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December 2010


Let it Snow!
Enjoy ski season, even after surgery


D E C E M B 2010 ER


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Dear ThriveNYC Readers,

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While we all hustle about getting prepared for the holidays, thoughts of a new year loom over our heads. Usually those thoughts – at any age – are of shaping up and feeling healthier. We all want to live longer, happier, more productive and energetic lives and to do so we need to be the best we can physically. That’s why we at ThriveNYC visited with personal trainer Harry Hanson who prides himself in the number of fit and happy “Boomers” he exercises every day. Hanson believes in cardio and strength training as the key to strong bones and longer, happier lives. We also see the merits of fresh air and fun activities. I hobbled around the city myself for years, feeling older, weaker and less happy because of a deteriorating knee. I started saying “No” or mostly, “Uh, too busy” when friends asked me to join them for a drink, dinner, a movie, shopping or a walk around town. I made excuses that I didn’t need to go to the store or that I could substitute or subsist. I was in denial. What I was doing was not getting the most out of my life because it hurt to walk and climb stairs. My excellent orthopedic surgeon, Kenneth E. McCulloch, said these wise words: “You’ll know when it’s time.” I finally had to admit it was and I’m so sorry that I waited as long as I did. My knee operation was a life-changer and last season I was back on skis. I’m looking forward to the snow again this winter. The not-so wise say this is the gray, glum season but we say bundle up and enjoy the cold, fresh winter air. Walking around our colorful city at this time of year is uplifting and the first steps to a fun, fit and fantastic New Year. Have a great holiday and happy New Year.

Janel Bladow

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Back On The Trail
After knee replacement, I wondered, would I ever ski again?

August 2009. I thought I would never ski again. I ripped my right knee while hopping rocks, boulders really, climbing Longs Peak in the Rocky Mountains, as a 19-year old college student. I had my meniscus removed less than a year later and arthroscopic surgery nearly 20 years ago. I’d been limping around in denial ever since. Now I was stretching and flexing with two interns outside the operating room at New York Downtown Hospital talking about our favorite skiing spots. I felt great. My knee felt flexible, firm and without pain. At the moment, all the aches and groans that go with pounding the pavement were gone. All the canceled dates and missed opportunities because I didn’t want to trek up and down subway steps were forgotten. I was energized. I was convinced was healthy. I was about to have knee replacement surgery. I was about to bolt. Thankfully, I didn’t because four months later, I was cross-country skiing across a beautiful, snow-covered meadow upstate. I was gliding through more than a foot snowfall, early for the season. I was creating a path, enjoying the view and watching my dog race ahead then drop on his back and make doggie snow angels. We were on state land, carving trails and looking longingly south at the Alpine runs on Belleayre Mountain in the Catskills. I hadn’t dared ski downhill in a few years, knowing that my achy knee might let me down. The next month, December, dreams of downhill danced in my head. I pushed through three times a week physical therapy, earning kudos and a scaled-back schedule. February 2010. I was shushing down intermediate trails of freshly fallen snow at Shanty Creek Resort in northern Michigan. And I was pain-free.

Photo courtesy Shanty Creek Resorts

The old gang enjoys a photo break during a great ski day on Schuss Mountain.

I was a downhill skier! At my side was Randy Anderson, a level three Nordic and Alpine instructor and member of Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) for more than 30 years. With his guidance and encouragement, I challenged myself to take on slopes I never thought I would ski again. The day before I warmed up and practiced with a two-hour trek on some of the resort’s 31 km of cross-country trails. I reverse snow-plowed (ski tips out, heels in) up a small incline. I floated across a field and trudged through the woods. I started my downhill morning being outfitted with a new set of parabolic skis, the wider, shorter boards which have replaced the longer, narrower skis I have. Just gliding over to the bunny slope I noticed a difference. A larger “sweet spot” makes skiing a breeze, turns graceful and balance better. These babies were easy to handle! I effortlessly got on the rubber “people mover” – an escalator-like conveyor belt that hauls you up the tiny bump of a hill. I disembarked without difficulty but at the top I froze, nervously looking down the slope. Could I do it? Fear hotly shot through

