A (Jersey City) Parlor

Source:Instagram

Aire Salon personifies, in a small way, what Jersey City aspires to be.

Over the past decade, the city’s once blue collar downtown has been steadily becoming a bedroom community with its residents staring across the Hudson at Manhattan.

Young entrepreneurs, often in their 20s and most without MBAs, are building restaurants and other small businesses laser focused on the city’s newest inhabitants: commuting stock brokers, bankers and office workers. Lower costs and the promise of up-and-coming neighborhoods has drawn them to the area.

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A Real Gym(m)

Update [5/7/12]: Real Gymm was mentioned in this HoopsWorld.com article.

Off the Garden State Parkway and a block away from the beach, an old clothing consignment shop has been converted into a Real Gymm (yes, with the extra ‘m’) where professional, college and top high school athletes train nearly every weekend.

The barbell club has hosted Marshon Brooks of the New Jersey Nets, Scotty Hopson of the University of Tennessee and Ricardo Ratliffe of the University of Missouri, among others.

The main entrance is at the back of an alley. Old machines dot the ground floor. Forty-five pound saucer shaped plates are covered in weight lifting chalk. Concrete stones — used by strongman athletes in a back-breaking exercise –and tractor tires and wooden weight lifting platforms fill out the room.

Workouts sometimes move to the beach, where men and women don heavy vests and run in the sand.

The atmosphere is reminiscent of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky.

The backdrop is Keyport, a working class suburb. Its staple is the Family Dollar across the street from the gym on West Front Street in the middle of the downtown.

The financial crisis has devastated the hamlet. A bank branch that once sat vacant in the wake of the downturn recently has been converted into a bible study. Up the road, a go-go bar on the highway sits blocks away from the high school.

This is the type of blue collar place where heroes are made and archetypal underdogs rise to the occasion. It’s the type of place where champions get better.

This gym — for me — is where I watch high school classmates and NFL caliber athletes sweating side by side.

From SLAM Magazine: