Until recently, Paly students who didn’t actively participate in sports had little to no appealing opportunity for physical activity. Even among the many students who do participate in sports, few are year-round athletes. A majority of upperclassmen do not participate in exercise during the school day, exchanging a Physical Education (P.E.), yoga or dance class for a prep period.
Some students may therefore choose to spend up to $200 a month at popular gyms such as Equinox or Form Fitness. However, the addition of the new gym gives students who don’t want to spend their hard-earned money on a gym membership or participate in a sports team a very convenient opportunity to exercise and stay healthy.
With the addition of a gym equipped with an abundance of fitness equipment, many students have discovered a new and productive after-school hobby. They can go after a stressful day to relax and reduce stress while getting in a good workout.
Whether it be intense cardio on the many bikes or weightlifting, there are numerous options for students to choose from. Having such a facility eliminates excuses for not participating in physical activity, as students have access to professional equipment during and after school.
Students have also found a sense of community in exercising with fellow students. They can go after school to relieve stress before going home to complete homework or study for upcoming exams.
“It’s a great deal because it’s free, and you get to workout in a community. The Paly gym is way better than a regular gym because you rarely know anybody at the regular gym; at this gym, everyone supports and helps you.”
Sophomore Declan King
While students could invest in a gym membership for perks such as classes and professional trainers, students can also learn exercise techniques from fellow students and the strength and conditioning coach Paly recently hired at the Peery Center. This ensures students will not be in danger of hurting themselves by exercising or using machines incorrectly.
King said he has learned many new forms of exercise through his friends at the gym. His peers have helped him find new techniques and build confidence in his ability to become stronger and improve.
“At this gym, you can just figure out what workout to do with the help of your friends,” King said.
Students like King have found that working out in a supportive community makes for a much more motivating and welcoming environment too. This allows them to try out new workouts with advice and support from friends. King’s said his experience goes to show that attending a gym can be an enjoyable bonding experience, opposed to a pricey obligation.
Teachers have also noticed the popularity of the new gym. Peter Diepenbrock, a longtime basketball coach and P.E. teacher said he is shocked by the number of students utilizing the gym. Diepenbrock, said he is ecstatic to see so many kids excited about exercise and staying in shape However, he is not sure the trend will be long lasting.
“As teachers, we keep waiting to see if it will continue. You hear the word ‘culture change’ thrown around a lot, but this is unbelievable: the amount of kids working out on a daily basis. It’s a whole new world that I never would have predicted.”
Diepenbrock also said the benefits of the gym for sports teams are incredibly significant and could help our teams better succeed in the future.
“[Teams] are able to work out there now and have good team workouts and bonding,” he said.
Paly teams being able to have structured workouts with a coach to assist them could also help the school compete with schools who have already had the privilege of using similar facilities.
“[Strength and conditioning coach and new gym] is what a lot of the more competitive athletic high schools in the area have that we’ve never had before,” Diepenbrock said.
This addition may allow Paly athletes to compete at a higher level, since student athletes will now have access to a level of training that most competitive schools in the area have had for many years.
From conversations with teachers and students, it seems that students have found an economically convenient opportunity for exercising in the new gym.
As Diepenbrock said, “It’s completely outside of Paly teams. It’s kids wanting to be with their friends and workout. They are enjoying the facilities.”