Daily Fitness: Walk a Shelter Pet

(This article first appeared in the November 1, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper)


Want a workout that makes you feel as good as you look? Walking a shelter dog at the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation has all the endorphin-releasing qualities you need to get your heart pumping. Located right inside Red Creek Park in Hampton Bays, the shelter provides an ideal opportunity to volunteer and get those paws moving. The trees are turning, the humidity disappeared, and the brisk cold is settled in before the snow takes over — what better time of year to skip the gym and get outside?

The wooden trail runs about a mile but can be cut into shorter paths, with workout stations along the way — high parallel bars, box jumps, inclined sit-ups, and more. Rather than a treadmill or gym, the variations in terrain challenge your body in a way that a flat surface can’t (therefore burning more calories, which is what we all want, right?).

“It’s a great way for you to exercise and it gets a dog out of their kennel. Our trainers can help find you the perfect walking or running buddy,” adoptions director Kate McEntee explained.

“Our volunteers are amazing. Our dogs get out on walks more often because of their devotion and love. A couple of our volunteers like Carol and Margaret visit us almost every day helping our staff during walks, taking dogs out for extra walks, socializing, or just snuggling.”

Walking a shelter pet can require as much, or as little, commitment as you’d like. However, once a routine begins you’ll find it harder to back out of your workout plans with your new pal than you would if you were keeping things solo. They call them “puppy eyes” for a reason.

In addition, as a volunteer you’ll learn how to hold a leash the proper way so that dogs don’t pull and create a stiffened arm. Tip: put the leash on your thumb and wrap your grip around. It’ll also benefit your pooch with their own leash skills, aiding in their adoption process.

Outside air has the ability to not only keep you thinking sharper, but create a sense of euphoria and optimism. At SASF the dogs get approximately 2.5 hours of leash time in addition to daily yard time and social hours. Choose from any number of dogs ranging in size, age, and personality.

“Dogs are amazing. They give you unconditional love whether it raining, snowing, or sunshiny, and will follow your feet and your beat no matter where you go,” said Deborah Whitney, director of training and behavior.

“Watching the dogs flourish, achieve, and enjoy what they do, along with grow happier and healthier to fulfill their fullest potential is so rewarding.”

If you’re more of a cat person, join in on the enrichment program and playgroups at SASF. Mornings call for Cat Time, where all the felines are released from the “Catios” and can roam free in the building. At the end of it all, play “catch the cat” for an exhausting workout.

Join the team today by attending a volunteer orientation. You can sign up online at http://www.southamptonanimalshelter.com. Just bring yourself and wear sneakers. Leashes, poop bags, volunteer t-shirts, and even a radio are provided.

Being right off Sunrise Highway, you can drop in on your way to or from work or any location upisland, for however long you choose. The best part? You’re taking time out of the day to give one of these animals a second chance. Adopt, don’t shop — or come find your next workout pal.

Unconditional Love: Adoption in the Hamptons

(This article first appeared in the July 5, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper)



The Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation enters into its eighth year of the annual Unconditional Love Gala. The anticipated event will be held this Saturday at the residence of Chuck and Ellen Ward Scarborough in Southampton beginning at 6:30 PM.

“It’s critical to who we are and what we do,” Southampton Animal Shelter’s adoptions coordinator, Kate McEntee, explained.

With Chuck Scarborough as master of ceremonies, the event will honor Jean Shafiroff and Sony Schotland.

“[Sony] is the co-founder of the shelter. She’s basically the woman who started it all, Southampton Animal Shelter and ARF. She basically had major contributions in getting these big organizations running. We thank her for all her support throughout the years,” McEntee said. “[Jean] has been a chair of Unconditional Love for the past few years. So we’re honoring her this year for everything she does for us.”

In addition to honoring extraordinary women, Katie Jacobs of Christie’s will be the new auctioneer this year. Trips to the Victoria Hotel in Paris and Deer Valley in Utah, luxury accessories, Jimmy Fallon tickets, and more are all exciting options for bidding. For those intrigued, debuting this year is an online platform for the live auction where everything is available through a mobile device.

After the roaring success of Catwalk for Canines, where each animal featured found itself a “furever home,” this year the shelter hopes money raised will assist in their “patient pets,” those who have remained at the shelter for over 90 days, some even for years.

“We take everything that comes to our door. Age and health don’t matter,” McEntee emphasized. “Supporting them is what it’s all about. It’s the reason we can help animals with special needs, who need to go through training.”

