Whether they come to use the weight room, the pool, the track, or squash courts, as many as 300 people hustle in and out of Einstein's Falk Recreation Center every day. From its inception in 1987 through the step aerobics craze of the '90s, to contemporary trends like Zumba, the Latin-inspired dance-fitness program that is immensely popular today, Patricia McGlinchey has been the center's dedicated manager, guiding the way.
Pat McGlinchey with Dr. Dominick P. Purpura (then dean), at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the recreation center, in 1987."When the Falk Center first opened, the medical students were overjoyed," she recalled. Thanks to the generosity of Einstein donors Anne & Isidore Falk, Max & Sadie Friedman and Blanche & A. Levine, Einstein finally had a well-appointed fitness facility, including a 75-foot lap pool, right on its campus.
"Before the center was constructed, students, staff and faculty schlepped up the block to local public schools for their intramural basketball play, and to a small weight room with a now-defunct pool over in Jacobi," noted Ms. McGlinchey.
Today, she and her staff strive to address the changing needs of the center's members. For example, in recent years, women have shown a greater interest in using the weight room. In response, the facility has been equipped with weight-lifting apparatus that is more user-friendly for women.
"I've used both the free-weights and the machine weight rooms over the years," said Nancy Glassman, a librarian in the D. Samuel Gottesman Library who regularly makes use of the facility, including preparing for road races and several marathons. "The machines are nice because it's easy to know you're doing the moves correctly. Plus the managers are helpful and responsive if you're unsure about how to use a particular piece of equipment."
Traditionally, center membership has been available to Einstein's faculty, administration and house staff, and is included in student tuition. Recently though, gym membership has been extended to all Jacobi, Montefiore, and Weiler employees as well.
Ms. McGlinchey, 25 years at the helm"It's not easy to find a local place that has all of our amenities – a steam room, sauna, swimming pool, weight rooms, elevated running track, squash/racquet ball courts and a court that can accommodate basketball, soccer, volleyball, and other sports," said Ms. McGlinchey.
"Having access to a facility like this on campus, which has all the kinds of equipment I like to use, even a pool, is so convenient," concurred Dr. Brian Delaney, assistant clinical professor of family and social medicine.
To meet the varied recreational interests and fitness needs of center members, Ms. McGlinchey and assistant managers Chris LaColla and John Ingrassia also schedule fitness classes, such as yoga, swimming, Zumba and Samba – each taught by experienced instructors recruited from the local community. For the more competitive or team-minded, there are intramural basketball, indoor soccer and volleyball, as well as tournament play for squash, racquetball, table tennis and badminton.
"We've gone from having just one intramural sport to offering seven," said Ms. McGlinchey. "During basketball intramurals, about 120 people participate on 10 teams."
Reflecting on the quarter-century she has managed the Falk Recreation Center, Ms. McGlinchey noted, "It's certainly been a good run." These are a telling choice of words from someone who has taken advantage of the center's facilities to train for two New York City marathons.
Before taking the reins of the center, Ms. McGlinchey taught physical education for 10 years at Mercy High School, on Long Island, after earning her Master's degree at Adelphi University. She then served as associate director of recreation at Fordham University.
In recognition of the Falk Recreation Center's 25th anniversary, the center's staff has already held its annual three-point and free-throw shooting contests (both won by medical student Avi Friedman), and a special anniversary T-shirt giveaway is planned.
"I've been a 'gym rat' most of my life and the Falk Center offers all you could need," said Dr. Delaney. "It reflects the College of Medicine's commitment to good health."
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Posted on: Wednesday, May 16, 2012