Daily Fitness: Juicing at The Giving Room

(This article originally appeared in the August 23, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper)


Black Dragon. Sunburst. Lotus. These are just some of the countless juices offered at The Giving Room, an organic grocery and juice bar located in Southold.

In 2010, the Giving Room opened its doors on the North Fork. At the time, it shared a wall with a boxing studio and acted as a community space for yoga classes. Only four years later, the Giving Room expanded to include an all-encompassing health lifestyle shop.

Paula DiDonato, the company’s founder, left her full time job at AmEx corporate in Manhattan to pursue a life of wellness; more than for herself but for an entire community.

“Everything about this place is organic in terms of how it developed,” DiDonato said as we ordered our freshly made juices.

“By looking for a peaceful place that helped me become healthy on every level — spiritually, emotionally, physically — I started to learn about yoga and well-being. Our clients taught me a lot, so I have a really strong interest in what we’re offering.”

Looking around I saw everything from green cleaning products to local jams. The shelves were filled with food products such as nuts and granola, stored in glass jars to help reduce waste and eliminate the plastic.

The shop’s loyal customers include both a local contingency and the summer crowds.

As the blender silenced in the background, three colorfully filled glasses came out, lined up at once.

“The idea is really to continue a healthy lifestyle,” DiDonato said. “To compliment it, we introduced a very small juice bar as a way for people to enjoy something light, organic, and fresh after class.” As I reached for my first sip of the gorgeous purple fluid in my glass, DiDonato continued. “They all have different elements that are healthy for you, that are also enjoyable and delicious.”

Black Dragon, made with orange juice, blueberries, strawberries, turmeric, ginger, and protein, is probably best for the morning, pre-or-post workout.

Wendy Chapman, a resident of the area since 1998, entered the store for her traditional fix. “This is the best thing that ever happened on the North Fork,” she said. “It’s the best place in town because of the warmth and the friendliness.” She sees the next drink in my line of beverages and asks for a sip.

The Sunburst, a refreshingly light and summery taste with carrot, apple, orange, pineapple, lemon, and turmeric is perfect for a hot day, or after good sweat sesh.

DiDonato certainly lives an organic life but admits that modern medicine is essential in addition to natural remedies. Of course, since her yoga certification five years ago, this entrepreneur hasn’t been on prescriptions due to the liquid nourishments she’s created. And she’s sharing, or better yet creating, all her secrets.

Her personal favorite is the XXX. It has cucumber, celery, ginger, lemon, kale, parsley, dandelion, spinach with extra lemon, extra ginger and extra turmeric: “Everything you need to help the body function optimally.”

Last in line was the traditional “green drink.” The Lotus was a cleansing beverage my body immediately thanked me for. With kale, pineapple, green apple, and ginger, it’s a sweet spin on an earthy liquid.

As DiDonato handed me refilled mason jars for my “juice cleanse,” I reached for a sweet finish of Ali Katz Small Batch Baking chocolate chip cookies. The Giving Room is the room that keeps on giving!

What’s next for the Giving Room? Aside from continued participation in loyalty juice programs, DiDonato and her team of superwomen are playing with tastes like rosemary, oregano, and other herbs with strong antibiotic properties.

They currently offer private parties in the studio or in the comfort of your own home with a yoga instructor, props, music, and a choice of juice or smoothie. There is also yoga for all levels, 85-degree hot yoga, meditation classes, and the Ellen Herman barre method and Pilates program, where exercise meets dance.

The Giving Room is located at 56215 Main Rd., Southold and is open seven days a week, year-round. Call 631-765-6670 or visit http://www.givingroom.net.

May your glass overflow with goodness and your mind be at peace. Cheers!

Daily Fitness: Take a Hike

(This article first appeared in the March 22, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper)

With no winter storms in sight, it’s safe to say spring is in the air. As the weather outside slowly transitions from chilly temperatures to brisk breezes, hiking is an ideal way to get outdoors and acclimate to changing conditions.

More than a simple walk in the park, hiking trails are a bit more challenging and offer physical benefits. According to Harvard Health Publications, uneven surfaces during a hiking trail, unlike treadmills or other flat surfaces, are a natural way to engage core muscles and trigger balancing skills. In addition, spending time in nature can naturally relieve stress, lowering blood pressure and risk of heart disease.

Beyond benefits for the body, nature walks can fight depression. A Stanford-led study found hiking in serene settings, not those related to an urban landscape, decreases negative emotions.

With an abundant amount of trails on the East End it’s hard to select only a few to feature. After all, each pathway provides its own unique attributes. So, here are five must visit parks for the 2017 season.

  • Sound View Dunes Park in Southold is a 57-acre location named after the magnificent views of the Long Island Sound along Sound View Avenue. There are two trail options. A beach trail best described as a leisure walk of one third of a mile, takes you through the dunes. A forest trail provides about a mile of dune and wooded landscape. Its hiking skill level is moderate.


  • Mashomack Preserve on Shelter Island, also known as the ‘Jewel of the Peconic,’ is a scenic location encompassing around 2100 acres, totaling a third of Shelter Island. With wildlife all around, this hiking only trail makes for a relaxing, undisturbed exercise. Its skill level is easy.


  • Sears Bellows County Park located on Bellows Pond Road in Hampton Bays is situated on 979 acres. A location perfect for families, it offers an array of activities aside from the five-mile hike. Skill level is easy.


  • Camp Hero State Park in Montauk was a former US Air Force Base. It boasts 415 acres of landscape diversity. In addition to the forest trails and Atlantic Ocean beachfront, there are rising bluffs that provide views of Block Island on a clear day. With two trails, the 2.9 mile Point Woods Loop Trail and the 3.6 mile Montauk Point Park Trail, the skill level for both is rated easy.


  • Also in Montauk with historic charm, Theodore Roosevelt County Park is the site of the oldest cattle ranch in the United States with 1126 acres of land. With three and a half miles of nature trails and five miles of bridle paths, enjoy a stroll through time. Skill level is easy.


As we say good-bye, and good riddance, to the cold days of winter, it’s time to welcome sunnier and warmer pathways ahead. With each new step moving toward a healthier, happier life.