Pioneer’s new auxiliary gym a ‘valuable resource’ that boosts student health

Pioneer Valley Regional School physical education teacher and Assistant Athletic Director Nick Adams stands in the school’s newly renovated auxiliary gym.

Pioneer Valley Regional School physical education teacher and Assistant Athletic Director Nick Adams stands in the school’s newly renovated auxiliary gym. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Pioneer Valley Regional School junior Jayden Tyler warms up on the bench, while Joey Seaman looks on in the school’s newly renovated auxiliary gym.

Pioneer Valley Regional School junior Jayden Tyler warms up on the bench, while Joey Seaman looks on in the school’s newly renovated auxiliary gym. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Pioneer Valley Regional School junior Jerad Goulston pushes the sled in the school’s newly renovated auxiliary gym.

Pioneer Valley Regional School junior Jerad Goulston pushes the sled in the school’s newly renovated auxiliary gym. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 05-21-2024 11:01 AM

Modified: 05-21-2024 6:45 PM


NORTHFIELD — With a one-time financial investment into the complete overhaul of its auxiliary gym, Pioneer Valley Regional School is hoping the work will pay dividends for students in the classroom, on the athletic field and for the rest of their lives.

The upgrades, which cost around $65,000, according to Director of Finance and Operations Jordan Burns, turned the school’s auxiliary gym — affectionately branded as “The Aux” — from an old workout space to a modern gym that welcomes students of all abilities and motivations. Among the improvements are a new floor; all-new equipment, including six racks; and a strip of artificial turf.

Nick Adams, Pioneer’s physical education teacher and assistant athletic director, said the improvements can “bridge the gap” between education and physical and mental wellness, and students of all backgrounds have been engaging in the new space since it opened in March.

“The kids are starting to identify the flow. … They come in, no matter what team they are, what age, it’s all scalable, so we can reach all of our students that are willing to come in,” Adams said. “Traditional phys. ed. isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. ... All teams, all genders, all social groups, we’re able to go inside and work toward a common goal, which I think is very unifying for a school.”

Burns added that the renovation was a big project for the school and the results speak for themselves.

“That was money well-spent to take a space that was somewhat of an eyesore and turn it into not only a functional classroom and training space, but a space that students can be proud of,” Burns said.

The gym is open for Adams’ two strength and fitness classes and then after school most days for students to use. He also expects the gym will be open for student athletes and their teams in the summer, and the school has been communicating with Northfield’s Recreation Department to see if they can set up public workout hours.

This “investment for a lifetime,” Adams said, can instill good physical exercise habits, which in turn directly benefits mental and emotional health for students. He noted those benefits, especially for middle school boys and girls, are invaluable for their growth into young adults. The practical knowledge of gym equipment is an added benefit, too, as students can take the exercises and routines they develop at Pioneer and take them to a public gym.

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“Anything that we can do to get a positive reinforcement in their confidence, like, ‘Hey, I couldn’t do that last time, but I tried it this time and it was possible,’” Adams said. “They get that and you really get to start to see them shimmer and that’s cool, but we’ve got to access it, which is the hard part.”

Junior Jackson Campbell and several other students said the auxiliary gym’s improvements have been a huge boost for the school and they’ve enjoyed using it.

“It’s a good spot to come and feel like yourself,” Campbell said, joking that it’s “the best room in the entire school.” “People work together in here.”

“It’s a really valuable resource,” added fellow junior Joey Seaman.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.