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New fitness program offers a new culture at Lake Roosevelt Schools

Dozens of students get up early to work hard

 

Brandon Long, left, and Angelo Clark whip heavy ropes during a PE class with exercises in a new fitness regimen that has students turning out for more. - Scott Hunter photos

A training program at Lake Roosevelt Schools has inspired dozens of teenagers to get up early to work out before school every day, for no credit.

"We bring a culture," said former professional football player Nathan Overbay, now a key trainer with Advanced Performance X-Train, or APX.

The company that began in 2007 is in 60 high schools, clubs and sports programs, offering training and nutrition programs.

"It's probably the top training facility in the Pacific Northwest right now," said Loren Endsley, Lake Roosevelt's new physical education teacher, who worked at the Spokane facility in the summer and learned the system.

So did his fiancée, Cassie Wendt, also a teacher at the school, who had been through the program as a high school athlete herself, attending Ferris High School in Spokane.

The two of them volunteer their time each weekday morning, opening up a new weight/training room fashioned out of the former art room in the old school building.

Although the program is also incorporated into the PE curriculum, on most days, about 40 kids show up at 6:45 a.m. to work out.

"In August I started it, and everyone told me I'd be lucky if I had five kids show up," Endsley said. In the summer, they trickled in, but by the first day of school, 25 came, and attendance has grown from there.

The exercises are fun, always changing, and geared toward the motion needed in each individual sport. Athletes in one sport train for the kind of motion they need in the field or on the court. Although they do use weights, training is based on growing appropriate strength, not pumping maximum weight, Endsley said.

A morning visitor to a session will find kids working hard, often in twos, on weights, using chains, or using huge rubber bands, or waving heavy ropes. They use exercise balls, and jump as quietly as possible onto a two-foot stand. Whiteboards outline the day's approach for individual programs.

And between grunts, there are smiles.

"Any program that can get 40 high schoolers in at 6:45 in the morning ... has to have something going for it," said Grand Coulee Dam School District Superintendent Dennis Carlson.

The school board gave a green light to the $6,000 yearly expenditure that includes training and support, with monthly visits from Overbay and others. Last week, the head of Washington State University's nutrition program came to talk with the kids about how to eat healthy food. At 6:45 in the morning, 48 kids came to listen - for no credit.

"It gives kids a new drive," explains Jocelyn Moore, a junior and volleyball player who now works out every day and goes to bed at 9:30 p.m. "I look forward to getting up in the morning," she added.

Moore said because of the program she has changed her diet, and cut out junk food.

"Now I don't ever have an appetite for that," she said.

Tyrell Kiser works with a big stretch band while Loren Endsley, center, talks with Taren Redstar in the new weight room kids helped to build in the former art room of the old school.

Overbay, who spent seven years playing football for the Denver Broncos and the Detroit Lions, said 70 percent of success in sports is rooted in good nutrition, so that's a very big part of the program.

That aspect is what sold the school board, Carlson said.

"I'm really excited about the future," Endsley said, noting that many middle schoolers are training now.

Endsley is also a football coach at the school, and Wendt can be seen on the sidelines at games, helping athletes work out muscle cramps. When that season is over, Endsley promises, they want to figure out how to open the program up to the adult community.

For now, Endsley is working on spreading the enthusiasm in the school.

"To have a safe place to go in the morning, to have a safe place to do something constructive, is something that's been missing in the community for a long time," Carlson said. "It's one of those things that can change lives; there's no question about it."

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