New Albany Elementary adds fitness room for staff | Education

Judith J. Mercado

New Albany Elementary School now has a fitness room for staff members.

“I think it’s very exciting,” said Emily Garrett, third grade math teacher.

Garrett recently returned to teaching after staying home with her children for six years. While she has enjoyed being back at school, Garrett said it has been stressful with all the changes brought on by Covid-19. Garrett noted that the fitness room will provide a place where teachers can go to relieve stress.

The fitness room will allow teachers to get their mind off everything and just work out, said Garrett, who plans to use the facility after school.

Likewise, Teresa Ohler, another third-grade teacher, said she thinks “fitness is important.” With the stress of school, the fitness room gives teachers a place to “blow off steam” and take care of themselves, she said.

Staff members can use the fitness room before or after school or during the weekends.

“This is going to be a good opportunity for all of us,” said Ohler.

Heather White, a third grade English teacher, said the fitness room will show the students that the teachers are working out and meeting goals.

“Were always telling the kids to make healthy choices and the best way to do it is to model it,” White said.

New Albany Elementary School Principal Gwyn Russell said the fitness room is for all 130-plus staff members. It is equipped with ellipticals, treadmills, weights, jump ropes, a large TV and even a massage chair. More equipment is coming to the fitness room, which has a sign on the wall that says, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”

In addition to the fitness room, there will also be some exercise classes held in the school gym a few days a week for the staff. Russell, who used to be a fitness trainer and coach, will teach a stretch and relaxation class. There will be a cardio class as well.

During the Covid-19 pandemic Russell said she thinks the staff will benefit from the fitness room, not just physically but emotionally. Ultimately, it makes the staff even better for the students, she added.

Russell said the staff has been through “so much” this year. The teachers have handled in-person classes while also preparing for virtual students, she noted. And the staff has done everything without whining or complaining, she said.

“I know it wasn’t easy,” Russell said, adding that the staff continues to give the students what they need. In return for the staff’s hard work, Russell said she wanted to provide them with resources to take better care of themselves.

The school also has a fitness challenge, which is for every staff member to work out a minimum of three days a week for 30 minutes each.

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