Lesson of the Day

It is hard to put into words how everyone feels about this…Let’s hope I can do justice.

It has been one crazy ride. The Big Apple stood the test of time. While the strip malls around it changed over and over. Pizza place after pizza place, nail salons, trophy stores, ice cream stores, eye doctors, perfume shops. A lot have visited the road “near the Big Apple”
Hell if the Big Apple had a memory, it would have forgotten more memories than most establishments ever get to make.
It wasn’t just a school. It was a place where Mom connected with the entire community. Example A, Mom would go to Shop Rite and spend 20+ minutes talking to a student. Just coincidentally happened to be the isle that was home to Dad’s bread or his peanut butter, or toilet paper. You know — “You spend $250 a week and you can’t even buy me the right bread!” Well clearly she was distracted.
Talked in Shop Rite, Church, the Mall, everywhere we go. Someone knows “Miss Geri”
Generations have passed through those classrooms which was filled with the very distinct “Big Apple” smell, blue cubbies with the dirt on the very bottom shelves, and half painted walls. The toys weren’t always the newest. The VCR (yes VCR, the DVD transition was slow and painful) didn’t always work. The kids weren’t always the cleanest. But rest assure, there was no place that cared more about those kids than the Big Apple.
It’s funny how you look back when it is all said and done and say to yourself, “man I wish I could just complain one more time about painting that place.” Or even go down to the basement when Dad was playing cards and tell him we’ll be right back because we have to set up the school for the morning. I’ll even take that depressing time right after labor day when we would pack Tj’s truck up and fill the basement with all our summer items.
The best part about looking back, is that those memories ACTUALLY happened and they will forever be memories. We all knew this day would come. It is the cycle of life. It was time to move on. We can’t cry that it is over, but smile that it happened. Smile and laugh at every moment of life because without the Big Apple, there was no life. There would be no vacations, cars, family parties. There would be no pool days, holidays, or presents. There would be no Stern House, no food, no roof, no water. But there WILL always be FAMILY. And the school was built with a foundation of love and family.

Mom & Dad –  nearly 40 years of students. Thousands of kids. Hundreds of gallons of paint. Dozens of graduations. A lifetime of memories. Thank You. not just from me, or my brothers, but from every child that ever had the blessing to learn from you, from every parent that felt comfortable dropping their kid off for the first time, from every child who turned into a parent and sent their kid for the same love, education, and fun they experienced. From every teacher that had the opportunity to be a part of our family. From every delivery man that was greeted when he would drop off a package. From everyone in the neighboring towns that got to see an Easter Bunny, Rudolph, or Santa Clause on the way to make a dozen kids smile (and a few cry). From every person that celebrated a birthday and got a phone call from the kids singing (and screaming) Happy Birthday. From every community member that smiled when they saw the kids playing outside. From every friend that has spent just one moment at our house, because without the Big Apple- there is no house. From everyone….

The school doors may close, but a new door has opened. Walk through it with a smile and if that day comes when you look back and a tear happens to roll down your face, just remember these words
Big Apple is our school.
Big Apple is our school.
Big Apple is the place we go to have a lot of fun!
We paint and paste and play
With books and blocks and clay
We dance and sing and do everything
and we have a lot of FUN!

I would be lying to you if I didn’t say the phrase “New Year New Me” or “This is MY Year” in years past.

When you get older, you start to realize how ridiculous that “New Year New Me” saying really is. How selfish and immature it has become. You can’t be this new person. You are who you are. Love yourself. You are not perfect. You might not have your dream job. You certainly don’t have the amount of money you want. You may not be in Hollywood love or even find someone good enough to date. You wish you could travel more. You wish your life was as exciting as everyone else’s on social media. You over think, over spend, over drink, and do it all over again the next weekend.

So this is YOUR YEAR! You will save more, do more, love more, compare less, care less, and be young, wild & free!

No…. in fact that’s what you did in 2014. and 2013, 2012, and all the way back to your 3 am pizza
57561-New-Year-New-Me days in college. Let’s get rid of this “New Me” mentality.

It is more important to share experiences with family and friends  than to share your stories to them.  Creating time for people is easier than finding time for them. Your family won’t live forever. Cherish the time spent with them because regardless of how many “New Me” characters you create, you are still that same son, daughter, brother or sister to someone.

