School fitness center promotes idea that fit teachers better serve their students

NAES School Fitness Center NEMiss.News
February 1st, 2021     City schools

 

One of the effects of the pandemic has been enforced inactivity for those quarantined at home. New Albany Elementary School officials have a way for their staff to overcome that and get back into a good exercise habit.

This week the school unveiled a fitness room available to the staff there.

The project was the idea of principal Gwyn Russell.

“I used to teach and coach and then I was home several years with my children,” she said. “During that time I was a trained athlete and had a studio. And so I took that idea and reshaped it for our folks.”

I wanted it to be personal, especially during the COVID,” she said. “I just know the better they are physically and mentally, the better they are for the kids.”

No other school has a similar facility to her knowledge.

Some good luck helped bring the project to fruition.

“The equipment was already here,” she said. “That was off a grant but we cleaned it up.”

Although 15 years old, the equipment looks new.

“It’s been various places. I thought if we brought it together and cleaned it up,” she said. “A lot of elbow grease went into it.”

The room includes treadmills, stair steppers, weights, yoga mats and Peloton bikes are coming. There is also a massage chair.

“We are working on funding with grants and so forth (for the Pelotons),” she said. “It may be summer before they get here. They are really backed up, they’re popular.” Other items such as mats are very inexpensive, she added.

“I have 130-plus staff members and we set it up for safety,” she said. “Everyone walked through yesterday and the plan was rolled out and this is orientation today.”

“All you have to do to be a member through our school is just go through orientation,” she said. “Then when it opens up Monday everyone – all of our staff – will be able to use it.”

With school security, staff members can use the room after hours. “Alarms are set at certain times so their badge gets them in,” she said.

Access to and from the room is handled by scanning QR codes with smartphones and the scans also log in the time spent in the room by staff members.

Russell is not just making the room available, but actively urging its use by adding incentives.

“February Fitness Challenge starts Monday,” she said. “The goal is for each staff member to work out a minimum of three times a week, 30 minutes each. Coach (physical education teacher Nathan Young) will be doing a couple of cardio classes after school in the gym. I will be doing a stretching class.”

“All that will be logged in for the points. Of course then with acknowledgment there are surprises that go with that down the stretch and we will continue that for the rest of the semester,” she said.

“Coach Young is in charge of our physical fitness for our students and was instrumental in helping me pull this dream off,” she said. “He has a great physical educational system going on and then we’ve got a fundraiser coming up.”

“Much of our focus is what we’re looking for this year is some things to take some equipment to take from PE that they really love on to the playground.”

“Hopefully with the COVID they will be able to get out there and really use it but it’s an incredible program thanks to him going on there,” she said.

Asked if any of the other schools planned to adopt her idea she said, “This is just brand new. I don’t even know if they know we have begun this.”

“I think it could benefit teachers everywhere. If they had old equipment like we do and they could turn that around,” she said. “You would look at this and think that’s a lot of money but it was already here, 15 years old, just needing some hard work to clean it up.”

“Of course our nurse Tammie Reeder takes care of our health in so many ways. She and Coach Young are always ready to help with any ideas I do have,” she added.

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