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Hidden Gems: Meet Jeff Papenberg of Belleville Health and Sports Center

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeff Papenberg.

Hi Jeff, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Belleville Health and Sports Center (BHSC) has been a staple in the west end of Belleville for over 40 years. Originally built as a racquetball club, Memorial purchased the club in 1986 and begin turning it into gym and physical therapy facility. BHSC has a rich history and unlike any other gyms in the area. We have several members who have been coming here since the racquetball club days and continued through the transformation into a health club. It is also rare to find members of a health club who have been coming here for 30 plus years, along with multiple generations of their families. We are more than just a gym, we are a community.

“Building A Thriving Community Through Health and Wellness”

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
In late 2019, BJC Memorial announced they were going to close down BHSC. Thankfully, this was short-lived, and a group of members formed a non-for-profit group to undertake and oversee the running of the club. They were BHSC’s shining light during a moment of darkness. We are now a club owned by our members, as this place is all of ours.

Through this whole process, we fought hard to keep our doors open during the pandemic due to generous donations from our members in January/February of 2020 and all our members who continued to join us on their fitness journeys. Talks with the BJC Memorial Board and BHSC Board proved that this facility was more than just a gym, it was a family. We will be receiving the building from BJC Memorial and the end of the summer and we could not be more excited!

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Belleville Health and Sports Center?
BHSC is more than just a gym, it is a community and one we are extremely proud of. Our club has numerous programs for all walks of life, from young to old, from new to advanced; we have something for everyone: a cardio room, weight machines, free weights, group classes, senior classes, reformers Pilates, Yoga, personal training, Tai Chi, martial arts, Rock Steady Boxing, massage therapists and much, much more! Above all, we are a community. Our club is owned by our members and together, we have built a family and fun atmosphere.

Can you talk to us about how you think about risk?
Life is a series of risks, from the moment we are born and until we take our last breathe. I believe if you are not taking risks, you are not truly living. Life is not about walking the easy path but breaking off on your own to forage your own path and create your own journey. Taking that first step into the unknown can be a defining life moment that will transform and shape you and your character into an unstoppable force. Life is a journey that can only be had if you are willing to take that first step. Below are two of my favorite quotes about approaching life, risks, and obstacles:

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

“If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” – Bruce Lee

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