Surround yourself with people who love you for who you are. Surround yourself with positivity, with energy, with optimism, passion, and love. You won’t need to create this new you. That energy will help shape a better version of you.

I can tell you now. Looking into my crystal ball that 2015 will bring you less time to travel. It will bring you more bills to pay, some disappointments and heartaches. It will leave you with decisions and crossroads. Face it, that is LIFE! Nobody, not even this “New You” can stop or hide from the struggles of life. All we can do is enjoy it. My crystal ball shows me that 2015 will have 365 days. I wish I could tell you that you will get to experience all 365 of them, but life isn’t guaranteed. Seize every day you can.

The next time you decided to create this new you. Take a look at everything you have accomplished, experienced, and lived through. Take a look at some of the challenges you will face. Ask yourself. Do you trust this “New You” to carry you through 2015? Or did your 2014 self do a pretty decent job getting you through the good times and bad. Build off of 2014. Look forward to the future, but most importantly enjoy the present.

Life is too short to keep creating a “New Me.”

Have a wonderful New Year Classmates! May 2015 bring you the best health, wealth, and luck one deserves.

-Professor Stern

Last night the Oakland Raiders won their first game in 368 days. While commentators make jokes, and non-fans laugh at the Raider Nation for celebrating, I looked at it differently.

A lot of us are on the Oakland Raiders. We are looking for that one big break. That one moment. That job, raise, or even love  life that we can celebrate. The difference between us and the Raiders? (Besides the 200 pounds of muscle and wild outfits) is PERSISTENCE.

They worked out every day for over a year. They went to practice day in and day out. They got beat up every Sunday, but they image KEPT SHOWING UP. Ignore the fact that it is their job, but see their struggle as a testament to passion. If you go back and look at their games, they didn’t just go through the motions and plays. They didn’t complain. They didn’t quit.

So many of us point fingers at our bosses, families, or society in general for our failure to win a game. We make excuses for why things aren’t going our way. The only way the Raiders won was by giving themselves a chance to win. By preparing themselves everyday. By showing up every Sunday WANTING to win.

We have to wake up everyday and want to WIN. We have to prepare for success. Today might be your day! Today might be the big break you have been waiting for, but breaks don’t just come from good plays on paper. They come from putting the plays into action.

Some of us have been waiting more than 368 days for that break, but you will be waiting a lot longer if you are trying to
win from the sidelines. This weekend, set your play into action. Look at your offense, not your defense. Be aggressive. & most of all… Play The Game! You didn’t buy a ticket to watch the game. You were put on this earth for a reason. Stop making excuses, and create a new play. If you are doing the same thing day in & day out and it is just not working, draw up a new one! You never know when that big play will happen, but it will only happen if you Go For It!!

It’s the 4th Quarter and the ball is in your hands… What Are You Going To Do?

-Professor Stern



Top 7 things I hate about Fitness. Now I use the term “hate” lightly here. I don’t hate anything. I just strongly dislike the following 7 things.

1) “there’s a new study…” There is ALWAYS a new study about some magic food or exercise to “burn fat.” A new study showed if you eat 100 apples a day, you will live to be 100 years old. Try it. Eat the CORE too!

2) Infomercials: This may come as a surprise, but I hate the stories on infomercials. Most of them are so exaggerated. You didn’t lose 90 pounds in 60 days. You lost 90 pounds in 3 sets of 60 days. I’m proud of you, but don’t deceive people.

3) “Crossfit” now don’t get all mad & defensive. What I mean is I hate the “oh my workout is better than yours.” The only reason crossfit is taking the heat here is because numerous crossfitters have tried to tell me “I don’t workout.”  Fact is you can dispute crossfit, HITT, Zumba, yoga as number one. It is a matter of opinion. Your workout is suppose to be about what you enjoy and what works for you.

4) Gyms. I love em’ & I hate em’. The gym has becomeBroken-lift more of a social setting & a fashion runway. Trying to pick up a chick at the  squat bar is worse than the Applebee’s bar. No offense Applebee’s, I still love ya! Speaking of squat bar..

