Read more via the BGT Enterprises Facebook page
Jean Piaget, educational psychologist, once said that, “The goal of education is not to increase the amount of knowledge but to create the possibilities for a child to invent and discover, to create men who are capable of doing new things.”
Never have I experienced this philosophy more than when I met with Erin Kahy and Amnah Aboukamar-Johnson, the two heads of the Brunswick Center School.
Initially, I met with the two directors to learn more about the center and what it had to offer in terms of curriculum and instruction for their students, who range in age from infants to Kindergarten students. However, as I sat listening to them speak of the work of their teachers, I found myself engrossed in their educational philosophy and the ideals with which they are using to guide the Brunswick School.
The Brunswick School, located in Jersey City, believes in a holistic approach to learning in which student-driven instruction facilitates the growth of young learners for future academic success. It was clear from speaking with both Aboukamar-Johnson and Kahy that the administration, faculty and staff value learning that is authentic, purposeful and engaging to all students.
According to the school’s website, “Educators use a diverse approach to educate our youth that encompasses logical/abstract thinking, creative outlets to fasten fundamental ideas, hands-on, student driven exploration and teacher-guided large group and small group instruction to provide a comprehensive curriculum for lifelong learners. At The Brunswick School, we believe that each learner is unique and that each, individual, student has a different approach to learning.”
After meeting with both directors of the school, it was evident that the school’s philosophy and vision are in the hands of educational leaders who hold a core belief in these values. Ms. Kahy, who came to the Brunswick School in 2014 when it was initially established, brings with her a background in and love for performing arts. This passion helps her lead faculty and staff in creating a space where both teachers and students can utilize their creativity and imaginations.
Amnah Aboukamar-Johnson has 22 years of experience in early childhood education. She has been both a classroom teacher and educational leader. Having spent time teaching in the same environment in which she now leads allows her to draw on her experiences and perspectives from her time inside of the classroom.
In addition to Aboukamar-Johnson and Kahy having an enriched understanding of multiple styles of learning and developmentally appropriate curriculum, they also have established a mutual trust in their expert teachers.
“We have a strong teaching staff here at the Brunswick School and we try to provide them a space in which they can make the decisions that are best for the individual learners inside of their classrooms. While we have a guiding set of end- of-year learning objectives for each student, we do not wish to box in our teachers by having them stick to one prescribed curriculum. Our teachers are resourceful educators who have the ability to draw upon various methods in order to help students achieve the highest level of success through diverse learning experiences,” the two directors shared.
It was hard not to feel motivated and inspired by the student-focused leadership style of both Kahy and Aboukamar-Johnson. Their clear combination of knowledge of best teaching and learning practices coupled with their passion and love for the daily experience of childhood development set the tone for the wonderful learning and growing that is happening at the Brunswick School.
Ms. Kahy states that, “My philosophy on education has always been that nothing can be uniform when it comes to a child’s development and her approach and ability to understand new material. Every child learns in his own way and some children take longer than others, grasping concepts or aspects of concepts.”
The Brunswick School was a natural fit for Ms. Kahy as she saw her own visions of education mirrored in the school.
“TBS is completely aligned with my own views of appropriate educational modeling as we provide a 100% individualized approach to all aspects of learning: cognitive, emotional, social, physical and language development are all the areas where we concentrate on a child’s unique abilities and hone in on interests to help that child blossom into whomever he or she is going to be—no predispositions are ever part of the process. If a child wants to be a scientist when they grow up, wonderful! If another child wants to be a plumber, equally wonderful! It’s all about reaching each child’s own, personal potentials and goals and making him or her the very best version of themselves.”
Erin Kahy came to the Brunswick School in 2014 when it was initially established. Erin has been an educational director for over ten years and has a degree in Elementary Education and Creative writing. Erin is also a mom to a beautiful baby girl who attends the Brunswick School.
