JCC Partners with Spartan/DEKA to Strengthen Fitness and Community in the South Hills


The Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh reaffirms its commitment to wellness in the South Hills through a new program and partnership.

In collaboration with Spartan/DEKAJCC launches On Your Mark Fitness – an opportunity for members to achieve individual and team goals through functional training and gamification.

“It’s not just fitness for fitness’s sake. It’s fitness with a purpose,” said JCC program director Jason Kunzman.

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On your marks builds on a foundation of rehabilitation and therapy sciences while incorporating functional testing. The latter, Kunzman explained, encourages people to use specific Spartan/DEKA-branded equipment while undertaking various movements necessary to promote fitness and reduce injury.

JCC coach Steve Manns said the result was both fun and challenging.

“Our new fitness philosophy is proven to not only increase muscle strength and power, increase bone density, improve insulin sensitivity, stimulate growth hormone secretion and burn stored body fat, but offers also giving participants the ability to constantly change and individualize their workouts and never fall into the plateau,” Manns said in a statement.

In addition to using Spartan-branded RAMrollers and wall balls, the training allows participants to use redesigned stations at the South Hills JCC, Kunzman noted.

On October 22 and 23, the JCC held its first DEKA Strong and DEKA Mile events, attended by members and guests.

Participants undertake 500 meters of stationary rowing. Photo courtesy of Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh

Training partners Frank Fazzolari and Michael Staley traveled from Charleston, West Virginia to compete in the DEKA Strong event.

After the 3.5 hour drive on Saturday morning, Fazzolari and Staley entered what both described as an “extremely welcoming environment”.

“Everyone was so helpful, lots of smiles,” said Fazzolari, 55. “It was almost like they were expecting us.”

“The setup was amazing,” Staley, 39, said of the South Hills JCC. “It was nice to see several people enjoying their training routines in addition to the scheduled competition.”

As the members went about their regular weekend drills, Fazzoli, Staley and other registered athletes — ranging in age from nine to nearly 70 — competed in the DEKA Strong and DEKA Mile competitions.

During both events, participants completed a variety of activities — including a 500-meter stationary row, 25 seated medicine ball throws, and a 25-calorie air bike ride — in 10 zones. The main difference between the DEKA Strong and DEKA Mile events is that the former does not include the race. During DEKA Mile events, participants walk 160 meters between each of the 10 zones (totaling 1 mile).

At the end of the DEKA Strong and DEKA Mile events, participants received a fitness assessment. The score, said DEKA co-founder Yancy Culp, “allows people of all skill levels to get into playful fitness.”

Once someone receives their grade, which is placed on a leaderboard, they can participate in DEKA-inspired exercise classes — like those held at the South Hills JCC — and prepare for the next challenge, he said. -he adds.

Kunzman recently got his score, which he said provided a “baseline.” During these optional competitions, “you are certainly in competition with others, but you are also in competition with yourself. That’s what’s so appealing about this approach.

Culp said the competitive nature of DEKA training and events has broad appeal. Of the 40,000 people who have undertaken an event, there is a success rate of 99.4%. In addition, “100% of the courses are designed for people of all levels”.

Jason Kunzman, Yancy Culp and Fara Marcus. Photo courtesy of Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh

Culp toured the newly designed space inside the South Hills JCC and noticed the various DEKA signage and equipment. He said he thought the aesthetic would “be more inviting to a wider range of people while appealing to a younger demographic.”

Fara Marcus, director of marketing and development for the TCG, praised the space and said the alignment with Spartan/DEKA made “perfect sense”.

Quoting one of Culp’s maxims, Marcus said that 20% of people are confident enough to sign up for a race, train and cross the finish line, whether it’s a 5k , a half marathon, a marathon or an alternative endurance challenge. What often stops the other 80% from completing such a task – or even starting to prioritize fitness – is intimidation or feeling overwhelmed.

DEKA’s goal of positively impacting 100 million lives through fitness aligns well with the JCC’s commitment to nourishing people and connecting the community, Kunzman said.

The partnership with Spartan/DEKA is also a chance to reverse the fiscal damage of COVID-19; South Hills membership hasn’t “bounced back as quickly as Squirrel Hill membership,” Marcus said.

While the Squirrel Hill branch has recovered 82% of its pre-pandemic paying membership units, only 55% of paying members have returned to the South Hills, according to Kunzman.

“The recovery has been uneven from the pandemic, and we know that one of the biggest opportunities for growth in the South Hills JCC is related to fitness,” he said. The “bet”, he continued, is that the suburban site can attract new members – particularly those in the 35-55 age bracket – by building on a “well-scientific fitness offering”. approved”.

Each month, people spend about $34 on fitness, according to a survey of 1,421 people by StyleSeat. Statista reported that the gym, health and fitness club industry in the United States is expected to reach nearly $36.6 billion this year.

Kunzman, Marcus and JCC executives hope some of that money will end up in the South Hills branch.

Many activities take place at the South Hills JCC, such as Purim carnivals with local congregations and recruiting members of the Center for Loving Kindness, Kunzman said. “For us to be more productive in these efforts, having a physical footprint helps, and the only way to work is to have a viable branch.”

It is “incumbent on the organization to aggressively recruit new members and even out the recovery between the South Hills and Squirrel Hill sites,” Kunzman said.

Marcus said the JCC is confident that partnering with Spartan/DEKA, purchasing new equipment and reconfiguring the upstairs space in the South Hills Center will help attract new members.

Still, there are considerable costs involved.

In starting On Your Mark Fitness, “we wanted to raise $250,000, and we raised close to that,” Marcus said.

Kunzman thanked the community and JCC leaders for helping bring the partnership to fruition, but also said he hopes people appreciate the investment the organization is making in the South Hills.

He quoted the 2017 Greater Pittsburgh Jewish Community Studywhich revealed that the South Hills are home to 20% of all Jewish households in the area.

“There’s a market there, and we need to identify offers that will resonate,” he said.

JCC management already knows that some programs are working well in the area – enrollment at South Hills Day Camp is at “historic highs” – and is confident that its connection with Spartan/DEKA will reap similar benefits.

From welcoming new members to the building to helping people of all ages reach new levels of fitness, there’s plenty to get excited about, Kunzman said. When it comes to strengthening the South Hills, building community and helping individuals, this partnership “checks so many boxes.” PJC

Adam Reinherz can be contacted at [email protected]

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