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Sports: Shvitzing to the Oldies

Why is this gym different from all other gyms?


You eat kosher food. you have kosher sex. And now you can work out at the Kosher Gym. The recently opened 7,000-square-foot fitness facility in Midwood, Brooklyn, is filled with rows of cross-training and elliptical machines, treadmills, and exercise bikes. Jennifer Lopez's dance beats and the biblical warblings of Orthodox Jewish singing star Dedi blast from the aerobics area. The gym's Hebrew motto, painted on the walls, preaches "a healthy body and a healthy soul."

But those hoping to start a romance beside the adductor machine à la Seinfeld and Sklar will be disappointed to learn that separate hours for men and women prevent intergender mingling. The floor-to-ceiling windows of the former garage on Coney Island Avenue between Avenues N and O have been frosted to prevent any peeping Shmuels from sneaking a peek -- even though the more modest among the women work out in wigs, head scarves, and knee-length skirts anyway. Men pump iron in yarmulkes and tank tops.

According to owner David Moshe, the approximately 700 members come from nearby Borough Park and as far away as Lakewood, New Jersey, and range in age from 14 to 80. Waiting near the kosher juice bar, his black fedora on the table beside him, Simcha Sussman, a fellow at a local kollel, or Talmudic academy, says he joined (a single annual membership is $550; married couples get an $899 deal) because he wanted to get in shape. So why the Kosher Gym instead of, say, Bally down the street? "The manner of dress during gym hours isn't appropriate," the 23-year-old Flatbush resident explains. "We're not supposed to see women in that way."

Moshe says he decided to open the gym because "when I used to walk into the synagogue, people would ask me what I did to work out. A lot of Orthodox Jews are out of shape," he says cheerfully, "and they don't look healthy."


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