Even when she’s sitting, Jeannie Mendes-Doman is bopping to the beat. The new owner of Viva Z Club says movement is “her first love,” and music is a close second. This makes fitness classes a perfect fit, says Mendes-Doman, who brings experience and fresh excitement to Springfield Avenue’s “Wellness Mile.”
Mendes-Doman took over ownership of the local dance and exercise studio in April, when previous owner Lidia Kendall Miller announced a relocation to England. Mendes-Doman “jumped at the chance” to become involved with Viva Z Club. “I started Easy Fitness, another studio, years ago, with 47 people,” explains Mendes-Doman. Easy Fitness, in Union, has been successful, boasting now more than 150 regular clients. She brings that experience to Maplewood and, says Mendes-Doman, “I’m optimistic.”
Viva Z Club, says Mendes-Doman, “is your Cheers.” Like the famed television bar, where “everybody knows your name,” Viva Z, says the new owner, is “close-knit and friendly.” The current clients have welcomed Mendes-Doman. Already, she says, she knows everyone by name. “Give me another month and I’ll know your kids, your husband, your wife, even your dog,” she laughs. Mendes-Doman is married and has two sons, aged five and eight.
Knowing the clients well, confides Mendes-Doman, gives her a chance to tweak routines and push harder in classes. “When I know your fitness goals, some of your background, your experiences,” she explains, “I can remind you why you’re here, for fun and fitness.”
While Mendes-Doman has a long background in finance, including stints at Merck, Schering-Plough and, currently, New Jersey Transit, she has long loved movement and fitness. “I can’t choose a favorite style of fitness,” she says, “but I’m torn between Boot Camp and step.” Step classes are choreographed dance classes similar to zumba that include a stationary step for additional movement.
Mendes-Doman recently surveyed Viva Z regulars about what they like best and want more often. She’s hard at work on a schedule that promises dance, fitness, and, she says, “a few surprises.” The studio has added Boot Camp and the popular “Butts and Guts” class to the schedule of Zumba, Nia, and Hip-Hop dance fitness classes.
“This is a fun, friendly place,” says Mendes-Doman, as she taps a pencil in rhythm to a Beyonce tune. “Come, dance, and stay a while.”