Less than six months after Rochester High School opened its new weight room, the building has been temporarily shuttered due to the coronavirus outbreak.
And now physical education teacher Clint Gard wants everybody from the most dedicated athletes to the average high school student to get out and exercise, even in the midst of social distancing.
A tweet from the Zebra Strength and Conditioning account – Gard teaches two advanced weights classes – that appeared Tuesday was intended to reach out to a broad spectrum of RHS students.
“During this unprecedented time, I want to encourage all RCSC students and athletes to continue to stay active,” the tweet said. “Monday through Friday, I will post a 30-40-minute workout that can be completed by anyone. These are the same workouts my Strength/Conditioning and PE classes will be doing.”
The tweet also speaks directly to parents.
“Parents, please encourage your student and/or athlete to participate,” the tweet continues. “Thirty minutes every day is worth it to keep our students physically and emotionally healthy. It’s also worth it to keep YOU emotionally healthy. Get them out of the house and active!”
The tweet then encourages students to go on either Twitter or Facebook for more details.
“I just try to use social media and emails and mainly keep in touch with parents and just keep sharing stuff and keep encouraging kids to do it,” Gard said in a phone interview with The Sentinel Wednesday. “Obviously, I can’t be there and make them do it. But I think in a time that we’re in now, I think it’s really important for kids to try and stay active.”
Gard said he thinks that if students become inactive that it will spread throughout the family. He said he speaks from personal experience.
“I know this for a fact because it’s the same way at my house,” Gard said. “If Greyson or Declan (Gard’s sons) sit around all day long, you just get restless. They start getting at each other’s throats. It causes tension. They start picking at each other. It’s good to give them an outlet to release some of that energy. It helps everybody. Kelly (Gard’s wife) and I, we try to walk every day. I’ve done some of the workouts with the boys. It just helps with releasing some energy and getting your body working. It just calms you down a little bit.
“We’ve got a long period of time here where you’re going to be around each other. It’s important to try to stay mentally healthy as well as physically healthy.”
Using the weight room
Gard teaches two physical education classes and also teaches two strength and conditioning classes, and he uses the weight room for his classes. Katie Felke also teaches physical education and supervises the weight room during school hours. Gard said about 95-100 kids were using it per day during school hours.
In addition, team sports athletes were using the weight room. Gard said the room opened around fall break back in October. Team sports coaches were using it for their athletes during non-school hours. RHS athletic director Ryan Johnson said that coaches had to undergo training in order to supervise, according to Gard. This usually watching some videos and other tasks assigned by Johnson that Gard called a “couple-day process.”
“Before we were let out of school, teams were using it after school,” Gard said. “I know track was using it pretty extensively to get their season started since the weather wasn’t cooperating very well.”
He said feedback from students has been favorable.
“Well, the kids that are using it consistently, I’ve had a lot of good feedback from,” Gard said. “My weight training kids, we’re using it four or five times a week, just depending on what we have going on. Sometimes we’ll stay inside or stay in the gym and do some agility work and just some different things.
We’ll play a game at the end of the week or something like that. ... All the feedback I’ve received from kids is really, really good, especially the athletes that really take it seriously. I’ve seen a lot of gains with those kids, not necessarily in how much weight they’re lifting but how they’re lifting and their safety and how they’re moving and their overall body strength.”
Gard is also the RHS wrestling coach. He speaks about training a “durable athlete.” He used a three-sport athlete as an example of what he hopes the weight room will produce.
“My philosophy is I want to make sure you’re a total athlete because we share a lot of kids,” Gard said. “So I want a kid like a Quin Stesiak.
He plays tennis, plays basketball, plays baseball. I want him to be ready for all three sports. So you can’t just say, ‘Well, OK, we’re going to train you like a basketball player or like a tennis player.’ Because we’re not trying to be sports-specific as much as we’re just trying to train the athlete.”