Unconditional Love is more than a gala, it’s the mentality of the foundation. Through its tireless efforts and tremendous heart, with the help of countless supporters, Southampton Animal Shelter gives second chances to the four-legged community.

Chairmen include Andrea and Alex Douzet, Missy Hargraves, Antonella Bertello, Marcy Warren, Ellen Ward Scarborough, and Mollie Ruprecht Acquavella. Corporate chairs are Allen and Company Inc., Ferguson Cohen, LLP and Stifel. Platinum vice chair is Susan Allen. Diamond vice chairs are Jean and Martin Shafiroff, and Leslie Alexander and Liz Brown. Gold vice chairs are Fiona and Stanley Druckenmiller, Jonathan McCann, and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Liberman.

Silver vice chairs are Amy and Ray Cosman, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Brigid Fitzgerald and Michael Katz, David Bohnett, Ellen and Chuck Scarborough, Margo and John Catsimatidis, Paul Herman, Renee and Dale Schlather, Sequin, and Sony Schotland. Associate vice chairs are Andrew Sabin Family Foundation, Craig Dix, Kathy Ferguson and Mark Zurack, Muriel Siebert Foundation, Southampton Hospital Foundation, and Tito’s. Junior co-chairs are Kingsley Crawford, Elizabeth Shafiroff, Kathryn McEntee, Sarah Vacchiano, Merritt Piro, and Pamela Suskind.

Junior Committee members are Jessica Mackin, Nicole Teitler, James Marzigliano, Gloria Dios, Lily Baker, Stephen Ham, Alison Ham, Isabelle Mercier-Dalphond, Tony Bowles, and Anna Johnston.

28 Days of Awesome: Spring to Action

It’s hard to believe that Summer solstice is upon us. My blog 28 Days of Awesome: Find Your Local Adventure inspired a movement within myself. Though the initial blog was 28 unique things in 28 days I didn’t want to stop there. Why not try new things each season? Hell, I’m making it a blog series!

In order to make the most of 2017 I vowed to optimize each day as the seasons continue with small efforts to live life as an adventurous journey (not one we simple begrudgingly walk through).  Spoiler alert: it works! I feel happier and healthier.

Here are some new things I partook in (and highly recommend you do the same):

  • Eating at New Restaurants, Attending Yearly Events & Trying New Free Offers From A Variety Places:

The Cuban, Garden City, L.I.- Feel, and taste, like you’re in Little Havana. From Cuban cuisine to Latin music, this restaurant transports you on the vacation you’ve been dying to take.

Salinas, Meatpacking District, N.Y.C.- Bienvenido a España in this beautifully decorated restaurant next door to the Highline Hotel. In the true Spanish tapas style, plates are pequeña but a variety for sharing to get a taste of everything.

–  Ayhan’s Shish Kebab, Port Washington, L.I.- The original of the chain where I drank a pomegranate martini, making me feel like I was one of the Gods.

Left Coast Kitchen, Merrick, L.I.- I bow down to the person that created this Temple Burger. A spin on the classic bagel, lox & cream cheese deluxe, but replace the bagel with latkes and add some eggs. You read that right.

La Fondita, Amagansett, L.I.- Under the same ownership as restaurants Nick & Toni’s, Rowdy Hall and Townline BBQ, this off-the-road location looks understated but its large personality matches the enormous flavor.


Left- The Cuban / Upper right- Salinas / Bottom right- Left Coast Kitchen


–  Hampton Coffee Company, Hamptons, L.I.- I’ve never actually stopped at a brick & motor location for this coffee. Off route 27, it was an ideal pick me up.

Kobrick Coffee, Meatpacking, N.Y.C.- In an intimate and swanky, yet surprisingly casual location, that serves an Affogato worth salivating over!

Starbucks  , All Over- I came, I bought and I loved the newly released Toasted Coconut Cold Brew.

Douglas & James Ice Cream, Port Washington, L.I.- A quaint little parlor right on the water with a decor that makes you want to try it all!

– Carvel’s Free Cone Day, (once a year) All Over- I was the only adult on line, April 27th, but no way was I missing out! Mark your calendar for yours.

Taste of Tuckahoe, Southampton, L.I.- This annual benefit supports local schools and provides delicious tastes from dozens of local fare!

Southampton Publick House, Southampton, L.I.- In its new location, it retains the same welcoming vibe as its former.

