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I am The J: Kristina O’Quinn is the woman behind the lens

Photos by Kristina O’Quinn

If you’ve been reading our newsletter since this summer, you’ve probably noticed some photos by Kristina O’Quinn. Most recently she took some dynamic images at our Thanksgiving morning Sam Lapidus Montclair Run and photographed our Tu B’Shvat-themed Member Joy event with a Havdalah service. Before that, she created our beautiful J’la photo album.

Kristina recently told us that her family membership has been transformative — and not just for her. We found her on a treadmill (wearing a large backpack; just keep reading) and asked for the deets…


LJCC: How often do you come to The J these days? 
A woman and her son wearing boxing gloves flank a punching bag
“I’ve been able to spend time with my kids doing things they enjoy,” Kristina says, seen here boxing at The J with her son Jacques.

KO: I’m at the J with either one of my kids or my Mom 3-5 times a week. 

What has your membership meant to you personally? 

Last year, I participated in a research study at UAB that looked at how different types of exercise can benefit breast cancer survivors like me. The group I was assigned to participated in several weeks of treadmill workouts. Although I initially thought I would not enjoy that type of exercise (as I prefer to hike and roller skate), I quickly saw how these workouts were helping me feel better without having to worry if the weather was too hot, too cold, raining, etc. 

In becoming a member at The J, I was able to continue the treadmill workouts, which got me back to the running that I hadn’t done in several years. I have had a great time investigating the myriad classes available — from yoga and water aerobics to Zumba. My energy level is higher, I’ve lost a few pounds, and I feel an increasing mental clarity. I’ve been able to spend time with my kids doing things they enjoy, including swimming, hiking the LJCC trail, and even some boxing.

How has it benefited the rest of your family? 

My kids love the family membership! My oldest child loves the weight machines and treadmills, has lost 30 pounds, is regaining confidence and good health, and is even hoping to work at the J. My youngest child enjoys the treadmill and the punching bags as a continuation of the training he was doing at another gym last year.  

We’ve been training for backpacking the Pinhoti Trail by wearing our weighted packs on the treadmills. I love how the equipment links to an app to track our progress. Smaller efforts add up quickly when you can see it on the app. 

And the sauna and steam room were a great surprise! It’s such a good way to relax after a workout.  

A group of eight women pose together after a group fitness class at The J
Kristina’s mother, Gwen Harkness, gives a thumbs up after her favorite group fitness class at The J: “Creative Movement” taught by Tracy Williams.
How does your mother enter the picture?

After several weeks of telling my mom how much fun I was having trying out all of the different exercise classes, she decided to get her own membership. She’s there now just as much or more than I am. You can find her on an exercise bike, using the weight machines, and participating in a creative movement class or water aerobics every week. 

So, we are all healthier, happier, and ready for new adventures because of our membership at the J.

You took more than a thousand photos at the Sam Lapidus Montclair Run. What’s your process for wading through all of that?  

I am trying to get better about not taking so many photos at events. I sometimes have a moment to scroll through images and cull less-than-stellar shots during the event. For the run, there were so many people that I felt compelled to get as many shots as possible to include everyone.  

Once I get home from an event, I usually rest. Photography (at least the style I do) is a very physical activity. I am squatting and climbing and walking nonstop for several hours. 

I put the images in a file on my computer that I can scroll through and delete the obviously bad ones. Then I put the remaining images into an online album. Once that’s done, I peruse the album and choose images for a “Best Of” gallery. The client gets the large album as well as the “Best Of” gallery so they have the flexibility of seeing all of the shots or the convenience of going straight to the best images.  

Canon or Nikon? 

Nikon. It’s kind of like whichever football team your family cheers for. As a photographer’s child, I was born into a Nikon family. 


“We’ve been training for backpacking the Pinhoti Trail by wearing our weighted packs on the treadmills,” Kristina says. “I love how the equipment links to an app to track our progress. Smaller efforts add up quickly when you can see it on the app.”
Their extensive training at The J has so far culminated in Kristina and her son Jacques hitting the Pinhoti Trail for a chilly weekend adventure.