With the renovation of Building 26 into a new Health and Life Sciences Building, the Highline College community will also gain a new Wellness Center.
Scheduled to open to students in winter 2020, the three-story Health and Life Sciences Building will house Highline College’s Nursing, Respiratory Care, Healthcare Professions, Nursing Assistant, Personal Fitness Trainer and Physical Education departments as well as biology, anatomy and physiology labs.
Darin Smith, a physical education and personal fitness trainer instructor, who has been at Highline for 11 years, believes that the renovation will be a game changer.
“A big focus for the new facility is to make it as accessible as possible for everyone, so we are planning on purchasing weight machines and other equipment that feature an inclusive fitness design that is adjustable and accessible for use for people with physical disabilities,” Smith said back in spring 2019. “Most of the equipment and machines for the Wellness Center will be brand new and will replace a lot of the outdated, older equipment we currently have.”
The Wellness Center will also be larger than Highline’s former workout area. There are dedicated spaces for weight machines, cardio, free weights and functional training. The functional training area will contain a turf strip, medicine ball wall, TRX suspension attachments, punching bag, and a variety of additional exercise equipment including weight sleds, kettlebells, sandbags, battling ropes, conditioning boxes, hurdles and agility ladders.
“The new facilities and equipment will give us more opportunities to educate students on a broader variety of exercise techniques,” Smith said. “It will provide us with more space for exercise demonstrations, fitness instruction and small group training sessions. There may also be greater opportunities for our personal fitness trainer students to gain more experience working in the facility to provide additional exercise instruction to students, faculty and staff.”
If that’s not enough, there will also be an outdoor turf area that can be used for exercise as well.
The updated Wellness Center is more than just a better environment for students to learn, however. It represents a chance to improve the health of thousands, as certified personal fitness trainers go out into the world and teach proper health and wellness.
“Sedentary lifestyles and obesity are two of the biggest factors that can affect a person’s health,” Smith said. “The importance of being physically active cannot be overstated for improving a person’s physical, mental and social health and wellness.”
Not only does physical fitness reduce disease risks, aid in weight management, improve cognitive function, and reduce stress, depression and anxiety, but Smith said recent studies have also found that students who exercised more frequently had higher GPAs and better retention and graduation rates compared to students who exercised less or not at all.
“Our hope is that this new facility will encourage more students to seek out opportunities to be active,” Smith said, “and will inspire them to stay active in the future to help them lead healthier and longer lives.”