Newton High School Physical Education Instructor Brian Smith had long thought that student access to a fitness room to compliment PE classes in the upper gym would be a good thing. But budget constraints and an open area to locate such a facility had quelled that ambition.
Until this year.
Smith, along with fellow PE coach Kim Florke, hit upon the idea of locating the room in a mostly-unused corner on the balcony of the upper gym. They approached Newton High School Bill Peters about their idea where they were met with complete support. Except for one thing.
"He was completely supportive but said we would have to raise the money for the equipment," Smith said. "If we did, he said he'd have the school construct the glass enclosure."
Industrial strength fitness equipment, like ellipticals and treadmills, are not cheap. So Smith sharpened his pencil and went to work writing for grants and contributions to finance the $30,000 worth of fitness equipment the room now holds.
His effort was met with success. Through contributions provided by the Jasper Community Foundation, Newton Community Education Foundation, Newton PTA, the local law firm Walker, Billingsley and Bair, Edward Jones, Clemon-Maki Insurance, and Advantage Credit Union, Smith's dream was realized when the Cardinal Cardio Room opened its doors to students at the beginning of the school year.
"The kids love it," Smith said, "and I try to integrate it into the class as much as I can," a remark echoed by one of his students who had warmed up on the equipment prior to participating in a volleyball game.
"It's a great way to warm-up and gives you something to do when you're not involved or their is a break in an activity," said 11th-grader Jacob Thomas.
Smith said the room is open to all Newton High School students and is open after school for students to use to get a workout.
But Smith isn't done. He said he hopes to again seek grants to add more pieces of equipment, such as bicycle-type fitness equipment for disabled students and a Wii Fit program, in the future.
And with the tremendous support he's received from the high school administration, he's pretty sure he'll be able to get that done.