have watched them grow up here at the Y, and we continue to strive to meet the educational, social and wellness opportunities they need.”

Guests at the event included participants in the Y’s Shining Star Express Social Connection for Young Adults as well as participants in the Y’s  “21 Plus” program, which is specifically designed for special needs individuals who have “aged out” of school.  “Not all of our clients come to our programs on the same day,” stated Lori Pfeifer 21 Plus Director.  “It was a wonderful opportunity for them to get together in the evening to socialize and dance together.  We are so grateful that the Y recognizes and addresses the needs of the specially challenged population.”  Also in attendance were members of Quest Autism Foundation (housed at the Wyckoff Y), and “Bridge Program” participants; young adults who live independently at Crescent Commons and Orchard Commons in Allendale.

“The beauty of these programs is that our members have evolved from living solitary lives to becoming active participants in a dynamic program,” stated Reisman.  “The benefits
extend far beyond the Y’s walls.  Because of the communal aspect to our initiatives, many of our young adults have formed lifelong friendships with each other and meet on a social basis independently throughout the week.  These experiences encourage the individual’s self-confidence and result in positive interactions with mainstream society.”

Y programs develop confidence, explore independence, and encourage health and wellness for all individuals, regardless of ability.

For more information on the Y’s programs for special needs individuals, call the Y at 201-891-or click here!


First class opera came toWyckoff recently.

I was among the fortunate 300 individuals, who were treated to a scintillating performance of the Barber of Seville right here in town.  Right at our own YMCA!  The quality of the production, featuring a cast of  amateur and professional singers, provided a delightful evening of entertainment just ‘45 minutes from Broadway’  No need for traffic, tolls, parking, Met Opera pricing or hassle.

A number of attendees made similar comments and said they were looking forward to the Y’s holiday productions.  Wyckofeller Center will be staged on December 1 & 2 at 7pm.  A local cast of adults and children will help launch your holiday celebration with much singing and dancing.

The following week the YMCA Theater Company will present the holiday favorite ‘A Miracle on 34th Street’.  A cast of 50 community actors, singers and dancers will tell the story of Santa’s day in court, complete with the well-loved Noel number ‘It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas.’

Tickets for both shows are available at the front desk of the Y or by clicking here.


First class opera came toWyckoff recently.

I was among the fortunate 300 individuals, who were treated to a scintillating performance of the Barber of Seville right here in town.  Right at our own YMCA!  The quality of the production, featuring a cast of  amateur and professional singers, provided a delightful evening of entertainment just ‘45 minutes from Broadway’  No need for traffic, tolls, parking, Met Opera pricing or hassle.

A number of attendees made similar comments and said they were looking forward to the Y’s holiday productions.  Wyckofeller Center will be staged on December 1 & 2 at 7pm.  A local cast of adults and children will help launch your holiday celebration with much singing and dancing.

The following week the YMCA Theater Company will present the holiday favorite ‘A Miracle on 34th Street’.  A cast of 50 community actors, singers and dancers will tell the story of Santa’s day in court, complete with the well-loved Noel number ‘It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas.’

Tickets for both shows are available at the front desk of the Y or by clicking here.

Shop Locally at the Y’S Holiday Market Place!

Last Christmas, I spent weeks scouring the malls for the perfect gift for my daughter, trudging through cavernous parking garages and standing on lines that would rival the Dumbo ride at Disney World.  Finally, on December 22, I found what I had long been searching for…and when I proudly presented it on December 25, she already had received the exact same one!

Did you ever notice that you can shop all day at the mall and never see anything “different?”  Although the mall does present a convenient, cookie cutter style approach to shopping, many of us wish we had more time to explore local boutique, shops and crafters.

This year, however, will be different!  You are invited to “keep it local” and visit the Holiday Marketplace at the Wyckoff YMCA on Saturday, November 5 from 10am-4pm.  Over 30 unique and exciting vendors will be on hand with jewelry, scarves, pottery, folk art, pet accessories, hand-made wooden toys, clocks, quilts, watches, photography, belts, apparel, artwork, accessories and so much more!

Get fun, distinctive and beautiful gifts without leaving your own community.  You might even see a friend or two while you are shopping…what’s better than that?  Save your gas and energy and support the Y’s community initiatives while you shop.  Get a free reusable shopping bag while supplies last!

Fall Brings Lots of Colors to The Y

It’s Fall already and the leaves are just starting to turn vibrant reds,  oranges,  and yellows .  Here at the Y  we are so excited about another colorful event,…our annual Art Show.  Talk about bringing in a fabulous fall!! 

