Our apologies to Rosemary Molten, of Colts Neck. She asked us not to tell you this Monmouth County fitness secret so her Pilates class would remain small and intimate, but we just can't keep it to ourselves.
The fitness center at (BCC) is bright, airy, state-of-the art and packed with trainers better educated than us. And membership is a steal - we're talking less than $25 a month.
When Patch visited the gym recently on a Monday morning, there were less than 20 people using the rows of cardio equipment that line a wall banked with floor to ceiling windows. In the adjacent weight room the handful of folks making use of the weight machines, were bathed in light streaming through the soaring windows on three sides. Outside students of the college walked to class through freezing temperatures. Inside, it was a mix of students and community members getting their workout on, with not a meathead in sight.
"It's a well kept secret," said trainer Beth Tarantino, of Jackson, who has been with the gym for 21 years and teaches cardio-kick and Molten's beloved Pilates class.
About a year ago Molten moved back from Texas, where she belonged to a large gym with classes of 40-50 people. "No one really knew you," she said. "Beth knows each and every one of us, and our ailments, and what we're good at."
At her fitness evaluation (a requirement for joining BCC's fitness center), Tarantino learned about Molten's back pain and tailored an exercise program to strengthen her core.
Now Molten's physique is tight and her back doesn't hurt anymore. With the class size of averaging about eight, she is free to ask Tarantino for pointers and nutrition advice at no extra charge. And when her trainer takes some time off this week, Molten and her classmates, who by now have become friends, will meet at the gym for a video Pilates class that Tarantino has put together for them featuring each of their favorite moves.
According to Joyce Cosentino, of West Allenhurst, supervisor of the fitness center, Molten's experience is common around the gym.
"It's very comfortable. It's not an intimidating gym," she said. "People come here just for the camaraderie."
Cosentino said that the majority of people who join the gym end up staying for decades, not just because of the education component, but because of the relationships they build with other members and their trainers. One such example is the Bagel Boys, a group of older men who have been working out together here for 20 years.
The facility is located in the Brookdale Recreation and Events Center (BREC) at the Robert J. Collins arena near the back of BCC's main campus. The fitness center moved into the brand new building last summer after years languishing in a basement and then in temporary spaces with trailers as locker rooms. Now the his and hers locker rooms are clean and spacious.
In addition to the large main space, there is a room for workout classes with gleaming hardwood floors, mirrors, ballet bars and a flat screen television. Here members and visitors can take Zumba, Pilates, cardio kick, yoga, body sculpting and strength training.
Classes cost members about an additional $10 a month and non-members about $25 a month. Visitors can try a single class for $10 (or for free if they read on).
What hasn't changed from the old space is the people who run the place. The staff at the fitness center have been working here for longer than some of the members have been alive. In addition to Tarantino, Greg Mahadeen, of Tinton Falls, and Carleen Kierce, of Middletown, have both been working here for over 20 years. All three, known as learning specialists, have a masters in exercise science, which means that besides showing you the correct form for a shoulder press they are qualified to teach credit courses in health and fitness or even help you get your certification as a personal trainer.
Maybe it's the academic setting, that makes the vibe at Brookdale's fitness center is unique. Maybe it's that members are a mix young and old, from 14 to 95 years old.
"People see the biggest loser and see people throwing up and in your face trainers and they think that's how they have to work out," Mahadeen said. "That's not what this is about."
To find more about rates and classes, which are available to members and non-members, visit the Brookdale Fitness Center.