my spine. The only way out was down. My self-talk went from take your time, stop if you feel scared to when doubt, sit it out. I slowly began my descent, making long, wide, loopy figure S-s in the snow. It was just like getting back on a bicycle. After a couple more runs, I was sailing down the hill, stopping with a jaunty turn. I was back! Randy said it was time to tackle a beginner run so off we went to one of the moun-

tain’s two double lifts. Again, at the top, I shakily looked down the slope then, encouraged, eased into a slow, controlled drop. “Best way to stop, especially after a knee replacement, is to snowplow,” advised Randy who some of the time watched me as he skied backwards down the run. “Or take one ski out of the trail and single plow. Snow plowing uses hips.” He also championed the new parabolic skis. “They are best, especially if you’ve had knee injury or replacement. There’s less stress on joint, because you don’t have to work as hard at turns and they are more forgiving,” he explained. The turns were smooth, easy. I dusted away the fresh powder in my path. My confidence grew with each turn, every run. Randy said I was ready for intermediate trails. And off we went. With two mountains and 49 runs, more than 67-percent of them beginner and intermediate level, my adventure was limitless. The 450-feet of vertical terrain and long, winding runs – the longest at 5,280-feet – gave my intermediary skills plenty of options. My day was perfect: downy snowflakes the size of silver dollars sailed through the sky creating a fresh, fluffy carpet under my skis. My confidence renewed, I know I’m ready for whatever snow this winter brings.

Go For It!
“You can do anything you did before,” said my orthopedic surgeon, Kenneth E. McCulloch, M.D., who has his own practice in Manhattan and operates at NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases and New York Downtown Hospital, where I had my knee replacement surgery. Surgeons divide activities into lowimpact and high-impact and most don’t recommend high-impact for their knee replacement patients. Nordic or crosscountry skiing is a low-impact sport while downhill, which places more pressure and stress on the knee joint, a high-impact one. But Dr. McCulloch says factors such as the strength of your thigh muscles, the skill of your surgeon and the quality of your replacement can get you back to as active a life as you once enjoyed. “I tell patients the first six weeks are recovery time,” says Dr. McCulloch who graduated Princeton, Columbia and Stanford (among others) and is a board certified hip and knee surgeon. “Three to four months after surgery is for learning how the knee functions, taking long walks, moderate hikes, golfing and low-impact exercises. After that, if you have your quad muscle strength and range of motion back, there’s no reason not to experiment with what sports you can do.” Dr. McCulloch says key to a wellfunctioning knee replacement is a good fit. That’s why he performs a custom cut procedure based on a MRI – a 3-D image of the knee that maps out the cuts on a computer. “This gives you the best possible alignment, maximum longevity and increases the activities you can do.” Key is physical therapy following surgery and building strong quad muscle strength. “Take activities step-by-step, increasing your strength, control and work up to tolerance,” he adds. “Start with low-impact outdoor sport like cross-country skiing. “Success is part what the surgeon does and part what the patient does. The harder the patient works (at physical therapy and strength building) the better the results.”

Shanty Creek Resorts
Three villages (Summit, Cedar River and Schuss) with three hotels (Summit Hotel & Conference Center, Cedar River Lodge and Schuss Mountain) make up Shanty Creek Resorts, surrounding Lake Bellaire in northern Michigan’s Antrim County. Building started in the 1960s and last year saw a $10-million renovation of one facility. While the resort has more than 600 rooms and four restaurants, the vibe is comfortable, non-crowded and low-key. A year-round family fun center with golf, swimming and summer sports, Shanty Creek is best known for is wintertime activities. Snowshoe and Nordic ski trails wind through the woods. Three terrain parks and one half-pipe cater to snowboarders while downhill skiers have 49 runs on two mountains to schuss. For those who want to relax, try dog-sled and horse-drawn sleigh rides. And, there’s always the spa. Visit:


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Chef Bernard Ros in front of Meli-Melo.

