BY MICHAEL KELLY
NISKAYUNA — All school day long, kids bustle in and out of the Niskayuna High School fitness center. After school, things get even busier, as athletes take advantage of the room’s free weights and machines.
Soon, that fitness center is likely to get a facelift.
Athletic Director Larry Gillooley said recently there are plans to buy all new equipment for the high school’s fitness center — hopefully, he said, before the start of the next school year. The last time equipment was bought on a large scale for the fitness center was in 2003.
“It’s done a full cycle of kids,” said Gillooley, meaning students in kindergarten in 2003 were able to use the equipment as seniors.
While athletes from school teams dominate the fitness center after school hours, the room is almost continuously occupied during the school day with physical-education classes. In a two-day period, Gillooley said there are 18 classes of 35 students apiece that use the fitness center as their physical-education elective.
“That’s the one that is most selected,” said John Furey, a physical education instructor at the high school.
At present, Furey — also the school’s varsity baseball and football coach — is leading the effort to acquire new equipment.
“We’re in a situation right now where two things are going on,” he said. “One, a lot of teams want to use that space at the same time [and we need more equipment], and the second thing that’s happening is the type of equipment we have right now is appropriate for what coaches are doing, but we could make it much better for what coaches want to do in there.”
Furey said normal wear and tear has degraded some of the equipment in the fitness center, but the bigger issue is his second point. The best ways to train, he said, have changed in the past decade, and the school’s athletic department is looking to catch up with some of those changes.
Free weights and running machines are part of the plan for the refurbished fitness center, but Furey and Gillooley said there will be more of an emphasis on buying equipment that allows for better training of core muscles.
Big and clunky machines will be out, they said, and replacing those will be equipment that is leaner and allows for training with a greater range of motion. Furey said, too, that there are plans to have a TV or projector screen in the fitness center so that yoga or Pilates classes could be more easily conducted in the space.
Gillooley estimated the project would cost approximately $80,000 and said the school’s booster club — which paid for the current equipment — has agreed to provide at least some of the funds. The challenge right now, he said, is to find a community member willing to lead the fundraising to get the remainder of the money.
“We’re still looking for someone to spearhead that charge,” said Gillooley, who expressed optimism that finding funds would not be a serious concern for the project.
“It’s going to happen,” said Furey. “It’s going to be a really great weight room — not only for athletics, but also physical education.”