HomeCherry Hill NewsKatz JCC meets changing fitness demands with expanded health and wellness center

Katz JCC meets changing fitness demands with expanded health and wellness center


The Katz JCC became a go-to place for the community when its new building in Cherry Hill opened in 1997.

It was so popular, talks of expanding the center began not long after opening.

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“At the time we moved into this building, it was already too small,” said Debbie Orel, membership director for the Katz JCC. “Our membership number exceeded our expectations. We had to expand.”

In 2007, the Katz JCC opened an expanded health and wellness facility, paving the way for more workout equipment, fitness classes and programming.

Orel, who has worked at the JCC since the new building’s opening, said fitness trends have changed a great deal over the past decade. As trends have changed, demand has changed from the community, resulting in new classes and programs. Adding space for health and fitness allowed the JCC to add a slew of new programming.

“We did expand our health and wellness facilities within the last 10 years to accommodate the greater need of the community,” Orel said. “We expanded the actual fitness center to give more equipment.”

In addition to equipment, more group wellness rooms were added to allow for more classes. Today, the Katz JCC has designated rooms for yoga, pilates and group wellness.

“That’s why we needed to expand,” Orel said. “We knew people wanted these classes, but we didn’t have the space.”

After the expanded fitness center opened, membership numbers grew. When the new building opened in 1997, the JCC had approximately 3,200 member families. Today, that number is about 4,500, with more than 20,000 members overall.

“Our retention rate is incredible,” Orel said.

Orel believes a large reason for that is the center’s ability to stay on top of new fitness trends. This year, the JCC had made a number of additions in response to requests from the community.

This fall, the JCC opened a JFit Studio for small group and one-on-one training sessions.

“We’ve taken an old space, redesigned it,” Orel said. “It’s intended for small group personal training.”

The JCC also started scheduling family fitness classes in 2015. The classes are similar to the workouts for adults, but are catered to include children as well.

The family fitness classes aren’t the only major additions the JCC has made for kids in the last 10 years. One of the most popular programs today is the Lenny Krayzelburg Swim Academy. Four-time Olympic gold medalist Lenny Krayzelburg started the program in 2005 with the hope of developing swim lessons for kids to teach them water safety and get them excited about swimming competitively.

Orel said the swim academy was extremely successful from the beginning.

“Our swim lessons numbers doubled once we brought in our Lenny Krayzelburg Swim Academy,” she said. “Lenny’s goal is to develop this into a lifelong sport for the kids.”

Orel credited the JCC’s ability to stay on top of trends to the staff. She said all those in charge of programming have their pulse on the community and what is new in their specific department.

“It’s really staff driven,” Orel said. “It’s a very talented group of folks that really keeps up with trends that knows what’s going on.”

Trendy programming and a larger space for fitness have helped the JCC maintain its membership base over the past 10 years. The new building, now 18 years old, has reached a point where kids who visited when it first opened are now returning as adults.

“We’ll see a family, then the kids move away,” Orel said. “These kids went away to college, then they come back.”

Orel said the Katz JCC plans to continue evolving with the changing fitness trends and serve families for generations to come.


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