“This is my favorite song,” several kids squealed as Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call me Maybe” pumped through the speakers.
It was a scene familiar to high schools or community gyms, but seemed almost surreal in an elementary school setting.
“It’s very unique, and we are very fortunate to have this equipment,” said Robert Hagenow, physical education instructor.
The small room contains several miniature-sized cardio equipment machines common to typical gyms: ellipticals, stair steppers and rowing machines. During a typical physical education class at the school, students start out with team exercises in the gym before coming into the cardio room for a more individual-based approach to fitness. Hagenow said the room breaks away from traditional “team-based” curriculum activities and teaches children an individual-based fitness activity.
“One of the biggest benefits is that our phys. ed. curriculum has changed quite a bit,” Hagenow said. “It used to be more of the role of the ball: We’d play basketball and football. Now it’s kind of gotten to the individual aspect of staying physically fit and active.”
While Hagenow noted a portion of the school’s physical education curriculum will continue to focus on team-based sports, the cardio room provides new curriculum opportunities to the district and introduces students to a “lifetime” activity.
“If you think of adults, when they continue to work out when they get out of school, usually it is individual based and they go to a (gym) or wellness center,” Hagenow said. “We are trying to promote that idea of staying physically fit through doing your own thing.”
The cardio room was made possible by a three-year, $795,000 grant by the Carol M. White Physical Education Program. The Mishicot School District used the funds to install a cardio workout room and climbing wall at the high school — and a miniature cardio room and traversal climbing wall at the elementary school. Having the elementary cardio room means students will be familiar with the equipment by the time they reach middle school, Hagenow said.
“(The first year), we bought about half or three-fourths of the (equipment),” Hagenow said. “This year we were able to purchase three or four more pieces of equipment. Hopefully next year we get a few more pieces to fill up the room.”
The funds were also used to purchase other items, such as dodge balls and basketballs, and to provide training for teachers.
Students at the elementary school spend a total of 90 minutes a week in gym class — and Hagenow said they split the time between activities in the gym and cardio room activities to hold students’ interest.
“Like anything in life, you’ll have some who will really enjoy it, and some who would rather be out playing football,” Hagenow said. “We try to make it interesting for everybody. If we came to the cardio room every day, I think some kids would be really burned out on it, so having a variety is important for the kids.