By MATTHEW MCKIBBEN
NISKAYUNA — Jean Foti and her three children are beginning to develop a ritual on Christmas morning: They open presents and then head over to the Schenectady Jewish Community Center pool to swim.
“We can burn off some steam and some calories before having Christmas dinner,” said Foti, who has taken her kids to the pool on Christmas morning for the last two years. “It really works out quite well.”
On Christmas day last year, Foti said, the weather was brutally cold, and her kids were bouncing off the walls.
“I said: ‘You know what, let’s head over to the pool and we can go swimming and get some exercise,’ ” said Foti, a personal trainer at the center. “It was really a refuge for us to get our silliness out on Christmas.”
Foti’s daughter Rita, 11, enjoys the pool because it is warm and she is able to play with her younger sister, Rosie, 6.
“It is really warm in the pool,” Rita said, sporting a mermaid tail while swimming in the pool. “Also, my friends are coming over, so that should be fun.”
Though the temperature reached 50 degrees Thursday in the Capital Region, strong gusts of wind made it feel a little chilly at times.
Rosie Foti said she got a lot of toys for Christmas and was looking forward to playing with them after she was finished swimming.
“I got so many toys to play with,” Rosie said. “I can’t wait.”
JCC Executive Director Mark Weintraub thought there was a “nice crowd” working out Thursday at the center.
“Not everyone celebrates the holiday, so it is nice to be able to cater to everyone’s needs,” Weintraub said.
Weintraub said he was using half of the day to catch up on some year-end finances and the other half to work out.
“Obviously today isn’t a typical workday, so I just try to catch up on some things that I haven’t had time to get to,” he said. “And I usually work out on the weekends, but since today is slower, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the facilities.
“This time of year is a nice time to reflect on what has happened so far and then also look forward to next year and ways to improve.”
Mark Ziegler of Niskayuna said he was treating Christmas day just like any other day he had off from work.
“I usually come to the gym to work out on my off days,” Ziegler said, who was lifting weights at the gym. “Today is not really any different for me.”