Keeping Fit by the Sea

March 27, 2015
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Ilene Winters is preparing to open her Oars Fitness and Endurance studio on Sea Bright’s Ocean Avenue in the next four to five weeks, in a site that has been closed since damaged by Super Storm Sandy.


SEA BRIGHT – Ilene Winters saw a chance to bring together a couple of things she’s passionate about and went for it.

Ilene Winters has been a board member of Sea Bright Rising since its founding, working on the town’s rebuilding in the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy and has been a lifelong physical fitness enthusiast with a strong interest in nutrition. “After months of wrangling back and forth in my head,” but knowing she wanted to look at doing something in the fitness field, Winters said, “I decided to take this leap of faith and open my own facility.”

And that facility, Oar Fitness and Endurance, 1006 Ocean Ave., is expected to open in the next few weeks.

Housed in what had been a Gulf gas station and auto repair shop until the location was damaged in the October 2012 storm, Winters’ Oar Fitness and Endurance will be an approximately 2,100 square-foot facility that will offer small group classes and personal training concentrating on indoor rowing and CrossFit training, a strength and conditioning that can involve aerobic exercise and weight training, as well as possibly rowing, among other facets.

Rowing training is something Winters said she became interested in a couple of years ago, in her own training to compete in triathlons. Rowing, she explained, offers “a whole body workout,” that has “no impact on the joints.”

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Given the current popularity of spinning classes – which she believes rowing is superior to in an overall fitness program – and noticing that rowing studios were springing up in New York City and elsewhere, “I figured rowing is the next spinning,” she said. Besides, she added, “Nobody teaches rowing properly.”

Winters said she decided to open her business in Sea Bright, in part, because her location, for which she has a three-year lease, affords her and her clients a wonderful view of the Shrewsbury River – situated just south of the Sea Bright-Rumson Bridge – an ideal spot for those interested in rowing and given the town is such a hub for annual group runs, bike rides and ocean swims. On top of that, she added, given her work with Sea Bright Rising over the last couple of years, “I’m quite interested in the rebirth and the continued economic rebirth of the town,” she said.

Winters, who lives in Long Branch, had left her position on Wall Street, New York City, in the financial industry some years ago and went back to school and earned a master’s degree in nutrition. She established and oversaw for a number of years the Cancer Support Center, Eatontown, which provided a holistic approach in dealing with the disease for patients and their families, offering nutritional classes and counseling sessions along with other programs. The center is now operating under the Monmouth Medical Center umbrella at the center’s Long Branch campus and Winters has stepped back from her involvement.

But while actively involved with the cancer center, she also began coaching and earned a CrossFit certification, believing, “I wanted to do something in fitness but I didn’t know what” at the time.

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“I know I feel better and operate better when I’m fit,” she said and that was a motivating factor for going into this business. And for most of us, “There is very little you can control in this life and eating well and working out is two things you can control,” she said.

“If you can make your life a little bit better and extend it a little bit more,” she continued, “I don’t know why you wouldn’t.”

Winters expects to have her studio open Monday through Saturday, closed Sundays, having morning and later classes, all “carefully coached,” she said. She is offering additional benefits to the first 50 people who sign up for the founders’ memberships.

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— By John Burton

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