Exercising body and brains, FIT Club plays important role for many Island students

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | Nico Seddio demonstrated his ability to lift 225-pound barbells while doing squats at the FIT Center. Spotting him are teacher Ian Kanarvogel (left) and student Stephen Cummings.

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | Nico Seddio demonstrated his ability to lift 225-pound barbells while doing squats at the FIT Center. Spotting him are teacher Ian Kanarvogel (left) and student Stephen Cummings.

They’re young athletes, many playing on Shelter Island School teams. But others aren’t playing organized team sports but recognize the importance of stretching their bodies after a day spent stretching their minds.

They’re all part of the FIT Club where 10 to 20 students turn up during after-school hours to work out.

The club is exclusively for students from 2:30 to about 4:15 school day afternoons before the FIT Center opens to the community at large.

Some use treadmills or weights while others organize a pickup game of basketball — in the gym next door — and still others choose Smith machines and circuit trainers.

They’ll work out anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, fitting in their exercise time with other after-school activities — school play rehearsal, softball or baseball practice and, of course, homework.

“It’s really important to me to get healthy and it’s fun to do it with friends,” 16-year-old junior Sidney Clark said.

“I just love working out and improving my strength,” 9th grader Nico Seddio, 14, chimed in.

“It’s a hobby,” he added, after a set of squats while hefting 225-pound barbells.

Stephen Cummings, a 14-year-old freshman, joined FIT Club teacher Ian Kanarvogel in “spotting” Nico — ready to grab the barbells if he faltered.

How long do you have to exercise before it stops hurting?

“It still hurts the next day,”  Stephen said.
“If it doesn’t hurt, you’re not doing it right,” Mr. Kanarvogel said, reciting the mantra so many athletes have spoken.

He moves around between the FIT Center and the gymnasium, assisting students when needed, observing their progress and, from time to time, working out on a machine himself.

Luke Gilpin, a 15-year-old sophomore, loves basketball; that’s what got him to the FIT Club.

“I’m very injury-prone,” Luke said, reciting a list of physical problems he’s overcome. He now does strength training to help build up his body and avoid future doctor visits.

If he’s not working out with weights or using machines, he’s likely to be seen on the school basketball court practicing, he said.
Amira Lawrence plays softball, volleyball and basketball during the year and comes to the FIT Club to work her muscles every day. The 17-year-old junior said it’s important to her to stay in shape.

It’s the stress of classes that drives Melissa Frasco, another 17-year-old junior, to the FIT Club.

“It’s nice to be active,” she said, explaining that it helps with her conditioning for softball, volleyball and basketball.

One of the school’s accomplished young scientists, Emily Hyatt, can’t be all studies all the time, she said. She, too, needs a change from academics to a physical workout to be her best at softball and volleyball and just to feel healthy, she added.

Whatever their level of activity, Mr. Kanarvogel is there to help students and appears to clearly enjoy himself as much as they do.

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