I went to work out this week at the Jewish Community Center ("The J") on Gypsy Lane on Youngstown's North Side. It's just a couple of blocks from our house, so it's convenient for us to have a membership, and my wife works out there frequently. I, alas, am there far less frequently. It was the first time I have been in since they installed brand new treadmills, bikes, and "total body trainer" equipment. My wife told me the equipments was slick, but I was not prepared for just how bleeding-edge, state-of-the-art these machines really were.
First, you've got the basics. On most treadmills, you wrap your hands around the shiny handles to check your heartrate, and maybe you get a reading or maybe you don't; these registered almost instantly. (But wait, there's more.) There's also a TV. Built right in. Pick your own channel, go ahead, channel-surf while you work out and plug your earphones into the private headphone jack. (But wait, there's more.) Now, as you build up some speed, all of a sudden, a blast of cool air hits you. No, you're not in the Alps, the machines have a built-in fan to cool you off while you work out. (But wait, there's more.) If there's one feature that will get me back to the gym, here it is: I can take my new iPod touch, plug in the video/audio adapter, watch movies or TV shows or video podcasts from it on the treadmill's screen, listen through the private headphone jack, and even charge the device with the USB port!
Why am I telling you about this here on this blog? So many places you look in Youngstown you see disinvestment and cutting back of services. Levies for WRTA and public schools are voted down in elections, and the general attitude from those looking in from the outside frequently feels like things are going down and there's no point in bothering with it. Across the street from the J, for example, Forum Health closed Tod Children's Hospital last year and continues to trim services, such as a medical surgery unit that shut down last month. Not that you'd know it from their own news feed, which, aside from promotion for National Nurses Week and Organ and Tissue Donation, posted its last press release on January 25th.
The J, at least, is keeping its doors open and maintaining services to its members. It could have simply kept up the status quo. Instead, it made a bold move; a gamble, even. It poured tens of thousands of dollars into new equipment for its members, showing a commitment to them, to its community, and to Youngstown. I applaud the J for its foresight and courage, and I look forward to getting back out there with my iPod and A/V cable to spend some more time on the treadmill. I'm running out of excuses.