Promoting health at Camas High School

Students are taking advantage of the new weight and fitness rooms

When the new Camas High School opened its doors in 2003, most of the equipment inside the school’s smaller weight room had aged by more than 30 years.

In the week after spring break, a new weight room and fitness center opened to the campus with great fanfare. The renovated rooms are home to approximately 600 students during the school day, and are used by athletes before and after school for weight training and summer conditioning.

“With the weight room and fitness center next to each other, we have a total of about 5,000 square feet,” said head football coach and fitness instructor Jon Eagle. “It’s really great for the kids, when you think about how we had to do things before.”

The pay off of the new weight room can be seen after school, when the football team comes in to work out. Eagle said the activity in the room is like “an ant farm,” kids moving back and forth from station to station. In about 15 to 20 minutes, the Papermakers can get in a solid work out, and then go out to the field to start practice.

The remodel of the weight room and the addition of a fitness center was an included component of the $7 million CHS expansion and remodel project, which was funded by the school bond that passed back in 2007. A public bidding process resulted in a price of $243,000 for strength training equipment, barbells and bumpers, fitness equipment, aerobic equipment and a 5-year maintenance agreement.

“We are so thankful for the school board being able to appreciate that fact that we are educators in this room,” said strength and conditioning coach Mark Riehl. “School work comes before everything else. I’ve had everything from chemistry and physics on this board, to math and history. It’s a really good environment for that.”

Riehl said the class of 2011, and the graduates who came before them, laid a foundation for success in the weight room, brick by brick. Not just athletically. The dry-erase board inside the weight room could have anything from workout instructions to homework problems.

“I’m a firm believer that equipment does not make a weight room,” Riehl said. “The seniors we had this year did not wait for the equipment to come to them. They worked hard with the tools they had from the very beginning, and that’s the reason for their success.

“The kids coming in to use the new equipment are ready to raise the bar higher than it has ever been,” he added. “They know this place leads to the success they want on the field. Now that it’s all nice and shiny, there’s no excuse not to work out. This room is great. It has everything that we need. Let’s take care of it.”

Having a fitness center is something the Papermakers desperately needed. Before one finally opened in April, fitness instructor Valerie Parbon said the school had one treadmill, a broken bike and an elliptical. The new center has 17 different cardio pieces, ranging from treadmills, ellipticals and bikes to an assortment of adaptive motor training machines.

“The possibilities are endless,” Parbon said. “One day, you can walk in and see every station in use. The next day, we have the kids all spread out and doing yoga demonstrations. We don’t repeat workouts very often. We like to keep them creative, new and different.”

Parbon said the results of the new center can be seen in the student’s fitness tests.

“We do these tests in the beginning, middle and end of every semester,” she said. “From spring break to the end of May, we saw some huge drops in body fat. I attribute all of that to the fitness center.

“It’s hard not to teach with a smile on your face with this equipment,” Parbon added. “It’s nice to see the kids having a positive experience and enjoying their workouts. This is only the beginning. Lives are going to change in here.”

With two rooms providing teachers with a full range of motion, Parbon, Rhiel and Eagle are working together to promote a healthy lifestyle for Camas students.

“Whatever you want to go for, it’s important that you have the health to strive for it,” Parbon said. “I hope both of these rooms eliminate the factors of unhealthiness that could keep you from reaching your dreams. I believe all students should be healthy so we can have our future doctors, teachers and engineers. It all starts in here.”

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