Mayor David Fried cuts the ceremonial ribbon on Workout World on April 12. To his left is Stephen Roma Sr. and Roma’s wife, Mary. Staff photo by Chris Sturgis.

By Chris Sturgis

To some, Workout World is a well-lighted, clean place to run on a television-equipped treadmill, and maybe stop at the juice bar on the way out. To Robbinsville Mayor David Fried, its the beginning of an economic development revolution for Route 130.

The fitness center, which opened in January as the anchor of a new shopping plaza on the south side of Route 130, held an April 12 open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony. “It’s been a great facility for the township, the first major facility built on Route 130 in 10 years. I hope it’s the beginning of a renaissance on Route 130,” Fried said.

He said he expected the township council to adopt an ordinance by the end of April that would rezone Route 130 from rural residential to highway commercial, except in the Windsor section, which would be designated village commercial, in order to protect its historic character. Workout World is the first fitness center in Robbinsville and Fried has already joined, he said in a brief interview before cutting a ceremonial ribbon.

Fried’s sentiments were echoed by Chris Ciaccio, a Robbinsville councilwoman and owner of Tony’s Farm and Garden Center, and Tom Paris, owner of Paris Auto Parts and president of the Robbinsville Business Association.

“We have the right mayor,” she said.

Ciaccio and Paris said they have been frustrated for years by the rural residential zoning on Route 130, which they had hoped would develop much more quickly than it has. Paris said he has been waiting for a development like the Workout World plaza since he bought the land for his store in 1984.

“I support commercial activity on Route 130. This is a very positive thing,” he said.

Stephen Roma, Sr. said he owns the Robbinsville Workout World and 10 others with members of his family. The first WOW fitness center is located in Tinton Falls.

A Brooklyn native who has lived in the Garden State for 35 years, Roma said he has also licensed the name and brand to 50 other centers, spread across the eastern United States, as well as Japan and Canada. Employees handed out bumper stickers that read, “Jersey Strong.”

He said he chose the Robbinsville location because the community is so family oriented. He said the fitness center has babysitting services with games and videos to amuse young people while their parents work out, which is part of the business strategy.

“The nice part, is the children eventually will become our members,” he said.

After Fried cut a red ribbon, a second one was strung across the Route 130 entrance for Roma to slice with ceremonial scissors. He was joined by his wife, Mary, and granddaughter, Soleil, who is ten months old, and Steve Kane, who is marketing director for Workout World’s New York City region.

Meanwhile, members seemed to ignore the grand opening features, including a buffet, face painting and an air-bounce contraption for children to enjoy, and just go about exercising.

One of them, Anthony Constantini, said he bought a membership even though he already belonged to another gym. Constantini and his wife, Joanne, said the place is only about 7 minutes from their home in Hamilton and has a nice atmosphere.

“It’s a total workout, cardiovascular and strength training. They motivate you with personal trainers, and everyone who works here makes you feel really comfortable,” he said.

His wife, Joanne, said she maintains her health with a regimen of stationary cycling and an exercise class called “boot camp.” “I need someone to tell me what to do,” she said, laughing.

Chris Donga of Allentown and Annette Changpertitum of Robbinsville had a boot camp session with trainer, or perhaps drill sergeant, Charles Abouzied, in a separate gym during the festivities. First, he demonstrated how they could lie back on exercise balls, then crunch their abdominal muscles into a sitting up position, and toss a ball back and forth. Then, he suggested a new twist on the child’s game of patty cake, played while supporting their bodies on their hands and knees. They struggled to slap hands in rhythm while getting a bit winded, agreeing it was tougher than it seemed.

Workout World, 1140 Route 130 North, can be reached at (609) 208-1999. On the Web: workoutworld.com.