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Developing a stronger student body

PUYALLUP, Wash. -- Leg curls, tricep extensions and oblique crunches are
three of the many exercise options now available to Chief Leschi High
School students. New, state of the art weight room equipment means more
choices for gym class.

"It helps me be stronger," said 16-year-old Toni Johnson as she did another
set of lat (latissimus dorsi) pull-downs. "People think because I'm small
I'm not that strong, but I like to stay in shape and work out." Toni trains
with the other students twice a week and appreciates the advantages of
using the equipment. "I look forward to coming. It relieves my stress and I
have energy for the whole day."

In addition to the new multi-purpose machine, students can also work out on
other equipment including an Olympic incline bench press, leg curl machine
and a pulley row machine.

Physical education instructor Vicente Robles knows the benefits of using
the equipment. As a former personal trainer, he's eager to have students
reap the rewards. "By using the equipment, they'll become leaner and
stronger and will feel better, and then become more self-confident," said
Robles. "We are trying to teach them ways to take care of themselves for
their whole lives."

Freshman Kroy Pablo, 14, likes the leg press best. As a lineman on the
Chief Leschi football team, he wants to do all he can to excel on the
field. "My body is stronger than it used to be. Working out in the weight
room raises my energy level and gives me better performance," he said.

Shannon Wilson knows the benefits of performance and strength. A P.E.
instructor and avid soccer player, she wants the students to be physically,
emotionally and mentally strong. "Kids are learning how to care for their
bodies so they'll know how to live healthier lives and make healthier
choices," said Wilson. "My mission is not to make them perfect, but to make
them aware of lifestyle choices and how it will affect them in the future."

Fitness goals are up to the individual. Students were asked to write down
three goals they wanted to achieve and how they planned to accomplish them.
The choice of what equipment to use, and the number of sets and
repetitions, was left up to them. The teachers reviewed their goals and
made suggestions depending on the fitness level of each student.

Basketball and football are important to Chad Walden. In addition to using
the weight room, he makes it a point to work out daily as part of his
football conditioning. "There's a good variety of equipment. Working out
loosens me up and gives me strength on the field," said Chad. "I come in
here second period, so it also wakes me up and I'm not so tired during the
day."

Seeing the students progress is one of the rewards of teaching. Wilson
knows some kids enjoy the workouts more than others, but she wants the same
for each student. "It's about lifelong fitness ... not just while you are
in this class," Wilson said. "Our kids are already working hard and I bet
they will see the difference in a few weeks and, hopefully, that will
instill how important it is to be active. It feels good to be in good
physical condition."