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Theale Green School opens new gym to promote staff and pupil fitness and mental wellbeing

A new gym has opened for pupils and staff at Theale Green School.

The gym – installed in late August – is now a firm part of the PE curriculum thanks to a successful application to the Opening Schools Facilities fund via Get Berkshire Active.

And the school has plans to open it for community use, with external fitness instructors running classes.

Pupils enjoying using the rowing machines
Pupils enjoying using the rowing machines

Headteacher Charlotte Badarello said: “Current research fully supports the direct link between physical activity and cognitive ability, alongside improved mental wellbeing.

“I am so pleased our students have a state-of-the-art facility which allows them to explore their wellbeing journey.

“It is a legacy for future generations to use.”

The Fitness Zone boasts 20 rowing machines, running machines, static bikes and other training equipment, such as sandbags and medicine balls.

Pupils have been using the gym since September.

While younger pupils can use it during the school day only, Sixth Formers have free access during their enrichment time.

Year 8 pupil April Rhys, who has a black belt in kickboxing, said: “It’s made PE more fun and I enjoy being able to compete against my friends and play the competitive games on the rowing machines.”

Theale Green pupils have a go on the treadmills
Theale Green pupils have a go on the treadmills

And keen rower and rugby player Bendeguz Gratz, in Year 9, added: “The rowing machines allow you to raise your technique and get better.

“It’s really fun, which makes you want to work harder.”

The school has been lauded for its dedication to sports both in the curriculum and in after-school activities with its connection with the Youth Sports Trust.

And staff are seeing the benefit too, with dedicated Friday night sessions.

Former pupil turned gym manager Crystal Campbell said: “I am loving this opportunity to see the students grow not just physically but also mentally through the use of the gym.”

Jo Halliday, executive principal at the time of bidding for the funding, added: “As a school, we had long thought about how we can develop our sports facilities because sport is so important to us.

“The immediate thing we felt we could do was to convert and build on some existing space, rather than trying to start with any new development.

“The OSF funding, which is split over three years, is very clear about what you can and can’t apply for, so we knew we could apply for the equipment and staff training, and our trust [Activate Learning Education Trust] supported us and the changes we needed to do for the building.

“What you see in the gym now is the result of our funding application for year one, and the school is looking forward to working with Get Berkshire Active again in years two and three.”

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