With new machine, renovated JCC gym works out routine

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — The last year has seen JCC MetroWest make many improvements to its fitness facilities as it upgraded the women’s locker room, cycling studio and, most recently, the fitness center. Reopened Sept. 21, the gym now features new flooring, cardio machines and a training area that features the Queenax machine, a suspension training system. The renovation took only three weeks, and members toured the renovated facility before testing out the new equipment.

“We changed to a new rubber floor and knocked down a wall to create more space,” Graeme Maclennan, general manager of the fitness center at JCC MetroWest, said in an interview with the West Orange Chronicle at the opening. “Now there’s more space in here than there was before and we can make better use of it.”

According to Chief Operating Officer Chris Strom, the improvements cost approximately $5,000. New weights for lifting were added, as well as stationary bikes that have programmed workout programs in addition to the traditional freeform stationary bike workout.

“This has been a long time coming,” Maclennan said, adding that the last time the fitness center was upgraded was approximately five years ago. “It’s built to inspire and upgrade the lives of the people who use it. This is not the end; this is the beginning of an exciting chapter at the JCC. We’re really passionate about making it a successful place.”

The Queenax machine, a large frame to which different exercise equipment can be attached, is the centerpiece of the new facility. It allows trainers to work with members of the gym, but it can be used on an individual basis as well. Krystin Swift, the gym’s fitness manager, said the new equipment gives the 22 JCC trainers a chance to expand their offerings.

“It’s a state-of-the-art facility,” Swift said in an interview with the Chronicle at the event. “Having the Queenax in this area improves fitness. It also gives us more of an educational base and gives us more to do with clients.”

Swift said the Queenax can be used for conditioning, strength training and learning flexibility.

“You can build up strength and it’s great for cross training. It’s also a fun toy to play with,” she joked.

Maclennan echoed Swift’s sentiments, saying that when the trainers were being introduced to the new equipment before the fitness center was revealed to the public, they also enjoyed using it.

“Yesterday really reminded me why I love this,” he said. “There were 22 trainers on that machine and I’ve never heard people laugh so hard.”

JCC MetroWest CEO Stuart Raynor said that, of the many programs offered at the JCC, the fitness programs are some of the most popular. The gym was in constant use, so when the time for upgrades came, members gave their input on the new equipment that would be introduced and the design for the gym.

“Our goal is to give people a moderate price but a high-quality facility,” Raynor said in an interview with the Chronicle at the event. “And we’ve seen a spike in the last three weeks in people signing up; people were anticipating it. We’ve been doing one piece at a time, so we’ll keep going.”

Aside from being a place to work out, Raynor said that many people see the JCC as a place to make friends and become part of a community.

“It’s like ‘Cheers’ — everybody knows your name,” he joked. “Families who have a child in preschool here get a fitness center membership. We hope that people see it and we want to introduce them to as much as we can. As much as it is about fitness, it’s really about people. When people come here they know each other and say hi to each other. They become friends and want to be a part of a community.”

Photos by Amanda Valentovic and Courtesy of Christine Strassman