Originally published Dec. 31, 2017 in the Connecticut Post

By Sophia Kunthara

TRUMBULL — St. Joseph High School will unveil its new $1.5 million fitness center at the beginning of this year, as the school works to incorporate health and wellness as a priority for its students.

The two-level 4,500-square-foot facility includes cardio and strength-training areas for the school’s more than 40 athletic teams and 800 students. With the new facility comes a new course, Fitness for Life, which will focus on making health and wellness part of students’ lifestyle.

“We want to establish a foundation not just for class, and not just for an athletic team, but for your whole life,” said Jessica Morales, the school’s director of marketing and enrollment.

centerStudents began using the facility in December, but the ribbon cutting and open house will take place on Sunday.

School officials decided to build the fitness center after conducting a feasibility study, which was presented in June 2015. During 2016, the school raised funds and designed the center, and construction began in early 2017.

The project was funded solely by donors, and did not affect tuition, Morales said. The new fitness center includes treadmills, stair machines, strength training equipment and enough spin bikes for spin classes.

Incorporating health and wellness as a lifestyle for students is a priority for the school, Morales said, especially before students go on to college. The fitness center will mirror those on college campuses, where fitness classes are offered or students can spend time there during their downtime.

Though St. Joseph boasts multiple championship athletic teams, the fitness center was designed to accommodate all students, said Alisha Thresher, the school’s director of health and wellness.

“It really is for everybody and we’re trying our best to kind of encompass all aspects of what all students might need it,” Thresher said.

Starting in the spring 2018 semester, the traditional physical education program will be transformed into a physical education and health hybrid class. The course will incorporate aspects of a traditional physical education class, such as units focusing on different sports, but also touch on topics including healthy eating and the effects of drugs and alcohol.

Students will learn basic human anatomy, how to properly use the equipment and how to exercise different muscle groups.

Beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, all freshmen and transfer students will have to take one semester of the new Fitness for Life class, which will focus on laying the foundation for a healthy lifestyle.

Since the fitness center was completed, students have been using it for Zumba and yoga classes. Spin classes will be added in the future, Morales said.

St. Joseph High School is part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport.

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