Amnah has been involved in Early Childhood for 22 years, and her educational background includes a degree in Early Childhood Development as well as being Preschool-3 certified by the State of NJ. Outside of the Brunswick School, Amnah enjoys spending time with her husband and 3 children.
The Brunswick School, a part of the Brunswick Center is located at 189 Brunswick St. in Jersey City, NJ. For more information you can visit https://thebrunswickschool.com or call 201-478-8886. The school regularly holds Open House events for prospective parents and students. You can follow them on Instagram @thebrunswickschooljc for up to date information.
“The studio down the hallway.” For me that is what Power-House Pilates was for the two years I’ve been coming to the Brunswick Center. I have always wanted to try Pilates…always. More often than not when interviewed for fitness magazines, ballerinas, models, and long-limbed actresses will tout the impact Pilates has had on their overall health and fitness journey. Forever I have associated Pilates with women (and men) who had long lean bodies and flexibility to die for. While I had always pined away for that type of body, I never quite felt good enough, lean enough, or flexible enough (I can’t even touch my toes) to engage in that specific workout regime.
A week ago, however, I decided to put my reservations and fears aside and take my chances at the “studio down the hallway” in the Brunswick Center. The benefits of Pilates (strength, flexibility, enhanced core, balance, etc.) had to outweigh any risks of me looking like a complete fool in front of the instructor, right?
As I entered the brightly lit and meticulously clean studio, I was in awe at the various pieces of equipment around the space. Lining the room in perfect symmetry were mats, wooden reformers, and other pieces of equipment you don’t see in your typical workout studio. Standing in silhouette against the sun-filled windows was what I would learn is the Cadillac reformer, or trapeze table, with bars, straps, and coils. In my mind I had always envisioned Pilates being various exercises on floor mats. However, I was immediately intrigued and excited as my eyes took in the retro style machines. “We get to play!” I thought.
Having now had two private Pilates sessions with Morwen, owner and instructor at the studio, I can tell you that Pilates is unlike any workout I have ever experienced. Over the course of 55 minutes, Morwen took me through a series of exercises on the reformer and tower Cadillac that challenged me, relaxed me, and filled me with curiosity.
Being brand new to anything Pilates, I found that many of the moves required coordination and body positions that I have never been asked to do in any other form of exercise. Morwen informed me that the creator of Pilates specifically designed the exercises in a way that challenged your brain as well as your body in an attempt to keep you mindful at all times. Because of this mind-body connection, I felt certain that tiny muscle groups that I’ve never worked out before were definitely getting used (something I have often heard about Pilates).
Through a combination of stretches, unique breathing patterns, quick and slow movements, and held positions, my body engaged in a unique workout that I cannot compare to any other form of exercise. There were times I felt like I was going to die as I performed a series of slightly different movements that targeted the same muscles groups until my body felt like jelly. In sharp juxtaposition, these exercises would be followed by several stretches that Morwen led me through that resulted in that same Zen-like feeling you get during yoga. Additionally, sliding, standing, and swinging from the equipment were just downright fun and really spoke to my inner child.
I’ve now completed two private sessions with Morwen and I have to tell you…I’m hooked. As someone who has struggled with balance and flexibility my whole life, I’m rather upset with myself for being too intimidated for so many years by what I deemed to be the elusive and elite Pilates workout. After each session, I have felt equally invigorated by a workout that has truly pushed my physical limits and relaxed by the stretching and breathing work also involved. It is a post-workout sensation unlike any other. Additionally, when I feel the small random muscles that are sore for a few days after my session, I know that it is the missing component of a truly full-body workout in my regular routine.
