Fitness your way–with Shaw JCC of Akron

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With the Shaw JCC’s exclusive new JCCFitPlan, a customized wellness program gets you to your goal—faster. Find out how the fitness team is turning up the motivation. (Photography by Benjamin Margalit/Margalit Studio)

By Kelli Comer

Going to an exercise class or the gym for the first time can be intimidating, even for those who make working out a regular part of their routine.

Fear of the unknown, an unwillingness to embrace a brief learning curve and a need for accountability keep others from taking the first steps toward wellness.

But Jennifer Herman, the new fitness manager at Shaw JCC of Akron, is determined to make the journey to better health—and a better body—as easy as walking through the door.

“We’re launching a new program called JCCFitPlan, and it’s available to new and existing members of all ages and abilities,” she says, her vivacious personality and high energy level immediately on display.

“It’s the perfect way to jump-start a workout commitment and is tailored to each individual. JCCFitPlan represents the opportunity to create a personal roadmap to take you to long-term health and wellness.”

Here’s how JCCFitPlan works: You join the Shaw JCC as an individual or with your family. Rates are less than $90 per month and go down from there depending on the size of your brood. Then, as a member, you get to schedule two complimentary sessions with a JCC certified personal trainer. The first session includes a review of your fitness goals, some limited testing, a tour of the facilities and the construction of a plan based on your recreational likes or dislikes.

“Some people like to swim, so their fitness plan might include an aquatics class in our indoor or outdoor pool,” Jennifer explains.

“Other people might like to play racquetball, so their plan would include time on the court.”

Because The J offers so many different fitness options, in addition to a freshly remodeled gym featuring more than $50,000 in new equipment, people have the freedom to pursue their interests by participating in things like basketball in the gym, swimming in the pool and more than 70 different group exercise classes per week, like Pilates, yoga, spinning, Zumba, HIIT (high intensity interval training) and more.

Your second FitPlan session is where you learn how to put your new fitness routine in motion, so you don’t feel overwhelmed trying to accomplish your goals.

“This is a very unique approach,” Jennifer stresses. “Not only do we offer one of the most comprehensive fitness centers in the area, but we’re also totally hands on when it comes to helping our members get started.

We don’t just sign you up then cut you loose. We help you zero in on where you want to be physically, then tell you exactly what to do to get there. And you can check in with one of our trainers anytime during your journey to ask questions or get help.

Then, when you’re ready to move to the next level, you can schedule paid time with one of our trainers to help you establish a new program.”

The J is open seven days a week, 362 days a year, so in addition to having an all access pass to the equipment you want to use, when you want to use it, you also can participate in the group exercise classes, day or night, at no extra charge.

“We offer more than 70 group classes for all interests and fitness levels,” Jennifer says. “Most of our classes are free with your membership so you can drop in and try any class until you find the ones you enjoy and that give you the results you want.”

This is in addition to all the great extras.

Those extras include things like child care starting at just $3 per hour, a whirlpool, a sauna, private locker rooms, indoor and outdoor heated pools, tennis courts, racquetball courts, wellness classes, pickleball, discounted massage, social activities and a family-friendly environment that’s steeped in Jewish principles and values but open to all, regardless of faith or nationality.

“Joining The J is really a no-brainer,” Jennifer emphasizes.

“As a non-profit organization, we’re constantly reinvesting our funds to benefit our members. Our focus is on cultivating a welcoming community for all: All ages, all races and all fitness levels. Our new JCCFitPlan opens the door to a new way of living for people who may want to get started on the pathway toward fitness but just don’t know how.”

And while the fitness offerings at Shaw JCC are the biggest reason people join, ancillary services like before and after school care, pre-school, summer camp, swimming lessons, first aid training, family activities and more make the value of membership practically priceless.

Right now, a special membership opportunity exists until Wednesday, January 31, 2018. Instead of the regular $100 registration fee, you’ll pay just $18 if you join before the deadline. You can find out more by reading the sidebar accompanying this story.

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, and on Facebook at Shaw JCC of Akron. The J now offers the Silver Sneakers and Optum Fitness Advantage programs for older adults.