Working Out With—Dawn Zimmer 07030

You don’t have to ask Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer how she stays active in Hoboken—just follow her on Twitter or Facebook. Zimmer’s social media feed is a virtual smorgasbord of athletic activities. On any given day, you can find her climbing a rock wall with her kids in Brooklyn, kayaking on the Hudson, or joining an informal game of hurling at 1600 Park.
A sunny afternoon this past April found Zimmer running on Hoboken’s pristine South Waterfront, a peaceful venue with breathtaking views of New York City. Zimmer’s schedule usually allows for only one jog a week, but she tries to find time for exercise wherever she can.
“I just build it into my everyday,” said Zimmer. “I go for long walks along the waterfront, take my dog and walk with my family along the waterfront.”
She’s been kayaking many times through the Hoboken Community Boathouse, and recently tried standup paddle boarding for the first time.
“The key is you’ve got to keep paddling,” she said. “If you’re just standing there, then it’s a little difficult to balance.” Though she already has the basics down, she wants to take more classes and work paddle boarding into her routine.
“That could be another way to work out, something different from going to the gym,” she said. “I never seem to make it to the gym. To be honest, I prefer to be outdoors.”
In keeping with Hoboken’s 2013 ranking as the most walkable city in America by, Zimmer said that when she has community meetings at the Hudson Tea Building, she’ll walk home from there, adding “I never use the elevator; I take the stairs.”
She also walks or bikes from her Madison Street home to City Hall every day. Known as the biking mayor, she often shows up at ribbon cuttings or press conferences on her trusty cruiser.
At the debut event for Hoboken’s next-generation bike share system in August, Zimmer served as her own demonstration model, activating a bike and tooling around for the scrum of reporters and dignitaries.
Earlier this year, Zimmer took up hurling, a Gaelic field sport in which teams of 15 attempt to make goals by hitting a stitched ball called a sliotar with a wooden stick.
“It’s kind of a cross between field hockey and lacrosse,” said Zimmer, who played the former in high school. The game is little-known in the United States. In fact, Zimmer says, “I feel like I’m literally taking a trip to Ireland every Tuesday.”
She joins weekly informal practices and scrimmages with the Hoboken Guards Hurling Club, which competes in tournaments nationwide.
In 1858, Hoboken’s Elysian Fields was home not to just the legendary first U.S. baseball game, but to one of the first recorded hurling matches in North America.
Zimmer grew up hiking in her native New Hampshire, and she has tried to instill her love of wide-open spaces in her two sons. This summer, Zimmer and her family went backpacking in Sierra National Forest and climbed Half Dome, Yosemite National Park’s iconic rock formation.
“My sons are both teenagers now, so they were carrying more than I was,” she laughed. “They each had like 45-pound packs.”
Zimmer has made it her mission to expand open-space opportunities in Hoboken.
During her nearly six years as mayor, she’s completed two parks, Pier C Park and 1600 Park, renovated existing parks, and laid the groundwork for construction this fall of Hoboken’s newest park at Paterson Avenue and Jackson Street.
Plans for more parks at Seventh and Jackson streets and in the city’s northwest section are in the works. The City Council has also approved a design for a new boathouse on Weehawken Cove.
“I’m extremely proud of what we’ve done and what we’re on the cusp of doing,” she said. “We need more open space, but all of those new parks will be built with green infrastructure and resiliency so that they help address the flooding challenges that we face.”—07030


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