Although Pilates is often associated with dancers, models, and actresses, I was able to learn more about the history of Pilates and how it started during my sessions. Joseph H. Pilates, founder, developed the exercise program to actually help bedridden hospital patients exercise and work on their mobility. It wasn’t until later that it would become a craze for dancers around the world. To learn more about the history of Pilates click here: https://www.pilates.com/BBAPP/V/pilates/origins-of-pilates.html
Morwen’s beautiful studio is located on the third floor of the Brunswick Center in Jersey City. In addition to offering 30 min and 55 min private sessions, she provides duet sessions and small group classes. If you have ever wanted to try Pilates but have been intimidated, you can sample it through her $99.00 new student package which offers three privates lessons. As someone who avoided Pilates for years out of fear of “not being good enough,” I promise you won’t regret it. For more information, visit https://www.power-housepilates.com/
REPOST via Mira Prinz-Arey
The City of Jersey City will be hosting our 4th Annual Great Jersey City Clean Up on Saturday, April 13th from 10-2pm.
To volunteer please sign up here:
Residents, neighborhood groups and community leaders are encouraged to roll up their sleeves and help clean our city on a single day! There will be a main tent in every location ( see flyer attached) where volunteers will gather before heading to their clean up zones. Light breakfast will be provided and there will be staff from city and county agencies providing informational materials and give-aways.
Read more via the BGT Enterprises Facebook page
By: Jennifer Belcher
A few weeks ago I was scrolling through Instagram when I found myself frozen in awe at a transformation post by Jersey City Kickboxing. I knew immediately that I needed to feature the woman in the photo in our “Faces of the Brunswick Center” series. Her side by side transformation was nothing short of incredible. After learning more of the story behind the photograph, I realized it was far more than just a “before and after” weight loss journey. Fleurdelis’ inspirational story is one of dedication, motivation, commitment, and family.
Fleurdelis first came to Jersey City Kickboxing 2 years ago as a parent who had her two boys enrolled at the academy.
“Both my boys are being trained by Coach Paul, Coach Ralph, and Coach Sosa. My oldest started training 2 years ago,” she explains.
In February of 2018 Fleurdelis started her own fitness journey. At 210 lbs, she was fed up with always feeling tired and unhealthy. She knew if she did not make a dramatic change in the way she was living her life, she could end up with diabetes, a disease which runs in her family.
“With having two boys I couldn’t bear the thought of them having to see their mom so unhealthy. I started going to the gym 30 mins a day for 7 days a week since this was all my body could tolerate. This went on for about a month,” recounts Fleurdelis.
As she slowly built up her strength and endurance she was able to add more to her weekly routine. At first she added fitness classes such as Zumba and weightlifting. She kept this up until June of 2018 when she realized she needed to up the challenge even more for maximum results. Familiar with her sons’ instructor Coach Paul, the owner of Jersey City Kickboxing, she reached out to him for advice.
“Once I realized I needed a more intense workout, I spoke with Paul and he suggested I try out the adult classes.”
Kickboxing proved to be exactly what she needed to push her mind and body and help her finally reach her health and fitness goals. From February to June, Fleudelis lost 20-30lbs. However, her major weight loss and toning came from kickboxing where she lost a total of 50-60lbs. It wasn’t always an easy and happy process, however. Halfway through her journey, her eldest son came to her and confessed that he was being bullied over his weight. Kids were telling him that he was heavy because his mom is heavy. This was exactly what she needed to give her the will to continue what she had started.
“A mother will do anything to always protect her children,” she said.
Along with working out, she also focused on changing her eating habits.
“Losing weight and toning are not all about working out. It also comes from the kitchen. A year later I have been able to keep the weight off and am healthier than ever,” she proudly states.
Currently Fleurdelis attends classes at Jersey City Kickboxing Monday – Friday. The best part is, she’s been able to make it into a family affair. From 5-7pm each of her family members is involved in a class. Her youngest son attends the 5pm class, her teen attends class at 6pm class, and she rounds out the evening by taking the 7pm adult class.
For Fleurdelis, kickboxing is more than just a challenging workout. It is a special part of her life that helped show her what exactly she was capable of, mentally and physically.
