By Karen Brainard
Students at Ramona Community School will experience a new way to exercise with the recent addition of fitness stations.
Because the new equipment was funded by a Park Land Dedication Ordinance (PLDO) grant of $98,000, it can be used by the public when school is not in session.
Ramona Unified School District Trustee Dawn Perfect wrote the application for the PLDO grant, which was approved in 2008.
The route around the block using Hanson Lane, Ramona Street, H Street, and San Vicente Road is roughly a 5K distance, she noted.
“Placement of the fitness equipment at the Ramona Community School location provides an opportunity to include strength training along with the cardiovascular opportunity in the area,” she said.
About six fitness stations have been installed north of the school buildings with each station offering several different exercises.
“They also make modifications on each exercise,” Antoinette Rodriguez, assistant principal of Ramona High School, told Ramona Community teachers as she introduced them to the new equipment. The modifications can take the exercises to more difficult levels.
Rodriguez showed the teachers that the first fitness sign explains how to download mobile applications on their smartphones so they can access videos of each exercise.
With assistance from junior high student Shawn McClure, she demonstrated how each station could be used. Shawn’s mother, Amy McClure, teaches in the Montessori program at the school.
The stations cover such fitness areas as balance, agility, and stretches, and exercises include hurdles, squats and dips, lunges, pull-ups, and push-ups.
“You can take pictures and create charts for your kids,” said Rodriguez.
Noting safety is a concern, Rodriguez recommended discussing and teaching each exercise to students and have them view the downloaded videos.
Ramona Community Principal Carol Tennebaum suggested teachers make sure students learn one station before progressing to the next.
Teachers voiced concerns about the concrete base for the stations instead of a softer surface, and some suggested bringing out mats. They also talked about additional supervision, such as parent volunteers, when students use the stations for physical education.
Laura Franz, who teaches fifth and sixth grade at Montessori, said she was excited about the fitness stations.
“My kids have been watching the whole process take place. So they are looking forward to the green light to get started,” she said, adding that they are really into working out and exercising.
The grant money also included a shade structure that is already built and a drinking fountain that will be installed, both by the fitness stations.