By Barbara Mellon and the Gazette Staff

It’s time to breathe a huge sigh of relief; the holidays are over. Don’t get me wrong; I love the holiday season with all of the requisite pandemonium that accompanies it. In fact, I keep my Christmas tree (a real one, mind you) up, decorated, and lighted until well into February. The soft, multi-colored lighting entangled with tinsel and a hodgepodge of ornaments, many of which elicit memories of the times, places, and people in my life, creates the sensation of a soothing winter cocoon for me. After all the hustle and bustle of November and December, I need some time to wind down. I’m sure this is a feeling shared by many.

But then what? After ‘vegging’ out for a few hours, days, or weeks (depending on your own personal psyche) you see a long, cold, dark winter stretching ahead of you. What to do? The Gazette staff has gathered information on some of the many activities available in and around Andes that will help you work off those extra holiday pounds, stimulate your brain cells a bit, or just chase away the winter doldrums with fun or productive pursuits.

Since eating, or should I say overeating, is such an integral part of the holiday season, lets first look at ways to get our bodies back in shape.

If walking is your thing, beware of taking your daily treks along the roads and byways of the area during the icy season. There are safer, warmer alternatives. At the Andes Central School, you can walk the halls in the main building any school day after 3 pm. There are stairs at either end of the building, so you can get a good workout going up one side and down the other.

If you prefer to exercise outside, SUNY Delhi offers a couple of interesting choices. You can walk laps around the track at the upper campus, or hike in the more natural surroundings of their Outdoor Education Center (OEC). For those who haven’t already discovered this wonderful facility, it is definitely worth checking out. The OEC is a 50-acre park 2 miles south of Delhi on Rt. 28 which includes the West Branch of the Delaware River and has been designed and built by the Catskill Outdoor Education Corps as an AmeriCorps project. The well-marked trails are great for walking alone, with a friend, or with your dog, and include self-guided interpretive trails, bird and bat houses, quiet sitting areas, and in warmer weather a butterfly garden.

Once there is snow on the ground (should that ever happen), the OEC, as well as the college’s golf course, can be used for winter sports such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Right in downtown Andes, a no-cost fitness center is available to residents on a limited basis. The Andes Central School Fitness Room, located in the bus garage, is open to the public on school days only from 3 pm until 9 pm. There is a decent variety of equipment there, including a treadmill, weights, and a recumbent bicycle. A fairly recent addition is a DVD player which can be used for exercise videos.

For the senior crowd, two different fitness programs will be offered in the area.  The “Senior Fitness Class with Marge” will be held at the First Presbyterian Church in Delhi beginning on January 17th, 2007. Classes will run every Wednesday from 10:30 to 11:30; no pre-registration is necessary. A donation is appreciated, although not required.  At the United Ministry Church, also in Delhi, Nadine will be holding an exercise class designed especially for seniors. Beginning on January 4th and continuing every Thursday, the program will run from 10:15 until 11:30. Again, you don’t need to pre-register, and donations are appreciated.

Pilates classes with Joanne Callahan at the Presbyterian Church on Delaware Avenue in Andes have already attracted a devoted following. (Joanne is a certified teacher and has meshed elements of dance and yoga with Pilates.) But there is room for new students, female and male, wishing to increase core strength and general fitness. Classes, which last about an hour and a half, are held on Mondays and Wednesdays at 5:30 and on Saturday mornings at 10 am. Other days and times are available in Margaretville. Call 676-3616 for more information.

In January Joanne will also be holding an aerobics class on Fridays at 6 pm at the Andes Central School. This program will benefit the ACS Travel Club’s upcoming trip to the Dominican Republic. You may just show up for the hour long classes which may be taken singly. Bring a mat or a towel, and please wear sneakers or other proper footwear. Questions Call Joanne at 676-3616.

Swimmers can take advantage of the offerings at the SUNY Delhi Aquatic Center. There is a $3 daily fee, or more cost-effective semester pool passes can be purchased at the Center. The fee schedule can be viewed on their website at

Lap swimming is scheduled from 11 am until 1 pm; other hours are available for open swimming. Water exercise programs, including water aerobics and deep water classes, will begin in mid-March. The Aerobics classes will be held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 am until 10 am. The deep water class will take place on Fridays at 10 am. Fees vary depending on how many days a week you plan to attend, and whether you sign up for a 4-week or 8-week program, or you can pay $6 for any individual session. For information about these and other programs available at the Aquatic Center, call 607-746-4263.

The Bubble at SUNY Delhi has tennis courts which can be used by the general public. No schedule is available at this time, but you can call the Athletic Department at 607-746-4675 for information on this and other facilities.

Need help with losing weight?  The T.O.P.S. program meets at the Andes Public Library each Tuesday at 6 pm. Many people find it helpful to tackle this difficult task with the support of others, so give it a try.

At least a couple of options are available to those who prefer softer pursuits.   The Andes Knitting Club will be meeting on Saturdays from January 6th through the end of February. Eva Williams will be hosting this knitting group at Mercantile on Main Street in Andes from 1 to 3 pm. All levels of expertise are welcome. On Saturday January 20th at 1 pm Kay Gardiner, co-author of Mason-Dixon Knitting will address the group.  Also, the Stitch Witches continue to meet twice a month. Their current schedule is the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month from 1 until 3 pm. The exact location has been changing as the witches fly from one place to the other.  To find out where their next get-together will be held, call Eddie Piervincenzi at 676-3200.

Writers in the Mountains offers various classes in Andes, Margaretville and Roxbury. The Journal Writing classes beginning in January are filled already, but check out their website at for other offerings.

New this year is the First Strokes program, sponsored by the Roxbury Arts Group and the M-ARK Project. With an eye toward enticing tourists to the area, but available to anyone, each 3-day session will include classes in painting, sculpting, felting or writing, taught by some of the Catskill Region’s most well-respected artistic talents. Some of these workshops will be held at the Hunting Tavern in Andes, others will be in Belleayre, Roxbury, and Pine Hill. The programs are designed to allow you to “nurture your creative streak and discover your inner artist”. For more information, go to their website at or call  845.586.3500.  ~