By MADDY VITALE
Reserving a spot at the pool, gym, or ensuring a place in a favorite exercise class are now all just a few clicks away with Ocean City’s new online portal for members of the Aquatic & Fitness Center.
The complex is a centerpiece of the community, where people go to unwind, work out, and focus on health. It is located in the Community Center at 1735 Simpson Ave.
And up until the COVID-19 pandemic, it was buzzing with activity. But for the months that it was closed before September, Community Services Director Daniel Kelchner, Aquatic & Fitness Supervisor Lisa Rumer and other city officials worked together to create an easier way for members to select a time to get on their favorite treadmill, swim those laps and take those classes.
“During COVID we made some long overdue, needed changes. We decided to modernize some things and we trained the staff on them,” Kelchner explained.
Even though members may do all they need to set up their times and make payments on their desktop or mobile device, they can also just pick up the phone, Kelchner said.
“We are not eliminating traditional phone calls. Those who would rather call us can do so,” he said.
In addition to being able to select time slots for swimming, classes and gym time, the online portal also includes an afterschool program, basketball leagues and other activities.
Aquatic & Fitness Center members need to create an online account to be able to use the portal at ocnj.recdesk.com/Community/Home. And for anyone wishing to call to reserve a spot, they may do so as well at 609-398-6900.
“We have also made the front desk at the Aquatic Center a city center, where people may purchase beach tags, concert tickets, dog park passes and inquire about general information for city services,” Kelchner said.
Above all, he emphasized, safety is the top priority. All CDC health and safety protocols are strictly adhered to at the fitness center.
Staff ensures social distancing, sanitizing is done on a constant basis, classes are kept to allowable capacity and masks are to be worn except during swim time. After members exit the pool they must put their masks back on immediately.
“Our initiative above everything else is that safety is first and foremost. But we also are trying to make sure we offer services to give the community an outlet for exercise, fitness and mental health,” Kelchner emphasized.
He continued, “People have lost that social interaction. In order to take care of the community, we want to cater to their health and their needs.”
While it took months to create the new portal, it was worth the wait and is well-received by members when it was rolled out this week, both Kelchner and Rumer said.
The pool reopened back in July and the fitness center followed in September. And even though the experience is not as it once was before COVID-19, Rumer said the members are very thankful to be back.
“People constantly say, ‘Thank you,’ and say how happy they are to be back. We created an atmosphere that they feel safe in,” Rumer said. “They really do appreciate it and acknowledge it. It makes us feel great because the amount of work we do is worth it.”
Kelchner added, “We have been very lucky. It seems that our protocols are working and people understand. Our groups are smaller, but the results have been very encouraging since reopening back in September.”
For more information or to reserve a spot visit https://ocnj.recdesk.com/Community/Home