Shoreham-Wading River High School opens new fitness center

Abraham Lincoln’s famous quote, “The best way to predict the future is to create it,” now embellishes the wall of Shoreham-Wading River High School’s new state-of-the-art Health and Wellness Center, which is officially open.

The school celebrated the completion of renovations to the 3,000-square-foot facility — previously the school’s auxiliary gym — with a Dec. 12 ribbon-cutting attended by students, Board of Education members, administrators and community members. SWR senior Dongkai Zhang — one of only two district students to ever submit research projects to the Regeneron Science Talent Search competition — cut the ceremonial ribbon.

“[It’s] a really well-rounded, thought-out space,” said district Superintendent Gerard Poole. “We had lots of committee meetings and surveys of our coaches and physical education teachers to get what’s in there to really match up with what coaches thought their athletes would need and what the physical education teachers thought was best for the students in the high school.”

Other inspiring phrases line the walls of the room, along with the image of a heartbeat in the district’s blue and gold colors. The striped floor markings help students keep track of their speed and agility in workouts and the space is equipped with exercise weights that are branded to the school district, interactive exercise bikes, treadmills and flat-panel television screens. The screens were donated by the Wildcat Athletic Club. 

Besides keeping track of the student’s growth and success in achieving various fitness benchmarks, the interactive bikes have features the students themselves can use.

“If you’re on the bicycle, you could select a game format,” Mr. Poole said. “There’s some controllers on the handlebars — you could actually be pedaling, but you could be rowing a boat down a river and avoiding obstacles, like a game, and scoring points by collecting things along your journey … you can actually compete with the person sitting next to you.”

The Wildcat Athletic Club also provided funding that allows the center to be open to students for three hours on Saturday mornings at no cost , Mr. Poole said.

The school’s Nautilus Club also uses the space after school on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:15 to 3:30 p.m. 

The upgraded facility will also enhance the district’s physical education program.

“Students are in that space learning lifetime fitness skills, safe weight training, how to use the treadmill, the interactive exercise bike, and they’re learning how to do that as part of our physical education program,” Mr. Poole said.

The total cost of the renovation project — including electrical, technology, HVAC, construction finishes and equipment — came to $800,000, according to Mr. Poole. Funding for the project was voter-approved in May 2022.

Mr. Poole said the district values the importance of health and wellness for students’ academic performance.

“Hopefully we are, with this new vibrant space, providing great motivation for students to take care of their bodies, which is going to help them take care of their minds,” he said. “Our overarching goal is to help students springboard and launch into a healthy and happy life and hopefully this will help us meet that goal.”