Please note our building hours and closures for Rosh Hashanah: Wednesday, September 20: Closing at 3:30pm and Thursday-Friday, September 21-22: Closed

Today's Building Hours
  • Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC
    7:00am - 7:00pm
  • Weinberg Park Heights JCC
    7:00am - 7:00pm
Shabbat Candle Lighting: 6:44pm

Please note our building hours and closures for Rosh Hashanah: Wednesday, September 20: Closing at 3:30pm and Thursday-Friday, September 21-22: Closed

Join the J Locations Schedules
Today's Building Hours
  • Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC
    7:00am - 7:00pm
  • Weinberg Park Heights JCC
    7:00am - 7:00pm
Shabbat Candle Lighting: 6:44pm

Evan Huckfeldt Story

Evan Huckfeldt Before and AfterBy Alex Holt

By the time Evan Huckfeldt walked into Fitness Director Raychel Setless’s office at the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC in November 2015, he already knew why, when, and where he wanted to lose weight.

Why, because after only a few months of working at Stevenson University as a residential director, a diet of fast food and cafeteria cuisine had pushed his weight up to 265 pounds. 

When, because he wanted to weigh less than 200 pounds within seven months of joining the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC as a member.

Where, because as a volunteer for the teen group BBYO, he was already going to the J two or three nights a week anyhow.

Evan even partially knew how he wanted to get fit: by incorporating weightlifting into his workout routine. He just didn’t know who to help him do it. That’s when Setless paired him with JCC Personal Trainer Alek Groopman, who happened to be working out nearby that night.

“She called me in and then basically she asked him, ‘What do you want? What is your end-all goal,’” remembers Alek. “’And I got to have the little ego-stroker of having Evan say ‘I want to look like Alek.’”

One of the most immediate impacts Alek had on Evan was getting him to change his approach to nutrition.

“I was counting calories the best that I could, to a point where actually at first, I was not eating enough and I would be getting sick”, says Evan. “And Alek would be like, ‘no, you actually need to eat more.’”

In addition to changing his approach to basic fitness factors like nutrition, Evan says Alek helped him by regularly varying the focus of each workout.

“Each session kind of changed with what muscle groups we would work on,” Evan says. “There wasn’t a lot of repetitiveness so that way I kept it fresh and I didn’t know what was happening.”

That gradual approach to changing how Evan worked was very much deliberate, according to Alek, who uses a climbing analogy to describe the process.

“It’s not so much a gradual slope but steps,” says Alek. “You go one up and then you plateau and plateau and you’ve got to keep it evolving until that doesn’t work anymore and change it up a little.”

For example, Evan couldn’t squat very well when he and Alek first started working out together. “So,” says Alek, “we modified it down to different leg exercises and then he was able to squat very well with the bar.”

Since he first joined the J and began working with Alek, Evan estimates he’s lost about 70 pounds.  He credits much of Alek’s success in helping him lose weight to being willing to do the work right along with him.  “Often he works out and does it as well with me,” Evan says. “So I find that really helpful. (Instead of) just sitting there and telling me what to do, he’ll take turns and go back and forth so that way I get a break and work out.”

Besides Alek’s training and encouragement, Evan also credits his fitness improvement to the sense of community the JCC offers.

The staff is phenomenal. I know almost every personal trainer and every front desk greeter.


“The staff is phenomenal,” Evan says.  “I know almost every personal trainer and every front desk greeter. They always say ‘hi’ when I’m in there, they stop by to see how it’s going, and they correct me if I’m doing something wrong. You don’t get that at other gyms.”

For example, Evan says, he worked out at another gym during a recent vacation and because nobody recognized him, he just walked in, scanned his card and then walked back out when he was done. But because he knows more people at the JCC, he feels more motivated in his workouts there.

“I think everyone pushes everyone else a little bit further,” Evan says. “You see the trainers working out on their own time, you see other people, you get to know other members and then it’s great when you see them other places.”

That, he says, gives him a sense of connection and belonging.  “I think feeling connected at the JCC has contributed to my success in reaching my goals,” Evan says, “Because I feel like I want to be here and I’m an actual person here versus just another number at the gym.”