Does Olympic Season Make New Yorkers Exercise More?

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By Alissa Fleck Tons of people worldwide tune in to watch the Olympic games, and many are moved by the spirit of intense physical exertion and success. But how does it actually affect people, in ways they may or may not register? A few New Yorkers cite their own experiences. Sean Kelleher, a managing partner at the Upper East Side's high performance Edge Gym, said people in his gym are significantly more motivated to work out during Olympic season. Kelleher said, at his gym, this especially applies to women. "People get much more motivated," said Kelleher. "Their whole standards are different. People come in and say they've got to step it up. They think: 'Hey, I can do this.'" Kelleher chalks it up to the realities portrayed by the Olympic games. "It's real people doing really hard sports," he said. "It shows you it's not easy. The industry waters it down, these athletes work hard all the time. This redefines what hard is, you don't see the fad stuff." Kelleher added more people are walking in the door, and people who are already gym members are stepping up their game. How long does this attitude last? "Until they get results," explained Kelleher. "Otherwise they go back to whatever else they were doing." According to him, his gym sees more people after New Years, but they're "less focused and don't know what they want." One New Yorker, Chris D'Angelo, was playing pickup dodgeball games "here and there" as a primary means of exercise prior to Olympic season. Then the games rolled around, and D'Angelo found himself "enthralled." "I watch all the events," he said. "I put my hand over my heart every time I hear our national anthem played." And how did it inspire him? "I have looked into where I can play team handball or 'Euro handball' in the city," said D'Angelo. "The USA doesn't have a team for this Olympic sport and I'm amazed, because it looks to be right up our alley." After a bit of searching in the city that has it all, D'Angelo was successful: "I found a handball team in Hell's Kitchen that starts try-outs in September. I wanna see if I got what it takes to play an Olympic sport." The motivation was not lost on Kelleher either. "I was watching women's volleyball and I thought oh my god, man I suck, I gotta work harder," he said. "It's a great advertisement for a gym." This "get results" attitude may be more characteristic of Kelleher's gym-which actually has an Olympic weightlifting training class-than other gyms around the City, though he insists Average Joe types would not be intimidated by Edge. Edge Gym is home to everyone from a deaf shot putter, who interacts with Kelleher through sign language, to dance choreographers. Even those who haven't necessarily watched the games with such attentiveness can find themselves caught up in the Olympic fervor and feeling the subconscious push to work a little harder, at least for the time being. Meanwhile others may immediately declare defeat in the face of such seemingly superhuman physical achievement.

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