5) Instagram fitness “models.” Fact is, you are in yoga pants doing squats in the gym & recording yourself. Looking for likes or looking to give a professional fitness tip? I get it “sex sells,” but the incredible amount of female IG ‘celebrities’ is ridiculous. The caption will either be “I woke up like this” or she will inspire you with some motivation. She KNEW she looked good in skin tight spandex (add a great filter), but since she is spreading a positive message, it is socially acceptable.

6) The “healthy chocolate cake” By the time you read the ingredients and make it, you could have had a normal piece and burnt off the caloscreen-shot-2014-01-03-at-10-13-26-amries. All these healthy substitutes are ridiculous. You want a piece of cake? Enjoy a piece. You can’t tell me a “healthy” chocolate cake keeps that “healthy” label after you eat 5 pieces.

7) Day after Leg Day complaints. Great your sore. You should have stretched. Can’t walk? You worked out wrong because now yesterday’s workout hinders today’s

Why 7? Well to be honest, I was a fan of Miley’s 7 Things I Hate About You song back in the day. So if you don’t like the list, blame Miley.

Special shout out to our Veteran’s on this special day!

-Professor Stern

Today’s Lesson is about the dreaded word “Diet.” I am finally revealing my “Money Diet” to you!

I’ve been on the money diet for about two years now. Finally a diet that really works!
So what is it? No carbs after 8? All protein? Drink 47 kale shakes a day? NO
The money diet is simple. Put a dollar sign next to everything you eat. Is that dollar sign Red or Green? Is this meal, drink, snack, helping or hurting your goals?
Green = good!
Red = bad!

Let’s say you make $100 a week. You work Monday – Friday. During the week, you are eating right & exercising. Friday at 5pm comes and you got that $100 deposited into your account. You worked HARD so let’s reward ourselves. Saturday night you go out with friends. Few beers, blue cheese burger, maybe even a shot. Let’s say this night out cost you $25. You can afford that. You made $100 during the week. So what…it’s only $25!

This is also just assuming you are “splurging” once a week. If you are guilty of that nightly scoop of ice cream ($ ) or cookies before bed  ($), your $100 is disappearing even faster. The little expenses are adding up, and we don’t realize that we can save so much time and money if we get rid of those small red expenses. So many of us suffer from this “I can afford it” mentality. The salt, the calories, the fat adds up. You can workout, but you can’t out work a bad diet.

I don’t allow myself to think “I can afford” it because my goals are expensive. Every time I eat $, my goal gets further away. When I eat $, I am closer to my goal ! 

If you want a six pack stomach, you can’t expect it to happen over night. Just like you can’t expect to save $1,000 if you never put any money away. The money diet changes your mentality that you are eating your money. The little things add up!!!

So next time you reach for those potato chips or the 2nd scoop of ice cream, can you really afford it?? Is it a green dollar sign or a red one?? Will this moment of satisfaction help me reach my ultimate goal?
A penny saved is a penny earned!


-Professor Stern

Danielle, Staten Island Half Marathon

Danielle, Staten Island Half Marathon

Today’s Lesson of the Day comes from a Classmate who has a story about passion, dedication, and the ability to realize that when one door closes, a road opens. A road that is 26.2 miles long!

Dear (My) High School Soccer Coach,

How have you been? It has been about 10 years now since we last spoke on the high school soccer field after classes let out. I was the girl with the black soccer shorts, pink cleats, curly hair in a bun, about 110 pounds and 5 ft. 3 inches in the summer of 2005. Ring a bell? What if I tell you my name? Nope that probably won’t work either.

The reason being is that to you, I was just another grammar school soccer star that had a dream to make the high school team but you see that’s what makes this story so special. You and me we never saw eye to eye — I thought I was good enough to play in high school and you thought the exact opposite. How do I know? You never gave me the chance to show you, because I didn’t make the team.

I remember waiting by the phone after the tryouts for your call. The call never came. Maybe I wasn’t the star I thought I was and maybe I just wasn’t good enough. The one phrase in my whole life that I would never settle for, but after 10 years and no phone call, I am writing to say you were right.

I cried for days. My parents felt terrible, but I remember my dad looking at me and saying, “You have to put yourself back out there and join another sport. You have the athletic ability, find something to stay fit and then give tryouts a go next year.” What could I do? Soccer was the only sport I had ever known and loved. I saw a flyer up for the cross-country team but running was the one thing I hated most about soccer. Running was our punishment, not our pleasure.