“Kickboxing has changed my life, especially when it comes to my fitness level. I was never into any type of physical workouts, but kickboxing doesn’t feel like a normal work out. It is intense and fun at the same time. I was never one to exercise as the commitment necessary to make it work was somehow never attainable. However, that all changed when I met Paul Clark and started to attend kickboxing classes. JC Kickboxing has shown me how to incorporate the art of Muay Thai and the correct form of boxing.”
Fleurdelis finds the classes to be strategically structured and having the ability to take both cardio kickboxing and Muay Thai classes is a great experience. She speaks highly of her coach and owner Paul, complimenting him on his ability to train a variety of clients, regardless of their fitness level.
“He works on your strengths and weaknesses, improving all aspects of total body fitness.”
Complimenting the obvious benefits to her weight and physical fitness, her classes have proven to make an impact in other parts of her life.
“Being a teacher, kickboxing has helped me in lowering my stress level, given me more energy, burned calories, has boosted my confidence to a very high level, and toned my entire body. It also helps me learn self-defense moves which is something all women should learn.”
In addition to being able to take part in an activity with her actual family, Fleurdelis has also developed a second family through Jersey City Kickboxing. She applauds the staff’s ability to create a welcoming, warm, and friendly environment which has enabled her to create loving relationships that make her feel like she has known her coaches and classmates for years. She even was able to meet the owner of Worry Woo’s, another Brunswick Center business, who she attends morning classes with and has given her advice for her teaching career.
Motivated by her two young sons and her desire to turn her life around and get healthy, Fleurdelis set herself on a determined path of change and devotion. Through a local community of expert teachers and students, she found exactly what she needed to spark her transformation and to continually push her past new challenges and obstacles each day.
Jersey City Kickboxing is located on the 3rd floor of the Brunswick Center and is owned and operated by Paul Clark. For more information on Kickboxing, Muay Thai, and other services visit www.njkickbox.com.
In our society, we often consider February a month of love. While much of the focus is on romantic love, love extends far beyond our love for a partner. Love is all encompassing and includes our children, family, friends, pets, and ourselves. But as we all know, love isn’t always easy. It needs time, focus, effort, and determination.
When developing Hudson Play in the Brunswick Center, Ilana Libman was focused on fostering love and geared her efforts on helping to encourage strong families from the inside out. At the forefront of this indoor playground is the physical benefits for the children who jump, skip, and climb their way through the four-lane obstacle course and free play areas. However, for Libman, Hudson Play can offer so much more for every member of the family.
As we all know, modern parents are busier than ever and finding time for personal needs can be a monumental endeavor. However, making time for spouses, partners, and friends fosters positive changes in relationships with children as well. According to a 2018 Washington Post Article by Whitney Pipkin, couples who go on dates regularly have stronger communication skills, fewer conflicts and work towards developing closeness. These qualities directly impact the well-being of children as well.
Libman, who is a busy working mom and constantly on the go, wanted to use her business as an opportunity for Jersey City parents to have stress-free adult time with family or friends. Therefore she created “Parent’s Night Out” offered every Friday night at Hudson Play. The weekly event really aims to support both the children and adult members of the family.
“Parents can leave their children with us, knowing they are exercising, socializing, eating well, and are playing safely. It’s cheaper than a babysitter, and we are located so close to downtown. The Brunswick Center is a three minute walk to Newark Ave where all the popular restaurants are located. It couldn’t be more convenient, ” Libman states.
In addition to offering children an opportunity to stay physically active (regardless of weather) and socialize with new or existing friends, Hudson Play is also committed to developing healthy eating habits.
“Parents do not have to worry about leaving their child someplace where they have access to junk food full of sugar and preservatives. As a mom, I know the importance of nutrition. When children are here, they have the option to eat from our cafe where everything we offer is healthy and made from scratch. I wanted the overall experience of ‘Parent’s Night Out’ to feel guilt free in every aspect of the care we provide.”
