TUCSON, Ariz. — Students at Flowing Wells High School spend the school day working out their minds. Now many are spending time after school at the school's newly renovated fitness facility working out their bodies.
The Flowing Wells Fitness Center opened this school year as a full-service gym after the Flowing Wells school district used bond money to convert a weight room at the high school into a fitness center open to students and staff at no cost.
The center is open on school days from 6 to 7 a.m. and from 3 to 6 p.m.
"It's a cool place to be," senior Raul Lopez said. "It's either here or on the streets."
Lopez, 18, uses the Fitness Center every day.
During a training session last week, he strapped on gravity boots and hung upside down from a bar and proceeded to do upside-down sit-ups while hugging a 20-pound medicine ball.
He was supervised by Rohan McDonald, a personal trainer.
"I want to get stronger for future sports. I weightlift every day," Lopez said.
Flowing Wells track coach Ray Pritchett, who has been a personal trainer for 25 years, is the center's director and along with McDonald, monitors the students and staff and provides training advice.
About 50 students and staff members use the Fitness Center each day.
Pritchett has designed a conditioning program to get student-athletes, non-athletes and staff members in shape.
"It's a comprehensive program with a scientific approach," he said.
His 24 exercises address everything from aerobic and anaerobic exercises to balance and agility.
"Our goal is to have fun and create a work ethic" among the students, he said.
Friends Minh Tran and Quang Tran try to fit in a workout every day after school.
"It's really convenient," said Quang Tran, who last week did walking lunges with 20-pound dumbbells in each hand.
He worked out on his own off campus before the fitness center opened, but likes the gym's equipment, which he doesn't have at home.
"If I didn't have bench presses, I would be doing loads of pushups, which gets redundant," he said.
Minh Tran tries to incorporate as many pieces of exercise equipment as he can - and there's a lot to choose from.
New treadmills, elliptical machines and spin bikes line one wall of the gym. Other equipment is scattered throughout the fitness center, which has all new flooring.
There are also barbells, plates, benches, dumbbells and kettlebells.
Flowing Wells student Morning Powers used the Fitness Center last year when it was just a weight room to train for the softball season.
She prefers its current look.
"We didn't have treadmills, ellipticals or bikes. All we had were the basics — the benches and stuff."
Two flat-screen TVs tuned to ESPN are mounted to a wall to complete the gym's transformation.
"It looks like a real gym, a place you'd have to pay a membership for, but here it's free," sophomore Lus Cruz said.