I decided to give it a try. I went to my first day of practice in those same black soccer shorts. I ran for 10 minutes and I felt like I was on top of the world. Runners high? Maybe, but then again maybe I was too young to understand what any kind of high really was.

That day I laced up my first pair of not even real running shoes. It was probably the day that set the rest of my life in motion. I fell in love with the sport, the girls, the sweat, the tears, the pain; it became a part of me. I was average I wasn’t the star but that was okay because I was a part of something. It was so much more than I ever could have imagined.

I ran cross-country, indoor and outdoor track all four years of high school. This gave me some of my best friends to this day and some of the best years of my life. Coach, I never went back to your soccer tryouts during my sophomore year, instead I circled the track in my fancy new running sneakers and I watched you coach your girls on the field, and knew that was then and this is now.Displaying Image.jpg

I went on to college, and although I decided to not run at a Division I level to focus on my studies, I trained myself for my first half marathon soon followed by my first NYC Marathon. The girl who used to score goals and walk back to center field, completed all 26.2 miles of the NYC Marathon and sometimes I still don’t even believe it. It happened and it was one of the biggest accomplishments in my life to date. Completing the marathon lead me to writing my college thesis on “The Empowerment of Women through Distance Running” which lead me to my marketing position at New York Road Runners, the biggest running organization in the world, who organize the NYC Marathon, helping to inspire and empower people through running everyday, truly a dream job.

This afternoon, I went running on my old high school trails, and I came to realize that most of my success is owed to you, Coach. We often go through life thanking the people who believe in us. We thank the people who give us countless opportunities, but we rarely stop and thank the people who never gave us a shot.

When you really think about it the people that didn’t believe in you are the whole reason you are where you are today. A decade later, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, for not thinking I was good enough to play on your team. You were right, I had so much more to offer the world than scoring just one goal.


A very happy runner girl

Danielle, New York

Growing up I was the kid in class who saved his homework passes for the end of the school year. Year after year I would earn these passes and save them for when it got warm out or for a special time, but year after year the passes went to waste. Simply because no assignment was worth “wasting” a pass on. I would just save them for the next time. I never learned my lesson until it was too late. Now I have homework passes that I have saved my whole life. 

You see most of us can learn from the homework pass because much like myself, I waited and waited for the perfect opportunity. I held on to my golden tickets just eager to cash them in at the right time. The right time never came. The perfect opportunity doesn’t knock either. We live life like this. We wait and wait and wait. We put off things till tomorrow. We make excuses or hold off on making a change. We say it is not the right time or we are too busy. Sorry to break the news but as busy as you are today, life will only get more complicated and tomorrow will have a to do list that is longer. If we look at life, not by years or months, but by weeks we will get a better understanding as to why it will never be a perfect time.

Monday comes and we complain  about Monday. The start of the week. Friday rolls around and we embrace the weekend. Sunday hits and we say we cant believe it is the end of the weekend. REPEAT. A week is gone, it turns into a month and into a year. We have weekly routines.

We have obligations and responsibilities to do on a daily basis, but when will you cash in that homework pass? When will you make a small change for yourself? When will you give yourself something different? No matter what the change is in your life, you have to make it. The opportunity is everyday. Quit making excuses. Quit saying tomorrow. Quit saving the homework pass because eventually the assignments will run out. Eventually the days will pass and you’ll be looking back reflecting and say to yourself. What was I waiting for? Just remember, when it is all said & done, you can’t say “I have a pass that gives me extra time.”
Today is the perfect day to ___________________. Go out and do it!

-Professor Stern

When you are an entrepreneur, you will knock on a lot of doors. Get comfortable to the sound of the door bell. You will make a lot of cold calls. Get comfortable talking to voice mails. You will send A LOT of e-mails and messages. Get comfortable getting ignored. See a pattern? You will get comfortable dealing with all of these things, but one thing you cannot get comfortable about is your progress. Don’t get comfortable about where you are in life. Don’t get comfortable about your vision or your goals. Comfort will lead you to make excuses. Comfort will lead you to lose sight in your WHY. Your WHY is why you started this project.

The most successful people in any industry are not always the smartest, strongest, fastest or richest, but they are the hungriest. They get ignored time and time again, but they never stop knocking, calling or messaging. They know that there is someone out there who will take a chance on them. They never sell themselves short.

