West Michigan Elementary School Opens Kid Fitness Room

WAYLAND, Mich. (May 7, 2014) — As childhood obesity continues to be a concern across the country, many realize the important of starting kids on a healthy lifestyle as soon as possible. And, one West Michigan Elementary school is among the first in the area to get kids moving in a way, specially made for them.

What looks and sounds like the group fitness classroom at your local gym, is actually a classroom at Baker Elementary School in Wayland.

“With the winter we just had, it was certainly put to good use,” said Jim Orlowski, physical education teacher at Baker Elementary.

He created this ‘mini’ gym a way for kids as young as kindergarten to get exercise during all the indoor recess days over the past few winters. But he found out, it’s going much further than just a way for them to burn off that energy.

“Not only is it giving these kids a chance to get rid of pent-up energy, but it also enhances their performance in the classroom,” explained Orlowski. “The teachers can bring them down, spend 15 minutes with them and kind of get rid of that energy and they can get back to class, refocus and finish their lesson.”

Stationary bikes, elliptical, and stair-steppers, all specially built for a child and paid for through grant money by the Wayland Union Education Foundation and private donors.

The total cost was about $6,000.

Orlowski says it’s so important to get kids hooked on healthy habits as young as possible and thinks the idea will eventually catch on with other districts.

“Our district is really going to promote this activity as not only a way to give these kids an outlet for all that energy on indoor recess days, but again, academically.”

“The program has only been around a little over a year so they haven’t had a chance to really track the progress in the classroom. But Orlowski is positive it can only be a big benefit to the community.

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5 comments

  • best-guest

    Minions, Good way to get your child to conform in a propagation nation!
    Good little followers! (pat on head) By the way, Hitler easily convinced his followers to conform and look what happened.

  • Jason Shane

    I understand if it was incorporated into for a couple weeks into their annual gym program for the kids, but recess is a time for the children to make friends, have fun, and get out of them what they've been wanting to do all day. Also, don't say it helps academically when it hasn't been around long enough to show how it affects them in the classroom. Quoted "but it also enhances their performance in the classroom,” explained Orlowski. Later quoted, “The program has only been around a little over a year so they haven’t had a chance to really track the progress in the classroom."

  • Michael Weber

    I am quite sure that when he says, "it also enhances their performance in the classroom" that this statement is backed up by the teachers there. They can easily see if their students are focusing better in class on days that they get some extra energy out. Numerous studies show that exercising leads to better focus and memory retention. So on days with indoor recess where they would be inside playing games or watching a movie indoor, this is a great alternative. Excellent work Jim!

  • Jim Orlowski

    This program started in November of this year it really hasn't been around for a year. Studies have shown that exercise, physical activity, and movement stimulate areas of the brain that lead to better retention, increased efficiency in processing information and more attentive learners. Anyone who works out or exercises knows how much better they feel afterwards and how more "on the ball" they feel with their daily lives and the challenges they face. Why should it be different with young people? We expect youngsters to sit at a desk at all day and stay focused? How many people work at a desk or in a cubicle all day and would love to get away and take a brisk walk or do something else to shake off the doldrums of being in that environment for hours? This program is not meant to replace recess or gym classes during the school day at all. Regular recess is always the first choice for kids but when the weather doesn't allow for outside recess this is a great way to replace that 15-20 minutes of movement and exercise. It is a supplemental piece to the PE program we teach not a replacement for it. Most importantly it is also an option for additional exercise for students who are having issues maintaining their focus in class or having behavior issues that may disrupt the learning process taking place in the classroom. We have already seen the success it has had with the behavior issues in some of our students and although we have no specific data to show academic improvement yet, teachers in our building have seen more focus and control in their students when they return to class after a session in the fitness room. The last quote mentioned by Mr. Shane was not accurate at all. As I mentioned the program is new this year and tracking the progress of our students is ongoing at this time. Hopefully we will have more information on this as we move forward with the program.