  • As a self-proclaimed ‘fitness foodie’ my motto is that if you want to eat hard you have to work out even harder. As evident of the above, I had some hard work ahead of me. Listed below are some of the unique ways to keep fit:

East End Row, Southampton, L.I.- I’d never taken a row class, let alone been on a row machine, but this got me hooked. See my full review from The Independent Newspaper.

Glow Golf, Garden City, L.I.- It can still get chilly in Spring, so some outdoor activities remain on the back burner (like mini golf). But mention indoor, GLOW IN THE DARK mini golf and no questions needed.

Aerial Silks, Riverhead, L.I.-  I took an aerial fitness class in a hammock (what they use for aerial yoga) and became hooked. A slightly different, and more difficult, experience was the dual hanging silks! Full review here.

Volleyball, All Over- I may be an athlete by nature but I had never played competitive beach volleyball before now. Turns out, while I certainly need practice, I’m not half bad (for a real review ask my teammates).

Box + Flow, N.Y.C.- This summer Ruschmeyer’s kicked off #WavesandWellness. Based in NYC, Box+Flow made their east end debut with  a class combining boxing & yoga. This was the best way, potentially the only way, to eagerly get me on a yoga mat. Read my review in full.

Cryotherapy, Water Mill, L.I. & N.Y.C.- Can you stand to be in a tube filled with nitrogen gas at -250 degrees Fahrenheit? How about for 3 minutes? For the health benefits it’s entirely worth it. Read more.


Top Left- East End Row / Bottom Left- Cool Zone Cryo / Top Right- Box + Flow / Bottom Right- Aerial Silks
  • Explored some new places: Some things I just stumbled into, or decided to experience for myself.  In omnia paratus!

Private Artists Exhibit, East Hampton, L.I.- Guild Hall held its 79th Artists Member Exhibition and I was fortunate to attend the initial private showing.

Baron’s Cove, Sag Harbor, L.I.- Sitting under heat lamps on the outside deck, sipping my last whiskey cocktail of the season, it was a pleasant reminder that winter had passed and Spring was blossoming.

– Long Beach Strip, Sag Harbor, L.I.- A different Long Beach, known as Foster Memorial. A beautiful strip on the bay side.

– Democrat Point, Robert Moses Beach, L.I.- I hit a few first with this one, including watching kitesurfers!

Long Island Welcome Center, Dix Hills, L.I.- You’ve likely seen the obnoxious, blue I <3 New York advertisement signs on every major parkway. I stopped by the newly developed L.I. Welcome Center (eastbound on the L.I.E.). With all local produce it supports the entire community and gives back to those who make this island great.

Montauk Salt Cave, Huntington, L.I.- I couldn’t make it to Montauk but I did get to experience my first salt cave at their secondary location in Huntington. Inhale salty benefits, exhale stress.


Top Left- Artist Exhibit, Guild Hall / Bottom Left- L.I. Welcome Center / Right- Montauk West Salt Cave


  • On a more personal note, I made a conscious effort to further my career: I’ve worked hard on building my ‘Nikki on the Daily‘ brand for years. Recently, by consciously making an effort to push harder, it seems things are finally falling into place. But I wouldn’t be where I am without some help.

– Started a Fitness Column, East End, L.I.- I’ve been writing for The Independent Newspaper for several years. Currently I am perma-freelance reporting on several topics. A topic I aimed to be fluent in is fitness & have earned the weekly IndyFit column.

Modeled LIVE on TV, N.Y.C.- When I was in the studio audience of The Wendy Williams Show, back during my 28 Days of Awesome, I was asked to potentially return for a model segment. Thanks to help of style expert, Chassie Post, I modeled in a live TV segment called Look for Less.

– Hampton’s Modeling Debut, Southampton, L.I.- The wonderful Gabby Wild and Southampton Adoption Center invited me to walk in their ethical fashion show/benefit, Catwalk for Canines. I took a step in the right direction in the gorgeous fashion lines of Marita Wrong and Pelush, with a pup up for adoption.

Bethpage Polo at the Park,L.I.- This season, as a manager to the VIP tent on the polo grounds, I am both humbled and proud to be able to contribute to a business community I strongly believe in. Come join us on Sundays.


Top- Live TV, Wendy Williams / Bottom Left- Bethpage Polo / Bottom Middle- Catwalk for Canines, Pelush / Bottom Right- IndyFit Column


From my adventuress to yours, may every moment be more awesome than the last!

Make sure you check back for 28 days of Summer.


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