On the surface, Hudson Play may appear solely as a local opportunity for young children to get their wiggles out and burn energy. However, through programs such as “Parent’s Night Out”, residents of Jersey City can develop their families in a much more comprehensive way, strengthening both the physical and emotional health of every member of the household.
Currently, Parent’s Night Out is offered every Friday evening from 6pm-10pm. The program is by reservation only, which can be done online. Hudson Play does not take walk-ins for this event. Parents can drop off their children for a fun pajama party which includes dinner, open play, games, crafts, movies, and more. This program is available for children ages 4ys-12yrs and is $39.00 per child with a 50% off sibling discount. This Valentine’s Day, Hudson Play is offering an extended drop off from 6pm-11pm.
For more information on Parent’s Night Out, registration and to learn more about other available programs at Hudson Play, please visit: https://www.hudsonplaynj.com/.
This week, as I gave pause to reflect on the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I was reminded of his great and earnest belief in community. He so deeply maintained a globalized view in which we are all-inclusive, just, socially minded, and based in love for one another.
He stated, “Let us live together in peace and love in a Beloved Community.”
The Brunswick Center is founded in the idea of community. But what is community without those individuals who comprise it? When I think of community, yes, I think of places and space. However, what is community, truly, without the beloved faces who weave in and out of the brick and mortar, bringing forth love, compassion and inclusivity?
The faces of the Brunswick Center, a new blog series, will feature the individuals who make the center a second home to so many Jersey City residents.
There is not a day that I walk into the Brunswick Center without passing the warm and ever-happy face of Danielle Bisordi. I couldn’t wait to have an opportunity to hear her story about what brought her to the center and the significance it has had in her life.
Danielle, who lives down the street from the Brunswick Center, watched the three- story building during its renovation, having no idea the special place in her heart the building would eventually hold. Danielle, who ended up having her wedding dance choreographed by Jersey City Ballroom, was always curious about what the space would become.
“I live down the street so I saw it when it was going under renovations and looked up what it was going to be. I didn’t know about Jersey City Ballroom until the sign on the side of the building went up,” Bisordi says.
It was incredibly convenient for the couple, a deciding factor in where they would learn their first dance. Danielle and her husband officially started taking lessons at the center in July of 2017 and now she regularly attends classes and private lessons three to four times a week. I asked her why she continued to come back after their wedding was over.
“I danced for my whole life growing up until I went to college and had been considering coming back to it for a while. Taking lessons for my wedding dance, along with the community at JCB, reminded me of how much I loved it, so I kept coming back.”
It was more than just a love of dance, however, that had Danielle returning to the Brunswick Center day after day. For her, the sense of community and the friendships she has been able to establish have helped her solidify her connection with the “building down the street”.
“Jersey City Ballroom does an amazing job of fostering a sense of community amongst everyone who takes lessons/classes there. We have made some incredible friends there. I definitely feel more connected to Jersey City because of it. Living so close to the center… it’s great running into people while I’m just going about my day. I’ve also found out about some events in Hudson County I wouldn’t have been aware of otherwise due to the JCB performances (i.e. JC Cultural Arts Family Festival, Bayonne Arts and Music Festival) even though I’ve lived here for 13 years,” Bisordi says.
Even Danielle’s husband has jumped on the bandwagon. In December the couple danced in the smooth performance team together and she and Kiel performed a fun solo routine that had the whole audience laughing. I asked Danielle what effect coming to the center together had on their marriage.
“We are better dancers, have another fun activity to do together, and have made some really good friends through the JCB community.”
In addition to her many ballroom classes each week and grabbing an occasional smoothie at the Health Bar Cafe in Hudson Play, Danielle wants to try other classes offered at the center. She mentioned that she really wants to try an aerial and hoop class at Body Pole and Soul, a newer studio a few doors down from Jersey City Ballroom.
For Danielle and her husband, the Brunswick Center has played a vital role in their health, recreation, friendships, and community while being residents of Jersey City.
