Students at Northwest Middle School have a new exercise option, thanks to a grant that was announced last week.
Last Wednesday, Planet Fitness unveiled a new workout center at Northwest that includes stationary cycles and elliptical machines; weight machines, free weights and medicine balls; and a cushioned floor space for cardio workouts.
The facility is located in two rooms off of the school gym and was made possible by a $25,000 grant from Planet Fitness to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley, which hosts programming at the school.
The Great Schools Partnership, which works with private-sector groups to provide services at Knox County schools, helped coordinate the project.
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the gym’s opening, principal Bill Baldwin noted that Northwest students come from several elementary schools and then move on to multiple high schools, which makes community-building a key priority.
“This gym … will help us build that community, help us build confidence among our students,” he said. “And also sweat just a little bit, which is always good for the soul.”
After the ribbon-cutting, Baldwin joined Knox County Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas in trying out the new elliptical machines, while elected officials and other dignitaries toured the facility.
Ramiah Patton, a sixth-grader at Northwest, cut the ribbon on the project and said in an interview that the facility is “amazing.”
Patton, who hopes to pursue a career as a physician, said the cardio machines were her favorites, adding that “I just like that we can have fun” in the new workout facility.
Bart McFadden, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs, highlighted the Planet Fitness motto of creating “Judgement Free Zones” where everyone feels accepted.
“One of the challenges that face kids, especially in this part of the country and the state of Tennessee, is childhood obesity and lack of physical activity … So this is a direct shot in that direction to help us meet that need,” McFadden said. “But also, I really appreciate what Planet Fitness stands for in terms of ‘Judgement Free Zones,’ in making sure our kids are able to be themselves.”