I came to the 14th Street Y almost 20 years ago by way of moving into Stuy-town. I walked down the street to 14th, I walked by the building and thought “this is really cool, I’d like to workout here and be a part of what’s happening.” Shortly after that, I became an instructor and personal trainer there.
Punk Rope started in 2004. It was a little bit of a crap shoot. We weren’t really sure if it was going to fly. There were a lot of older people at the Y and we weren’t sure if they would want to jump rope. We decided to give it a chance and see what happened. We gave it a shot, and people came! It’s been a long run. There have been so many memorable times, great music, happy hours, and great friends.
I grew up on punk rock. I came of age when The Clash and the Sex Pistols were all the rage. I saw The Clash live. I think that kind of music works really well with jump rope–it’s the right energy, the right tempo. It’s super fun. The attitude of the class is very DIY, not mainstream at all, but it works great for the East Village.
For me, I’m all about creating community, and that was a really big part of Punk Rope, and any other program I’ve ever created or led. It’s all about inclusivity and making people feel comfortable, then taking it beyond the gym and into the neighborhood, whether it’s going to a restaurant or an art show or a movie. I found community by creating community, and I think the Y played a huge role in that, because it gave me the venue where I could meet all of these amazing people and get them together. Now we’re looking at many, many, many, years later, and a lot of them are still hanging out. That’s a rarity in New York, and probably anywhere at this point. It’s very special.
Portraits of the 14th Street Y is a photography project by Bridget Badore that tells the stories behind the many faces of the 14th Street Y community, including members, staff, teachers, trainers, artists, caregivers, families, and local business owners. Each year, the unique stories of more than 20,000 New Yorkers is woven into the fabric that makes the 14th Street Y a Downtown home for all.