“The Brunswick Center is an awesome central place that provides opportunities to try new things and meet great people.”
The great Dr. King spoke frequently and emphatically of the importance of community. The Brunswick Center’s ability to create a space that meets the needs of a diverse population was no accident. When I spoke to Ben Torrei, managing partner of BGT Enterprises, he was very clear with his vision of the role the center would play in the lives of our local residents.
“My intention for the Brunswick Center was to provide the Jersey City community with a place that they can explore and experience a variety of education, health and wellness opportunities. Whether it’s Pilates, Ballroom dancing, or Ballet, there’s something for everyone here at the center. You can drop off your kid at the Brunswick School, bring your laptop, grab a smoothie at Hudson Play and relax in our 2nd Floor lounge area or sign up a 30 min spin class with Core Cycling,” says Torrei.
The people of the Brunswick Center are those who help to create the sense of community that so many of us find appealing. When I walk into the Brunswick Center on any given day, and I see those familiar smiles and nods of recognition, I recognize that I am a part of something bigger than myself. I am a part of a group of individuals who all view this center as a pivotal part of their well-being, friendships, and day to day life in Jersey City.
Every January I find myself, along with everyone else I know, looking toward the new year as an opportunity to reset, recharge, and make the upcoming 12 months the best I have ever had. Whether we call them resolutions, intentions, or goals, each year we are given a fresh start and an opportunity for change. We enter into this new year full steam ahead, researching gyms, diets, and books that will help us live our life to its optimum potential.
We face many challenging obstacles when deciding how to better ourselves such as understanding where to start and what resources are available to us. For example, just doing a Google search of gyms in your area can provide a multitude of facilities which may or may not be right for you. Furthermore, a healthier and more fit body is just one aspect of personal growth and development that we seek out each new year, right? Bettering ourselves should also include our eating habits, education, and mental and spiritual well-being.
Although I’ve been a client of several of the businesses at The Brunswick Center for over two years now, it wasn’t until recently that I realized this center, located in downtown Jersey City, was absolutely everything I needed to reinvigorate my mind, body, and soul in just one location.
If I think of places in JC that can provide me with well-rounded services that can help me achieve the majority of my personal goals year round, there is only one place equipped to do that. Unlike any other facility in our area, this center is filled to the brim with local businesses offering a variety of unique services and experiences that can help a diverse population better themselves from the inside out. Where else can you learn how to salsa, take ballet or spin class, grab a fresh-squeezed juice, take a kickboxing class while your kids attend preschool or play on an obstacle course, and learn to meditate or pole dance your way to better health (and that’s only half of the offerings)? Btw, you can even get your poo cleaned out. How’s that for a reboot(y)?
The Brunswick Center is such an epicenter of health and education and, unfortunately, I do not think the residents of Jersey City even know all that it has to offer. Even attending classes and events multiple times a week, I was unaware of all the hidden gems and opportunities inside. This is why I have made it my mission to grow Jersey City’s awareness of, in my opinion, the best business in our town. Brunswick Center was envisioned by BGT Enterprises and still is managed by this local developer who continuously strives to better our community through a passionate lens.
For the next few months my goal is to attend classes, events, seminars, take a tour of the Brunswick School, interview all of the individual business owners. Furthermore, I want to push myself to stretch limits and break my own personal boundaries while on a journey of health, wellness, and unique education. My goal is to offer the JC community an inside look at the Brunswick Center and showcase why it is such a vital establishment in our community. Through interviews, photos, videos, and my personal triumphs and possible failures (look out pole dancing teacher!), I want JC to have an intimate look at the people, places, passion, and drive that makes up the Brunswick Center!
Make sure to check out and follow the Brunswick Center on social media @brunswickcenter on Instagram and Facebook and join me on my journey through a new blog series featuring the businesses and clients inside Jersey City’s best-kept secret: The Brunswick Center.