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New Yorkers Can Work Out Political Differences at Gym

August 15, 2004

If the coming Republican National Convention has gotten New Yorkers tense, they can sweat out the rest of the campaign season with politically themed workouts at New York Sports Clubs.

The fitness chain, which has 350,000 members at locations in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, is rolling out "Voterobics" this month in honor of the convention Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 at Madison Square Garden.

The 55-minute classes feature conditioning, calisthenics and strength stations with election-appropriate names. Participants can "Get on Your Soapbox" with step aerobics accompanied by cardio "donkey kicks." Or try to "Balance the Budget" by balancing on a wobble board. Exercisers rotate among seven stations for one minute apiece with a 15-second "Cheney" rest between each one.

Filled with partisan rage? Take it out on a punching bag wearing a mask of Sen. John F. Kerry or President Bush.

"We thought it would be something fun to play off of the convention theme," spokeswoman Susan Gerson said. The Aug. 26 New York launch of the classes will include a Bush impersonator and an elephant and a donkey outside the club's guy at 36th Street and Madison Avenue.

The gyms are also teaming up with the nonpartisan group Rock the Vote to register members to vote.


Music to Vote By

The Democrats and the Republicans have lined up legions of musicians to provide the partisan soundtrack to this fall's presidential race.

Last week, the Republicans announced the artists who would take the stage at the party's national convention, Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 in New York City. They include Christian rocker Michael W. Smith; tenor Daniel Rodriguez, a retired New York City police officer; surfer Daize Shayne, whose first pop album came out last year; country acts the Gatlin Brothers and Sara Evans; and soul-inspired singer-songwriter Dana Glover.

The Democrats hosted performers Patti LaBelle, John Mellencamp, the Black Eyed Peas, Willie Nelson and Carole King, among others, at their national convention in Boston last month.

Hip-hop and R&B stars also are recording music in support of the Democrats. Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliot and Wyclef Jean -- along with several dozen others -- will remake Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes' 1975 hit "Wake Up Everybody."

The track, to be released Monday, will be part of a full-length CD including political songs like "Give Peace a Chance" and "What's Goin' On?" Proceeds from the project will go to America Coming Together, an independent liberal organization.


Who's Counting?

2 million: Number of contributions to the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign.

8,877: Miles traveled by Sens. John F. Kerry and John Edwards on their recent cross-country campaign swing.


Duly Quoted

"Is this the most important election ever?" -- Larry King to President Bush Thursday on CNN's "Larry King Live."

Bush's reply: "For me it is."


Compiled from staff, Web and wire reports by Times staff researcher Susannah Rosenblatt.

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