IRVINGTON, NJ — When the new Planet Fitness in the Valley Plaza Mall had its grand opening and ribbon-cutting on Wednesday, Jan. 23, at the site of the former Valley Fair shopping center on Chancellor Avenue, Mayor Tony Vauss and Genia Philip, the township’s director of Economic Development and Grants Oversight, were in attendance, as was at large Councilwoman October Hudley.
“This place is awesome. It has all the equipment, everything you would ever need, and it’s 24 hours. It’s very impressive,” said Vauss on Wednesday, Jan. 23. The mayor had also attended the recent opening of a new Blink fitness center on Springfield Avenue on the other side of town. “I want everybody to know that they can come out to Valley Plaza Mall, whether you’re a person wanting to work out or partake of the stores or if you want to start a business. You need to come down here and figure out how to do that. So come soon.”
“We’re excited to be here today at the grand opening of Planet Fitness,” said Philip on Wednesday, Jan. 23. “The actual mall was one of the projects that was completed during the term of this mayor and to see the businesses coming in and occupying the space is a great thing so the mall is moving in the right direction. A lot of people didn’t think that this mall was going to stand on its own two feet, but as you can see, we have a major national anchor store here and … I’m certain that we will see a lot more. So there are a lot of good things happening in Irvington. This is just the tip of the iceberg.”
Philip said the new Planet Fitness complements the other stores in the mall, including the Valley Express Cafe, which caters to wellness enthusiasts. Vauss purchased a smoothie from the cafe on the same day as the grand opening, while waiting for the ribbon-cutting ceremony to begin.
“That’s the synergy that we’re looking for,” Philip said. “We’re happy that both businesses can benefit from each other’s clientele, which means that both businesses are rightly going to succeed and do well here. So we’re very excited about what’s happening in this mall and throughout the township as well.”
Cafe employee Raffif Kone, who made Vauss the smoothie, agreed with the mayor and Phillip that the new gym in the mall is a win-win for Irvington.
“It’s very good for business,” said Kone on Wednesday, Jan. 23. “A lot of people have been coming here for smoothies, protein shakes, wheatgrass and we do natural juices also. It’s very good, a very good coincidence.”
The mayor said he enjoyed his smoothie and appreciated Kone for making it for him. She said she appreciated him and everything he’s already done.
“I appreciate having a mayor that cares about the people. That’s important,” Kone said. “I think it’s awesome that he’s trying to bring new businesses and economic development and redevelopment to Irvington, because the community needs it.”
Hudley is already a member of the Planet Fitness in Sussex Mall in East Orange, and said it’s great to have the new location open right in town, to give members another option to fulfill their fitness needs. Black card members of the club can use Planet Fitness at any location in the country.
“I’m here at Planet Fitness in Irvington and I’m excited because we finally have one here in our township,” said Hudley, who has lost more than 100 pounds thanks in part to her East Orange Planet Fitness membership, on Wednesday, Jan. 23. “I’m all about wellness and fitness and health. I work out every morning. If you check out my Instagram and Facebook page, you could see I have my videos posted to encourage people to make sure that they eat right and you must exercise. They work hand in hand.”
Hudley gave her testimonial about her weight-loss journey and said others looking to live healthier lives can do the same thing.
“I was over 400 pounds; now I’m down to 200-something,” said Hudley. “God is good and I have a witness. This is a lifetime commitment.”
Davon Snell, the manager of the new Planet Fitness gym in Valley Plaza Mall on Chancellor Avenue, and Kevin Caballero, the regional manager, said that’s what they like to hear from elected officials and members.
“She supports us 100 percent and we support her,” said Caballero of Hudley on Wednesday, Jan. 23. “I can’t say enough about Miss October Hudley. She’s the one that pretty much helped me put this together, as a matter of fact.”