When the elliptical trainer I bought at a yard sale for $30 busted, and my regular handyman didn’t have a clue how to fix it, I turned to Facebook. The answer came back quick and emphatic from Kristin Kenney, an instructor at 3Sixty Cycling Studio in Montclair: “Everyone, including 3Sixty, Equinox, all the best places, have Herb Jiménez. He lives in Montclair.”

Jiménez indeed fixed my elliptical, an unusual enough skill, but it turns out he’s a serious bicycle racer and sponsors his own team, Jiménez Velo Sport, whose women’s division was especially successful last year. I sat him down in my living room to do an interview.

How did you get into this line of work?

I worked as a field service technician for Nautilus for about 10 years, and then the company was broken into pieces and sold off. First let go were the field service techs. I knew that was coming so I incorporated my own company almost two years in advance, waiting for D-Day. I lucked out. Almost 70 percent of my customers gave me the business.

What’s the difference between the different sports equipment brands?

The only difference is the package, the shape of the outside.

Who are some of your clients?

3Sixty, Pfizer, Montclair YMCA, Body Designs in Paramus, World Gym in Paramus, C.O.R.E. in Closter, Equinox and NY Sports Club in New York City, New York Health & Racquet Club. I actually maintain Don Imus’s equipment in Manhattan and Westport, Ct.

How did you get into this line of work?

I went to a technical school, Bloomfield Tech. I didn’t want to go to college. I actually spent a few weeks in college, but I felt enclosed and one day in the middle of class I got up, dumped the books and walked out. I wanted to work with my hands. I worked for GE for a while. I quit because I wanted to race. I raced in a small team in the mid-90’s in Annecy, France for about two summer seasons. I came back, took some years off from cycling to get in tune with the real world, worked for a couple of little tech companies, got the position with Nautilus.

It’s pretty specialized work.

It’s intimidating to people because you have moving parts and you have electronic parts.

Do you have any recommendations about home athletic equipment?

I love the 7000PT Stepmill and the 4600 FreeClimber. With those two units you get a real workout. Bells and whistles, don’t even bother with that stuff. Heart-rate monitors, they’re not accurate. You want accurate heart rate stuff, you’ve got to go to a hospital.

Tell me about your bicycle team.

I started the team in 2005 and my good friend John T. McGowan of Aspen East Fitness in Upper Montclair sponsored it for two years. Then I took over the title sponsorships. So we went from Aspen East Cycling team to Jiménez Velo Sport, which is the name of my company. The racing season starts in March, ends in late September. We start off with small races called criteriums, which are short, flat and very fast — usually on a one-mile course with a nasty sprint in the end — not my type of racing. We wind up racing on 20-mile loops in Vermont, Pennsylvania and upstate New York, which we do three or four times, with an altitude gain of 5,000 to 6,000 feet. That’s my style of racing — lots of climbing.

How do people join?

Our team is basically by invitation. Before that, the problem was guys who joined just wanted to wear a cool-looking cycling kit and tool around Montclair. In order to be part of the team, you have to race. Cycling is a sport, it’s like a drug. The team members are dedicated racers and addicted. It’s a great sport for everyone, though, racers and the tourists.

What is the state of fitness in the Montclair area?

That’s part of the reason I love Montclair. It’s an exercise-conscious town. If you’re not on a bike, you’re walking. If you’re not walking, you’re running. Everybody’s into something. The bike culture is great. But don’t get in the way of a late-to-the-park soccer mom. You’ll be flat as a pancake on the road.

2 replies on “Coffee With … Herb Jiménez”

  1. Herb – good luck with you’re new venture. I love to hear success stories regarding small business. It’s generally lot’s of hard work, but very rewarding. Pat

  2. Interesting insights Herb has on fitness equipment – especially that they are all the same thing in a different shell. Unfortunate but true with all the consolidation going on in manufacturing. I decided to summarize the post on my site on elliptical machines here. Also bookmarked your post on Digg and a few others…

    Thanks again!

Comments are closed.