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This month, we spoke with Audrey Edwards, the health, fitness and wellness director at the JCC of Greater Boston, about renovation projects.

What can you tell me about the new fitness center at the JCC of Greater Boston?

AE: We just completed phase one of at least three phases of renovation. We spent $9.5 million renovating our locker room space and building a brand-new fitness center. Families with young children and baby boomers are our primary members, so we did this renovation with those groups in mind. Phase two is creating a family resource wing and all new group fitness spaces. The fitness center is timeless — it’s very contemporary, clean and beautiful, with all new equipment.

It looks like you’ve incorporated functional training spaces into the design of the project. Why did you feel this was important?

AE: I think functional training is the new way to train. I felt it was important to include turf and functional training tools in a setting that was inviting and non-intimidating. In planning the space, I worked with Aktiv Solutions, and my goal was when people walked in, I wanted the “wow” factor. I think it’s current, and it feels safe and attainable.

It sounds like a lot of things have changed after the renovation. How are you ensuring a smooth transition for members?

AE: I have a great team. Our customer service is fantastic and we’re doing a lot of educating and introduction. The functional training utilization has also exploded. Now, the majority of users are on the turf, whereas in the past, they haven’t had that option.

What have been some of the biggest challenges with the renovation project and how did you overcome those challenges?

AE: My biggest concern was that everything is new. I brought in all new strength equipment, selectorized equipment, and the rig and turf. Every single thing members see is new. I stressed with our team how important visibility was, and educating and being available to approach and help members. I wanted the transition to be seamless.

Are there any tips you could share with other rec centers looking to renovate or build a new space from scratch?

AE: If you have the opportunity to bring functional training to the fitness floor, I’d recommend doing so, because our members are already doing it. It needs to be available and on your fitness floor. We have to start thinking about tomorrow, and this is tomorrow. We can still have a full line of selectorized equipment. But we have to stay current and relevant and think about tomorrow, and I think functional training is really the future.

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