EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ -  East Brunswick has finally met the challenge - THE MAX Challenge - as it rolls out an initiative today to support local businesses and provide tax relief. THE MAX Challenge is the first business in East Brunswick to register a resident - in this case Mayor Brad Cohen - for the tax rebate program SHOP EAST BRUNSWICK.  For owner Frank Baeli, SHOP EB is part of what he sees as his business's extension into the community and connection with the people whom he serves.

THE MAX Challenge is a ten-week program emphasizing fitness for "mind, body, and spirit" during which members meet and overcome challenges to their fitness, weight, nutrition, and well-being.  The challenge provides a wholistic approach to health that is far more than just an exercise program.  For Baeli, that approach extends to his business practice as well.  He sees THE MAX as a part of the greater East Brunswick community and reaches out whenever he can.

"The better job you do connecting yourself with the community not only makes you feel good but it also extends the business,' said Baeli, referring to his decision to participate in the SHOP EB tax rebate program.  THE MAX was originally located in Milltown near the Petco store on Ryders Lane.  After having opened his current location at 3 Lexington Avenue (Lexington Downs) in December 2016, Baeli sponsored an EBBL softball team, supported the PTA,  and participated in local fundraisers, notably the Day of Giving after which the EB location donated $10,000 to the March of Dimes.

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Baeli has also made business-to-business connections that both support his clients' efforts at getting the appropriate nutrition to drive change and connect THE MAX to other local small businesses.  Stefano's Pizza, a longtime East Brunswick favorite, now offers a MAX-compliant menu that includes high-protein specials like Avocado Chicken Burgers and Ahi Tuna Salad. THE MAX also welcomed the new business (really a business that returned to East Brunswick) Boomerang Bagels and found choices there for people in the Challenge and fitness programs. 

"THE MAX Challenge is all about supporting local small businesses and we always welcome the support. Small business helping small business! Popped in for breakfast this morning - they have a great menu loaded with compliant choices to help MAXers stay on track (ask for the special hot sauce!) Welcome to the neighborhood Boomerang! " said Baeli in a Facebook post.  

Frank Baeli is extending himself -and his business - to the community through the SHOP EAST BRUNSWICK  program which is designed to support connections among residents, the businesses in town, and the township itself.  Baeli, who also owns MAX locations in Hamilton, Basking Ridge, and Staten Island, said that he chose to "set up shop" in East Brunswick because he was familiar with the area, had some connections here, and thought that the demographics of the community would embrace the type of body/mind program he is offering.

Brad Cohen, on the other hand, is extending the community to businesses like THE MAX by making it easier and more communal to do business in town.  To date, 35 businesses have enrolled in SHOP EB, and the Mayor is hoping for the list to grow as the program becomes active as of today.  (An explanation of the program and a list of participating businesses is here.)  Shop is Brunswick cards are available at the East Brunswick Public Library and the Municipal Building.  They will also be available at the East Brunswick Springfest on Saturday, June 3.  

For personal health and wellness, for business in East Brunswick, and for growing a sense of community, the goal is the same.  As the inspirational note on the wall of THE MAX center affirms "It's not how you start, it's how you finish.  Finish strong!"