Downtown Jamaica Becoming Fitness Hub With Fourth Gym

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska on September 16, 2013 7:39am 

 Planet Fitness will open in a new retail center, currently under construction, at 168-50 Jamaica Ave.
Planet Fitness will open in a new retail center, currently under construction, at 168-50 Jamaica Ave.
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ACHS Management

QUEENS — Downtown Jamaica is flexing its muscles.

A busy stretch of Jamaica Avenue, which is already home to Bally Total Fitness, Lucille Roberts and Blink Fitness, will soon have a fourth gym.

Planet Fitness will open in the retail center currently under construction at 168-50 Jamaica Ave.

“It should be open in about nine months,” said Ralph Hanan, of Metropolitan Skyline Realty, who marketed the property on behalf of ACHS Management.

Residents and officials said the new gym, where membership will $10 a month, will be a welcome addition to a neighborhood with a high obesity rate and few parks.

"This is great," said Nadine Deen, 21, who works at T.J. Maxx and plans to join the gym near her home. "It will help the community."

One out of five adults who live in Jamaica is obese, according to statistics provided by Community Healthcare Network, a nonprofit with two clinics in Jamaica that offer affordable health care to Medicaid and uninsured patients.

Maegan Ratliffe, CHN's director of nutrition, said she hopes the new gym will make it easier for residents to exercise regularly.

People often need an extra push to incorporate good habits into their daily routine, she said. For example, people can get off the bus before their stop and walk the rest of the distance.

"If people are really motivated and they are ready to implement exercise, they want an option like this," Ratliffe said, referring to the planned gym.

Councilman Leroy Comrie said he was glad Planet Fitness decided to "make an investment in downtown Jamaica."

"People in the neighborhood are trying to exercise more," he said.

The new retail center, which will be almost 36,000 square feet, will also include a Family Dollar store.

As Jamaica becomes a major draw for shoppers once again, the new development will join a number of retail centers and large stores in the area, including Marshalls, located across the street.

The neighborhood, which was once home to Macy's, Mays and Gertz, is also slated to get its first department store in decades.

Hanan said he is currently conducting negotiations with several prospective tenants.

According to the Jamaica Center BID, the property still has about 12,000 square feet available.

The nearest Planet Fitness is on Metropolitan Avenue in Richmond Hill.

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