Wurtland Middle School Given Gift of New Fitness Center


Lisa Patrick

The Ashland Beacon


   Back in the spring, Wurtland Middle School’s Physical Education teacher, Patti Woods, received an email from the Governors’ Council for Physical Fitness about a grant to win a brand-new physical fitness center. Woods, along with Wurtland Elementary speech teacher, Renee White, filled out the application for the grant and wrote their letter. Around the beginning of May, Woods received a phone call telling her that Wurtland Middle School had won the grant for the new fitness center.

   The Governors’ Council for Physical Fitness, along with TuffStuff Fitness International, selected three schools in Kentucky to receive the grant that is sponsored by Coca-Cola, Nike, Anthem, and WheelsUp. Wurtland Middle School was picked as one of the three out of 176 applications. Woods said that the facility was supposed to be considered a “gift instead of a “grant.” That gift was a $100,000 fully equipped fitness center and Woods exclaimed “it is beautiful.”

   The new fitness center has 30 pieces of equipment so “there’s enough for a full P.E. class. Each student can have their own piece of equipment and then they rotate.” There are ellipticals, bicycles, cable weight machines, benches for sit ups, chairs for ab workouts, and a jungle gym. Woods said that the variety of weight machines is “just unbelievable.” The company also flew out fitness trainers to the school to train teachers on how to use the equipment so that they could use it safely with the students. Woods explained that her classes can now do a combo of cardio and strengthening exercises.

   TuffStuff International had the equipment delivered across the country by a semi. They then flew a team to the school. Woods said that about “eight or nine fellows showed up one morning at around 9 a.m. early in September and by 3 p.m. in the afternoon, the room was completely finished.

   The school system, the Superintendent, and the maintenance staff had already joined together in support of the new fitness center. They came in ahead of time and put down the rubberized flooring, painted the room, and put up decals and logos. “It looks really cool and exciting in there,” Woods said.

   The Chairman of the Governors’ Council for Physical Fitness is Jake Steinfeld (Body by Jake.) Woods said that Steinfeld assists in donating fitness centers to schools every year and Kentucky is the 36th state to be the recipient of them. Steinfeld usually travels to the schools personally to do the ribbon cutting along with the state’s governor, but, due to COVID precautions, this year, they had to do a virtual celebration instead. The teachers were able to show the video of the ribbon-cutting to the students after the fact.

   The students were just able to start using the new facility last week. Having not started in-person learning until September 28, there were some delays in getting the students into the new fitness center. After the students saw the video, they were very excited to get into the fitness center. When she turned the lights on and the students got to walk in, their “mouths just dropped open. It’s really pretty and it’s really fancy,” says Woods.

   Now that Woods has her staff trained, other students can come in after school to use the fitness center now, too. Staff is also able to use it both before and after school. “We are slowly but surely trying to get it opened up and get it in use for as many people as we possibly can,” Woods said.

   The room that the fitness center is in used to be Patty Woods’ classroom. She teaches both health and P.E. and she willingly gave it up and moved across the hall for the fitness center to be built. She said that the Governors’ Council had specified needing a room that was between 900 and 1,200 square feet and “I knew that my room would fit that description.”

   The fitness center is “really state of the art” and Woods said that she is “really proud of it” and that she “couldn’t be happier because it’s a dream come true for a P.E. teacher.” Woods has been teaching P.E. at Wurtland Middle School for 26 years. She is retiring after this year and she says that “there is just no other way that I could have gone out that would be any better than leaving something behind that students can enjoy for many years to come.” She shared that “just puts a smile on my face every day.”