Williams catching on to better fitness

When Williams High School students return to school from Christmas vacation, they will find new fitness equipment in the weight room.

When they return to school in the fall of 2018, they will find that equipment and possibly more inside a new fitness center.

The Williams Unified School District board on Oct. 19 approved the purchase of a new 72 ft. by 40 ft. modular classroom, which will replace the current weight room.

Coach Armando Bautista, who has been working with the district to expand opportunities for student fitness, said he is excited the school board is investing in a better health and fitness program.

“I’m passionate about student-athletes, but I’m more passionate about their wellness and their fitness,” said Bautista, who has coached football, basketball, and track at his alma mater for the past six years.

In addition to coaching, Bautista has voluntarily operated a weight training program after school and during the summer. He said a larger fitness area, which the new modular will provide, will allow him to reach out to every student at the upper elementary and high school level.

Williams Unified is investing about $100,000 in the new fitness center, funded by Measure C, the facility improvement bond passed by the voters last November.

Bautista is working with Craig Spence, director of Opti-Fit, which is providing the new weight room with modern fitness equipment.

Spence said through programs like Cal Fresh and SNAP-ED, the district has already heavily invested in the wellness of students through nutrition and adult programs.

“This weight room project is an opportunity to broaden the scope of the entire district’s wellness policy to include physical education,” Spence told the school board at their Oct. 19 meeting.

Spence said in addition to physical education, the district will now introduce a state-supported program called CATCH, a program aimed at reducing childhood obesity by teaching teachers how to help their students identify healthy foods and increase the amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity.

UC Cal Fresh will fund the curriculum and the training for teachers in each grade level, Spence said.

“Part of our proposal for equipping the fitness center is to provide $10,000 in equipment to provide the physical tools that they need to implement that program,” Spence added. “That is a really big thing. I think what we’re seeing here is that we are looking for long-term, physically-healthy students.”

Spence said an issue at the high school is reducing injury among student-athletes, including head injuries, breaks, and sprains.

“Part of the movement we are seeing on a national basis is we want kids exercising standing up, doing multi-joint movement, and varying their intensity and modes,” he said. “The old days of kids sitting in rooms at machines and just rotating around them have passed us by. We also have to design our facilities for maximum teaching efficiency.”

Spence said the goal is to implement an elementary-through-high school fitness program that meets state standards and meets the physical education needs of all ages, genders, and students with disabilities.