A Go-to Chef Shares His Success
Chef Bernard Ros’s secret to a long, happy life is in his kitchen

If you’re looking for information about the food business in New York City, Bernard Ros is your go-to guy. But if it’s good food, easygoing neighborhood-y feeling and recession-proof prices you’re after, his restaurant, Meli-Melo, is the place to be. Meli-Melo roughly translates as “mélange,” in this case, a mix of French and Italian cuisines that combines the best of both, with a few flourishes tucked in. The restaurant’s hand-painted wall mural says it all: maps of France, Italy, China, and England accompanied by portraits of native fish swimming in the surrounding ‘seas.’ Ros arrived in the U.S. a little more than 40 years ago to see the 1967 World’s Fair, and decided to stay. Immediately, his innovative cooking style caught on

and he was able to start the first of five restaurants that he has, at one time or another, created all over town. East side, west side, upper west down to Tribeca and now the Madison Park area, Ros has gentrified his chosen neighborhoods with his uncluttered, flavor-centric menus. As executive chef and exclusive pastry chef, Ros is a believer in letting the taste of the main ingredient shine through, without the interference of heaps and foams of cover-up flavors. Considered to be one of the most creative chefs in the city, he is also known to be among the most good-hearted people in a harddriving business. At night, Meli-Melo turns into a hiring
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D E C E M B 2010 ER
“Strength training also strengthens bones to fight osteoporosis and prevent hip, knee and leg injury and improves bone density. You’re never too old to build bone density. “I’ve had clients come in with a slight curvature of spine, back pain. Exercise can help ward off scoliosis. Stronger core muscles make bending easier. Stronger muscles mean a better quality of life. “Most people don’t know how to pick up things the right way and often hurt their backs then can’t pick up groceries, their grandchildren.” Hanson believes that with exercise you can cut down the number of visit you make to the doctor, saving you money in the long run. And by working with a personal trainer, you are less likely to injure yourself while working out than you are alone in a gym or at home. Women are more likely to come to personal training than men, says Hanson. “Men think they can do it on their own but they can’t. Women, on the other hand, find when they work with a personal trainer that they’ve been using too much weight or not enough, and learn the correct range of motion. There are so many variables. This is why people hire trainers.” Hanson told Thrive about one client, a very obese woman who came to him and said that she wanted to fly to Paris and walk around the City of Lights at least once before she died. “She arrived the first time by car service,” he remembers. “She was in such bad shape that we had to help her up the stairs. She couldn’t climb them by herself. That was five years ago. She’s been to Paris five times since.” He says the key to a successful workout is motivation. “Exercise will make you happier, increases confidence, help you feel better about yourself, and feel stronger,” he says. Diet, he offers, is another important factor. He recommends seniors first see a doctor for blood tests and to check sugar and cholesterol levels. “Then, simply stay away from sugar! There’s absolutely zero benefit in sugar. Seniors should also cut back on carbs, anything made with flour. I’m not saying never eat it, but I believe in moderation to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle.” His recommended carbohydrates: oatmeal, brown rice and sweet potatoes. “One time a week, eat whatever you want. Other six days, only those carbs. Give yourself a cheat day or cheat meal to look forward to. It makes it easier to be more disciplined. “This is my life,” he continues enthusiastically. “I’m here to help people. I’m not a model or an actor. I’m here to help people feel good about themselves.” And with that, he cites another client as an example. “A 72-year old woman, her husband had been in a nursing home, started to workout. She started to feel better, feel better about herself. Now she’s met a guy and is in love. At 72! Exercise does that. It gives us all the confidence, well being, positive outlook. Imagine meeting someone and falling in love at 72?” For more information on senior discounts or to schedule a session, visit:

Move It!

