During the BMCC designated Club Hours—Wednesdays from two o’clock p.m. to four o’clock p.m.—you’ll find students engaged in lively discussions about science, math, poetry…
Or, you’ll find students doing the “dead cockroach” and “the superman”—names of fitness moves that involve lying on your back like, well, a dead cockroach, and “flying” face-forward like the superhero.
BMCC’s Health and Wellness Club, guided by Gloria McNamara, Faculty Chair of the Health Education Department, meets during Club Hours. Unlike other clubs, the participants don’t just talk. They move and groove.
BMCC alum Jacques Laventure, (’06) known as “Fitness Joq”, which is also the name of his company, is the Health and Wellness Club instructor. He is certified personal trainer, fitness instructor, and entrepreneur.
Joq majored in Accounting at BMCC, but his lifelong interest in fitness inspired him to launch Fitness Joq, in which through his Web site, personal training and Bootcamp Fitness classes, he inspires New Yorkers—especially students—to take control of their health.
When Department Chair Gloria McNamara was seeking someone to spearhead—and spread the word—the Health and Wellness Club, Joq was “a great fit,” she says.
Always looking to give back to the BMCC community, Joq and McNamara decided students could truly benefit from some basic fitness lessons.
“We definitely wanted the Health and Wellness Club to incorporate some type of physical exercise,” said McNamara. “We spread the word about this Club through the Health Education classes.”
Best of all, the workouts are free for everyone.
“We once had the whole BMCC soccer team come in,” says Joq.
Sweating to the music
“The club is a lot of fun and Joq is energetic,” says student Shadae Blair. “I’m not really a fitness person, but when I heard about this class, I wanted to check it out.”
Student Erwing Wong feels “more awake” when he exercises with Joq. ‘When I’m feeling tired, it’s terrible—I can barely get through the day. I feel energized after working out. I would tell other students to check this club out, and don’t be shy. Everyone is very encouraging.”
Participants first sign-out a yoga mat and free weights from the Health Education office. Then, they arrange themselves on the floor of a nearby classroom, ready to work up a sweat.
Fast workout music sets the mood, and off the students go, doing planks, boxing jabs, squats, marching, and more.
“We attack every angle of your abdominals in this one-hour class, and sometime bring in guest speakers to talk about health and wellness. With the students, I specifically combine military style workouts and redefining core exercises,” says Joq.
The goal of the club, says Joq, is to teach students the importance of being physically active and inspire them to live a healthier lifestyle.
McNamara agrees, saying that today, it’s important for students to make independent decisions about their health, as the population today is at risk for heart disease, cancer and stroke.
She points out that many college students who transitioned to BMCC from high school may no longer engage in sports, so clubs that encourage physical fitness are "essential."
From business to fitness
Joq also wants students to know they can take their business degrees in many different directions, like he did.
“Because of my knowledge of accounting and business, I was able to launch my own clothing line. I sell workout gear (Joq Gear) on my Web site and Facebook page,” says Joq. “I made that transition from business into something I love, which is fashion and fitness.”
“We’re going to focus on the lower back today,” he tells about 17 students who are working out on one particular afternoon, just before the music plays.
As Joq walks around the classroom, he’ll shout words of encouragement, reminding students to, “breathe, breathe, breathe.”
“We feel awesome today! Don’t we feel awesome today?” he asks. “You guys rock!”