A New Fitness Center for All

Students arriving back to Ridgewood High School at the beginning of September may have noticed that the fitness center looks different. Over the summer months, a complete renovation and equipment change took place at the RHS fitness center. Nearly all equipment in the fitness center was replaced, the floor was refinished, walls were removed to create spacious aerobic workout area.

These new upgrades come following a wave of alterations in the role of weightlifting in athletic training.  Weightlifting has become popular in recent years as a way to improve in-game performance and prevent injury.  Sport teams who previously did not make use of strength training now consider it to be an important part of their exercises.  Head football coach and physical education teacher Chuck Johnson stresses the importance of weight training for his athletes.  He believes that his strength focused philosophy should be adopted across other sports, “Every high school athlete should be lifting weights and can benefit from strength training.”  As athletes and coaches have adopted similar strength training philosophies, more and more students have begun to make use of the fitness center, and overcrowding has become an issue. The new fitness center is designed to handle this increased traffic.

Coach Johnson is more than satisfied with the improvement, explaining that the new fitness center has “dramatically improved” the flow and productivity of athletes weight training.  Students have also taken notice to the increased efficiency of the new fitness center. Junior Joe Rahaim shared his thoughts, saying, “In the new fitness center we are able to get a lot more work done in a shorter amount of time. There is a lot less standing around and waiting to use a machine now that the fitness center has been renovated.”  The new fitness center is better equipped to handle large teams that strength train. Athletic Director Keith Cook explained that the athletic department, “took into consideration the heavy volume that comes from football, wrestling, lacrosse and ice hockey,” when designing the improvements.

Updated equipment in the new weight room is also accompanied by an increase in square footage. According to Coach Johnson, the square footage has been increased from under 4,000 square feet to over 5,000 square feet.  The additional space not only makes it easier for larger teams to use the facility, but the space also left room for equipment that was not previously housed in the fitness center.

The new facility is now home to a host of cardio machines: including treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes and rowing machines. These additions offer students more options for achieving fitness goals and give coaches a new tool for athletic conditioning. Out of season athletes can take advantage of this area to cross-train for out of season sports. Athletes who compete in cardio-intensive sports can also use these machines to directly supplement their existing workout regimens. The benefits of the new cardio machines are shared by gym classes, and some have already began to make use of this new area in the fitness center.

According to Mr. Cook, the cost of renovation was over $140,000. This cost, however, was not footed by the Ridgewood Board of Education, but rather covered by a grant from The Valley Hospital and generous donations from the RHS Home and School Association.

All students should take advantage of the new fitness center and the new training options it provides them with. Stop by when it’s open and supervised by RHS staff on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays before and after school.

Paul Calvetti
Staff Writer
Image: Jessica Chang

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