Plenty of work went into the newest workout space in town.

And, like an individual’s workout plan, more testing and flexing will be done before “Fitt Loft” at Hood River Middle School reaches its full potential.

“This is totally in process, as in how do we get kids in here, and needs are being discovered all the time. We know we can’t bring 40 of them (students) in here,” said Health Teacher Kyle Turner, who has worked with his teaching partner, Stacy Claus, to turn a former storage space over the old gym into a place of healthful activity.

“There are situations where you can get kids who really need (a workout) or kids who miss PE and need to make it up, and we can say, ‘meet me in the Fitt Loft and we’ll do a workout.’”

Turner and Claus, along with Marge Gale, with whom Claus shares her position, are finding new ways each week to schedule individual students. Wrestlers and other students have come in after school, and a “zero period” schedule for the loft is under consideration to give students and staff more options. The loft also eliminates the need to make arrangements with local gyms to schedule students who needed special attention.

Claus and Turner began transforming the space last May, and the weights and machines have been in use since fall.

The holistic Fit For Life curriculum, formulated by Claus over the past 15 years, covers benefits of exercise including physical, mental, and social benefits, motivators to exercise, areas for health-fitness, and evaluating and improving fitness. Also covered is aerobic vs. anaerobic exercise, building muscle strength and endurance, and the body’s responses to exercise. Students also learn about metabolism and weight management, energy balance (calories in-calories out), healthy body fat levels and obesity, fitness myths and media brainwashing, nutrition and healthy eating habits, macronutrients, and eating disorders.

Under the teachers’ supervision, students use kettle bells and toss wall-balls, and cushy floor mats for sit-ups, pushups and other exercises to develop the upper body and core.

Vinnie Schlosser of Hood River (a long-time coach) built a pull-up rack that will hold four or five people at a time.

For years, the loft was used for Community Ed storage, stocked with everything from basketballs to snowshoes (all since moved off campus or relocated to a storage room next to the locker rooms.)

Now, the loft space is visible through wooden frames and a wire enclosure, with the added advantage of more light in the gymnasium.

“We keep cardio (workouts) to a minimum, though we do have the rowing machine and spin machine, but what we mostly focus on is muscle-building, such as abdomen work and building up the core, and endurance,” Claus said.

The loft has helped one student work on lower body strength after coming off knee surgery, and a workout partner relationship developed with another student, “a kind of Cross-fit kid,” who wanted to focus on his chosen sport, mountain biking, according to Taylor.

The Fitt Loft is one more way the school can meet students’ needs by balancing the team sports that are part of the PE activity with individual fitness pursuits, according to Turner.

Instead of transferring out of PE, a student can come in and do a workout while Turner is conducting class in the adjoining MPR gym space, as Claus would be supervising classes in the old gym.

The Fitt Loft also helps students in meeting their individual workout plans that are integral to the Fit for Life curriculum (see sidebar).

Students can look at the whiteboard for a personalized workout, or use a general one written by Claus or Turner, or choose a 5-by-7 card with a specific workout for upper body, core, or general exercise.

Tuesday’s assignment called for two repetitions of 15 pullups, 30 sit-ups, 20 pushups, 15 squats, 15 kettlebell swings, and 15 dips.

The prepared regimens help because “not everybody does fitness stuff every day, so without having to think about it they can grab one, based on what they want to work on: core, or upper body, or full body exercise,” Turner said.

The teachers have donated their own time on the project, painting, installing the mats, and removing old shelving, but recently they were granted an hour paid time a week to work on the project under the district’s program of enabling teachers to work on professional goals including student performance and community engagement.

Claus said that teachers want to use the loft on weekends, meaning “eventually we need to develop policies, but we’ve just been cleaning as we go,” Claus said.

“As we go, we know we need to formulate policies and rules,” Claus noted, adding that they plan to make the space available to the community, through Community Ed.

“It would be through us offering classes, and we’ll be willing to do that,” she said.

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