Last week 26-year-old Daniel Schwartz joined the JCC! Normally something like that wouldn’t be considered big news. So why does it bear mentioning? Because two years ago when he moved to Cincinnati from Atlanta, he took a tour of the JCC and promptly joined Urban Active.
“Don’t get me wrong, I thought the Mayerson JCC was a beautiful facility. It had everything I could have wanted—with the exception of one thing. Other people my age!” he explained. “But over the past year I started to notice that things had changed. Almost everyone I knew was joining the J. There was even a person on staff now who was dedicated to young professional programming. There seemed to be so much going on that I decided to check it out again,” he continued. “I was blown away by how many YPs I saw there this time around, and by how much they’ve got going on for my demographic any given week! I couldn’t believe how much had changed in such a short amount of time. I was so impressed, I dropped my other membership and joined the JCC right then and there!”
Every day more and more young professionals (YPs) are joining the JCC, making it more than just a place to work out. It’s a place to connect to other young professionals who are looking for a fun and cost effective way to exercise and socialize with others just like themselves. Much of this new influx of YPs is due to an innovative partnership between The Mayerson Foundation and the Mayerson JCC, which resulted in the formation of a new program about a year-and-a-half ago called YPs at the JCC, geared primarily for Jewish young professionals, 21-35 years old.
“For nearly a decade we have been successful in getting, and keeping, a significant percentage of YPs engaged and connected to one another and to the Jewish community through our Access initiative,” explained Pam Saeks, director of Jewish Giving for The Mayerson Foundation. “Over the years we have gained a certain expertise regarding this demographic by keeping our ear to the ground in order to spot trends, identify unmet needs and create opportunities where none existed before so when the JCC approached us to help them reach out to this audience we were thrilled to be able to use what we’ve learned to support their efforts and to increase the number of great offerings available for YPs in the Jewish community!”
As part of the strategy to attract more YPs to the JCC, The Mayerson Foundation’s Outreach and Engagement coordinator, Josh Rothstein, was put in charge of YP programming there. His job was to use the Access model to create an innovative mix of social events and workout classes specifically aimed at this demographic. Through surveys, focus groups, one-on-one conversations and a little trial and error, a series of programs and events were developed, based largely on what people were asking for. It didn’t take long for word to spread that the Mayerson JCC was the place to be for Jewish YPs in Greater Cincinnati. Now, a year and a half later, this unique partnership between the two organizations has produced a thriving program for YPs at the JCC. To date, hundreds of YPs have participated in these specialized programs and classes, bringing in nearly 200 paid memberships and counting as a direct result of these efforts.
“Like Access, the YPs at the JCC program is ‘consumer driven,’ making it easy for our constituents to give us ongoing feedback,” said Rothstein. “That way we can offer custom workout classes and other programs that we know will appeal to them. It also allows us to take calculated risks when it comes to offering ‘out of the box’ events and classes. With this demographic it’s critical for us to stay on top of the latest trends in health, fitness and of course, fun! The best way for us to do that is to be in close touch with our participants and really listen to what they want and need.”
As a result, special group exercise programs have been created to appeal to this demographic, including Modern Dance, Ab Blaster, Aqua Bootcamp, Krav Maga, Knockout, SMACK, J-Soul Spinning, Couples’ Boxing and others, which are typically followed by some type of social event. For example, after a Super-Sized high impact yoga class, YPs were treated to free Yagoot yogurt and a lululemon trunk show. In a similar fashion, a full Israeli lunch was served after a Krav Maga class, and an afterhours pool party was planned on the heels of a Pilates class, just to name a few.
“Last winter, there was a Scuba Diving event where the entire indoor pool was converted into an underwater classroom where any young professional could try out Scuba Diving for free,” exclaimed Tracy Levine, who moved to Cincinnati from Cleveland this past summer. “Who knew that the JCC would become my home away from home? Not only do they offer fun events to attend after my work out, but they have given me a great way to cultivate friendships. Recently my friends and I went to a Slim Cooking demo after an exercise class where we learned delicious healthy eating tips. It was like a one-two punch!” she added. “Thanks to the JCC I have begun to build the kind of lifestyle I hope will carry me throughout my 20s and beyond.”
“Out of all of the gyms in Cincinnati, I chose to become a member of the Mayerson J. Not only is it one of the nicest exercise facilities in Cincinnati, but the many social gatherings they offer have helped me to create a network here and to stay connected to people my age who share similar interests such as exercise, sports, music, etc,” explained Mitch Better, a frequent participant in many of the YPs at the JCC programs. “The programs also motivate me to exercise so I can stay connected to my friends and consistently meet new people.”
Events and classes for YPs have been scheduled well into the spring and summer, including the upcoming Pilates and Slim Cooking in the Courtyard on Tuesday, May 1. The free event will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a private Pilates class, taught by popular instructor, Nora Kirsh, geared for participants of every level from beginner to advanced. Then, at 7:30 p.m., Nutritionist and Registered Dietitian, Peachy Seiden will cook up a few simple, healthy meals in a snap and share tips and tricks on maintaining a healthier diet. Samples are included of course! YPs are invited to participate in one or both portions of the program.
This event, and all other YPs at the JCC programs and classes are open to anyone 21-35 years old. For those who are not members of the JCC, free, no strings attached Day Passes are available through Josh Rothstein.