Martinis and Eye Candy al Fresco for Ex-Urbanites

Family Fitness Guru

A New Flavor of Yoga

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These articles by Jamie Saxon were prepared for the May 26, 2004

issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

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Martinis and Eye Candy al Fresco for Ex-Urbanites

The more than 300 guests included an Italian princess and Triple Crown hopeful Stewart Elliott, the jockey for Smarty Jones. MTV’s "Real World" came and shot footage for over an hour. You couldn’t get in without a personal invitation from the owners, eye candy abounded, the music pounded, every drink made with vodka was free, and the ice cubes glowed in the dark. Now that’s a party.

On Thursday, May 20, 90 Main, the bar/lounge/restaurant in New Hope, celebrated the opening of its new outdoor bar with a private bash, sponsored by Ciroc vodka, that signaled the arrival of the area’s first truly urban people-watching perch.

"The place looked so beautiful on the inside that we wanted it to be that nice on the outside," says Jeff Izes, one of the three thirty-something co-owners who opened 90 Main in March. "We wanted people to feel like they’re in South Beach."

Izes’ personal connections brought several professional athletes to the party – in addition to Elliot, who lives in Washington’s Crossing – including Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Fiedler (Izes went to college with Fiedler’s older brother Scott) and former New York Jets quarterback Glenn Foley.

Izes and co-owners John Whitehead and Paul Blancato worked down to the wire, literally, to open the place on time. At 7:58, two minutes before the door opened, electricians’ trucks were still parked out front. But the results are fabulous. The outdoor seating areas – with perfect see-and-be-seen views to the street – sport white upholstered ottomans, potted trees, votive candles and miniature potted grasses atop low slatted wooden tables, eight-foot bamboo, and gaslit torchieres. The Delano-style outdoor bar, long and slightly curved, is black slate. A retractable awning protects the bar in the rain.

At the party, guests (20-somethings to 40-somethings) decked out in their finest club wear (the award goes to the Asian beauty whose black Lycra top simply formed a wide "X" across her chest) washed down miniature spanakopita and steak and portobello mushroom crostini with martinis galore (remember the Ciroc vodka was free), including the French martini (made with Lillet) and the Grape Martini (made with white grape juice).

Summer’s officially here. Now you don’t have to haul up to New York to sip a slow summer drink – and look at beautiful people.

90 Main, 90 South Main Street, New Hope. 215-862-3030, Valet parking Thursday through Saturday. Don’t forget, the Lambertville bridge is closed on weekdays.

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Family Fitness Guru

Some people have trouble finding motivation to get in shape. Not Bill Birden. An opera singer who lives in Princeton and performs with opera companies around the country and around the world , Birden got his wake-up call last year when he was cast in the Opera Company of Philadelphia’s "The Pearl Fishers" by Bizet – shirtless.

."The cliche of the big fat opera singer is no longer valid," says the tenor who turned 40 this year and works out with Thomas Yannitte, a trainer at Personal Training Studio in Skillman who has launched his own fitness training program. Innermatrix is a regime for healthy living that’s designed not just for adults but for children too.

Yannitte graduated from Syracuse in 1990 with a degree in industrial design and engineering, then went to work for the World Trade Center’s planning and design department, first as a generalist, then as a counterterrorism engineer after the 1993 bombing.

Although Yannitte, who lives in Montgomery Township and has 20 years of experience as a personal trainer, now runs his own counterterrorism consultancy, Archimides Innovations, his real focus is on helping families get fit.

"We’re a microwave generation. Parents can’t teach their kids good nutrition if they don’t know it themselves. Kids are growing up less fit than their parents before them," says Yannitte. Innermatrix consists of his book, "Owner’s Manual: Fitness for Parents, Kids, and Everyday People"; a two-disc DVD set featuring Yannitte’s own cartoon character, a little green monster named Ego-r, meant to be watched by parents with their children; and flashcards with over 60 exercises. The whole set is available for $54.95 at and in June, at Barnes & Noble in MarketFair.

Bill Birden, who says he was a little overweight as a child and wants to teach his children to stay fit and healthy, started Innermatrix with his wife, Carol Chickering, also a singer, and their two children, a daughter, 5, and son, 4 months, in mind. "Innermatrix is not about spending $1,000 to join gym or living within the strictures of Atkins. It’s about eating real natural food in all its forms and leading a more active lifestyle. I would love my children to simply have as part of their make-up a desire and wish to stay active."

Birden likens Innermatrix to the European lifestyle he lives when he sings overseas. " I’m the only person I know who can go to Paris and lose weight. W hen I work in Europe, I walk a lot more, and the food is fresher. The European lifestyle is more natural and active, unlike Americans who get up in the morning, eat a bowl of sugar, get in their air-conditioned car, sit in front of a computer all day, then come home and eat a pizza in front of the TV.

He says that Innermatrix is about "going to grocery store and shopping all of the real food sections." Then add in more activity. "We regiment our kids so much, homework, take them to soccer, but it’s all about playing together, a great way for a family to stay fit. There’s no punishment aspect of a diet or exercise. Grab an apple and take off along the canal."

"I grew up hyperactive," says Yannitte, "and the doctors wanted to put me on special diets. My parents just wanted to do it the natural way. I get angry about all these kids on Ritalin," says Yannitte. "The Innermatrix program is about a paradigm shift. Once you know the information, a spark goes off and you just get it. It’s not like being on a diet."

Innermatrix, or call Princeton Training Studio, 609-252-1117.

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A New Flavor of Yoga

There’s power yoga, yoga for singles – and now yoga for depression. Studies have shown that a single yoga class lowers cortisol, the stress hormone, elevates oxytocin and prolactin, the feel-good hormones, and stimulates the vagus nerve – a known treatment for depression, according to Amy Weintraub, a senior Kripalu teacher who will hold "Yoga for Emotional Healing" workshops June 25 and 26 at the Princeton Center for Yoga and Health. "If you’re practicing yoga daily, for 25 minutes, it will make a difference in your day – and your life."

Weintraub, author of "Yoga for Depression: A Compassionate Guide to Relieve Suffering Through Yoga," whose breakthrough yoga techniques have helped many of her students say goodbye to Prozac and are making the medical community stand up and take notice, says that the workshops are not just for those with clinical depression. She welcomes "anyone who’s struggling with relationship issues, work stress, difficulty in dealing with family members, or feeling blocked in your creative life."

"One of the reasons we’re depressed is we’re not getting enough oxygen into the system," she says. A writer who earned her B.A. from Boston University in 1973 and her masters in writing and literature from Bennington College in 2000, she turned to yoga in 1989 to foster her own recovery from depression. "Yoga opens the chest and lungs; you get more glucose and oxygen into the brain. As you practice longer, you potentially develop what yogis call ‘witness consciousness.’ You cultivate more self-awareness, so you become more able to moderate your reactions to the difficulties you face in your life. Nothing stays stuck anymore."

Yoga for Emotional Healing, intro experiential lecture, Friday, June 25, 7:30 to 9 p.m. $15. Multi-level yoga workshop, Saturday, June 26, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. $40. Princeton Center for Yoga & Health, 50 Vreeland Drive, Suite 506, Skillman. 609-924-7294.

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