Monroe Chamber of Commerce sponsors an open house at Koko FitClub

Ronald Bellenot looks at a digital screen while working out on a Smartrainer at Koko FitClub on Monroe Turnpike Wednesday. The green indicator means he is maintaining a proper pace.

MONROE, CT — Ronald Bellenot sat in a Smartrainer machine at Koko FitClub, and kept an eye on the small video screen in front of him, as he performed repetitions of chest exercises. On screen, a green indicator moved within a square, monitoring his pace. If it was off, the it turned yellow, letting Bellenot know he was doing his reps too fast or too slow.

“This is your digital virtual trainer,” Bellenot, a local attorney, said of the Smartrainer during an open house at Koko FitClub, 447 Monroe Turnpike, Wednesday evening.

State Rep. Tony Scott, R-112th, left, watches Ronald Bellenot use the Smartrainer at Koko FitClub in Monroe during an open house Wednesday night. Angelo Mendez, right, the manager of the gym, explains how the machine works.

Bellenot volunteered to use the machine, so manager Angelo Mendez could demonstrate how it works.

Koko FitClub first opened in 2013, but has undergone changes in ownership since then. Mendez took over management of the gym in September.

“I congratulate them on many years of being a successful business in Monroe,” First Selectman Ken Kellogg said.

Kellogg attended the open house, a Monroe Chamber of Commerce sponsored event, along with State Rep. Tony Scott (R-112th), Chamber President Ray Giovanni, Community and Economic Development Coordinator Bill Holsworth and several Chamber members.

Koko FitClub has a row of treadmills and elliptical machines on one side and Smartrainers on the other. There is a rowing machine in back of the room and medicine balls are stacked in a corner.

Mendez said club members’ fitness journeys begin with a Koko FitCheck, a machine that takes their weight and height to calculate their body mass index. A staff member factors the BMI in with their goals — whether it is to lose weight, gain muscle mass or improve fitness — to tailor the right workout for them.

The machines track individual members’ progress and adjust the routine to their improvement, while quantifying the results. For example, total pounds lost, calories burned, pounds lifted and strength gained.

Mendez said his gym has a quiet atmosphere and no mirrors on the walls, adding most of his current members are in their 40s. “The oldest member is 82,” he said. “She sits on the machine and does movements.”

Club members come from different walks of life, from a woman in remission from cancer who is rehabbing to a former athlete, who enjoys working out in privacy.

Mendez said the machines are always on and the gym is open from 5 a.m. to midnight. Members can let themselves in with a key fob. “It’s really useful to come in for a quick workout,” he said.

“It’s not too crowded,” Mendez said. “There are maybe four members here at a time, which is good now, because people are being careful,” he added, alluding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mendez said his gym will soon be expanding its offerings. “I have a boot camp and yoga coming in January,” he said, adding he may also expand his staff.

Town officials and Monroe Chamber of Commerce members pose for a photo at an open house event at Koko FitClub, 447 Monroe Turnpike, Wednesday in support of manager Angelo Mendez.

Memberships are $59 a month and a free guest pass can be downloaded for a tour of the facility, a personal consultation from a certified coach, demos of the equipment and a 15 minute cardio workout. Mendez is also offering a 10 percent discount for Monroe Chamber members.

For information, visit the website or call the Monroe Koko FitClub at 203-445-6110.

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