Students pound out time for weighlifting club

Published 10:55 am Friday, March 6, 2009

It’s just after 7 a.m. Thursday, and the Pacelli High School weight room is full. Rock music blasts from a radio as about 20 boys and girls break a morning sweat in the small, hot room.

“I never hear them complain,” supervisor Dan Zielke said. “If they didn’t like it, they wouldn’t be here.”

Zielke, a social studies, religion and math teacher who played baseball in college, launched the middle school’s first weightlifting club four weeks ago.

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“It gets them here early, gets them out of bed,” he said.

The club, which is only open to seventh- and eighth-graders, is free. Students receive no credit for participation, and it is not an official extracurricular activity.

Sean Shapiro, 14, said he joined the club when it started.

“I wanted to get bigger,” said Shapiro, who plays football, basketball and baseball. “It’s fun.”

Paige Smith, 13, started on Tuesday.

“I’ve been kind of wanting to weight-lift for awhile,” she said.

Pacelli’s weight room is also used by the high school athletes, but it needs work. Located in the basement next to the boiler room, the facility has worn, outdated equipment, which Zielke would like to see replaced.

“We’re in the process of finding donations,” Zielke said. “We’re looking for anything.”

The equipment the room does have, however, is suitable for this age group, he explained. They are still young, and Zielke wants the students to properly learn the basics of weightlifting.

“I’ve been trying to teach kids to do it the right way,” Zielke said. “I’d rather them know what they’re doing.”

Tuesdays are individualized workouts; Thursdays are circuit workouts (partners rotate stations in time increments); and Fridays are plyometric workouts (high-intensity drills) in the gym.

“Every day it getting bigger,” Zielke said of his club. “It’s just an opportunity for them.”