We are all entrepreneurs. You are an individual brand. Your smile is your business card. Your story is your resume. Your passion is your mission statement. Never lose sight of your WHY. For college students today, you might graduate & embark on a career that might not be what you expected. You might be struggling to land a solid career. You might even be struggling to find your WHY.

Today’s Lesson is simple. Some succeed because they are destined to, but most succeed because they are determined to. Spruce up that business card. Write out that resume. Look deep inside your heart and find your mission statement. Whatever you do, no matter how many times you get ignored or rejected, NEVER SELL YOURSELF SHORT.

There is someone out there who thinks you are worth every penny!


-Professor Stern

It was August 16th, 2014 around 10:00am and we were halfway done with the bottle of vodka, but this was not your average Saturday. It was wedding day at my house, but the conversation wasn’t about the ceremony. It was about Bodybuilding.com’s “Back to the Grind” 6-week transformation challenge. I knew I wanted to be a part of this, so when my cousin Frank turned to me and said, “I Do,” (no, he wasn’t the groom to be) I just figured it was the Grey Goose talking.

The party ended & Summer was coming to a close. Frank insisted we take the challenge. This 26-year old was motivated to get the body he always wanted. The plan was simple -wake up, kick ass, eat right, repeat. Now with him working a full time job & my daily schedule being hectic and irregular, we had the issue of finding a common time routine. Some days were at 5:30am while others were at 9:30pm. That clock didn’t matter. The calendar did. 42 days to get in the best possible shape!

Frank is not obese. He is not fat by any means. He is your average sized guy. Just under 6 foot & weighs 176 pounds. He suffers from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome which resulted in years of knee operations. So first and foremost, we crossed “cardio” off the todo list.

Day 1. It was a beautiful Sunday morning. Frank rode his bike over for his first mission. 20 tire smashes, 10 medicine ball push ups, :30 combat rope… Results? Throwing Up!

I’ll be honest, after throwing up just from about 5-minutes of a workout, I thought this was over and we would give up. Frank didn’t give up. He showed up the next day and the next and now we are here today, day 42.photo (1)

To say Frank motivated me would be an understatement. He helped me realize why I got into this industry. He reminded me that every workout I teach, no matter how tired, sore or unmotivated I am, that I have to give my students my best effort. That’s all I ever asked of Frank. I didn’t care that he threw up. I didn’t care that he couldn’t do a single pull up. I cared that he kept showing up. I cared that he asked questions, pitched ideas, never made excuses, and most all of – gave it his best effort every time.

As the contest wraps up and we wait for the decision, I hope his story and transformation gets the credit he deserves. His commitment and honest work ethic is a testament to what fitness really is about. It is not about a cleanse or a miracle product. It is not about a specific diet or pill. It is about hard work and the desire to change. While this contest has come to an end, Frank’s transformation story has just begun. He proved to me that you can make changes in 42 days, but more importantly… imagine what can happen on day 43.
Just Keep Going!

-Professor Stern

Flipping tires has become an increasingly popular exercise. This functional fitness move is great for the whole body, but this isn’t about to Goodyear tire on the floor. This is about the tire that is deep inside you. The tire that is weighing you down. The tire that seems so heavy that you can’t seem to move it. An obstacle in your path that you can’t seem to flip. A challenge that you can’t seem to overcome.

Today’s Lesson is about your own tire. It is about finding the strength to get past it. To put the tire in the rear view. If there is something in your life that is holding you back. Something in your life that is weighing you down or stopping you from achieving your goals, today is the day you face that tire. You might not move the whole thing today, but you will start. You NYNJ_August2014-109get your hands underneath, bend the knees, take a deep breath, and mentally prepare yourself for the challenge. The HARDEST part is starting. The struggle to get that tire off the ground. Once the momentum starts to shift and your arms are burning, legs are shaking, sweat is dripping and heart is pounding, you push right through the pain.

We all face daily obstacle in our life. These obstacle do not define us. We have not failed because the obstacle is there, we fail because we let the obstacle stay there. We fail because we lose the confidence and hope to flip it, to get past it, to move forward. Find your tire. Find your motivation. No matter how big or heavy that tire is, you my friend are STRONGER!


-Professor Stern