By Stephen Appezzato
Routine exercise benefits the mind and body in various ways. Studies have shown that physical activity can improve mood and lower the risk for various diseases, including heart disease and diabetes.
As beneficial as exercise can be, many people simply don’t make physical activity part of their regular routines. Recent studies and reports from the United States’ National Center for Health Statistics and Statistics Canada, conducted separately from each other, found that roughly 80 percent of adults in North America are not meeting the minimum physical activity requirements recommended by their respective governments. While a host of factors can influence a person’s decisions on physical activity, where to exercise is one factor that could go a long way toward determining just how much adults exercise.
Basements, attics, spare bedrooms, or garages may seem like the perfect places to create home gyms. However, the benefits of working out at a commercial gym may outweigh the convenience of exercising at home for myriad reasons.
Being involved with a gym community can help improve wellness as well as provide a positive atmosphere for gym members to support and motivate each other. While gyms may appear daunting at first, look for one that focuses on maintaining that positive and communal atmosphere to welcome members.
For the founders of The Fort Athletic Club, maintaining a positive and welcoming gym environment is a main focus.
Seven years ago the partners walked into the former Fort Monmouth fitness center and realized the potential impact the vacant building could have on the local community. In 2017, the group acquired the premises and began the transformation process, culminating in The Fort Athletic Club.
“I know guys and girls that had been here, while it was a fort,” said Chris Champeau, known as Shempy in the Two River community and one of the partners. “You can almost feel the vibe and the energy.”
“Maybe they had gone off and fought for our country and were heroes.”
“We’ve just celebrated our one-year milestone,” said Scott Marchakitus, CEO of The Fort Athletic Club, with over 2,000 members who participate in activities as varied as basketball, pickleball and other sports. “It’s unheard of in the industry. Post COVID a lot of people were a little scared to come back to the gym. We’ve broken numerous records, which I’m proud of.”
The club focuses on creating a welcoming environment for all members of different interests, abilities, ages and goals, recognizing the long-term impact a close-knit gym community has on individuals’ health and the surrounding area. The gym even hosts frequent charity events, many in support of causes and organizations that are brought to light by members of the gym’s community, donating the facility’s space to shed light on worthy causes.
The Fort Athletic Club’s youth programs also instill this sense of community, offering activities for adolescents of any skill level. As the Rumson-Fair Haven High School basketball coach, Champeau has had years of experience coaching local youth and getting families involved with community sports. Through the athletic club’s youth programs, Champeau and his partners sought to create similar environments for adolescents, recognizing the long-term impacts that a positive wellness community can have on families.
Being a part of a gym community can also make it easier to diversify your workouts. Exercise boredom – referring to the disinterest that can develop over time as people do the same workouts for weeks, months or years, is something even the most ardent fitness enthusiast can relate to. A home gym may not be spacious enough to include many machines or amenities, where- as fitness clubs typically include enough equipment and classes to enable people to diversify their workouts as often as they’d like.
The club’s partners recognized this and came up with a solution, creating five different fitness studios within the historic building, alongside the club’s traditional gym offerings, that include alternatives to routine strength training or cardio. Some of the unique features include a yoga studio, spin studio, and even a daycare that’s aptly named Kids Brigade which allows parents access to childcare while they get their workout in.
On Saturday, Oct. 15 the club will host a Platoon Party. “It’s an opportunity for people to try every one of our studios, rotating in groups of 25,” said Marchakitus. “It’s great. It’s an opportunity for people who might not have tried something, like a yoga studio.”
Marchakitus is also looking forward to the Fort Fifty Challenge, a 50-day fitness contest for members and non-members, launching Oct. 22. Participants – including non-members – will have access to the club and all the studios, nutrition counseling and more.
That includes access to the Bunker, which offers adult and youth performance training in a dedicated space to work with an expert trainer. “Although it’s youth sports driven, the Bunker is also for adults who want to be an athlete,” said Marchakitus. “You have a personal trainer; class size is two to eight so you’re getting attention on form and function.
Charlie Volker, bobsled Olympian and RFH distinguished alumni, is one of the trainers in the Bunker.
By switching up your workout routine and trying new forms of exercise, exercise boredom can be curbed, maintaining the enjoyment of working out. This can also support the mental health benefits that are derived from exercise, keeping activities stimulating and fun. It is no surprise that exercise not only improves your physical state, but also mental wellbeing.
“There’s something about working out your muscles, but it’s also something about working out your brain and feeling better about yourself,” said Champeau. “You’re working out and all of a sudden you get the endorphins and you feel better and everything’s a little brighter.”
“We’re trying to have a platform where we can help other people get their message across in one fashion, where we make everyone feel better about themselves. To me, that’s part of the culture. If you don’t have the physical platform and facility, it’s hard to do that. But we do,” he said.
The article originally appeared in the October 13 – 19, 2022 print edition of The Two River Times.
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Why You Might Be Better Off Exercising at a Gym Than at Home – The Two River Times
By Stephen Appezzato