Why pay for a regular gym membership when you can join a complete fitness community?

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The J offers over 80 group classes seven days a week featuring motivational instructors in a supportive environment. (Photography: Benjamin Margalit)

By Mimi Vanderhaven

This is how it usually goes: On January 2nd Mimi will put away the holiday decorations, toss out the sugar cookies and start thinking about fitness and weight loss. Then she’ll look into a gym membership only to relive the intimidation, mental comparisons, body-shaming, and self-loathing she experienced the last time she stepped into a fitness center.

Then she’ll go digging in the trash for the sugar cookies she just tossed out.

But not this year—because Mimi is joining the Shaw JCC. Wait, Mimi is Jewish?

No, but that doesn’t matter. The J is open to everyone.

A Complete Community
If you’re considering a gym membership this year, choose one that gives you all of the benefits of a fully-equipped fitness center but that also features a non-intimidating sense of community. That’s The J.

And unlike boutique studios that offer a single answer to a host of fitness goals, The J offers many different solutions—including a state-of-the-art fitness center, group exercise classes, personal training, a comprehensive aquatics program, and on-site babysitting. You’ll also find spa-like amenities such as sauna, steam room, whirlpool, renovated locker rooms, and massage therapy at discounted rates. There’s even a full-size gymnasium, racquetball courts, tennis courts and outdoor playing fields.

“We really are a community,” assures John Keverkamp, The J’s executive director. “This is a welcoming, non-intimidating environment and our staff really gets to know our members and every member of their family.”

The JCCFitPlan
The staff at The J doesn’t leave your success to chance. With the new JCCFitPlan, you’re virtually guaranteed success from the start. You get two complimentary appointments with a Certified Personal Trainer so there’s no question about how to use the equipment.

Your first appointment includes discussing your fitness goals and creating a plan for success.

“By the end of your second one-on-one appointment, you’ll be 100% comfortable with your regular fitness routine,” John says. “It’s all about helping you be confident with every aspect of our facility.”

Group Fitness Classes
At The J, you don’t have to work hard to find an exercise class that’s right for you. They offer a whopping 80 free group classes seven days a week. Classes include Spinning, Barre, Pilates, Silver Sneakers, Water Werks, Power Yoga, Kettlebell, TRX, Bootcamp, Zumba Strong, TurboKick, Country Heat, Just Move, and many more.

For a complete list, visit ShawJCC.org.

You’ll even find youth spinning and circuit training classes for grades 5-12. Most classes are free with your membership and all classes include motivational instructors within The J’s friendly and supportive community.

Fitness Center

This past September, the Shaw JCC overhauled its fitness center with state-of-the-art cardio machines and strength training equipment, including new additions like the Star Track Versa Strider and StairMaster Air Fit Bike.

“These machines are Bluetooth enabled so you can sync your phone and record your workout into your fitness tracking system,” John suggests.

In addition, the all-new Nautilus Inspiration line is remarkably easy to use, featuring the trademarked Lock N Load Weight Stack System and gas-assisted seats. You’ll also find new barbells in the free weight section of the gym.

To keep you exercising, The J offers childcare services for kids ages six weeks through school aged. Your child(ren) will enjoy supervised fun while you participate in any JCC activity—all for just $3 per hour for your first child and $1.50 per hour for each additional child.

Comprehensive Aquatics Program

With both indoor and outdoor swimming pools, The J is a Northeast Ohio Top 20 American Red Cross Learn to Swim program providing over 2,200 swim lessons per year. Swimmers progress through the levels at their own pace, mastering the skills in one level before advancing to the next.

Other programs include the Stingrays Swim Team for ages 4-18, plus water exercise classes like Aqua Boot Camp, Aqua Fit, and Mild Water Movement. Regularly scheduled lap times give adults a chance to swim at their own pace, while the whole family can take advantage of free swim times.

The J Is Kid-Central
There’s a lot more to The J than fitness. It’s also about family. For example, the Mandel Early Childhood Education Center nurtures our youngest community members (from six weeks old to age five) while Camp JCC is an 11-week summer camp experience for K-12 offering a traditional camp experience along with specialty programs such as gymnastics, cheerleading, horseback riding, and LEGO camp. Daily swimming is part of every camp experience.

KidSpace is a before- and after-school care state licensed program in two locations and the School’s Out program runs on days when school is closed for in-service, holidays or bad weather.

Membership to the Shaw JCC is open to all ages, races, religions, and fitness levels and its doors are open seven days a week, 362 days a year. So why join a regular gym when you can join a community?

Hey, put down those sugar cookies.

Shaw JCC is located at 750 White Pond Drive, in Akron. Facility hours are Monday- Thursday, 5 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday, 5 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. The phone number is 330-867-7850. Find them online at ShawJCC.org, and on Facebook @ShawJCC.