The Wyckoff Y is honored and privileged to host and display artwork from some of the best artists in our community.  Whether you like artwork created with pastels, oil paints, pen, collage or acrylic paint, we are certain you will enjoy the variety of art displayed.  Speaking of enjoying what you like,…you will have an opportunity to help judge the artwork too.  Ribbon awards as well as prizes/merchandise certificates will be given to first, second and third place in each category. Come and vote for your favorite piece!

Don’t be alarmed if you see a more than usual colorful parking lot on Monday, October 10th.  We are hosting a petting zoo for our Child Care students and there will be lots of animal in the parking lot,  adding lots of excitement for ALL!

Fall Brings Lots of Colors to The Y

It’s Fall already and the leaves are just starting to turn vibrant reds,  oranges,  and yellows .  Here at the Y  we are so excited about another colorful event,…our annual Art Show.  Talk about bringing in a fabulous fall!! 

The Wyckoff Y is honored and privileged to host and display artwork from some of the best artists in our community.  Whether you like artwork created with pastels, oil paints, pen, collage or acrylic paint, we are certain you will enjoy the variety of art displayed.  Speaking of enjoying what you like,…you will have an opportunity to help judge the artwork too.  Ribbon awards as well as prizes/merchandise certificates will be given to first, second and third place in each category. Come and vote for your favorite piece!

Don’t be alarmed if you see a more than usual colorful parking lot on Monday, October 10th.  We are hosting a petting zoo for our Child Care students and there will be lots of animal in the parking lot,  adding lots of excitement for ALL!


August 9, 2011 FALL PREVIEW

Summer is flying by…and we have been hard at work planning our fall line-up.  By now you should have received your Y Fall brochure.  I hope you had some “down time” over the past week to relax and take a look at all we have to offer!  The fall session begins on Monday, September 12.  Registration begins on Wednesday, August 24 at 6pm for Full Members; and on Monday, August 29 at 6pm for Basic Members.  Please note these dates are revised from the dates published in the Y Lights Newsletter.

We have some wonderful new opportunities this fall, including “Basics of Climbing” featuring our NEW traverse climbing wall, AAU Basketball teams, private music lessons, and new fitness classes including Ballet Tone, Flirty Girl Fitness and Extreme Boot Camp.  We are also pleased to announce that we will soon have a dietitian on staff to assist members in developing a comprehensive fitness and eating plan. 

Oh, and did I mention that famed Yankee pitcher Andy Pettitte and his wife, Laura will be at the Y on Wednesday, August 31 at 7pm?  Come hear how their faith provided a solid foundation for their marriage amidst the pressures of a career in major league baseball.  This appearance is made possible by a collaboration of the Wyckoff Family YMCA and Athletes in Action.  Tickets are only $5 and available from the front desk.  Call the Y for details as soon as possible–this event is sure to be a sellout!

Please remember our maintenance closing during the last week of August.  Our building undergoes a lot of “wear and tear” throughout the summer, and we need to get it back in shape for you!  Thank you for your understanding as we close to the public from Monday, August 29 and reopen Tuesday, September 6 at 1pm.  Enjoy the rest of your summer!

The Y is Old Fashioned…When it Comes to Summer Fun!

Summers have changed since we were kids, haven’t they?  I remember they were much longer then!  We enjoyed lazy days of sleeping in, swimming, bike rides, trips “down the shore,” and playing with the neighborhood kids from dawn until dusk.

Fast forward to 2011–when many families have two working parents, a tight budget, and kids who are over-scheduled. Today’s society requires structure and organization rather than relaxation.  Our kids are getting up and out of the house at about the same time as they did when school was in session and attending an array of programs, sports, tutoring, and special activities throughout the day.  They rarely experience the freedom of a summer day with nothing to do! 

With that in mind, the focus of Camp Wydaca is to help create fond new memories for kids, which hearken back to the joys we experienced during our childhood summers…swims in the lake, tie-dying t-shirts, relay races, treats from the ice cream truck, a special day trip, wonderful friends, and the guidance and mentorship of beloved camp counselors.  The Wyckoff Family Y takes pride in not only providing quality care for children, but also in empowering each and every camper to develop in spirit, mind, and body while enjoying an “old fashioned” summer! 

There is nothing like summer camp at the Wyckoff Y—over 1500 kids will tell you so!  Registration is still open and camp runs through August 26.  Please join us!


Joyce K. Vottero
Executive Director

Welcome to Our New Website!

This is such an exciting time for the Wyckoff Family YMCA and our very valued members.  With our new and long-waited website up and running,  we are now able to communicate to you and with you on a “day by day” basis.

As our Y community continues to grow and thrive,  timely communication is vital.  Please “stay tuned” for the many services and offerings our staff and volunteers are planning for you and your family.  I look forward to our exciting future together.

Happy Spring!


Joyce K. Vottero
Executive Director