Live longer, stronger and happier
If you want to feel younger, exercise. That’s the philosophy of personal trainer Harry Hanson who sees seniors as his favorite clients. “Boomers are loyal clients,” he told Thrive. “They never leave you as long as you do the job they want. They care about being flexible, not getting injured, slowing aging process and staying healthy. They are great clients to have. “Some come to lose weight or lower blood pressure or cholesterol. All this can be done with a combined program of strength training, cardio and diet.” Hanson became a trainer 25 years ago after a man approached in him Washington Square Park and offered him a job. He was 225-pouns with 6-percent body fat. He didn’t even know what a personal trainer was. “At that time it was extremely trendy,” he says. “People sat around at dinner parties and said they had a personal trainer. Now it’s built into your lifestyle. I was one of seven guys hired, from the dozens who applied.” Hanson got certified and stayed at that Soho gym for 10 months before opening his own studio. “My first client was Tom Cruise. He wanted me to become his exclusive trainer but I have a business here, family. We still get together sometimes when he’s in town.” Today Hanson, the married father of an 18-year old daughter and a 13-year old son, has five studios – three in Manhattan, one in Boston and one in a private firm. He also owns two personal trainer schools – The Academy, in New York City and Boston. “We are state licensed and internationally accredited. We graduate about 200 students a year and have 97-percent placement.” But unlike most personal trainers, Hanson is driven not to bulk up young, athletic bodies (although he has plenty of those clients too!) but to strengthen older ones. That’s why he offers a senior discount at all of his studios. His senior program incorporates a basic routine that is a total body workout. He believes that if you train two, three times a week, working on different parts of the body – chest, shoulders, back, biceps, core and legs – you get the proper workout to slow the aging process. “Pilate’s, yoga, core classes, are all good but strength and resistance training are the best way to slow aging, stimulate cells and stay stronger longer,” he says. Why is it important to exercise with age? “Every cell, fiber, tendon, ligament

Photo by Janel Bladow

Harry Hanson, personal trainer

gets weaker as you get older,” Hanson explains. “The more sedentary you are, the faster your body dies. Exercise slows down aging process, constantly strengthens every cell. “There are so many benefits from exercise: lower cholesterol, lower blood sugar, rids the body of toxins, makes the heart stronger, burns calories, improves digestion, clears mind, makes you feel good about yourself,” he lists.

Go-to Chef
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hall for anyone looking for a job, recommendations, referrals, gossip, and industry news. Out comes the Rolodex; phone calls are made, appointments set. What’s more, before Ros places a chef, he trains him in his own kitchen, sharing his recipes, teaching the prospective chef how to prepare them, and offering sound business advice. He will even train the wait-staff. Most executive chefs guard their recipes with their lives, but Ros believes that no one is in business to do a bad job. Well-trained employees carry that message with them. “The eyes eat first,” Ros says. In other words, food must be appealing to the eye as well as the palate and for that reason he emphasizes plating and presentation. In the old days, when service was performed tableside, often in the form of showy flambés and individual carvers, food didn’t have the same appeal on the plate. When composed for presentation in the kitchen, it comes to the table as a

complete visual experience. “People aren’t interested in elegant dining the way they used to be,” says Ros. “They don’t want to get dressed up for dinner. The hardships of the economy push change, and you must adapt with your pocket, not your palate,” he adds. “You’ll notice that the places opening now are burger restaurants and tacquerias that offer low-cost, casual, homey food. Before the recession, restaurants in need of a pickme-up might count on changing the chef, moving to a new location, or checking out what the competition is up to. “These days, you have to be more flexible—develop new, less-expensive menus, offer comfort foods. We serve a $22 three-course lunch and a $24 complete dinner, and our menu lists six or seven appetizers and entrées that include wildcaught salmon, hanger steak, cod, strip steaks, and half a dozen pasta dishes” as well as other familiar and comfortable foods for which his customers make repeat visits. There is always a Special of the Day and a Vegetarian option.

Part of the way Ros keeps his costs down is by visiting the Hunt’s Point Market every day to stock up on his preferred ingredients rather than order them from an industry service. As a result of Ros’s’ savvy, the 40-plus years he’s been in business he’s accumulated customers who are now like family. “The idea is to be able to feel that anyone can walk in and find something they’d like to eat,” he says. How does Ros, who is 65, stay as ebullient and active as anyone in the restaurant business has to be? “You have to eat your cake and enjoy it,” he says metaphorically. Ros feels that it’s all in your head: “It is very stressful to have a restaurant and you have to be up on your game. Don’t aim to project plans on your neighborhood. Instead, switch your rifle from your left hand to your right hand. Be flexible. I’m always waiting for sunshine to walk through the door,” he says, “so give your local restaurant a chance.” Meli-Melo is located at 110 Madison Avenue between 29th and 30th Streets.




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