Free NYC fitness program keeps locals in shape

First Lady Chirlane McCray (left) with guest at her home at Gracie Mansion.
Photo by Laura Andrews

First Lady of New York City Chirlane McCray and New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver announced a record expansion of Shape Up NYC programs to 370 weekly free fitness classes at 225 locations throughout New York City. Within days of this public statement, a class of Shape Up NYC fitness instructors, fulfilling the requisite training and internship, received certificates at a graduation ceremony held at the New York City The Arsenal at Central Park.

In the Manhattan venue, groups of graduates from different areas of New York City flashed broad smiles with excitement and exchanged personal notes on their journey through the Shape Up NYC Fitness Instructor Training Program. The NYC Parks offering is a comprehensive 10-week program designed to train individuals to become fitness instructors for Shape Up NYC. Areas incorporated in the program are “basic anatomy, exercise physiology, injury prevention, music, and body toning with light weights. After eight weeks, participants will get practical experience by leading one Shape Up NYC class per week for a six-month period.”

For Trinidadian Natalie Rudder-Deare the program coincides with her interests. “I always like to work out; I motivate others to reach their goal,” stated the recent graduate in an interview. After applying to the program Rudder-Deare was accepted. “The training is physical. You learn body parts. You have to be familiar with the body parts. Then you are assigned to a community site. It is all for the public,” she added.

Karlene Dinal, a Brooklyn resident of Jamaican ancestry, considers herself fortunate. “Someone told me about the program; I like to exercise and help people get fit,” said Dinal, one of the 2016 graduates. According to Dinal, the programs benefits everybody. “I am staying healthy and I am helping others get healthy.” Reflecting on the overall program, Dinal indicated that “I find it inspiring and motivating to see participants coming each week and getting healthier in my Shape Up NYC class in Brooklyn.”

Dinal recalls at at The Rugby at Brooklyn Library where she is a fitness instructor on Wednesday from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm a 60-year-old student informed her that she was “an inspiration.” Although Dinal has completed her internship, she is committed to improving the health of residents in her neighborhood. “My focus is dance fitness. It includes toning, cardio and dance to fun music. Even if you cannot keep up to the steps, you can move to the beat at your pace.”

Natalie Rudder-Deare, (center) Shape Up NYC fitness instructor, at her graduation.
Photo by Laura Andrews

Rudder-Deare and Dinal agree motivation is an important component to the program. “Once overcoming a challenge, the participants are more confident and want to stay with the program,” Dinal disclosed.

The celebrating fitness instructors describe the Shape Up NYC program as a great experience people look forward to attending and forming relationships.

A few Shape Up NYC sites in Queens are: dance fitness at Woodside Community Center, Yoga at Queens Library-Ridgewood, line dancing at Rochdale Village Community Center, low impact aerobics at Detective Keith L. Williams Field House and P. S./I. S. 102 Queens, and zumba at A.R.R.O.W. Field House.

For a complete list of free Shape Up NYC exercise classes held in each borough, log on to

Karlene Dinal (second from left) with Shape Up NYC fitness instructors trained in Brooklyn, following a graduation ceremony at the New York City Parks The Arsenal/Central Park in Manhattan.
Photo by Laura Andrews

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