The Student News Site of Kinnelon High School

Colt Chronicle

The Student News Site of Kinnelon High School

Colt Chronicle

The Student News Site of Kinnelon High School

Colt Chronicle

Exploring Gym Culture at KHS

Students share how exercise and going to the gym have changed their daily lives.
Riley Macmanus
Senior Matt Kispert spots senior Dylan Charles as he benches.

Adviser’s Note: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this opinion article belong solely to the author and do not reflect the view of The Colt Chronicle Staff, Kinnelon High School, or its students and staff members. 


When walking through the halls of KHS or listening to the conversations between classes, it is likely to overhear students talking about going to UFC or Kinnelon Sport and Fitness Club after school. Over the last couple of years, more students have carved out time for working out multiple times a week; the gym has become an empowering environment for individuals to work on bettering themselves and building relationships. 

Working out has undoubtedly been a crucial part of many people’s lives, and students are now taking it more seriously. In New Jersey, students in grades 1-12 are required to receive 150 minutes of health, safety, and physical education per week. 

Despite this, physical activity during school is not as successful in aiding students’ physical and mental health. According to the CDC, “In 2017, only 26.1 percent of high school students participated in at least 60 minutes per day of physical activity on all seven days of the previous week.” As a result, students need to find a designated time each day to be active.

Regular physical activity comes with a plethora of benefits, not only physically. According to the National Institute of Health, “Regular physical exercise can release the excess energy of the human body, reduce the degree of anxiety and depression of teenagers, relieve tension, promote interpersonal relations, improve self-esteem and self-confidence, and promote the level of mental health.”

For many students who exercise regularly, they are seeing the benefits in their own lives. Senior Lance Klunder says,

“It gave me a place to go after school, and whenever homework or something is stressing me out, I can go to the gym and workout; it’s like a second home. It gives people a good hobby, something that helps avoid harmful habits.”

Aside from using the gym as a resource to cope with stress, it can also be a great place to meet other people. “It’s giving me a different outlook on life. I go there and socialize and get my work in,” says senior Derek Smith.

However, it is important to exercise in moderation and fuel one’s body appropriately, as the gym can sometimes breed comparison. Senior Riley Darlington says, “I have seen people coming into the gym, of all ages in the school, including young girls. While I think it is for positive reasons, I also think that they can be negative and because of self-confidence issues.”

Fitness trainer and author Louise Greene says in an article with SELF,When we set goals for ourselves they need to be realistic and attainable for the body and lives we have, not based on others’ lives.” People must focus on themselves and set appropriate goals that align realistically with their lives, not others. 

The unfortunate thing about gyms like UFC and Planet Fitness is that they have a monthly membership fee. UFC costs $39 a month to attend, making it not a cheap place to get a workout in. Fortunately, KHS has a free gym that is accessible almost every day to all students. 

It comes equipped with much of the same equipment one would find in a gym like UFC, including treadmills, free weights, yoga mats, and various lifting machines. “I love the [KHS] fitness center,” says freshman Colin Molinari. “I am pretty new to working out, but it has everything I need to get a good lift in.” 

Gym teacher Nino Capra has been a helping hand, motivating students and even some teachers in the weight room. “The great thing is that it [the fitness center] is self-motivated, aside from myself there is nobody else to supervise, it is up to the kids,” says Capra. “The kids that go are a group who just want to better themselves and I am happy to be a part of it.” 

Capra is after school at the fitness center every school day and is always there to lend a hand. Having someone to help out with the process of prioritizing personal fitness and health is essential, and a big testament to how much lifting can affect a student body positively. 

How fitness and lifting in the gym have affected a whole student body at KHS cannot be measured in numbers and statistics; it can be seen in the way in which students conduct themselves, interact with others, and hold themselves up higher for the improvement of their self-image, confidence, and health.


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